I’m not sure what it is – the animation-quality wasn’t really better than usual – but this was the most visually pleasing episode of Il Teatrino yet. Not only that, but it’s also quite possibly the best episode of the entire series so far. It really captured the essence of Gunslinger Girl, more than Madhouse could ever have done with the first season, just because they kept focusing on just the girls, whereas Artland so far has focused just as much on the adults around the girls.
This episode truly showed the difference between the girls’ innocence, and their ruthless brutality. One moment, they’re walking around happily in their new dresses and the other they’re blasting a rain of bullets on a car that’s driven by a bunch of terrorists. What really hit me was that one of these terrorists was an old acquaintance of Jose. In fact, they still kept contact, not knowing about each other’s professions.
I’m also really surprised at how balanced this episode was. So many characters got a bit of development. We have Jose and Jean, who turn out to have a sister. This sister was especially close to Jose, and ended up as a professional harp-player. The reason why she was so close with Jose was because Jean is far more impersonal than I could have imagined. I think that that’s why Jose chose to treat Henrietta so differently, because he had to be nice to his sister who didn’t get any attention from Jean. Jean really scared me when he didn’t even flinch when Rico brutally beat some terrorists.
Speaking of Rico: I can really understand now why her character was forced to change back to her cheery self, when compared to her stoic personality in the Madhouse version. Seeing the usual cheery Rico just mercilessly beat down one of these terrorists makes much more impact from when she was more serious. I’m also glad that Artland chose for a bigger role for Beatrice. According to totoum, she only got one line in the manga, and I’m glad to see that her role for the anime-version has become so much bigger. It shows that the creators aren’t just willing to adapt the anime, but also to improve it. And if the creators can do that, without making it seem like random filler, then that’s the sign of a good adaptation.
Apart from that, there were also a few scenes about Triela, Claes, Marco and Angelica. It also turns out that Marco used to know someone who liked opera (Patricia?).
Seriously, I’m so glad that I gave this series a chance, and looked beyond the bad fight-animation. The plot is just terrific, and this is definitely (apart from Porfy no Nagai Tabi, of course, but there is no series that can beat that behemoth in terms or realism) the best-written series of the shows that premiered in the winter-season.