An actor, a martial artist, a gun-crazy high school student, and their tank are transported from earth to a world of elves and magic. However, the spell to return them home was botched resulting in fragments of the spell being magically imprinted onto their skin. Their solution: run around looking for elves and stripping them wherever they find them.
The decision to watch Those Who Hunt Elves was made during my viewing of the brilliant but intense Monster. After a 74-episode psychological drama/thriller laden with emotional extremes, I needed contrast. Those Who Hunt Elves definitely provided it.
The premise is simple and silly: three total strangers from modern-day Japan are accidentally summoned to a fairly standard fantasy world populated by elves and the like. An attempt to send them home goes awry and the relevant spell is split into five pieces and imprinted upon the bodies of randomly selected elves across the land. So the three Japanese visitors - one famous actress, one gun-obsessed
tomboy and one martial artist - set off in their...er...tank...to find the spell fragments in the only way they can think of: by stripping every elf they come across.
That's about it. At best, an appealingly daft plot; at worst, a nauseatingly stupid one. Which side of the fence you fall on might surprise you. You see, contrary to what you, like I, might expect, the silly plot and the situations it brings about aren't really the point of this series. Of course, the elf-stripping adventure is the focus to an extent, but really only as a vehicle for the characters. Those characters are the thing that shifted me from 'this is going to be bad' to 'this is actually quite fun'.
Though there are only three Japanese 'guests' in the fantasy world, the core group of characters actually consists of four; the High Priestess (or something of that nature) of the elves, Celcia, rapidly decides that the only way Those Who Hunt Elves (as the party are known to the public at large) are going to get anything done is for her to help them out. This is pivotal to my enjoyment of the whole series, since it's really Celcia's constant bickering with martial artist Junpei that provides the most entertainment. It's not unusual in any form of TV to have two companions who are always squabbling; it forms the crux of many sitcoms, including the respected likes of Red Dwarf. In some cases, this revolves around witty repartee, but in those Who Hunt Elves, wit is replaced with sheer gusto - and it works surprisingly well. Celcia and Junpei casually mock and insult each other at every opportunity, much like siblings, and where this can often seem stale and forced in many series, in this it just seems perfectly natural, and all the better for it. The other two characters in the group, Airi and Ritsuko, have their share of amusing activities but, for me at least, the Celcia/Junpei dynamic is the highlight.
The other source of entertainment in Those Who Hunt Elves is the inversion of the various elves encountered along the way. In general, the elves here are the traditionally haughty and dignified type, but it doesn't take much to crack that facade. Simply watching the elves being sarcastic and irritable is entertaining in itself.
Other elements of this series are more mediocre. On the visual front, it's fine but not exceptional. Everything is appropriately colourful, the characters' various expressions are suitably over the top, and the animation is adequate. In fact, 'adequate' is a good word to describe the visuals in general. Unremarkable but adequate. The incidental music made no impression on me at all, which usually means it's neither good nor bad - just adequate. The opening theme is a curious retro-synth-pop ditty that fits the tone of the series very well. It annoyed me every time I heard it, but I missed it when it was replaced for Those Who Hunt Elves II. Annoying or not, it was silly and unsubtle - perfect for the series.
One more note on the audio aspects: the English dub is essential. Even if you don't usually watch dubs, please watch this one. Not because it's spectacularly well acted (it isn't) or because it features memorable vocal performances (it doesn't, though I must admit to a newfound fondness for Celcia's voice actress, Jessica Calvello). No; you must watch the dub simply because the sub only gives you a fraction of the jokes. Maybe the humour is more evident if you actually understand Japanese, but the English subtitles are fairly straightforward and sensible, most of the time. The translators for the dub of Those Who Hunt Elves have done something that seems to happen surprisingly rarely in anime; they've not just translated but reinterpreted the translation in a way that captures the intended spirit. I say it one last time: do not miss the dub.
Overall, then, Those Who Hunt Elves is a disconcerting proposition. It promises little, and on the technical side it delivers nothing out of the ordinary. The concept is a little more promising, but could easily go horribly wrong. I had nightmare visions of another Negima!?, but fortunately Those Who Hunt Elves has an ace hidden up its sleeve: character. Not well developed, not well rounded, but very entertaining; the characters, combined with flagrant destruction of elf stereotypes, make the entire series. The dialogue is hardly the height of wit, but it's blunt, direct and effective, and in the cases of Junpei and Celcia it's delivered with something that seems to be genuine enjoyment. I was warned before I started watching this series that I would probably never rewatch it. Only time will tell, of course, but I think I will probably watch it again at some point, for the same reason that I've rewatched the early episodes of Trigun more than once: it's simple, fun and easy to watch. It makes no demands. Those Who Hunt Elves is almost the definition of 'light entertainment'. If you seek gravitas, look elsewhere; if you seek a break from the gravitas, Those Who Hunt Elves should be both stupid enough and amusing enough to make you chuckle without killing too many brain cells. Those Who Hunt Elves, I salute you.
Anime humour has never been one of my favourite aspects of the medium, and I hated it especially during the early days of my anime watching. "Those Who Hunt Elves" is a shining example of why I didn't readily take to it: the humour is too goofy, and is over-reliant on randomness and exaggeration rather than wit.
The "plot" of "Those Who Hunt Elves" involves a martial artist, an actor, and a female military otaku with a tank (please don't ask me to explain) being summoned to a fantasy land with elves and stuff. Unfortunately for them (as well as for me, as it meant
I had to watch this crap), the spell to send them back misfired, breaking up into small fragments in the process. The spell fragments scattered across the land and tattooed themselves onto the skins of random elves. Naturally, in order to collect these spell fragments and go home, our "heroes" has to go around stripping any elves they come across.
The above synopsis pretty much speaks itself, but allow me the luxury of being explicit - if I were to sum up this show with a single word, that word would be "stupid". "Those Who Hunt Elves" is all about stupid actions from stupid characters in stupid situations resulting in stupid comedy. The comedy is so forced that the show often make no sense unless you go all meta on it: why do they only strip female elves? (Meta answer: because the makers thought the show would be funnier with sexual assault undertones). And why do the other characters never rein in Junpei (the martial artist with more brawn than brain), and instead allow him to go around stripping elves with all the aggression of a serial rapist? (Meta answer: because about 90% of the jokes in this show would disappear if the female characters just asked the elves nicely instead.) Even Junpei himself doesn't seem to have an ulterior motives for stripping elves - he seems more interested in curry than naked elf chicks.
It's hard to think of another show with so much goofball comedy - in one of the episodes the characters actually comments on this themselves. So if you're not one of Those Who Hunt for Goofy Comedy, is there anything in "Those Who Hunt Elves" that's worth seeing? The answer is not much. The show may be also classed as a fantasy, but Those Who are Hunting for Good Fantasy will find this lacking. Fantasy elements are used in the settings, but there's not much beyond that. And though there is also some action in the show, it's lousy at best.
As far as archetypes go, Junpei pushes the stereotypical "stupid brawler" kind of character to subhuman levels of stupidity, although the constant banter between between him and Celsia (the elf responsible for summoning the outsiders into her world) can be quite amusing - it's probably the highlight of the whole show. Occasionally, the shows tries for some more serious character development, but due to the insane humour of the show, these attempts failed miserably with no exceptions.
I do find the character designs in the show to be quite attractive, but the visuals looks pretty low budget in general. The sound production isn't great either; the background music is very quiet compared to the voices, and when I turned up the volume, I found the music flat and not worthy of attention.
To conclude, "Those Who Hunt Elves" is made by people with a poor sense of humour, for people with a poor sense of humour. The anime tries too hard and delivers too little. And since everything else is sacrificed in its attempt to be funny, there's not much here beyond the comedy. This is one to avoid unless you're a very silly mood.
Altough it`s an very old anime, it`s realy good to watch if you want to laugh a lot.
When you grow tired of the same gerne you have been watching over and over again, watch this anime.
The story is funny, and you never know what is going to happen next.
I still need to see the second season, but whenever i need an break from the anime i`m watching, the second season will be the first thing to watch for me.
Ps. i loved the Tank (just watch the anime, you will know why)
This anime, probably more appropriately titled "Those Who Strip Elves", is not horrible or unwatchable. It's just bad. While some of the recurring gags are actually funny, the story is completely contrived and repetitive, and the characters are rather unlikeable. Add annoying opening and closing songs, and the eye cancer that is late '90s anime design, and the end result is the kind of series that one watches because they're bored and have nothing better to see.
The positives here are cartoony violence and seeing the inept characters deal with bizarre situations before they strip the female elf of the week. I don't really care for
elves, but if you're into that kind of thing, well, there's plenty of elf nudity to satisfy your desires, as well. If this all doesn't appeal to you though, then don't even bother with this series.
It doesn't matter where you look, you're bound to bump into a couple of anime elves. Some of them are mischievous, others are kind and a few of them are just magical. They come in all sizes and live in diverse worlds. Come on in, it's time to meet some interesting characters!