Sunday, September 19, 2010

Anime Review: El Cazador de la Bruja



If my math is correct I started watching El Cazador de la Bruja around July 11th and I finally finished it last night (September 18th). Why did it take me so long to finish this twenty-six episode series? Well part of the reason was that I was preparing to move from Kalamazoo to Chicago for most of July, moved out in early August and spent the rest of the month concentrating on finishing my degree and then spent early September trying to get used to this strange and baffling city. However the main reason it took me so damn long was that I was just so painfully uninterested in watching the show that I kept putting it off. Whenever I did got around to popping in the DVD I had to literally force myself to sit through it and even then I usually would watch three episodes and then have to stop for weeks at a time. Now I know that may sound like a dubious beginning for a review but would it surprise you that I actually really enjoyed this cartoon?

Just kidding. This anime was BLOODY AWFUL!!!!

Pooor quuuuee?!?

Originally aired in 2007 in Japan and recently released on DVD in North America El Cazador was animated by respectable studio Bee Train. When I first started watching this garbage show I noticed that it was thematically similar to Noir, an anime produced in 2001 that I watched a little bit of a few years ago. It turns out since Noir came out there have been two spiritual successors to it produced, Madlax and El Cazador, as part of a “Girls with Guns” trilogy all done by Bee Train. All three anime feature a woman gunslinger who has an ambiguously gay friendship with another female character. Henceforth the trilogy shall be known as The Triple G Trilogy (Gay Girls w/ Guns)!

[WARNING: This review contains spoilers]

Ellis is a young woman wandering rural Mexico who is on the run from bounty hunters due her being the lead suspect in the murder of a scientist and is wanted Dead or Alive. She comes across Nadie, a scantily clad lady bounty hunter who aides her in escaping her pursuers. While Nadie claims she’s come to collect the bounty herself she seems to be in no hurry to cash in and offers to allow Ellis to continue on her mysterious journey south. Thus the two embark on an adventure through Central America. However neither of the women is who they seem to be as Nadie’s motivation seems suspect and Ellis apparently possesses a strange power.

I liked Ellis, more or less. I thought she had some funny lines over the course of the series and her childlike interaction to the world could be somewhat entertaining. There was also an episode or two that really featured good storytelling. I found myself griped by it, even though ultimately things ended in heartbreak (The episode, not necessarily the series).

Ellis, deciding if what she's staring at is edible

And that, my friends, is all the good things I have to say about this goddamn, piece of crap show.

This anime is sooooooooo boring. It has similar issues with its cast being dull as hell as Dragonaut: The Resonance did, except that the pacing of this story is slower and more mundane. There is almost no character that I find interesting in the show. Sure, I liked Ellis alright but I was constantly put off by just how often she shows up naked. I’m not sure how old she was supposed to be but she acted like she was a young girl most of the time so any of the MANY times I was forced to watch her bare ass I was thoroughly creeped the hell out. I don’t want to see little girl nudity, Japan. Why do you keep showing it to me? Are you mad at me or something? Nadie is very one note and flat as a character. Plus she keeps repeating the catchphrase “Got any last words? Say ‘em” to people she points her guns at when she thinks she has the upper hand, although 9 times out of 10 she doesn’t kill them. Maybe the Japanese track would have been less annoying but in the English dub a combination of that line and the delivery made me want to kick puppies in frustration.

"Please don't kick us"

L.A. is a character that is actually “interesting” in the sense that he’s not boring, but is easily my least favorite person in the cast. A super powered young man, L.A. follows the girls at the behest of the show’s villain. Unfortunately he’s obsessed with Ellis and prone to psychotic and murderous outbursts over it. He also gets, um, “excited” whenever he sees her use her powers. Really excited. He has no redeemable qualities, is insanely dangerous, he’s homicidal, wants to kill Nadie, probably wants to rape Ellis, and has superpowers. And yet the protagonist don’t seem to view him as an threat. At worst they seem to think that Edward Cullen L.A. is an eccentric guide to their ultimate destination. He also spends a good chunk of time naked, except when he does it he’s usually either fawning over or crying over Ellis. The implications are...unpleasant. Speaking of villains Rosenberg appears to be the closest thing this show has to an antagonist and he almost comes off kind of cool. He spends most of the show looking extremely laid back and lacking any hands-on approach when dealing with the heroes. At some point for something like ten episodes he just hangs out with his girlfriend. But even so you get the feeling that his mastermind plan is slowly coming together even if we can’t see it. Sure enough it turns out that just about everything that occurred over the course of the happened because of his direct/indirect actions or at the very least something that he predicted and thus incorporated into his plot. Villains like that are awesome. Sadly Rosenberg apparently forgot to add “motivation” to his scheme because we NEVER find out why he’s doing all of this! Does he want power? He already seemingly has wealth, connections and a brilliant mind so why he needs Ellis I don’t know. Revenge? He flat out says that’s not the case. Then why? Why the hell is he here? Why has he orchestrated this grand plot for YEARS? For the hell of it? WE NEVER GET TOLD!!!!!

L.A. seems to have a fanbase

His stalking/murdering/sexual assaulting ways are clearly misunderstood

Also the little girl who shows up in every episode who never speaks, Lirio, hangs out with gruff and dangerous Ricardo but she’s explicitly said to not be his daughter. It’s never explained what she is to him or why she never talks. I thought for certain that her past would be some big reveal, like she’s a robot , or a ghost or something. Nope! She’s just a little girl who adds nothing to the plot whatsoever. The one time she did talk I’m pretty sure she as being controlled by someone else. They should have added some cute animal or another to fill her spot because at least that way I wouldn’t have wasted time expecting plot relevance!

She serves no purpose; she is illogical and must be destroyed

Speaking of the plot the show suffers from having a very slow moving one. Most of the episodes are stand alone but follow a similar formula: Nadie and Ellis go to a dirt town, make a friend, have an underwhelming shoot-out or car chase or both with some random dudes, then leave town; episode over. The action sequences are short and unenthusiastic so it’s all very tedious to watch. El Cazador is supposed to be much more lighthearted than the rest of the Triple G Trilogy so it’s pretty goofy and the violence isn’t all that graphic because it’s suppose to be focusing on the main characters’ friendship. Unfortunately their relationship doesn’t really do much for the majority of those boring as dirt formulaic episodes. It just feels like there’s a lot of padding. They probably needed more connection to the main plot in a lot of these episodes because it usually didn’t feel like the stakes were very high in most of the ones I suffered through.

The animation was fine, save a few dips in quality here and there. Nothing major. The music was fine; nothing to write home about. I guess props should be given to the creators for at least trying to have appropriate style of music for the ambience of the show, but whatever. It didn’t set my world one fire.

To avoid just ranting on about nothing I’m just going to say that this series was boring as hell. The characters were all kind of flat and two-dimensional, the pacing of the story was too slow and ultimately hard to be invested in, the action sequences were pedestrian (And other pretentious words), and the dialogue was completely cringe worthy. That last part might just be the English dub but there’s no way I’m going to watch it again to verify. The fact is that there’s nothing about this show that pulled me in. It was painful to watch and it took me over two months to do it. I wouldn’t give this show my lowest score possible (1 out of 5) simply because I feel that rating should be reserved for the things that people should actively be punished for making, and ultimately El Cazador isn’t that level of bad. I hated it but it seems to be popular enough. That said it was so terrible that I’m thinking about awarding The Third: Girl With the Blue Eye an extra panda because while the shows share some superficial similarities that show was much, much more entertaining than this unfortunate pile of suck. Maybe you’d like it but I refuse to recommend it. With a strong female lead, guns all over the place, and a deadly puppet master villain I feel like I got cheated out of seeing a potentially good show. It’s kind of like knowing that the kid down the street has a cache of badass fireworks but he only ever likes to use snakes.

Exploitation says "what"

I’m giving El Cazador de la Bruja 2 out of 5 Adorable Pandas. And that’s a gift.


Pros

-Ellis is kind of funny.

-Strong female lead...I guess

Cons

-Characters are boring

-Plot is boring

-Action scenes are boring

-This show is BORING


Aw man, that was rough. I’ve reviewed five anime I’ve never seen before to help recapture my spark with the genre and so far all but one of them was kind of a waste of time (And the one that wasn’t was one I’d seen a little of beforehand so it might not even count). I don’t know how many anime fans visit this blog with any regularity, but if someone could send me recommendations I’d really appreciate it. So far my brilliant strategy of “Hey, the cover looks kind of interesting” has basically resulted in no returns, so maybe it’s time to change the game plan. Send them to Betaisdead@gmail.

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