With terrorist attacks continuing to plague Italy, the cyborg girls of Section 2 are needed more than ever- and through a mixture of conditioning and adolescent, they are more than willing to fight alongside their handlers. But even the enhanced abilities of a cyborg may not be enough to combat the likes of naturally gifted killer Pinocchio- especially as some of the older girls must confront their own mortality as their life spans run short.
As someone who ranks both the Gunslinger Girl manga and the first season of the anime amongst my all-time favourites, a continuation of the animated version seemed like an early Christmas present. Unfortunately, when it transpired that Studio Madhouse was handing over the reins to Artland, the warning bells began to go off- and unfortunately even my lowered expectations weren’t prepared for the awful reality.
Where the original series added colour, music and atmosphere to the material without compromising on the quality in any way, Il Teatrino was little more than an exercise in how to ruin good ingredients. Somehow forgetting everything they did for Mushishi, Artland threw away the depth and poignancy of the series, replacing it with something bland and shallow. In the manga, I cared for all the characters, but here I was barely motivated enough to watch them- it wasn’t just that I knew what was coming, it was all just handled so shoddily.
As if to add insult to injury, the series couldn’t manage to offer up a bit of eye candy to compensate for its many flaws in content. Instead, Il Teatrino is visually inferior to the first series, offering simplified character designs that are of average quality at best and an insult to the original anime at worst. Similarly, the wonderfully atmospheric background music of the first season has been replaced with generic anime themes that will impress no one.
Before this series came along, I would have sworn that it was impossible to ruin something as good as Gunslinger Girl, but Artland have proven themselves more than able for the task. A disappointing addition to an otherwise strong franchise, this is one anime that should probably be put to one side- it may not be the worst series out there, but its very existence sullies the good name of Gunslinger Girl.