City Hunter Vol. #05 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Thursday, July 01, 2004
Release Date: Thursday, April 01, 2004
What They Say
The wait is finally over! Hojo Tsukasa, Gutsoon! and the cast of City Hunter would like to introduce... Nogami Saeko! If Ryo, Kaori and Umibozu were not enough trouble. I hope this is not the last we see of Saeko and her gang... err, I meant Ryo and Kaori.
What They Say:
CITY HUNTER IS HIS NAME. TAKING OUT BAD GUYS IS HIS GAME.
A very special brand of troubleshooter known as a "sweeper" for his talents in sweeping the streets of criminal vermin, Saeba Ryo, a.k.a. the City Hunter, has tackled all manner of cases, from dismantling and international drug cartel to guarding neurotic rich girls. At the moment, however, he's been presented with a new challenge by the Police Department! His mission is to steal a hidden, microfilmed military secret from a museum exhibit that's being protected by a lethal security system as well as lethal security guards!
The cover art appears to be a modified version of the original cover for volume 5. It is an action piece with Ryo and Saeko (showing some leg) as they jump to safety away from what appears to be an explosion. On the back there is a sketch of Kaori looking sexy on a blue colored cityscape background.
Logo Check!!! (2003 Megs).... the logo used by Gutsoon! is exactly like Hojo's original (the only thing missing is the kana translation).
Inside this volume are character profiles and Saeko showing some leg on the volume header. This GN also contains an ad for Raijin Graphic Novels.
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 mokkori 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 interact with the mangaka, push panels aside, 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.
This volume does have a lot of fan service but no nudity (well, Ryo does show his naked butt a few times...).
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.)
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. This title does not use honorifics much between its main characters but it is still unfortunate that they are not used at all (ie: in situations where Ryo/Kaori talk to clients) that could have added another level to the humor.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After four volumes and thirty-five chapters we have got to know Saeba Ryo's quirks and downfalls. Poor Kaori has been with us practically every step of the way, as we see the multiple personalities of this master "sweeper." In volume five we get to know another side of Ryo. This side is one that he from the get-go admits is a problem he has no solution for; a problem that chronically haunts him in so many ways he is often torn between his mind and his, his, his.... his groin!
Nogami Saeko is a high ranking inspector for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. She, like a majority of Hojo's female characters, is strikingly beautiful. Much worse she is a tease, quite capable with a knife and pretty introverted when it comes to case details. She knows Ryo very well (Ryo often wishes she didn't).
Today she has come calling to ask a "favor." The Police Department has found out some info on weapon information being smuggled through the country with an exhibit of international artifacts. As their is that international tie-in to this case the Police will not touch this themselves. That is where Ryo comes in. Saeko is well aware that if there is anyone in the Tokyo area that is above/around the law and more importantly capable of doing this job, it is Ryo. This job is not going to be easy, so not only is she going to use all of her talents to get Ryo on the case, she will have to make sure Ryo is on his top game as well. And if there is one common theme in Saeko's "favors" is her always keeping secret just how hard a job will be (the more charms, the harder the job).
So the initial phase was impossible, as in quickly accomplished by Ryo, but from there the rest of Saeko's assignment started to kick in and Ryo was now in for the long haul. Foreign militaries have now taken Ryo and Saeko hostage partially for their attempt to get access to their national treasures and partially to collect the microfilm that has the weapon information they would like to use themselves. This job is starting to look like something for the military instead of the police, but Ryo came prepared... yup, he has his patchwork boxers!! Whether its just a small gang or an army of women, his drawers have enough drugs soaked into them he can knockout... Wait! An army of women?
Seems there was another point Saeko failed to share with Ryo. This assignment goes all the way to the top of Roxia's regime; all the way to the Crown Prince. If his army was not enough, the prince himself is quite capable and has a trait that rivals Ryo's mysterious abilities. The guy appears to allergic to men, hence the army of women, so as soon as Ryo gets within yards of him his body reacts helping him see through most stealth attacks. Now Ryo is going to have to go face to face against this corrupt royal and he has to avoid all the mokkori situations that are bound to come up.
The last chapter introduces Ryo to the Gambling Queen. Having been well paid by actual government officials from Roxia, Ryo moves onto what should be an easier assignment. Today, he has been called out to met with someone at the local yakuza run casino. His only tip is a ¥1000 chip, but with all the excitement (okay, the beautiful croupier at the roulette table) had to use his accidentally chip. Somehow, lady luck was on his side today cause no matter what he did with that chip on this table it would always come back to him. Maybe this croupier lady luck! Maybe Ryo could get lucky? Not likely.
If there is a character in the City Hunter world that deserves an entire volume for an introduction it has to be Saeko. Her skills and personality could make for a good spin-off manga, but in CityHun she plays the roles of many characters in one. Confidant, rival, pimp, or unattainable dream to Ryo, Saeko knows when to play each role quite often successfully. The sexual tension between her and Ryo is obviously one-sided, but one can only wonder if there ever could be something more to these two (kinda how I wonder if Ryo and Kaori could ever be that intimate without there being mallets involved). On the other hand, maybe Ryo has already established a connection to Saeko where he would help her out unconditionally, with mokkori being an added bonus if he could ever get so lucky. Hmmm... let's stick with the former, shall we.
While the concept of a man detector (such an allergy would be pretty inconvenient for a guy) may be a little too fantastic for my tastes, the drama and action around that was pretty good. In typical Ryo form, he can make the impossible possible but it is often possible with the right tools, planning and a little luck (what else you do need really). Ryo's unique personality also tends to keep the tension down even in some of the more stressful situations. That aspect is pretty really refreshing, as it helps make things accessible to more people while keeping the action and comedy at a high level. City Hunter has so much to offer for so many audiences it is hard not to recommend this title, and with the introduction to one of the more interesting reoccuring characters this volume is hard to put down.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Released By: Gutsoon!
Orientation: Right to Left