I watch quite a bit of anime, but the number of series that truly, deeply touch me, series that completely captures me and my love, I can count on one hand. Gunslinger Girl is one of them, both the first and the second season, Il Teatrino.
Before watching Il Teatrino, I had read a few negative reviews about it that mostly focus on the change in production, lower qualities, and such. Further, with a lack of high quality English subs, I put this series off for a while until this Thanksgiving weekend when I marathoned the traditional Chinese subbed series. Watching Il Teatrino on the big screen late at night, drinking milk tea and eating tiramisu, I was just absolutely seduced by and engrossed in the world of Gunslinger Girl.
The anime I tend to love the most are ones that set the mood and the atmosphere of the settings so well that I am able to forget myself and be simply immersed in their lives. Gunslinger Girl does this perfectly. Il Teatrino drips with strong Italian flavor. It pays special attention to the gorgeous cityscape, the details of the buildings, and the beautiful soundtrack. These all come together to create a fascinating and romantic world for the sweet tragedy of these little girls.
Of course, the girls of Gunslinger Girl are in the center of this masterpiece. Gunslinger Girl follows the lives of five young girls, who, after surviving brutal and tragic pasts, receives advanced prosthetics. Together with their fratelli, the girls are trained to do various tasks for the Italian government. These young girls assassin people with no hesitation while desperately seeking approval, or even love, from their fratelli. With nothing else, Triela, Henrietta, Angelica, Rico, and Claes could only hold on to what little affection they receive. Although the rescues of these girls were merciful, the fratelli realize the cruelty of stripping them of their childhood and a chance at a bright future… or simply at any future for that matter. Each fratello deals with this incongruity in a different way. Jean distances himself from Rico, Marco tries but has a hard time letting go of Angelica, Jose treats Henrietta like his own sister, and Hilshire respects and loves Triela. Still, the futility of a better life for these child assassins is painstakingly obvious. The girls know this; the fratelli know this; we know this.
I love this bittersweet hopelessness. I shed quite a few tears while watching Il Teatrino out of both joy and sadness, sometimes at the same time. Triela deeply loves her fratello, Hilshire. Although both she and I know that the romance will never be, we nevertheless are overjoyed at whatever love and caring attention Hilshire shows. Similarly, Angelica and the audience are elated at any little triumph, even if those fleeting moments seem useless and pathetic in the face of a tragic life, failing health, and certain impending death. Il Teatrino succeeds in illustrating the tiniest light in this romantically bleak tragedy.
Also, the soundtrack is just beautiful. Like the delicate series, the soundtrack by Ootani Kou is both subtle and classy, yet intense at times. Really just an amazing work. Both the opening by KOKIA and the ending by Lia are also amazing.
たった1つの想い (Tatta Hitotsu no Omoi) by KOKIA
GUNSLINGER GIRL ~IL TEATRINO~ Original Soundtrack – Main Theme
Composed by Ootani Kou
I tend to like most series I watch. I use “love” generously in my reviews and impressions. But Gunslinger Girl and Il Teatrino is an anime that stands above most others. This is a series I really do love, as I do Triela.