City Hunter Handbook: Episodes 6-10

July 22, 2006 on 4:48 pm | In City Hunter Handbook | Comments Off on City Hunter Handbook: Episodes 6-10

With the introductions of more of the major supporting cast in quite different guises to those that we will come to love them under, the second half of the first ten episodes of City Hunter effectively introduces Kaori to the equation without disrupting a thing.

No Love for this Actress! The Last Shot for Hope

This episode introduces Umibozu, who requires severe retconning in later episodes for his early misdeeds.

Ryo is hired by a studio executive to protect Sato Yumiko (Toda Keiko), their star actress, who has been victim to several suspicious “accidents” around the studio lately.
Yumiko is a woman who is famous for portraying a woman in love on film, but is apparently cold and distant in real life.

Ryo, with his typically undisclosed detective work, surmises that Yumiko had known love, but that her boyfriend died in Middle East the year before. Ryo also ascertains that the one behind the plots to kill Yumiko is Umibozu (Genda Tesshou). It doesn’t take him long to discover that Umibozu was hired by Yumiko herself: she wanted to die on film.

Also present is Ryo’s flair for making a woman appreciate the value of her own life; this is one of few episodes of City Hunter where I don’t quite agree with the moral lesson taught by Ryo. In order to move on with her life, Yumiko must forget her deceased boyfriend. The story seems to suggest that she must forsake all memory of him, which does not seem like the most compassionate action. To approach the situation of firing at Umibozu as if he was the ghost of the boyfriend (the aspect of him that is holding her back) is a healthier interpretation.

The introduction of Umibozu is fraught with danger: he wears his traditional green pants but, instead of his green coat he wears a blue singlet. To cap this inconsistency with what is to come later on, Yumiko hired him using the name “Umibozu”. Umibozu’s actual codename is Falcon.
The “drama” of this episode does not really stand up to repeat viewings simply because Umibozu is an ineffective villain: he looks scary, but after any length of time with him you come to realise that he’s a big man who is terrified of cats. The conclusion of the story, which reveals that Umibozu never intended to complete his job, accurately portrays the soft side of his character. It’s not a weakness of the story; it’s just a natural side effect of character development.

Other than that, it’s a nice episode. Kaori’s involvement in this first job is minimal, adopting the Makimura role of giving Ryo a task and then largely ignoring it.

A gunshot to set the heart aflutter! Sad, lonely girl

This episode introduces one of Ryo’s other conceits: if it is not from a beautiful woman, he will only accept jobs that “make my heart flutter”. The story is great, with many shades of Angel Heart‘s “Please Save My Papa!” story because it not only shows more of Ryo’s kindheartedness it effectively places Kaori in a partner position in the City Hunter team.

Ryo is hired by a Mr. Hagio, who had been forced to fake his own death by the politician who had employed him in order to cover up an accidental vehicular homicide. A year has passed since the accident and Hagio desperately wants to be reunited with his young daughter. He enlists Ryo to fake an elaborate blackmail scheme that will lead to the politician organising to have Hagio rubbed out.

Ryo’s family values are exposed in this episode, as is his stance on underaged girls: that is, “come back in ten years”. I always thought that, for all of his mokkori powered antics, it is a great comfort to know that Ryo does not hold with impropriety.

Unlike the previous episode, which only showed her arranging the job, Kaori is instrumental in the execution of plan. She is not only a moral support for the client: her active role involves a modicum of action and last second rescues that speaks of a level of competence that may have been unexpected at this point in the series. The fact that Kaori cannot use a gun does not say anything for her abilities in just about any other field of human interaction: she is always going to be a dab hand at actions that involve saving lives.

The biggest failing of the episode is the part that Umibozu plays. While we get to see Kamiya Akira performing an hilarious impersonation of Genda Tesshou, we also get to see something that we should never have seen: Umibozu without his glasses on. It’s understandable that, at this point in the story, it had not been decided that Umibozu wears them due to the light sensitivity of his eyes caused by a run in with Ryo … but he looks severely weird without them and I simply won’t stand for it.
At least we know well and truly that Umibozu is an object of fun, not a deadly killer or purely legitimate foe for Ryo. Despite their differences, he will always be a support.

This episode is also notable for its introduction of the song “Mr Private Eye”, which is one of the more catchy of the myriad City Hunter songs. It features English lyrics that aren’t too difficult to comprehend and it fosters good feelings. It’s a long song, so the episode can only play parts of it, but it plants one of the many seeds of glorious insert songs in City Hunter‘s long history.

A One-Hole-Shot to a Lovely?! Hands off my Lady Detective

The episode that introduces Saeko introduces her as a manipulative police woman who understands Ryo and took Kaori for a man upon their first meeting. She actually hits on Kaori before getting down to business!

A museum is holding a treasures of Babylon exhibition and the fictional country of Uramania has bought an antique crown so that they may sneak the designs of a space program out of Japan.
Saeko (Asagami Youko), a detective, is not going to stand for this and calls upon Ryo to do her a favour: he is to steal the crown from the museum so that she may reclaim it, perform an inspection, and be “shocked” to find the designs hiding within.

This is a relatively simple story detailing the police force’s need to go outside the law to bring criminals to justice. Due to the fact that Saeko offers to pay Ryo in mokkori, the services of City Hunter are remarkably cheap to secure. Saeko has never once paid Ryo, either, and so he fully understands that she has him under his thumb and that he is utterly powerless to refuse her requests.

Although not revealed in this episode, Saeko and Makimura were once partners, so there is also that connection. The only thing that goes against all of this is that Saeko did not know Kaori until this episode, symptomatic of the fact that Makimura did not like bringing his work home with him.

Kaori’s relationship with Saeko is actually a boon to the detective as she now has another insurance against Ryo ever getting what is owed to him. In these episodes it is fully understandable as to why Kaori would have something against Saeko: it’s not even sexual jealousy but rather the fact that Saeko takes wanton advantage of Ryo. When Saeko makes more appearances and when Kaori and Ryo’s relationship becomes more clear to the supporting cast, the dynamic of their relationship changes. Where it’s at right now, though, is anger.

The episode itself is good and rife with unrealities: it features the best car chase in the series to date, with Saeko driving like a mad woman around spirals, bouncing off of boats in the harbour and speeding across rooftops to make her daring escapes. This is pure entertainment and does not need to be taken seriously. In fact, I just watched it again and it’s funnier every time.

The meat of Ryo’s participation – making a one hole shot in the glass protecting the crown and then shooting its vibration sensor through that hole – is sound and understandable to the eye, but what follows is simply silly. Ryo is chased down by the museum’s security staff, who have been armed with machine guns! The corridor chases are ridiculous and Ryo puts his one hole shot abilities to use once more to shoot down the barrels of the guns of several of his opponents. How does he even get the angles on those things?! Season one of City Hunter paid much more attention to gun technique than the later episodes, so we can’t really be surprised. In retrospect it’s really the best museum ever, though: it features both artefacts of a long dead civilisation and a gallery of lingerie mannequins!

Despite all the fun, this features one of the most truly bizarre endings of a City Hunter episode ever: mokkori vampire Ryo. Or something like that; it was really hard to make out.

The Gambling Queen! A bet for wonderful love

The first paranormal episode of City Hunter!

Ryo is hired by Makino Yoko (Kawanami Yoko), a dealer at a yakuza owned casino, to guard her until she wins a game against another group of yakuza that will secure her freedom. Yoko is in great demand because she has a gift for reading cards with almost one hundred per cent accuracy.

This is a fun little episode with Kaori in absentia for the majority, so Ryo can go hitting on Yoko without receiving much in the way of harm. He doesn’t actually do anything reprehensible, so it is clear that at this point he has a strong amount of self control.
Interestingly enough, Ryo is actually broke at the start of this episode, so the problem that I had thought started to plague the City Hunter office actually began well before the third season.

The true surprise of the story is that Yoko’s employers agreed to let her go if she won them the game. The cliche could have gone forth with there being no honour amongst thieves, but this is an ultimately sunny story.

How can we tell that this is a sunny City Hunter? Easily: this is the first appearance of Ryo in drag. After the yakuza realise that pretty women are his vice and thus flood the streets in them, Ryo can get around only after disguising himself in a dress. He does this, and everything resolves itself well with a particularly honorable conclusion from Ryo marred by what will become Kaori’s trademark of misreading situations.

The humour works for the most part but spends too much time having the characters fall down. The freelance dealer who must fight Yoko is also something of an idiot: cheating at dealing is not the same as being a good dealer. What sells him to the audience as a character is that he actually throws playing cards as weapons. I’m not sure how he planned to do any damage that way, but I am surprised by his skill: some of his cards actually managed to chase Ryo and Yoko around a corner!

Lucky for us, Ryo had his throwing knives on hand … a royal straight flush of the not very serious City Hunter episodes.

One Dangerous Tutor! Home cooking from the heart for a sukeban

Ryo gets blackmailed by a yakuza boss into guarding his daughter Ryujin Sayaka (Mita Yuko), a sukeban (teenaged female gangster) who has gotten herself into some trouble for disrespecting a biker gang.

Kamiya Akira spends much of this episode acting in his “exaggerated comedy voice”, posing as a tutor to the troubled teenager. The problem with Ryo posing as a tutor is that he doesn’t actually know anything much about academia. At any rate, it’s funny to watch him get up to his antics wearing glasses and pretending to be strait-laced in such an obvious fashion.

With all of the sailor suits and (deliberately) bad character designs to hand, it’s like a reunion of all of the classic eighties anime: distinct shades of Project A-Ko. The character designs get weirder than that peek into something that City Hunter normally doesn’t offer, with the costumes of the gang run by Torakichi: they are, essentially, a gang of leather daddies (or insert obvious cultural reference here).
It’s certainly strange to watch, especially when Torakichi (or “Great Tiger”, as he wants to be known) berates his men for using Japanese terms, wanting to thoroughly Americanise his gangsterism (although one wonders how the yakuza situation could ever be analogous to a bike gang).

The episode is special in that it’s one of the first that concludes with the female lead having fallen in love with Ryo, but she’s way too young for him. As we all well know, Ryo is not a lolicon.

Beyond all of this obvious stuff, the story is pleasantly well structured as well, introducing seemingly trivial plot elements in early scenes and then elaborating on them not long thereafter. It also goes for the glory by setting up really obvious jokes and then subverting them. That’s quality writing in action. Just about the only real problem is that Ryo stops a car full of teenagers by shooting through its windshield and making it crash into a pole. That’s a bit dangerous, right there.

Still early days for City Hunter, but Kaori is settling into the role quite nicely. There’s not yet any need for relationship angst, and now all of the major characters are introduced. Good times all around.

Bonus section! The music of City Hunter!

Mr. Private Eye

A song destined for greatness, the lyrics of which are as follows:

In this crazy city
Many hearts have been broken like mine
Oh how He made Me cry
And it’s such a pity
How he left without saying goodbye
Oh how I miss That guy

Hey Mr. Private Eye
Oh help me with my private life
Where oh where can he be
Find that man for me
Oh hey Mr. Private Eye
I keep rememberin’ our private nights
You gotta bring back my love to me

Nobody’s seen him
I need you to discover the truth
He must Have left A clue
Find him and keep him
You can use any trick in the book
My life Depends On you

Hey Mr. Private eye
Oh help me with my private life
Why oh why can’t he see
What he means to me
Oh hey Mr. Private eye
I keep rememberin’ our private nights
You gotta bring back my love to me

Hey Mr. Private eye
Hey Mr. Private eye

Hey Mr. Private eye
Oh help me with my private life
I will double your fee
Won’t you help me please
Oh hey Mr. Private eye
I keep rememberin’ our private nights
You gotta bring back my love to me

Lyrics transcription taken from Anime Lyrics (.com)

Ridiculously catchy, it may not qualify as legitimately good but Mr. Private Eye never fails to make me smile. What kind of bastard would I be not to share it with you?

Mr. Private Eye (5.3mb).

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