City Hunter Handbook: Episodes 2-5

June 21, 2006 on 1:23 am | In City Hunter Handbook | Comments Off on City Hunter Handbook: Episodes 2-5

More City Hunter! You’ll never stop me! I’m aiming to make these semi-encyclopedic, which means that I am almost guaranteed to be shot down in flames by my hubris. Still let’s give it a try!

These introductory episodes present insights into many facets of Ryo, with high stakes and complicated stories. It was something that I complained about in my initial run through of the series: a lack of deaths. Now, with all that I know, I can sense the consistency in the judgements meted out by the ultimately sage City Hunter.

Contains individual episode spoilers that will help you in your quest

Please Kill Me! Crosshairs don’t become a pretty girl

The second episode of the series deals with Shimizu Mitsuko (Hidaka Noriko), who must develop a vaccine for a deadly virus before criminals force her to synthesise the virus.

These criminals don’t kill anyone in the course of the episode, but their goal is to disperse a virus to the terrorists of the world that could be used to cause widespread infertility (in short, genocide). Therefore Ryo has no hesitation in despatching with the fiends, in a memorable scene that involves Makimura piloting a plane and Ryo destroying a helicopter while managing to save its precious bounty.

The brand new Ryo developments include his prodigious talent for picking a gun’s hammer being cocked out of general hubbub and the fact that he’s professional enough to promise someone that he will kill them if he fails.

The episode’s weakness is its villains, a group of (presumably) Japanese crims who speak some of the worst Engrish I’ve ever heard. The eyecatch is preceded by the leader saying “He’s crazy”, and in a carpark one of the cronies is heard to say something that sounds suspiciously like “gotdemn” (“God damn”, I should think). Even Ryo has the bug, with Kamiya Akira delivering a nearly incoherent “It’s a joke, you know?!”
Worse than these gross crimes against my mother tongue is Mohammed, an arms dealer from the Middle East. You know what that means: bedouin. It’s a particularly unsubtle leap of type casting that has not been attempted by City Hunter since. After all, this is the franchise where South American separatists have Irish names.

Shimizu is notable in that she is the first, and perhaps only, client ever to actually succumb to Ryo’s mokkori in all of the episodes of City Hunter. She is unique in her treatment of Ryo’s sexually harrassing ways, in that she doesn’t take any of his nonsense but she doesn’t freak out. This is because she has always been too “academic” to bother with sexuality and so she has a sense of the inappropriate but no real need to bother reacting to it. Interdimensional hammers had not been introduced at this point and so, when Ryo gets in the way of her work, she simply points a gun at his groin. That gets the message through well enough, I think.
She makes the vow “when I’ve found the vaccine, I’ll learn more about you”, in one of the few “James Bond” style endings that has ever been offered by City Hunter.
Hereafter commences Ryo’s many years of sexual frustration.

Love Don’t Leave Me – A Ten-count to Tomorrow

The boxing episode has an excellent title, and gives clues to Ryo’s ultimate chivalry.

This is a straightforward revenge case for Ryo to deal with: boxer Ogino Shun gets murdered by the man below him on the boxing ladder, Inagaki. Ogino’s girlfriend, Iwasaki Megumi (Ueda Miyuki), wants Inagaki dealt with. She could have reported the incident to the police, but she has cancer and wants justice to be served before she can depart.

This episode has a panty shot, but it’s worth noting that most of the fan service in City Hunter is denied for the audience even more than it is for Ryo. Ryo may receive some gratification from his exploits, but the audience does not: we are not dragged down to his level and the women in question ultimately end up empowered and probably have excised a lot of pent up aggression in the process.

Inagaki receives death from Ryo because he is purely insane and harbours a healthy disregard for everything in life but glory. Ryo is commiting an act of philanthropy for Megumi; his hitting on her is incredibly shallow in this episode as he respects the bond between a lover and her departed. He takes it further by investigating the case beyond his strict business, curing her of her alcoholism or at least inspiring her to that path.

The episode doesn’t have the strictest sense of reality in that, while he has produced a form of assassination that leaves no exit wound, Ryo does not take into account the repercussions for the legitimate champ of a death in the ring. On top of that, the method that he takes to approach the killing is incredibly obvious. Still, it works as a story and does not really hinder the enjoyment: City Hunter has, after all, always operated on a certain degree of suspension of disbelief.

This episode is also notable in that it introduces the concept of Kaori for the first time. While Makimura is alive, his little sister is frankly fair game for Ryo, demonstrated by his raids into her panty drawer. What a good time to be alive.

Here ends Makimura’s “straight up” contribution to the series, picking sensible, professional jobs for Ryo and being a genuine support and informant. Things are certainly different from here on.

Lady Vanish! Boutique of the Shadows

The introduction of Kaori and a showcase of Ryo’s ridiculous gun skills.

Kaori (Ikura Kazue) has gone missing, and Makimura hires Ryo to find her: the situation may be problematic as beautiful women have been disappearing all over the place.

Kaori is introduced masquerading as a man, blatant foreshadowing for what is going to be a long running joke of the series. While she is later accused of being flat chested, Ryo is instantly drawn to her “mokkori bust”.

As previously mentioned, Ryo has no problem feeling Kaori up at this point. Likewise, she has no problem kicking Ryo square ‘tween the legs. Worth noting is that the episode’s path leads to “Club Maihime”, which appears to specialise in the trafficking of ladies with a veneer of professionalism. It is worth noting, of course, solely for the name.

The fun involved is Ryo using his fancy bullets (all of these early episodes seem to involve fancy bullets) to see in the dark so that he can shoot people, and then shooting a bullet through a moving, crowded train, to destroy an enemy. This is also one of the few times in the course of the series that one gets a chance to see Kaori in lingerie, so I suppose you should enjoy it while you can.

Unfortunately Kaori and Makimura get no scenes together, so there is a lack of indication as to exactly how much Kaori knows about her brother’s line of work or why he would choose to share any of it with her: particularly as he has, understandably, never introduced her to Ryo.

Ryo does not kill anyone in this episode because the disappearance of nineteen beauties is clearly a matter for the police. One may also extrapolate that this is because Kaori is present and he does not yet want to expose her to that sort of world.

Idea never really followed through introduced in this episode: Tetsu, the shoe shining informant. He appeared a couple more times but never became an important character.

Goodbye, Makimura – A tearful birthday on a rainy night

The pivotal episode of City Hunter. The Red Pegasus drug ring asks City Hunter to wipe out their opposition in taking control of the region. When they threaten Kaori, Makimura takes exception and is killed by the Red Pegasus’ other hired gun, “The General”.

This is the episode that brings together Ryo and Kaori but also tears apart their potential for a consummated relationship due to the code of chivalry imposed by death. It is our last chance to see Makimura alive, a character to whom we grow attached in later episodes as we realise his importance to the others. His true strength is in flashback, simply because he did not live long enough for us to know him.

For all of its seriousness in the second half, this story strikes some strange notes indeed. The Silky Club that Red Pegasus operates out of has a dance floor with machine guns installed in its lights. On this dance floor, Ryo meets a drug slave. He liberates her with a kiss, so she gives his life for him. This struck me as strange, in large part because one woman couldn’t act as a shield for that many bullets even if she didn’t have anything left to lose.

“The General” has a surprise arm cannon that I completely failed to remember when another Red Pegasus splinter member surfaced more than fifty episodes later. I ridiculed it at the time, simply because that villain was so much sillier than “The General”. That said, can you get much more foolish than a knee cannon? That I am not certain of, but I know that Makimura was a loyal friend to Ryo until the end.

The conclusion of the episode is its strength: Ryo tries to give Kaori a briefcase full of the syndicate’s dirty money but she turns it back, claiming Shinjuku as the city of her memories (a theme that, now that I think of it, becomes quite significant in Angel Heart. Despite perhaps not understanding all that is involved, she decides to become Ryo’s partner. It’s not really for him to decide from that point on, and all he has to do is let her know that the road to Hell has been paved for her. It’s a likelihood that I realised, as I began Angel Heart, never came to be. That has always been the tragedy of Kaori’s death: the complete impotence of Ryo in relation to it as well as its thoroughly arbitrary nature.

Important Kaori fact revealed in this episode: This is a fact that I actually forgot as I went through the series. Kaori is not the biological sister of Makimura, but rather the adopted daughter of a criminal. Kaori does not know this but recognises the importance of the ring that was owned by her biological mother.
The bond that Kaori felt for Makimura renders the facts of mere blood insignificant, yet this fidelity will cause pain for herself and another character towards the end of City Hunter 2.

Additional images for this episode:

Henceforth City Hunter is only going to shed light on its characters from time to time as the situations become less serious and, dare I say, more trivial. Yet those episodes are needed to build love for these characters: they deserve it.

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