El Cazador de la Bruja's pedigree is something anime fans should clamor for. The team that brought hits such as Noir and Madlax into being made Bruja an unsung part of their girls with guns trilogy. It's the spiritual successor to both of those projects and should appeal to fans of both shows and newcomers alike. The series was originally released in 2007 and ran for 26 episodes. FUNimation acquired the license for release here in the States and separated the series into two 13 episode collections. The first was released about a month ago, and the second has recently been issued as well.
Taking place in Mexico, El Cazador de la Bruja follows the exploits of a bounty hunter named Nadie. This red-haired, tanned beauty means business. She's not afraid to pull out her guns and doesn't hesitate when it's time to throw down. In the first episode of the series she joins up with an enigmatic young girl named Ellie, who is not quite what she seems. Ellie is actually an artificial life form from a project known as Leviathan. She was created with the intent to harvest the power of witches, and that makes her a highly valuable commodity. Different factions are tracking her down and, though Nadie is a bounty hunter collecting Ellie's bounty, she actually signs up to protect her and uncover the truth about her past in the interim.
As the two travel through the south of Mexico they bump into other bounty hunters, super-powered weirdos, and all manner of other people out to cause them harm. The first half of the show took them quite a ways and had them barely manage to get out of several scrapes. The series proved to be very episodic with a new town or person to help at each turn of the road. With each episode further mysteries about Ellie's past came to be and her relationship with Nadie grew stronger. In the final episode of the first 13 we saw Nadie catch more of a glimpse of Ellie's past, and it left us eagerly waiting for this final half.
This installment opens up with an examination of Ellie's history. Specifically the episode looks at some of what transpired between her and Dr. Heinz Schneider, the man she has a memory of murdering. This single episode sheds new light on the event that took its toll on Ellie's personality, and we get some nice bits of their relationship prior to Schneider's death. From here the show gets back on its episodic foot with an episode involving a hot spring that sees Ricardo and Lirio make an appearance. Then Nadie falls into something of a financial hardship, which forces the duo to work in a taco shack, and take up hunting other bounties.
Leading up to the final leg of Nadie and Ellie's journey there are some interesting events as Ellie's power continues to grow. Ricardo also becomes more involved and is eventually a great ally in their fight against Rosenberg. As the show comes to a close the intricacies of the plot that revolve around the Leviathan project intensify. There are many climactic moments towards the end and some things happen in ways other than you'd think they would. I was pleasantly surprised that the show wrapped up as nicely as it did. The ending is fitting and leaves the door open for further adventures of the characters.
El Cazador de la Bruja is a fine successor to Noir and Madlax. The characters are fun, exciting, and mysterious. The story is interesting an keeps you strung along for the majority of its run thanks to the look at Ellie's past. The only drawback to this series is the episodic nature, which falls into some stereotypical pitfalls in this half. Still, Bruja is packed with action and maintains an atmosphere unlike any other. Consider it highly recommended!
El Cazador de la Bruja is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio that has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show has a very nice look with some solid designs, smooth animation, and vibrant colors. The transfer does justice to the series with a strong image that only falters with some higher than normal levels of grain and grit at times. Then again, that may have been intentional considering most of the series takes place in a desert environment. Whatever the case, this is a good looking show despite the grain and fans of Bee Train will certainly appreciate the work they did with the designs.
English 5.1 surround and Japanese 2.0 stereo are almost expected nowadays. In that regard El Cazador de la Bruja does not disappoint. The quality of both dubs is solid and in all honesty I didn't have a preference of one versus the other. I will say that the English 5.1 certainly offered a more dynamic presentation on the soundstage than the Japanese 2.0, but that's to be expected I suppose. The many gunfights offer some great moments for bullets to whiz by your head and ricochet off walls. Unfortunately the Japanese track is mostly flat with no channel separation.
Some clean animations and trailers are here as one would expect, but just like the first half of the show there's an audio commentary here with some of the English cast and crew. As far as commentary tracks go this one was just as entertaining as the other one for this series. It makes me wish there were more tracks such as this made for the show.
El Cazador de la Bruja starts off with a bang and keeps the momentum going for the entirety of its 26 episodes. The first half proved to be quite the adventure and the second packs the same amount of punch. Nadie and Ellie are a memorable duo and the mystery that backs the show is very compelling. The episodic nature hurts the experience a smidge, but it's merely a chip in the otherwise flawless armor. Consider this show highly recommended, especially if you enjoyed Noir or Madlax
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