Anime Meta-Review


City Hunter : Death of the evil Ryo Saeba


By Date




Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: flawed
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Mon Jan 8 21:45:29 EST 2001
  • mod: none

Since I don't mention the fact in my reviews, I should state that Ryo Saeba, as referenced in the title, is city hunters actual name.

If you're in deadly danger, are willing to travel to japan, and just happen to be an attractive woman then your safety is assured. Simply go to a certain train time-table and write XYZ on it and let City Hunter take care of the rest. This anime, from a long running, much loved, but sadly rare television show has spawned a host of movies and OAV's, that are often good fun.

The series revolves around a staple cast of 5 people. There's the awesomely talented ex-mercenary city hunter, who's skills have made him feared (and often challenged) throughout the criminal underworld. He's also making a serious play towards being Japan's number one hentai (pervert) going pretty much out of control (in a humorous way, of course). The one woman in Japan who's immune from his attacks is his partner, whose also a bit tough herself, although many clients realise she's also the only one who might welcome them. As it is she's restricted to solidly malleting or crushing city hunter, both to release her own tensions and to protect the female half of the population. Needless to say, while city hunter never mentions any true feelings for her (which would make her a target) her (frequent) kidnapping turns city hunter into deadly serious mode.

Other characters include a beautiful female police officer who hires city hunter with tokens good for one sexual favor, although he's never managed to redeem one yet. Then there's the proprietors of city hunters favourite coffee shop. They make average coffee, but since both partners are elite mercenaries they're good friends to have. Indeed the character of these two are delightful in themselves and a good balance to the others. Along with all sorts of locations, items and minor characters the movies have the rich heritage of the TV series to draw on...although it's a shame the TV series is so rare that a summary like this is somewhat neccessary. It's important because the human interaction, and complex characters, are so vital to the city hunter experience.

But, enough of the generic introduction, because this example of City Hunter anime has one very important difference. A difference that means you don't need to be knowledgeable about, or a fan of, the previous material. Sadly, that reason is that it's really terrible.

The story certainly seems classical enough, albeit a bit derivative. It seems that the powerful mega-city TV has come to dominate the airwaves of Japan. Thus City-Hunter is suprised to find that his prospective new client is none other than mega-city TV's star announcer who claims her life is in deadly danger. This is even more suprising because in theory she's making a live broadcast at the same time. It seems that foul play is going down at the TV stations huge headquarters. This is not too suprising given the immense money and power available to whoever controls the station. In addition it seems all the staff, including city hunters client, are wearing rather devious and diabolical `loyalty' rings. Combine this with an ability to digitally retouch footage, in order to paint City Hunter as a murderous kidnapper, and it may be that City Hunter is facing his most dangerous foe ever.

Certainly the plot sounds alright. The idea of the immense power hi-tech media has, and how it could be used in the wrong hands, has a certain epic scope. But the way in which this story is used is very poor, there's definitely some inane scene writing and lots of holes in the larger story. Leading up to a conclusion which invalidates much of what has gone before. It really does feel like the author lost control of this one. And, sad to say, the story is the strongest element of the story.

The thing is that City Hunter has always been character driven. Sure the story sets the frame, but it is the cool personalities and abilities of the regular cast that draw you in. In this case, whether a novice or a fan, you're likely to be unimpressed by the shallow representations presented here. City Hunter himself has never been more incompetent and unfunny, and his switch into `hero' mode doesn't seem believable. His partner is violent and incompetent while the rest of the cast are largely without character. And their reaction to the story, in all cases, is just ridiculous which makes the whole thing feel very artificial.

And then, finally, there's the action which is another trademark of a City Hunter anime. Well, at least this show is consistent, because the action is boring, illogical and poorly animated. In fact, to be honest, all the animation is fairly unattractive. While it might be technically competent it feels cheap and ugly from the first time you see it. But the action, yech. The old sliding frames, cut sequences and disconnected scenes sends this right to the bottom of the pack. If you watch anime you've seen it before, watching City Hunter turn and fire five times and then cutting to a still of five fallen bodies, but all the other movies (and the TV series) have led to expecting much better than this. It's boring, soulless and incredibly unimpressive. The voices seem also to have picked this quality level up, with even the limited dialogue sounding more strained than normal.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:16 WST 2009