City Hunter : Goodbye my Sweetheart
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 `general' information. This piece of anime differs from some of the others movies in that it is an out and out action piece...with the dial firmly set on the epic end of the scale. Which is sort of a shame, because I was hoping (given the title) to see some growth in the relationship between city hunter and his partner.
Instead, what I got, was a young dancer who has come to city hunter seeking news of her brother. All signs point to him being a truly strange individual, who basically disappeared after destroying all evidence of his youth, on his 18th birthday. Still, he's the last surviving relative she's got and since she's been selected for her first staring role she'd love him to be there. She suspects he's around though, as on several occassions she's received a bunch of black roses.
In fact it quickly becomes obvious that her brother is much more important to the movie than she is. It seems her brother's gone even more strange and is looking to establish himself as an evil mastermind. As such doing something big, flashy and potentially destructive should be enough to threaten big bucks out of the government. At the same time, if he can take out City Hunter his fame is assured. And, since he doesn't actually mind if the last link to his past gets taken out, the most she can do is be an onlooker, occasional victim and work out her own feelings. As such this movie scores very poorly on the `human interest' side of things. The brother must be cold to plot such a brutal plan, and as a result only shows any humanity right at the end of the movie. Combined with some dodgy logic this means that this movie has pretty bad writing for a city hunter anime. This limitation is obvious in a lot of other small touches as well, including the interaction between city hunter and his partner. As well as the fairly unrealistic response to the crisis.
What it gains in is hollywood style blockbuster action. There's some nice mystery developed while we work out what is going on, while getting some more insights into the much loved characters. And then, once the plan is revealed, it's time for some action. Lots of bombs with fancy conditions, a deadly threat, stunts with choppers, trains and cars and exciting gun-play. It's very, very familiar and it's actually a little bit silly. However it is carried off with a sense of class, a good degree of imagination and a real sense of pace and atmosphere. As such it's actually very entertaining, despite being focused on the action rather than the city hunter heritage. The conclusion, once it arrives, is silly but acceptable.
As required for such a piece the animation style has changed. It's more modern looking than much other city hunter material, with detailed appearance, complex coloring and some quite nice stunts. The only problem is that it still looks a bit dated in some aspects, and it loses some of the `feel' of other city hunter material, but it's pretty good stuff. The complexity of items involved, weapons, explosions and the animation of some quite complex mechanical effects is actually very well done. And some of the physical moves are likewise very mature and quite cool. As long as you're in the mood for some, slightly over the top, action and violence this shouldn't disappoint. I also have to admit how impressed I was by some of the ambient sound, some of the weapon sounds, mechanicals and other requirements were awesome. The voices are decent, although dialogue is limited. The music was good and supported the action well.
Oh, and while I remember, kudos to the sub-titlers for including a short summary of the main characters after the movie. While i've seen a little of the TV series I found this very interesting. It's a good example of some of the care fan-subbers can put into their craft.