City Hunter TV Season 2 Collection 2 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2003



What They Say
Are you in trouble? Did you make an unsuspecting deal with a crooked businessman? Are dastardly villains threatening your life? Are you a beautiful woman? Well, then just write XYZ on the message board at the Shinjuku Station, and Ryo Saeba, troubleshooter, expert marksman and incurable ladies' man, will be there to rescue you before you know it. And his partner, the feisty Kaori with her trusty assortment of 100-ton hammers and mallets, won't be far behind. City Hunter is back with more action, more danger and more mokkori excitement than ever before!


The Review!
Defying the odds, the second half of City Hunter 2 manages to be more entertaining than the first. With nearly every story spanning two episodes, the writers manage to combine decent plot lines with over-the-top mokkori humor. The end result had me laughing out loud quite a bit.


Audio:
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.

Video:
ADV again provides a decent transfer for the second half of City Hunter 2. As expected with such a dated show, grain, scratches, and other defects are present throughout each episode. For the most part, these defects do not detract much from the overall viewing experience. However, there is a significant amount of ghosting throughout the entire set. While I did notice some ghosting in the first set, it did not seem as excessive as it did for this set. My eyes and mind must be growing more attuned to picking it up; it is most noticeable during any night or overly dark scenes.

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. There are a few misspellings in the subtitles, but they tend to be quite glaring, as a quick spell check would have weeded them out. Also, the opening credits for the show are handled in an unusual fashion. While the song is subtitled, ADV chose to hard-sub credit translations directly onto the print. This is an odd and disappointing choice when you consider that they have a full English translation of the credits roll after each episode.

Despite these flaws, the set holds up well enough; the ghosting can be distracting at times, but one can also train their brain to have it fade into the background with the rest of the print defects.

Packaging:
The collection comes packaged in a five disc alpha brick. The front cover features Ryo carrying Kaori and another woman from an explosion. 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.

Menu:
The menu for each disc is very simple. A loop from the first 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.

Extras:
Your extras are... wait for it... trailers for other ADV titles on the first disc of the set. And your extras are spent.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My return to the world of mokkori was a welcome one that provided a great surprise. With any long running series, the portions as it draws to a close usually seem to be less powerful than the beginning portions. For City Hunter 2, quite the opposite happened. The first half of the series was an amusing set of thirty plus episodes; action and physical comedy was in abundance making for good, old-fashioned popcorn entertainment. However, things were a bit repetitive making the first set not something I would likely watch repeatedly or in large doses.

After the final credits rolled on the second set, I can easily say that I could easily sit through the final thirty plus episodes in a marathon session. Yes, the comedy and action is still repetitive; Ryo continually suffers the wrath of Kaori yet manages to save the day again and again... and again and again. Yet, it feels like the writers and producers of the show decided to go for broke. The physical comedy is more exaggerated bringing new levels of punishment to Ryo by Kaori and other women's hands.

The mokkori innuendoes are also amplified; the best example would be this. In one episode, Ryo finds himself pinned between two ceiling beams; in front of him is poster of a scantily clad woman. His increasing level of arousal is depicted as a car jack being slowly wound up. He is unable to free himself through conventional means, so he decides to use the one tool powerful enough to get the job done. That's right... he frees himself by giving himself a full erection -- mokkori power indeed. There is no attempt at highbrow humor; it is base innuendo and slapstick, but the writers and animators do a great job setting up and executing each joke. The comedy just works well with the action and made me laugh through nearly each episode.

A large part of why the second set worked was the decision to make nearly every episode two parts. With only four single episode and one three part episode, each story is given a full hour to build and climax (something Ryo continually wishes he could do). The writers were able to slowly build a plot allowing the comedy to blend in with the situations that were occurring. This is what was lacking in the single shot episodes that comprised the bulk of the first set. With less than thirty minutes to tell a story, the comedy felt forced at times with the first set. This seldom happens in the second set; you can still see the jokes coming, but they feel less forced and more of a natural extension of what is going on with the story.

Of course, it would not be City Hunter without the usual tease of Ryo and Kaori's unspoken love for each other. Once again, the near hour length of these stories works to its advantage. The relationship is allowed to grow a bit more subtly and with more rewarding outcomes. There are still some soap opera elements such as Kaori getting amnesia after Ryo makes a bold declaration of love to her again. Most of these "relationship" episodes turned out to be some of my favorites of the whole set.

To try to provide highlights for each disc would be futile; I would just end up describing every single episode. Some episodes are a bit on the mediocre side, but the set as a whole managed to provide more laughs and entertainment than I expected. The small touches, such as Kaori sleeping under a blanket bearing a picture of a 100-ton hammer, are a perfect cap for the series. This set really clicked with me on many levels.

In Summary:
It is rare that a long running series manages to finish stronger than when it started, yet that is exactly what City Hunter 2 managed to do. Having two part episodes helped make the comedy and action flow together without feeling rushed or forced. It is still a repetitive series, but I cannot find any episode in this set that I did not get some enjoyment from. It never pretends to be anything than what it is --over-the-top comedy and action. City Hunter fans and those just looking for a fun action series should do themselves a favor and pick up this set. Mokkori!

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
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
MSRP: 89.98
Running time: 775
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: City Hunter