Over a year after I first started watching it, at last I've come to the end of Gunslinger Girl - Il Teatrino, a show that really didn't impress me for the first half of the series, but one that has in all fairness grown on me as it matured and improved throughout its second half.
Of course, this final episode takes us to the grand finale of the Pinocchio story, promising (and delivering) an action-packed instalment full of violence both dished out and received by the girls. While the main focus is inevitably on Triela's battle against Pinocchio, Rico and Angelica both get in on the action as well, mainly thanks to Franco and Franca's last ditch attempt at saving Christiano. Does their attempt succeed? Who knows, it seems unlikely all things considered, but we're left hanging on this front. Pinocchio's fate is far less uncertain however, as he pays the ultimate price in his fight against Triela.
Il Teatrino was always going to have an uphill struggle to live up to the standards set by the original Gunslinger Girl series, and you get the feeling that this pressure weighed heavily upon it a lot of the time - Particularly in the early episodes, you almost felt like they were trying too hard to recreate that special atmosphere sported by the original episodes, and in the attempt to recapture it they actually lost the essence of everything that was important to it. As the episodes went on however, Il Teatrino did manage to claw back some of those early disappointments, delivering some solid episodes that entertained and felt at least a little truer to the franchise's roots. Even if it couldn't quite recapture the emotional impact of the first season, it still delivered moments that were quite chilling to watch (with Rico in particular making for an uncomfortable subject to view in action), while pulling us through to the end of the Pinocchio storyline in a respectable fashion once it found its stride. Not a classic series then, and arguably not what you would have wanted to see released under the Gunslinger Girl name, but still a series worth watching if you're a fan of the franchise.