Anime Meta-Review


City Hunter


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 11-12,27-28,49-50,65,90-91
  • type: TV
  • grade: worthy
  • Other elements of this title:
    • This title was never completely translated.
  • source: fansub
  • form: sub
  • Series state: Can't find any more to watch.
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Thu Dec 28 21:14:47 EST 2000
  • mod: none

Well, i'd heard the name thrown around quite a lot. Since it seems the old salts on usenet still have fond memories of this dated series. And when I got the chance to see some I was delighted to find that it was pretty enjoyable.

The story involves the main character who's a nice mixture of disparate parts. On the one hand he's a professional bodyguard / troubleshooter with near super-human skills. At the same time he's got a good heart, a sense of justice and an uncanny ability to see into the thoughts of others. And, finally, he's an absolute super-hentai who will go through any danger for a chance to get lucky or acquire some new items for his `collection' of female under-garments.

And, while it's terribly bad form to mention other anime, I have to draw a connection to Urusei Yatsura. If you've seen Ataru go into full drool mode, his hopeless approaches to every cute female he see's, his freakish physical abilities (and ability to survive) and, every so often, the suggestion of a bit of depth, then you've got a good model for the lead here. Obviously this was a pretty common archetype of the era, with the twist being that city-hunter is generally more mature and capable interspersed with moments of pure Ataru.

And, as a final nod to the analogy, he's also brought Shinobu along to pound him with a mallet whenever he looks like he's getting too successful. Although in this case it's a tough woman, who seems to have had a rough and tomboyish life of her own, and is now the leads partner. Together the two of them run a business that will help those in distress (you can call him by writing XYZ on a certain train time table)...although the lead (and apparently the authors) have a marked preference for attractive women. And, along the way, there's all sorts of interesting stories, characters and events to keep the entertainment flowing.

And, in the episodes I have seen, it appears to have been a very successful experiment. The whole private eye / guardian bit is a good start, allowing all sorts of exotic situations to develop. And the lead is so capable and confident that no story is too large for him to get involved in. Thus there's elements of dangerous gunplay, investigation and action in general. And the writing for this is pretty good, there's enough good scenes, memorable lines and character moments to keep things exciting. In addition stories often have suprises, twists or novel elements (as well as the skill to exploit this originality) which extends the familiar genre in interesting ways. And, once again marking the superior writing, there's often a human element to the story and a bit of character drama, to give a sense of depth to the whole mix. The character attributes, and interplay, between the main characters being very entertaining in its own right. On the downside I think the super-lecher as a staple of comedy has dated a lot, but there's still a good sense of humor behind this skillfull and interesting mix of elements. The shame is, being an older and long running TV series, finding it might be challenging.

It also appears that at episode 51+ the show may have been called City Hunter 2, although it continues on fairly closely. A couple of characters have been promoted to `regular' status (and they're pretty damn cool in their own rights) and the animation might be a bit better, but it's not dramatic enough (nor have I seen enough) to make a second review worthwhile.

As I mentioned this isn't a new series, and the animation has a dated feel as a result. However it's not really a problem, as the quite detailed appearance for many of the characters looks quite good. And they can always go a bit super-deformed when they need to do some manic action. And since the majority of the action is gunplay (rather than martial arts) a lot of it can be made up of still poses. In fact I must admit that, after getting used to the style, I found it quite attractive. There's some excellent `staging' of the characters shots, the detailed character designs have a lot of personality and the action is well staged and novel. Things like watching a bullet track, or interesting use of focus, actually gave it a competent and eminently watchable feel. The voices are pretty good, lots of `era names' doing cameo's which will be fun for VA fans, and the music (while having a certain dated/disco feel) was actually quite good. This is competent stuff that has dated very well.


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