City Hunter TV Season 3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, March 08, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, December 02, 2003
What They Say
City Hunter's back! Ryo Saeba and his long-suffering partner Kaori are out to make the streets of Shinjuku safe for the weak, the poor, the down-trodden, the... Well, actually, Ryo's just hoping for a little nookie from a grateful client. And Kaori's just hoping her 100-ton hammer is big enough to get Ryo's mind off the girls and on his job. With a bevy of beautiful women and a host of dastardly villains hanging around, City Hunter's got to be ready for any kind of action in City Hunter TV 3!
As the packaging says, "It's Mokkori Time Again!" City Hunter 3 is a brief diversion that lacks the punch of its predecessor.
As with the previous collections, there is only a Japanese audio track available. It is clear and problem-free given its age. This series seemed to feature more incidental music in the background, but it blended into and did not overshadow the dialogue or action.
The burning question City Hunter fans have is whether or not the ghosting issues present throughout the second series collection is also present in this collection. I am pleased to say that the are not. The video holds up well for its age though it does contain grain, scratches, and other minor print defects throughout. Colors are very bright but not oversaturated, a surprise considering it hails from the late 1980s. There was one spot in one episode where the video seemed to experience some jitter, but the rest of the collection did not exhibit this behavior.
As the background explodes behind him once again, Ryo graces the front cover of the three disc brick with a display of his shooting prowess. The back cover contains the requisite synopsis, screenshots, and disc specifications. Inside is a one-page insert that replicates the front cover image with the reverse side listing what episodes are on what disc.
The menus for this set are nearly identical to the ones in the City Hunter 2 collections changing only the color of the background explosion image and changing the music loop to be from the latest opening song. The episode list is still on the right, and there is still no "Play All" option. Once you choose an episode, the liner notes or the standard mokkori definition is displayed before moving onto the actual episode. The episodes will then play one after another as if a "Play All" option was selected.
The last disc contains six trailers for other ADV titles as well as the trailers for the City Hunter movies and OVAs.
Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Only thirteen episodes long, City Hunter 3 is an amusing diversion, but it never has the opportunity to achieve any momentum. The formula for the series changed little from it predecessor; half of the episodes are self-contained stories while the other half were two part stories. Ryo still chases after mokkori with Kaori's lethal arsenal right behind him. Bad men are after cute women, and only Ryo can save the day. Yet, the comedy and action was not quite as entertaining.
There were a few spots that brought out the raucous laughter once again; these were mostly self-deprecating shots at the series itself. My favorite example is having a client ask a hammered Ryo why he cannot avoid Kaori's strikes. Ryo simply responds, "I don't know". The timing, setup, and imagery around this joke were brilliant; it reminded me how much fun I had watching the second series.
However, these spots were sparse; after the over the top antics of the second series, the jokes just seemed too tame in comparison. While Ryo is noted for his gunplay, this series focused more on his detective skills. It was a refreshing change, but the writing for the stories was just bland. It did not help matters much that Umibozu and the rest of the secondary cast were not featured much in the series. It took this series to make me realize just how good a straight man Umibozu for Ryo.
There was a bright spot at the end of the tunnel; the final four episodes comprising two separate stories provided some strong development of Ryo and Kaori's relationship. Saying too much about these episodes would ruin the fun of watching them, but by the end, both Ryo and Kaori seem to take a solid step together in admitting that they are more to each other than just partners.
I think the main problem with this series was its length; it really had no chance to find its legs and figure out where it wanted to take our heroes and how to get them there. While the final two stories pack quite a punch, the punch comes out of nowhere. Both of these stories felt like they belonged more at the end of the second series, as they fit the growth of the characters that occurred in that series. At then end of this series, they just seem oddly out of place but most welcome in an otherwise mediocre outing.
While packing a strong punch at the end, the majority of this series falls short of the mark set by its predecessor. The comedy and action for the bulk of the series is mediocre and does not provide a great foundation for its brilliant ending. Since it is a short series, I would highly recommend this as a rental title, but it might have a hard time finding a permanent place on your shelf unless you absolutely have to own two "very special moments" between Kaori and Ryo.
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: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: City Hunter