City Hunter: Goodbye, My Sweetheart

February 6, 2006 on 3:24 pm | In City Hunter | Comments Off on City Hunter: Goodbye, My Sweetheart

Released commercially as City Hunter: The Motion Picture.

Yet another City Hunter TV special, this time to commemorate ten years of City Hunter animation. Like most other City Hunter specials, Goodbye, my Sweetheart is decidedly overblown, derivative and lacking a lot of what made the TV series so enjoyable.
Still, it offers some themes that were never explored in the series that would later become plot points of Angel Heart, and has decidedly high production values.

This was actually the first City Hunter property to be released on DVD in the US, as a litmus test for the series. It must have worked after a fashion, but Goodbye, My Sweetheart is one of the more illogical stories offered by the franchise.

Ryo and Kaori are hired by Emi, an upcoming actress who wants City Hunter’s assistance in finding her brother. Almost as soon as the job is accepted, it becomes clear that Emi is being targeted by someone – and that someone may just be Professor, the very man that Saeko has been tracking.
The Professor is out to erase all traces of his past and also to remove Shinjuku, “the most vulgar part of Japan” … with explosives.

The big “twist” of this story is that the Professor is, in fact, Emi’s older brother and that he is the one who has been sniping at her. The obviousness is further impacted by the fact that they share a family resemblance, which is later revealed as nonsensical because of the lack of biological links.
The character of the Professor is a veritable mish-mash, with his early (and then forgotten) decrying of vulgarity as an excuse to justify his schemes. Worse than this is the fact that his ultimate explosion plan was lifted right out of Speed, with a train in place of a bus.

When I say that City Hunter OVA are derivative, I mean it. Here you’ve got a meeting with the Professor in an abandoned amusement park. The Professor taunts Ryo atop a roller coaster track, and then he escapes by a helicopter. Oh, the helicopters. Helicopters have long held a part in the immortal romance of City Hunter, having been the centrepieces of several of the OPs. Just one helicopter isn’t enough for Goodbye, My Sweetheart, though: Miki and Umibozu steal another that was just lying around for the taking (at a military base …) so that they can fight the Professor on equal terms. For good measure, there’s at least four helicopter explosions over the course of this specials’ ninety minutes.

The best thing about the story (as it features easily the least emotionally satisfying City Hunter “estranged family members” plot ever) is the use of Kabuki-cho. Never before had City Hunter really capitalised on its location to show that everyone from the district had such a vested interest in each other. This is the obvious theme of the first arc of Angel Heart, and to see aspects that the anime has never revealed before makes the special just about worth it. All worthiness is of course thrown out the window when an updated version of “Get Wild” plays as the ED.

I suppose the major problem with Goodbye, My Sweetheart is that it does very little to tap into the relationship of Ryo and Kaori, and fails to take advantage of any of the characterisation that makes the City Hunter property so rich. Ryo’s lechery isn’t particularly amusing in this part, and Kaori has become “the woman in black”. While the major players are definitely in place in this story, they don’t get anything important to do. The Professor and Emi take too high a precedence, and Goodbye, My Sweetheart comes off not feeling essential, special, or overly cool.

With Goodbye, My Sweetheart complete, the only City Hunter anime I have left is The Death of the Vicious Criminal Saeba Ryo, that legendary title of elusive renown. I finally tracked down a copy, and will get around to it when I can be bothered. I’m not the biggest fan of the City Hunter OVAs, and my limited research has said that ADV chose not to licence it for a reason, so we’ll have to see when that is.

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