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I think that to fairly review the second season of gunslinger girl, you have to divide the review into two parts: the story in and the anime itself.
The story is very different from the first season, in where it gives the viewer something to go on from beginning to end instead of what we saw in the first season where all the characters are introduced. The story itself is quite entertaining and gave me the rush and intrigue that I've come to expect from Gunslinger Girl.
The anime itself however was just mediocre. There is no possible comparison between the first and second season that can be made: I don't know whether they changed production studio or decided to try something new, but the visuals feel cheap and prolonged. When looking at the first season, there's never a still background: there is always movement. In the second season, it's not rare for the first 5 to 10 seconds of a scene being pan shots of still drawings, which feels as though the series is being dragged on without advancing anything.
In conclusion, while bringing on a good story with an interesting conclusion, don't expect the same visual quality as what was delivered in the first season.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Another masterpiece anime, and a nearly flawless sequel.Aug. 4 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Finally, it's here. Several years after the original Gunslinger Girl blew me away with its stunning visuals and shocking premise, the much-awaited sequel, Il Teatrino, or simply Gunslinger Girl 2, has arrived. Based even more closely on the manga by Yu Aida (and with even more supervision from him), this series is a direct continuation of the events from the first show. Where the first series was less about action and more about the relationships between the characters, Il Teatrino zooms the focus in squarely on the action and plot. It assumes you are already familiar with the concept of the "fratello" and the cyborg girls, and as such only gives a brief overview of the premise in various episodes. That's not to say that there are no more emotional moments or shocking scenes. Far from it. In fact, GSG2 is probably even MORE shocking with some of its subject matter. The show is quite deserving of its TV-MA rating; there is more blood, much stronger language, and more horrible things done to children. I won't give a plot summary here, because it's on the back of the box, and since I hate knowing even minor plot details before watching a show, I will give the same courtesy to readers of this review. I will say that this series does a fantastic job of keeping continuity with the first GSG. There are many references back to events in that show, and even some cameos by characters you thought you'd seen the last of. We finally get to see Angelica in action, learn more about Triela's heartbreaking backstory, and are even introduced to a new fratello.
Now, about the somewhat controversial visual style... The first GSG, animated by Madhouse, had a massive budget, with somewhere around $130k devoted to each episode. Il Teatrino was less fortunate, and had a much more modest budget. While it is evident that it is not the same animation studio (Arthouse this time around) or budget level, do not let that put you off. Yes, the character designs have been changed somewhat, but the results actually end up being closer in resemblance to the original manga, so that should be a plus for all you purists out there. I personally was not put off by the visuals whatsoever. If you are willing to look past the negative things you may have heard, you will be quite pleasantly surprised, as I was. I had heard mostly doom and gloom about how awful Il Teatrino looked, but after actually watching it (what a novel concept, right?), I was quite pleased with how it turned out.
The English dub performance is another gem from the folks at Funimation. The entire original cast returns for the sequel, and hammers the ball right out of the park. Frankly, this show would not be the same without them. Laura Bailey onces again stands out and demonstrates her impressive range as Henrietta, and the rest of the cast picks up right where they left off in the original. Funimation gets a big round of applause for pulling the cast back together and establishing some continuity.
All in all, this is a can't miss, must have follow up for fans of Gunslinger Girl. Do not be put off by internet rumors or bad reviews elsewhere. This series, combined with the first GSG, is a masterpiece for those who appreciate sad, dark, morally gray anime. Bottom line: buy it.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Exceeded Expectations with Rich StorytellingSept. 10 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Review of the Blu-Ray video quality (revised)June 10 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I've now watched this series repeatedly on both a higher-quality 1080p/120Hz LCD HDTV, and a lower-quality 1080i CRT HDTV.
As before, I think that the majority of this show was created in 1024 x 576 semi-HD resolution, or 576p, and upscaled to 1080i/60 for Blu-Ray by the Japanese production companies. Funimation was responsible for the encode, but not the upscale. Note that most of Funimation's other native HD Blu-Ray animes are encoded at 1080p/24, this show is an exception. 1080i was more appropriate to ensure the ending credits scrolled smoothly.
This Blu-Ray collection contains both the 13 episode Il Teatrino TV series, as well as the 2 Il Teatrino OVA episodes at the end, making it a great buy. I recommend the Blu-Ray version over the DVD version for this series, it is both cheaper and has better audio and video quality.
There are video quality issues which apply only to the first OVA episode and first TV episode. The first OVA episode is 576p but slightly blurrier than the other episodes. On my 1080p LCD HDTV the difference is nearly unnoticeable but on my lower-quality HDTV the blurriness stands out, making this the worst looking episode. The first TV episode is either upscaled 480p SD, or horribly upscaled 576p which blurred out the image tremendously. This was then followed by artificial sharpening leading to "edge enhancement" artifacts which some have complained about. Only this episode has the edge enhancement. On my 1080p LCD HDTV this episode looks the worst by far, but on my lower-quality HDTV this processing trick works and makes this episode look as good as the rest.
The only disappointment with this release is that some of the Extras are missing on the Blu-Ray version, which supposedly exist on the DVD version. Most notably, the second creditless introduction is missing. This is very sad because it's the only Extra that has worth. The Japanese Blu-Rays probably have it, though.
Now for a brief review of the show itself. Please note these are only my personal opinions.
Directing: 4 out of 5 stars. I think this show has no real single director. Several people including the creator of the original manga worked together as the "director" for this show. The result is that there are some aspects of the directing that I do not like, such as the annoying flashes to white, or the slow letterboxing effect for flashbacks. But overall the show is well-paced, well-focused, keeps your attention, and is not corny, which indicate an overall good job in this area.
Drawings: 5 out of 5 stars. Terrific drawing style. It's not the same style as the manga but neither was the first Gunslinger Girl anime series. The drawings in Il Teatrino look far better than the drawings in the first anime series, which scare me.
Animation: 3 out of 5 stars. It's not as cheap or poorly-animated as many have said. The first episode has some pretty cheap animation but it gets better after that. Compared to the original series, the budget is lower and the frames are skimpier, but the quality of what frames and movement there are, seems better than the original series.
Music: 5 out of 5 stars. Much better than the music from the original series, which was actually silent most of the time. Ko Otani did the music for this show, Funimation mistranslated his name so I did not realize until I had finished watching the whole series. I would not have expected his style of music to fit with this type of show, but it fits perfectly.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Gunslinger Girl 2Sept. 6 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
I finally finished watching GG2. I must say it was very good. For you who have seen the first series, the anime is different than the original but most of the main voices are the same. The story line was good. I haven't read the manga in a while but the show seemed to follow what I did remember. Action and violence mixed with the emotional complications between the girls and their handlers... I found it difficult not to watch the whole series in one sitting.
The only complaint would be that only thirteen episodes are presented. Two other episodes, 14 & 15, were not included, though they were in the Japan release. Other than that, I would recommend buying this box set. If you have not seen the first series, I would say buy both, but I believe Gunslinger Girl 2 can stand alone.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Not the originalOct. 4 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
There are some folks here who have said that although this series is different from the original, it is still the same quality of story and almost as good as the original. I am going to disagree. The animation is very different, the girls are very different, but most importantly the story line is not as good. This is not the original, it is not as good as the original, and I can't think of a single thing that was improved in this version.
The girls have been "glamorized" for this series. Big eyes, cute hair, etc. Henrietta looks nothing like her character from the original series. The moment that I noticed this, I knew there was only one reason to make this change - the story is not as good as the original and they need to prop up the series by making the girls more attractive.
The animation is not of the same quality as the original. Many shortcut methods were used to reduce cost and stretch frames. This I could forgive if the story made up for it. Alas, it does not.
That said, the most important aspect of the original series was the storyline and the time spent developing the girls' characters. This critical element of the original series' success is sorely lacking in this series. The entire time I watched this series, I kept asking "where are the girls?!" This series spends too much time on characters I do not care about and that contribute nothing to enhance the story. Where is the action? I want more action WITH the girls. What I remember most about watching this series is constantly wondering when the girls were coming back and why are they giving me a soap opera with characters I don't care about. When they did finally get around to the formula that worked in the original series, it was always too little and I would be disappointed when they went back to the soap opera.
If you loved the original series as much as I did, you are going to be seriously disappointed with this one. If you must have it to complete your collection, or as in my case, having a serious need for more GSG, then by all means go ahead. But you will be disappointed.