City Hunter Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Sunday, November 30, 2003
Release Date: Friday, August 01, 2003



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hojo Tsukasa
Translated by:N/A
Adapted by:

What They Say
When there's nowhere else to turn, you can rely on the man they call the "City Hunter".

The neon-lit streets of Tokyo's Shinjuku District are home to an assortment of theives, con artists, gangsters and worse... but "the city that never sleeps" is also the base of operations for Saeba Ryo, a sharpshooting mercenary who protects the innocent as well as perfortates the guilty. Whether he's taking on criminal cartels, tangling with biker gangs, or playing undercover bodyguard for the rich and famous, the City Hunter always keeps his sense of humor and an eye out for beautiful women. But for this "sweeper" of criminal trash, it's not just an adventure... its a well-paying job.

The Review
Packaging:
One the cover for volume 2 is a close-up of the art used for Shueisha's volume 26. It's a pretty nice shot of Ryo in action with Kaori but you will not find scenes like that in this volume.

Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... the logo used by Gutsoon! is exactly like Hojo's original (the only thing missing is the kana translation).

The spine has a close up of Ryo from the front cover with a the #2 in a bullet-hole and the Raijin GN and Gutsoon! logos at the bottom. On the back-cover there are a few CityHun staples - one of Ryo's guns, bulltets, and a mini 10-ton mallet - on a white background. Inside there is a message from the mangaka, Hojo Tsukasa, and a volume header (the art for this the cover art for Shueisha's vol 35). At the end of the volume there are ads for Guardian Angel Getten, FotNS: Master's Edition and Baki the Grappler.

Overall, nice presentation. I think they have some of the best printing I have seen in North America and as noted before the binding is not as tight as it was in initial printings of volume 1.

Artwork:
While not as tight as his current work, Hojo's art in City Hunter is top notch. And as I will be explaining the quality is all over the board.
Character designs are pretty 80's (which would make sense, since this did make its debut in the mid-eighties.) Characters are a little big, with wide shoulders, long strong legs and strong jaw lines. So you usually tend to see strong tough looking guys and hot long legged busty ladies running away from Ryo (for their own reasons).
There is a lot of detail to expressions, as emotions and sight-gags are a big part of the charm of this series. Actually come to think of it, there is a lot of detail in general. Whether its a mokori sighting, complex action scene, gun specs, fancy background or a sight-gag they are all done with the practically the same level of quality.
But what really makes City Hunter interesting is how funny Hojo makes the presentation. At times it almost seems as if his characters are quite aware that they are in a manga. Characters are attacked by dialogue bubbles (pg 35), push them aside (pg 165), and the step in and out of panel with ease. The layout is so hyper its almost showing as much of the story as the plot is and it really makes for a fast flowing read despite the amount of detail.

Orientation/SFX:
This GN like all Gutsoon! titles is right to left. SFX are a mixed bag though. Some of them are subbed and some are just left alone. While I support keeping the original work there I really have to repeat... "they all need to be translated in some way or another." Notes and asides are often left in the gutters (and Hojo sure has a few notes.)

Text:
The translation is good. Hojo's sense of humor is really done well here. As people familiar with the series know there CitiHun has a lot of adult humor in what was a shonen title. The people at Gutsoon!/Coamix really got it down right as the story flows very well. Honorifics are not left in this series which is a shame as that could have added another level to the humor.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the end of volume 1 Kaori gets see the harsh realities behind the life of a sweeper. Now living with Ryo and also doubling-up as her "XYZ" partner she gets to experience the dark and often twisted Shinjuku underworld. Its almost too much to handle with out a little preperation but Kaori is a Makimura so you would expect her to take pride in her work and almost do too much for her sense of duty. Luckily Ryo is almsot always there to keep an eye on her while she learns the ropes. He knows that Union Thorpe will not go away so easily and sees this as an opportunity for Kaori to really see what its like to clean a dirty place like Shinjuku.

On their tails is a man simply known as the General. A guerilla trained soldier in Union Thorpe's cartel, the General is someone that would do almost anything to capture his prey. When his life was on the line he turns his entire body into a weapon in order to kill Ryo.
At the same time, Ryo, with Kaori's help, was almost always a step ahead of the game. His twisted personality taunted and attacked the General's weaknesses to make him even madder. And after feeding the General's madness Ryo defeats the General and makes Union Thorpe back off (at least for now.)

With things settling down for City Hunter, the pair are now in need of funds. Fighting Union Thorpe was a lot of work but since it was personal it really didn't pay very well. So who comes calling but the Ryujinkai. And looks like they are having trouble with Union Thorpe as well but they want Ryo to handle it for them. A little discussion over cocktails at gun point, a little bullet ballet and things Ryo and Kaori made off with some money without much work but then came the payback. And this could be much more dangerous for Ryo than a dozen Union Thorpes.

Now working as a bodyguard for Ryujinkai boss Ryojin Nobou's daughter, Sayaka. Ryo has to deal with high school issues, biker gangs and Sayaka's "bad" attitude. While these punks are all pushovers for Ryo, you know there must be something up Ryujin's sleave but what is it?

Comments
City Hunter is funny, sexy, action packed and at times just plain whacked. Whether its the art, the personalities, the stories, the comedy, the action or just the light nature of this high tension series almost everyone will find something to enjoy.

This volume gives us a good dose of what really makes this series so good. You get some good action and suspense and then well there is an equal amount of comedy and Ryo just being Ryo.

For those looking for a good action title with a good amount of humor this is one of the better ones translated. For those familiar with the anime the pacing is a little slower as this manga while being a little episodic those individual stories are usually quite a few chatpers long so expect a lot more storytelling here.

For those looking for more action and less silliness you should stick with this because there is a good level of suspense here but the mokori action and the relationship between Kaori and Ryo is just a hoot from the beginning.

I have to admit its the only title that I have read that was unanimously enjoyed by everyone I have lent to. In english or japanese, to males or females; I think I have lent my copies of CityHun to about 30 or so people and every single one wanted more. I can see the appeal but I found it really funny that despite knowing the differing tastes of these friends and family members they just always found CityHun entertaining in some way or another.



Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Released By: Gutsoon!
MSRP: 9.95
Pages: 205
ISBN: 1-932454-01-2
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left