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Gunslinger Girl 2: Il Teatrino--The Complete Series

1 rating: 3.0
Anime & Manga movie

Il Teatrino(2008) is the belated sequel toGunslinger Girl(2003), one of the the series that introduced the "murderous moppet" subgenre of anime. Badly injured adolescent orphans are brainwashed and given cybernetic implants that turn them into pint-sized … see full wiki

Genre: Animation
1 review about Gunslinger Girl 2: Il Teatrino--The Complete...

Exceeded Expectations with Rich Storytelling

  • Sep 10, 2009
I don't say this often, but I had the rare opportunity of going into Gunslinger Girl misinformed. It has been often said that the show's primary attribute is shock value in the idea of brainwashed children acting as cold-blooded assassins. Worse still is that previews, trailers, and other promotional material surrounding the property do little to dissuade this notion. However, I am pleased to report that judging the show based on that single aspect would be doing it a great disservice. But before I get ahead of myself, let's take a look at the cold hard facts, shall we?

Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino The Complete Series comes in at a runtime of 315 minutes and contains 13 episodes spanning two discs. The discs come packaged in a pair of thin packs (with some very impressive label art) within a cardboard slipcase.

The show wears an appropriate TV MA (mature) rating due to some graphic violence sequences and themes of warring factions, civil unrest and of course assassinations.

Language options are typical sub and dub, which means the viewer has the choice of running either the original Japanese dialog track (stereo) or an English dub (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround) and the option of displaying English subtitles beneath either dialog choice.

Extras include an interview with the Japanese voice actor who plays Marco, original TV commercials, textless songs, and a host of upcoming Funimation anime previews.

The story follows the innocent and borderline adorable girls of the SWA (Social Welfare Agency) who, despite their kind hearts, seem a little bit eschew right from the get go. It turns out that these girls are actually the grizzly remains of humans who by all facts and circumstances should be deceased. Only rather than resting in peace in a cemetery somewhere, these children have been reassembled with cybernetic implants that replace the damaged areas and act as memory suppressants.

With all past knowledge of their existence wiped away, these girls are trained in the ways of combat, assassination, weapons use; in other words they are killers with loyalty to the government that built them.

Okay so my summary sounds an awful lot like the malarkey I was dealing with coming into the series but rest assured, the simplified plot synopsis does little to demonstrate the show's greatest strength: Character development.

The pacing is spot on throughout with a deliberately slow and intriguing beginning that doesn't fully answer all of the viewer's questions. The plot structure is such that answers come swiftly just like the action and by the third or fourth episode; it feels like a masterwork of storytelling and visual delights.

Set in Italy of all places, the core of the tale centers on a political conflict between a governmental body and a terrorist faction called the FRF. Their primary target are the members of the SWA which basically boils down to cybernetic assassins squaring off with supposed normal children with personality disorders deluxe.

The political segments, like the rest of the show, are quite well done and go a long way in setting up a believable backdrop for the action in the foreground. Especially noteworthy is the fact that the show's creative team goes the extra mile to convey the conflict from both viewpoints so that a black & white/ right and wrong, good guy/ bad guy perspective is never a factor.

The music score is exemplary with excellent use of tension and building that coincides beautifully with the on-screen situations.

Voice work is also quite commendable with the English dub squeaking in as the overall superior choice in my opinion. There was a time when I advocated the idea that the only way to enjoy anime was to crank up the original Japanese dialog and follow along with the subtitles but Funimation has been raising the bar so steadily that there is little reason to cling to my old ideology. Don't get me wrong, the Japanese dialog is spectacular here but American voice actors (especially those in the employ of Funimation) have proven time and time again that they are very capable of nailing the emotion and grit of a dark story like this. Gunslinger Girl is no exception to the trend.

Like you may have surmised, the very deepest levels of this tale strike a chord of fear within all of us as to what it actually means to be a human. Swirled within a life of confusion, control, conditioning and killer instinct, the will to be free, the will to love and be loved still manages to resurface. When it does, the assassins are treated medicinally so as to remain complacent but there is an element of just how much oppression the human heart can take all throughout this tale that manages to inspire.

Sure the element of gun-touting, seven-year-old-girl super killers is a bit unsettling, the true strength of this anime lies in its strong character development, expert pacing, and gritty atmosphere. The human condition, though never quite in the foreground of the prose, acts as a constant motivator of the lead characters. This coupled to the fact that the Italian scenery, political conflict, and voice acting are all spot on results in a show that's best not to be missed.

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January 03, 2012
Nice one Jay! I like re-reading this one since it is pretty spot on. Happy New Year!
January 06, 2012
Hey thanks Will! New Year was nice but over too quickly! How you doing my man?
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