Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 26
Genre: Adventure / Supernatural / Sci-Fi
Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 24 Oct 2011
Translating the title from Spanish is almost a spoiler. If, like me, you don’t know Spanish, don’t look up what the title means until after you watch the series. You’ll thank yourself for it.
Bee Train studio (Noir) gets a second chance with me, and surpasses my reserved expectations.
Bounty hunter Nadie has been given a job: find a girl named Ellis and protect her. Not the usual kind of task expected of a bounty hunter, but as it turns out, Ellis is not the usual kind of girl. Ellis has a clouded past, and together with Nadie, she sets out to solve the mysteries of both her past and herself.
“If you have any last words, say them now.” That’s Nadie’s catchphrase. Only minutes into the first episode of El Cazador, and I knew that taking a chance on Bee Train again might actually pay off. The studio has earned itself another chance in my book with this series, and got itself off my black list, which it found itself on after Noir. Don’t misunderstand; I enjoyed Noir, but soon after having watched that series, I learned of Bee Train’s reputation for nearly all of their work following a similar format: meandering plots which tend to be variations on a theme. If I wanted to watch a cut and pasted version of Noir, I’d just watch Noir again. That sounds reasonable, right? I expected El Cazador to be not much more than a copy of Noir, but in a western setting. As it turns out, it was much more than Noir with the places and names swapped out. This was a good thing.
First off, El Cazador is funny. Humor was all but absent in Noir, but it’s all over the place here. Ellis is one of my favorite character types – the space cadet – and has her own catchphrase (the cutest “Yessir!” you’ve ever heard), and there is a running joke throughout the series with a taco restaurant jingle. These things alone made watching El Cazador very entertaining for me.
The series doesn’t completely break my impressions of Bee Train, however. The story does still wander aimlessly for most of the show’s duration. In fact, El Cazador is primarily a “road trip” series. In itself, there is nothing wrong with that. The central narrative involves Nadie and Ellis on their journey to find Ellis’s past. And follow their journey the series does. There is very little plot advancement in the middle twenty or so episodes of the series, and were the story streamlined, it could have been told completely in perhaps as few as six episodes. But that is not how the story is told. We are instead tagging along on Nadie and Ellis’s journey, and fortunately it is a good one to watch unfold.
Characters are engaging and varied. The main duo of Nadie and Ellis is a good example of opposites attracting. Other characters include another bounty hunter: a man named Ricardo that one might expect in a western, and his travelling companion – a cute little girl named Lirio, who almost serves as the show’s mascot. Also worth noting is one of the most effectively portrayed antagonists that I’ve seen in a while: L.A., an unhinged obsessive mental case. Rarely is it that an antagonist on screen makes me wish for physical harm to come to them and want to hurl heavy objects at my television, but L.A. easily accomplishes this. Fortunately, he wasn’t enough to make me dislike El Cazador. The wonderment that is Ellis kept me drawn in for all twenty-six episodes.
El Cazador de la Bruja is the third installment of a thematic “trilogy” of girls-with-guns series by Bee Train and director Koichi Mashimo, the first two being Noir and Madlax. With El Cazador proving to me that Bee Train is capable of mixing up its formula just enough to not completely be a one-trick pony, I may now look into Madlax at some point in the future. Though the shows share similar elements, they aren’t connected in any other way, so they need not be seen in any particular order, nor does one necessarily need to watch all three.
El Cazador de la Bruja is a fun ride with some good characters, though the story is rather simplistic and not particularly strong. This is a series where the journey is more important than the destination, so as long as you don’t go into it expecting something groundbreaking, it should not be a disappointment. I went into El Cazador not expecting much, but I came away from it pleasantly surprised.