City Hunter TV Season 2 Collection 1 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, November 30, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, October 28, 2003
What They Say
The City Hunter: a legendary name in the Japanese underworld, and with good reason. He's the best there is. He's Ryo Saeba-troubleshooter, expert marksman and inveterate womanizer. Ryo will take any case so long as the client is a pretty woman and she's willing to pay his price... a night of bliss at a local hotel. Unfortunately, his headstrong partner Kaori is always around to keep Ryo's overactive libido in check with a friendly tap from her 100-ton hammer. Still, no matter the odds, a woman in trouble can count on City Hunter for help. The bad guys might as well give up now!
My introduction into the wild world of mokkori provided me with enjoyable ride filled with physical comedy, action, and some scattered character development. I do believe I have a new guilty pleasure.
Dub fans are out of luck as there is only a Japanese audio track available on this set; the audio was clear and sharp throughout and contained no noticeable dropouts or problems. Since the show is quite dated, it is a simple stereo track; there are not many directional effects to give your sound system a workout. Most of the action comes from the center channel, but the audio does present some realistic sounds during the numerous gunfights.
For a show produced in 1987, City Hunter 2 looks fairly decent. There is a significant amount of grain, scratches, and other defects present throughout each episode. However, the defects are not predominant enough to distract much during your viewing session. The subtitles are yellow for dialog and white for signs; all subtitles are quite legible and do not distract much from the on-screen action. The video holds up well given its age.
Like the previous collections, this one comes packaged in a five disc alpha brick. The front cover features Ryo shooting at the viewer while an explosion occurs behind him. On the back are the requisite screenshots, content summary, and disc details. Inside the brick is a one-page insert that replicates the front cover image on one side with the other side containing a listing of what episodes are on what disc.
The menu for each disc is very simple. The opening theme song plays in the background while you determine which episode you wish to view or if you wish to view any extras present on the disc. There is no "Play All" menu item, but the episodes will play one after another starting with the episode you choose. Once you choose an episode, you are brought to a series of screens that contain liner notes for the episode. If no liner notes are available, a generic explanation of mokkori is given.
The first disc contains trailers for other ADV titles; the last disc contains trailers for the various City Hunter films and OVAs.
Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having never watched any City Hunter prior to this collection, my only knowledge of the series was that it featured a sharp-shooting "cleaner" with a penchant for skirt chasing. Reviews of the previous collections prepared me for a repetitive series of gags and plot lines. That is exactly what this set provided, but the series does not pretend to be anything more than what it is. It is the quintessential popcorn series; just sit back and enjoy.
City Hunter 2 is mostly episodic though there are multi-part stories on each disc. Generally, the premise for each episode involves Ryo taking on a job that involves a pretty, or mokkori as he would say, woman. Bad men are after this woman for some reason, and it is up to Ryo to stop them if he can control his raging libido and avoid Kaori's omnipresent hammer. There is never any tension in the action, as you know that Ryo is going to come out on top despite the odds, but it is entertaining to watch Ryo show off his superior marksmanship.
On the comedy side, one can expect a lot of physical and sight gags. The bulk of these gags revolve around Ryo trying to obtain mokkori only to have Kaori's hammer firmly planted into his cranium. You can see the setup coming, but it does not lessen the impact (pun intended; insert your groans here...) of the scene. I found myself laughing out loud at least once during each episode. Kaori also happens to have a tomboy look providing many opportunities to show off her temper as someone either mistakes her for a man or Ryo finds another woman more attractive than her.
Another source of amusement were the self-referential jabs the show takes at itself. For example, one episode revealed that Kaori keeps her hammers hidden in her closet. The sight of all those hammers straining against the door was priceless. Other scenes have characters referring to past episodes they have been in or just generally mocking the repetitive nature of the show. It does not take itself seriously, as it just wants to entertain the audience with action while making them laugh as well.
It should be noted though that the series is not devoid of character development. While it is not an essential ingredient in the show's formula, we do get a better understanding of who the characters are and why they behave the way they do. Kaori and Ryo are clearly in love with each other but cannot express this to each other. For Ryo, it is simply a matter of trying to keep her safe given the nature of his business. He knows that if he cares too deeply about her he will put both of their lives at risk. So, he does his best to keep her at a distance by chasing other women, something he just naturally enjoys as it is, and by making unflattering remarks. Kaori realizes this to a certain extent and wants to prove to him that she is capable enough to be his partner in every aspect of his life.
But, the show is mostly about mokkori and action. So, here are some highlights from each disc. Disc one opens with a four episode story arc; the plot revolves around an assassin named "Silver Fox". Initially, he is targeting an up-and-coming model named Akemi. Akemi accidentally captures Silver Fox on film as he is leaving the scene of a hit. Ryo eventually beats Silver Fox but leaves him alive and humiliated. Silver Fox wants revenge and decides to use Kaori as his bait to lure Ryo into a duel. This arc lays the foundation for the rest of the character and relationship development in this collection.
Disc two features two amusing stories; the first revolves around Ryo taking on the job of protecting a very young princess and her attendant. What Ryo does not know is that the young girl is actually the attendant; both the attendant and Kaori do not want Ryo to unleash his mokkori power on the na´ve princess. Of course, Ryo attempts to do just that anyway but is constantly foiled by a mysterious and noble aura. It causes much confusion for Ryo and Kaori and provides many opportunities for the viewer to laugh. Having grown up watching professional wrestling, the episode revolving around a crime syndicate trying to fix a female wrestling match on this disc was amusing on many levels.
Disc three features a glimpse into Umibozu's past, but it is the last two stories that really caught my attention. One story revolves around Kaori taking on an assignment to help out an old man trying to protect a bottle of wine; unfortunately for her, the old man is as lecherous as Ryo. The last story serves up a soap opera twist as Kaori bumps her head and suffers from amnesia. This convenient plot device allows Ryo to admit something difficult to Kaori, but he is fortunate that Kaori ends up believing it was just a dream after regaining her memory.
Disc four contains some hilarious and well-thought out pieces. One of my favorite stories in the whole collection has Ryo being targeted by Kaede, a female ninja out to make a name for herself in the underworld. Unfortunately for her and her three loyal ninja companions, her skills are considerably lacking making her an easy target for Ryo's kung-fu mokkori grip. As Kaede constantly manages to fail in her task, her henchmen have an amusing conversation about how cool it would be to live as salarymen.
The other piece is a two-part story revolving around a gender-bending bodyguard assignment. Saeko coerces Ryo into being the bodyguard for Keiichi, a prominent actor who will be testifying in a drug case in a week. His reward will be a date with Keiichi's gorgeous sister Keiko. However, Keiichi and Keiko are really one and the same person, that person being a woman. At one point, Keiko is a woman pretending to be a man who then has to pretend to be a woman. Even Ryo is confused as he cannot help but find Keiichi strangely attractive.
Disc five deals with the past, as Kaori must learn if her dead brother Hideyuki was smuggling drugs before his death, and Ryo learns that friendship can only go so far. Both stories were two part episodes and paced the action and character interaction very well.
Much like The Three Stooges, this is a guilty pleasure that provides repetitious gags and action. You know that Moe will slap around Larry and Curly (or Shemp if you prefer), and you know that Kaori will be ringing Ryo's bell with her hammer while Ryo guns down the bad guys in between his skirt chasing. Despite the obvious setups, you cannot help but laugh anyway. If you are looking for a good dose of mindless comedy and action, City Hunter 2 is recommend but in small doses only. Repeated viewings are not necessary.
Japanese Language,English Subtitles
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: D+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 800
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: City Hunter