Gunslinger Girl is one of the darkest, most interesting shows on the market. The first season was epic, the second season was good (not quite as good as the first, however), and fans will be pleased to know that the OVA is pretty decent as well! This latest release in the series was originally released in Japan in the latter part of 2008. The disc contains two episodes, "The Light of Venice, the Darkness of the Heart" and "Fantasma".
Since the events that take place in Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino OVA are a continuation of some things that happened in the second season of the show, I'll refrain from setting up the story lest I spoil anything for readers that have not seen the series. All I'll say about the set up of the OVA is that, like the show, it follows the exploits of cold-blooded assassins who work for the Italian government via the Social Welfare Agency. These aren't regular assassins, however, since they are cybernetic young girls without much of a past to call their own. Each girl is paired with a handler and together they work to bring down terrorists who threaten their homeland and the world.
The two episodes in the Gunslinger Girl OVA take place after the series and are more or less just a continuation of the character's stories. Right out front I want to say that while I appreciate some of what's here, as a fan of the show it feels rather superfluous. The second season wrapped up quite nicely and really didn't need something like we have here. With that being said I'm always happy for more Gunslinger Girl, and that craving is certainly met here!
"The Light of Venice, the Darkness of the Heart" is rather a one-off story that involves some terrorists from Rome. This one is interesting because it gives more of an insight into Jean's character that we didn't have before. There's a glimpse into his past and it all rolls into a plot that involves his fiancé's brother. One thing leads to another and Jean winds up on a mission with Rico that sees a slight change in his character that is great appreciated.
"Fantasma" is somewhat similar to the first episode here as it focuses on Giuseppe and Henrietta and their relationship. This episode in particular was slightly different than the norm in the sense that it's more of a character piece rather than one filled with action and blood. It's certainly a nice inclusion for fans of the show, but many of the subtleties will be lost upon those that have not seen the other seasons. Like the first episode with Jean's development, we get a nice focus on Giuseppe while everyone is on vacation.
The OVA doesn't necessarily replace any ending that show offered prior to, but rather it's more of a continuation of the lives of the characters. We get a great bit of focus on some of the more enigmatic personas from the show and it really changes the dynamic of their relationships. Fans will definitely want to check this release out, but the uninitiated will want to see the actual show before digging into these two episodes.
Presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and enhanced for anamorphic widescreen playback, the image quality for Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino OVA is virtually identical to that of the second season. The designs of the characters are quite familiar and the world has the same kind of vibe from it, though the content of these two episodes is different from the rest of the series. The show utilizes a similar brand of contrast and colors to create an atmosphere unlike any other. The quality of the picture remains sharp as well with only a few moments where blocking and grain are noticeable, but not too distracting.
The Gunslinger Girl OVA hits DVD with English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound and Japanese 2.0 Stereo as its sources of output. Technically speaking the English selection packs more of a punch with fight sequences springing to life with greater directionality and presence on the soundstage. The English dub cast also did a fantastic job with the material, though I'm fairly certain some of the cast has changed. Whatever the case, it's a quality dub and matches the Japanese language to the letter. Great job all around with this set!
Some clean animations and trailers are included here for bonus features. There's also a conversational Japanese interview segment which offers some nice insight into the original production and experience of one of the voice actors.
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino OVA is a welcome step back into the haunting world of the Social Welfare Agency and its girls. The two episodes here are entertaining and provide some nice character development. Fans of the series that have longed for more of a background on Giuseppe and Jean will love some of what happens here, but those looking for action may be sorely disappointed. The bottom line is consider this OVA recommended if you liked the show, but if you haven't seen it be sure to check out the series itself first.
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