City Hunter: Death Of The Evil Ryo Saeba
I went into this one with pretty low expectations--the only review I'd ever found wasn't particularly enthusiastic, and, as far as I know, this is the only incarnation of City Hunter that ADV declined to release in the US. Based on the bizarre title, I was sure there would be some sort of amateurish plot involving a Ryo impersonator, or long lost twin brother, or something like that. I'm pleased to say that Death of the Evil Ryo Saeba turned out to be a good deal more fun than I thought it would be. What I love about City Hunter has always been the borderline ecchi comedy that occurs when Ryo is behaving in his lecherous pervert mode, and there is a plentiful supply of it here. Scenes like the one in which Ryo swallows a precious key (and the efforts to recover it) might explain why ADV passed on this one, but I would say they should dump some of the disappointing titles like "Secret Service" and license this one instead! The borderline between the comedy and action elements of this TV special become blurred at times. For instance, Kaori knocks Ryo clean through a wall with her trademark giant mallet, yet the hole is still there to be used as an escape route when the building is surrounded by the police--I loved it. When the show was clearly in "action" mode, well that's when things started to fall apart. The way film of Ryo was being doctored to frame him was neat, but when the actual shooting started, well, that's when my original expectations pretty much came to pass. A principal difference between half-hour City Hunter TV episodes and the various "specials" is that the body count grows exponentially. There are two mega-gunfights in this one, with trademark bad guys getting mowed down wholesale. I've come to expect this, it's the price I have to pay for the comedy, but what really offended me was the implication that at one point Ryo and Umibouzu were about to try to kill each other in a duel! What!? They've never exactly been the best of friends, but doing this really cheapens their characters. Well, like I said, there's a price to be paid... Towards the end the plot twists like a spring, as if halfway through the writers had decided to completely rewrite the ending, and had just barely managed to make it relate to the first half. The final scenes seemed to bounce back and forth between poignant (or wannabe poignant) and comically absurd. The ending was fairly ridiculous, but the point is, I don't care--Ryo's hijinx were fun enough to make it all worthwhile. I really did enjoy this one. I was continually pausing to take notes, and eat dinner, but this special felt like it was a full two hours long. I was surprised by the 1999 copyright date, which would make this possibly the most recent City Hunter feature of all. Thanks to Forbin for recommending this one!|
My favorite line: "The moon's full tonight!" --Ryo
Last updated Friday, August 26 2005. Created Wednesday, August 24 2005.