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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Anime Review: Gunslinger Girl - Il Teatrino OVA

Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino: The OVA
Studio: Artland
FUNimation Entertainment
48 minutes/1 disc
Spoiler warning: For both parts of Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino.

The girls of the Social Welfare Agency are no ordinary children. They are the grizzly remains of human wreckage pieced back together with cybernetic implants and trained to kill by the government. The oldest, Triela, pursues her targets with a ferocious enthusiasm - unwilling to settle for less than total annihilation.

Her mirror in this bloody stalemate is Pinocchio, a shell of a boy raised as an assassin by the FRF - a terrorist faction at war with the SWA. Cold and cruelly efficient, he wields sharpened steel as though it were his own hand. Once human, these shattered souls have become murderous machines with only vague recollections of what it meant to be real - and a brutal compulsion to be the last killer standing.

After the rather disappointing second season of Il Teatrino, I was hoping that the two episode OVA would be some sort of return to form for the Gunslinger Girl series. In a way, it did – we see several fratellos on a mission, as well as Triela dealing with her own feelings over Pinocchio. But in a way, it also greatly missed the mark and continued the trail of mediocrity started by Il Teatrino proper. It is certainly not a must watch for fans of the Agency girls. Once again, the emphasis is mainly on the handlers – the boring, boring handlers – although the series does try to remember the girls exist by giving Rico a subplot about doubting her own worth as Jean’s girl and exploring Henrietta and Jose’s relationship (though even then, they do it clumsily and skeevily). The story itself is just a prop to hang the more familiar characters on and is of little consequence.

The art is as dull and boring as before, although there is an increase in scenery shots to remind audiences that yes, we are still in Italy – oh, look, gondolas! Aria still does gondolas the best though, and those are Martian gondolas. It seems the soundtrack has improved and there are much more orchestrated pieces in the score; the absence of an actual opening theme gives me pause. Would it have been so bad to recycle KOKIA’s opening song from the previous season?

The worst part of this OVA happens during the second episode, in which Jean is visited by the ghost of Enrica, a young woman very important to Jose. Yes, a ghost. A creepy, blue-hued ghost who for some reason doesn’t visit Jose but Jean. This is ridiculous. There’s only so far I can suspend my disbelief at this series – I can handle cyborg girls turned assassins, but ghosts who creep into people’s dreams at night is too bloody XXXHOLiC for this particular anime. But then again, Il Teatrino has never been one for things like tact.

Once again, Il Teatrino is the part of Gunslinger Girl that just does nothing for me. The story is weak, the emphasis no longer on the very girls the series is titled after, and the animation is still basic as hell. If they ever decide to grace the GG series with a third season, here’s a pro tip for them: use someone other than Artland. You’ll thank me later.