Those Who Hunt Elves Vol. #03 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Release Date: Saturday, May 01, 2004



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yagami Yu
Translated by:Eiko McGregor
Adapted by:

What They Say
Celcia, the disaster-prone elf turned mustached dog, is in trouble! After trusting an old rival, she finds herself in need of the help of that ragtag group of elf hunters. Without Celcia, no one is going home to Japan. Junpei, Airi, and Ritsuko will need to rescue her so that they can carry on their search for spell fragments - that is, if they don't get too sidetracked. But with Ritsuko's fondness for animals, and a new relationship with a fluffy little teddy bear, anything could happen!
The zany escapades of the elf hunters grow even more outrageous - if you can believe it - in Those Who Hunt Elves, Volume Three.

The Review
Packaging:
Packaged in a tall B6, this series is presented in its original right-to-left format. On the cover of this volume is a tough looking Airi in front of and equally tough looking Junpei. This is presented under ADV's strange looking logo. They use their DVD logo, which uses spirals for "O"s and places spirals in the "s"s. In some ways, it is more creative than the original logo but it still rubs me the wrong way.
The opposite cover features a framed image of Pizzi (better known as Pichi the bear) above the large volume blurb. Inside, ADV includes a color volume header, omake - "making of..." notes for each chapter, 4-page ato-gaki "How to Make a Vacation" - and a preview for volume 4. Nice. This volume also has ads for the Those Who Hunt Elves anime from ADV Films.

The printing for this series is off and on. In general, it is a little dark, but where this volume really suffers is the alignment. This series was originally printed in a book size a few millimeters smaller than ADV's tall B6, so the images have been blown up a bit. Unfortunately, some images are too large and art has been cut off, some pages have text boxes getting really close to having the same experience. I wish they would keep the original size aspect as they did for Gunslinger Girls, Seven of Seven, and Full Metal Panic!

Artwork:
Those familiar with the anime might be thrown off a little by the character designs. Yagami's designs are a lot longer and they look very lanky. Airi and Ritsuko have waists that cannot be more than 16 inches in circumference. They look very lean and long and it is consistent from head to leg. Even beefy Junpei, who in the anime has a big upper body and skinny legs, looks much smaller and should have lower back issues because his chest area is still massive on top of his tiny abs. If he has a six-pack, it must be of mini 7-Up cans. Faces look very familiar though and for you Celcia fans out there she looks exactly the same.

Costumes in this fantasy can be pretty interesting. Considering that, the concept of this series is to take them off you should expect to see a little variety in that area and Yagami-sensei does a good job here. Even "Those Who Hunt Elves" tend to use different costumes here ever so often (IE Ritsuko has a cape with breast and shoulder armor in some chapters). This volume does not have the backgrounds as previous GNs as most scenes were out in transit. The layout makes up for the lack of background detail, with good variety in placement, pacing and perspective. Action scenes are also very good and in this volume, we get some detailed Ritsuko fighting scenes.

SFX/Text
ADV does a decent job here with the SFX. They are subbed and the translation of SFX is improving with experience. But there are occasions where SFX are overlaid in situations where subbing would compromise art due to subs being too large for some panels.
The translation appears to be slowly leaning towards slang and out of context dialogue more and more. For a while, I thought it was because of the notes in the back of the GN. After going through the notes, I realized that the changed dialogue is not coming from those situations as much as in other ADV titles. I found it pretty funny as the first two volumes had an excellent translation job. I do not mind slang but ever so often, it takes away from the personalities (especially since I have read this series before and have watched the animated series).

One example being why ADV would now change the name of one of their own characters after it was already established in their own DVD's. Pichi the bear is now Pizzi. The original name is written "Pichi" in kana and that was used for the anime's subtitles, which makes the change even more difficult to understand.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Celcia kidnapped by a band of animal traders, Junpei, Airi and Ritsuko have begun to set their rescue plan into action. A multi-level plan to infiltrate the enemy ship, cause confusion on the ship, free Celcia, collect the spell fragment on an elf that is also on the ship, and finally escape under the cover of artillery shelling. A mistake could result in them having to start all over again in their other plan... to finally return to Japan. Through the initial phases everything was progressing as they were written out, nothing was missed or overlooked. And in the end, everything was a success in regards to the rescue and escape. Unfortunately, there was one thing they did not consider in their plan. A factor that was not even considered but looking back should have been a major concern - the twisted friendship between Celcia and Rebecca. Looks like they will have to start all over again, after all.

Now that the few fragments that TWHE had are on the run, these four friends now have found themselves in a situation where they must restock and retool to hope to keep this search going. Up to now, they have been fortunate to have the resources to carry the four of them and their tank for the months it took to collect four pieces. If they want to be comfortable in their new surroundings, they must work on some of the basics to maintain their standard of living.

Comforts like security, food and toiletries would not just cut down on stress but should keep up morale. Obtaining things and concepts will take a lot of effort in a world where reality is always on the verge of comical fantasy. In this world, some consumers are concerned about their toilet tissue being certified organic coming from cage-free, vegetable fed bears. Municipalities may not provide health care or many social services but there are Body Exchange programs supported by the World Magic Association. To combat crime some cities have local martial arts clubs teaching citizens the basics to protect themselves. Waterways are protected from over fishing and theft by local water sprites. Being familiarized with the local customs will take some effort, but as Ritsuko and Junpei have shown so far, they must roll with the punches if they want to go home.

Comments
Continuity is becoming more and more common as this series progresses and as we get to see at the start of this volume some of the events of the past and present will come back to haunt these characters if they do not keep their guard up. It is really interesting to see whom the mix of self-contained single chapter stories and extended plot lines work together and still maintain the same level of random fantasy comedy and friendship/relationship building drama.
With that in mind, short arcs like "Ritsuko's Fight" are real gems. Not only do they work on character development, by giving characters new perspectives and different concepts of inner strength but also they were well-written full of situational comedy, a good dose of solid action and good pacing. Stories like that keep this mainly episodic series from becoming stale and meaningless. Moments like those also tend to challenge readers a bit. "Ritsuko's Fight" is an interesting take on a popular concept, but in this situation the reactions of Junpei and Ritsuko were not in character. Junpei used rational logic and tactics to take advantage of a difficult situation; while the typically strategic Ritsuko dumbed down failing to understand why Junpei is so good at what he does. It takes readers into a situation where they can see these characters in a different perspective maybe giving them a new appreciation.

Obviously, this is a fantasy comedy so the humor is still the main focus here. Situations like Pizzi's (boy, I cannot get over that) introduction taking the concept of "fantasy" and biology to the extremes. On the other hand, the extra chapter "Let's Fish" takes an old Japanese fable and gives it a dash of Yagami's humor. The results of both are laughs coming from well-written jokes and fun slapstick.

Those Who Hunt Elves is takes a simple recipe for success - elf stripping - and adds some touching moments turning this title into a cult favorite. Because of the stripping themes, certain audiences may not take well to Yagami's story but there is much more than meets the eye. Those who do follow Junpei, Airi, Ritsuko and Celcia are in for a fun tank ride with good friends lots of curry and equal amounts of adventure and laughs.

Good stuff.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: C-
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 194
ISBN: 1-4139-0034-8
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left