2009 TV Series (episodes 1-13). Director: Akira Mano. 315 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $59.98. Distributor: Funimation.
A quiet war still rages on the streets of Italy between the government and a terrorist group known as the FRF. The front lines of this conflict, however, are not filled with the glaring stares of brutish soldiers, but the pig-tailed cuteness of little girls. The tender remnants of former lives, these cybernetic assassins are manipulated by the Social Welfare Agency, a covert anti-terrorist and intelligence outfit. And though killers they may be, they’re still little girls in those awkward stages of growing up.
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino is the sequel to a highly successful first season. In fact, this series received so much acclaim that it originally aired in the US on the Independent Film Channel.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Overtly an action filled drama encapsulated within the spy genre, Gunslinger Girl achieves a delicate balance of human story telling and covert bloodshed that invokes classic films like Three Days of the Condor. Viewers may be initially enticed by surgical assassination scenes, but the interaction between these child killers and their handlers, who are responsible for both their training and well being, elicits relationships disturbingly parental and bewitched.
As such, Il Teatrino continues to deliver. Focus now turns upon Triela, the oldest and most methodical of these adolescent assassins. Much to her surprise, she meets her doppelganger. Though a boy, Pinocchio, an agent of the FRF, can match her blow for blow and bullet for bullet. The result is a cybernetic ballet typified by sharp blades and memories of what it meant to be human.
I can’t get enough of this series. Put it this way. You’re truly melancholic when it’s over, when there’s no more.