My first two titles for the new year started off with a bang. And by that I mean that they were filled with various explosions. The first, NieA under 7, was extremely underwhelming. The second, Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino, did not live up to my fondness for its predecessor, but had its own charms.
NieA7 is a slice of life comedy about a young woman named Mayuko who is studying for her college entrance exams; which, despite being at the top of her class, she didn't pass the first time around. NieA is her alien roommate. Several years ago an alien ship crash landed in the small town of Enohana. This deposited a host of aliens into the town, an addition which the human residents adapted to remarkably quickly. The aliens have a hierarchy among themselves, which also dictates their citizenship status on Earth. NieA is the lowest of the low, a base alien with no antenna on her head, like all other aliens have. She was living in Mayuko's closet before Mayuko moved in, and just didn't leave. She now freeloads off Mayuko and the Enohana Bathhouse, where they live. NieA causes a lot of trouble for Mayuko, collecting junk and building (mostly explosive) UFOs, eating her food, loafing about...but in the end, she does care for Mayuko as a friend. Mayu meanwhile spends every waking moment just trying to get by in the world, going to cram school and working three part-time jobs, hoping that the struggling bathhouse remains in business so she won't lose her home.
NieA7 seems to have a story in there somewhere, they just don't bother to tell it. Something mildly interesting is going on, something is hinted at all over the place, regarding the alien mother ship...but nothing ever comes of it. In the end it's tossed aside without any explanations, making the whole series kind of pointless.
The animation is pretty awful, but I think that may be on purpose. The voice acting on the other hand...well, it's not brilliant. It's actually not bad as far as emoting and inflection goes; it's just kind of grating, and the sound quality isn't the best either.
NieA Under 7 is 13 episodes long, based on a doujinshi by Yoshitoshi ABe, and was released domestically by Pioneer.
Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino is the second season of this girls-with-guns anime. It picks up pretty much right where the first series left off, but don't expect it to just be GSG part II. Il Teatrino has a completely different tone, style, and focus than its predecessor. The first GSG was a melancholy work of art, focusing mostly on Henrietta and her handler Jose, who fit the tone of the show perfectly. Il Teatrino delves more deeply into the manga, and breaks away from the Social Welfare Agency to tell the story of bomb makers Franco and Franca, and the Five Republics Faction of terrorists. The girls and their handlers are still there, but now that their stories have already been told, and we already know who they are, there's less focus on them individually. Triela has a large role this time around, developing a personal vendetta against Five Republics assassin Pinocchio, who humiliated her in one-on-one combat. There is very little focus on the handlers, though we do learn more about Jose and Marco's (Angelica's handler) backgrounds. The focus is strongly on the terrorist faction, particularly Franco, Franca, and Pinocchio.
The colors in Il Teatrino are brighter, the music more upbeat, the animation style completely changed (GSG by Madhouse, IT by Artland), the characters distinctly more cartoonish looking (rather than a more artful, realistic design like before) with their large eyes and round faces. It's a totally different show. And yet it isn't. The girls are still there, they're still struggling with their identities, their fates are still heartbreaking. And there's something to be said about watching adorable little Rico beat the living daylights out of someone while her handler Jean looks coldly on.
The animation isn't the only thing changed, however. The Japanese cast has completely changed, so if you prefer your anime subtitled, be prepared for all new voices. If you prefer your anime in English, then never fear, because FUNimation brought back the original cast (with just a couple exceptions).
Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino runs 13 episodes, and was released by FUNimation in a 2-DVD thinpak box. A couple notes here.... For whatever reason, FUNimation decided to change Franca's name to Flanca in their dub. I have no idea why. In the subtitles she's Franca, in Japanese she's Franca, and in the manga she's Franca. The point, I had thought, was that her partner's name is Franco, so he named her Franca (like, Francesco, Francesca); I guess FUNi doesn't agree with that assessment. Also, while the DVD covers are double sided with gorgeous artwork...they're printed backward, so that the front has the episode titles, and the back has the art. Their Romeo X Juliet DVDs are like this too; I'm not sure why they decided to print them this way. The only thing I can think of is that they want you to see the art side first when you slide the case out of the box. If that's not the case, then I have no idea what they're thinking.
Things have been going strong at ComicAttack! Been doing lots of manga reviews, so check them out! I also joined the legions of twitterers; it's really excellent for networking. Anyway, I can be found at: @girlg33k_Kris.
Right now I'm watching Trigun (again, because I haven't seen it in years and just managed to purchase the series last year), and Gun x Sword, which is like smushing Cowboy Bebop together with Big O - one of my favorite titles with one of my least favorites. I'll attempt to explain that when I review the title once I've finished.