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City Hunter - Season 3 (Complete)

ADV Films // Unrated // December 2, 2003
List Price: $44.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Don Houston | posted February 24, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Movie: Much like our own culture, the Japanese have long held a fascination with detectives, police and guns. Just like here, they seem to worship these heroes and tools of their trade, judging by how many television shows, movies and even radio dramas center on them. Back in the 1980's a show came out that centered on a detective in Japan who's legendary skills with his revolver (the choice of weapon for real men everywhere) earned him the name, City Hunter.

The detective's name was Ryo Saeba (voiced by Akira Kamiya) and his quick wit combined with his shooting skill made his enemies cringe in fear as he rousted them in order to protect his city and clients from them. Not much of a businessman, Ryo hired Kaori Makimura (voiced by Kazue Ikura), as his secretary to handle his paperwork and take care of the business aspects of his agency. The two struggle to find cases since Ryo also has a reputation for being a lecher, chasing skirts every chance he gets and often proposing romantic liaisons with any female he comes across (including clients). Kaori has a bit of a crush on him and whenever she catches him so much as looking at another woman, she hits him with a large mallet that appears out of nowhere.

The mallet is more of a literary device used to get his attention and is the only fantasy element of the show. It was added to keep the show from getting too serious by way of adding comic relief. To see Kaori pull out (of the air) a 100 ton mallet and smash Ryo on the head with it as he tries to put his best (really lame) moves on a gal is funny.

I've reviewed a few of the movies released that came after the series had ended, Bay City Wars & Million Dollar Conspiracy being the best to date, and the series was actually more enjoyable for me. While Season Three, the subject of this review, only had thirteen episodes, several of them were in two parts that ended up being the de facto way the movies were released. Each regular episode, with few exceptions, stood on its own merit rather than the soap opera fashion so many series, anime or not, have become accustomed to. This helps when you just want to plop in an episode and mindlessly watch it.

The series is often regarded as a guilty pleasure of sorts since it relies so heavily on Ryo's lustful attempts at scoring but if you look beyond the obvious, Ryo's detective abilities match those of other well-known detectives such as Columbo, Agatha Christy, and Barnaby Jones, to name a few. While his opponents are often two-dimensional caricatures (this is anime after all), some of them rose above the pack, like Sophie in the season finale, and became regulars after the season was over. The third season also had Falcon in more than a couple of episodes, although not to the extent he was in the movies, who added his own brand of detective skills to the mix (even though at odds with our hero). Here's a list of the episodes, noting that if you've seen a single movie or episode of the City Hunter series, you'll know what to expect:

Season Three:

Episode One: De-Mokkori Declaration! XYZ Saves The World:
Episode Two: The Greatest Flagrant Love Committed! How To Hit On A Beautiful Lawyer:
Episode Three: Even Kaori's Pissed! Ryo & A Young Lady ~Pinch Hitter Marriage Story~:
Episode Four: Dangerous Detective Game! A Python For The Lady (Part 1):
Episode Five: Dangerous Detective Game! A Python For The Lady (Part 2):
Episode Six: Stubborn Umibozu! Tale Of The Jealous Kitten:
Episode Seven: Love Is Diving! When A Beauty Puts On A Swimsuit:
Episode Eight: Who The Heck Is Ryo? Even The College Girl Is Smitten With The Thrill:
Episode Nine: Love Forecast Of Rain, Then Shine! The Beautiful Newscaster's Umbrella Of Love:
Episode Ten: A Wedding Dress For Christmas (Part 1):
Episode Eleven: A Wedding Dress For Christmas (Part 2):
Episode Twelve: Goodbye City – A Farewell Gift (Part 1):
Episode Thirteen: Goodbye City – A Farewell Gift (Part 2):

I liked the show enough to give it a rating of Recommended, despite the technical limitations of its age. While the show is sure to cause eyes to roll among the close-minded snobs of the Universe, fans of older anime will appreciate ADV's attempts to release the show in its original form. There were no dubs this time but I was appreciative that the entire season was placed on three discs unlike the first two seasons that were released on two sets of two discs. This allowed ADV to lower the price and if the result was the minimal extras, I think fans will have little problem considering the lack of material from which to place on the set.

Picture: The picture was presented in the original 1.33:1 ratio full frame color as originally released. The show looked its age and had a fair amount of scratches and grain, with occasional compression artifacts and slight amounts of video noise, but on the whole, it looked pretty solid, all things considered. The animation style itself was somewhat limited but the show wasn't based on looking cutting edge, even when it was released in Japan.

Sound: The audio was presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese with English subtitles. There was no dub (a shame) and some of the time the subtitles were slightly off as well as a bit stilted in terms of what the characters were saying but my understanding is that perfect translations were all but impossible, usually due to language idiosyncrasies and cultural matters. The vocals were clear though and the music and effects contributed to an enjoyable experience but there was no separation on the audio tracks (I believe it was recorded in monaural originally) for those who wanted it completely remastered (this version was listed as being remastered in 2000).

Extras: There was a single sheet paper insert and a few Japanese translations before some of the episodes. While this is not much, the series was packed onto three discs in order to lower the MSRP.

Final Thoughts: The series had its share of flaws but on the whole was fun to watch. I think fans of the show were well served by this release and as a value oriented set, had a lot to like. The content being the number one reason to get this one, I think it had plenty of replay value for fans of detective/cop shows.

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