Nadie is a bounty hunter with an attitude, and she's got a lock on her next target: Ellis, a young amnesiac girl who is a suspect in the murder of a famous scientist. Nadie manages to apprehend Ellis, but on a whim, decides to accompany her to Wiñay Marka, a place which supposedly holds the key to unlocking Ellis's memories and her mysterious past. However, Nadie cautions Ellis that this does not mean she will go free—once Ellis has found what she is looking for, Nadie will turn her over to the authorities. With Ellis's connection to a gemstone called the Inca Rose as their only guide, the two set off on their journey south through Mexico to search for the mysterious "Eternal City" of Wiñay Marka.
El Cazador is a good action adventure that follows the trials and tribulations of two unlikely partners. Starting off as a normal snatch and grab job quickly takes a turn for the surreal as Nadie starts uncovering the truth. The truth of what? Only time will tell...
Story (Very Good)
Although it follows the same plot formula as the creators previous two anime series (Madlax and Noir), this show feels really refreshing and different from the norm. First off you will notice that it's set in Mexico, not a typical setting for ANY Japanese anime. But it is definitely a needed change of pace from the norm.
As I stated before it follows the same plot formula as Madlax and Noir: Sexy gunslinger + mysterious girl + mysterious past + path to truth = success. You've seen it before but what will have you keep on wanting to watch the next episode are the characters and the story development, which runs at a perfect pace in my opinion. Theres enough episodes to promote story progression and background history but also theres a nice amount (about 3-4 episodes) to have some fan service. Unlike Madlax, the story is actually pretty interesting all thanks to the setting and characters that make up "the Hunter of the Witch" universe.
One thing about Bee Train, is that they're not the best when it comes to art and animation. Overall the art is pretty good in terms of level of detail and amount of action there is in every episode. But at the same time you can tell they could have done better or you will notice that there IS better out there. But for what its worth it works just fine for the show and for the most part, I had no problems with the art. One that that should be noted would have to be that the characters generally wear the same outfits every episode. Kinda makes you wonder why they take a bath so often yet they wear the same dirty clothes every time ^_^. Its not good or bad but rather a funny observation. Aside from the quality, the setting for each episode is very unique and usually a new setting almost every time. So at least the settings are vast and different from each other for the most part.
Another thing robbed from the "Madlax house of wrong" is the sound quality. Granted, the show is great with wonderful unique music and a top notch seiyu's but there is one BIG problem: the action music is TOO LOUD. It sometimes gets so loud that you cant even hear the characters talk to each other. Now I would say its an issue with the anime encoding but I experienced the same thing with Madlax and I've seen that on the Anime Network (cable tv). At least about 80% of the background music is unique and fit the situations perfectly fine but if it wasn't so loud and intrusive, I would have given an extra 3 points its that bothersome. All the characters sound perfect for their role, even Lirio. I don't care who you are you can't hate Lirio. The seiyus were so good, they were even able to pull off the limited amount of comedy in the show. "Yes sir"
Right away this turned out to be my favorite part of the show. The bad guys played their part as the believable bad guys, the good guys (oxymoron?) play well as good guys, and the neutral/mysterious characters were just enough to make the viewer think who was at the right and who was at the wrong. The cast of characters isn't too much but it isn't a small cast either. You're bound to find a favorite character somewhere in this anime. The character designs are also really good. The guys all look their part (tough, feminine, smart, etc) and the main girls all look cute or beautiful. The only way you can tell the girls apart pretty much are by their appearance (hair style and clothes). I really liked Nadie's character my only problem with her is her hairstyle, it's like she has three different styles going on at once which doesn't really work for an anime character in my opinion. But that doesn't really matter after you see Nadie and her partner work together. It's so cute, funny, and effective, its almost like ...It's best to see for yourself.
Overall, it's better than Noir and its way better than Madlax. If you like your anime with women gunslingers, this is most definitely one of the better ones in that group. Even if you're not a fan of woman gunslingers, give this a try since there is a good amount of action in every episode and you're bound to have fun watching this series as opposed to watching the other two I mentioned. I should also mention that i did manage to Marathon this series in two days and I would like to say this is one of the few shows that I actually stayed up with intent on looking forward to the next show.
A very good action anime with a great characters... verdict 8.0
To understand my attitude toward El Cazador de la Bruja you have to know a few things. One, El Cazador is the last instalment of Bee Train's "girls with guns" trilogy. Two, I've watched a previous instalment in this trilogy. Three, I got into El Cazador because I heard it had some f/f in it.
Well, if you don't know from those three points already, I had some relatively high expectations of it. I was quite sceptical about this series after I finished watching the first episode because I found the premise ridiculously similar to the prior instalment that I just mentioned.
I decided to stick around for a bit, and I'm really glad I did because my first impression was quite off the mark.
The story isn't exceptional-- it's neither remarkably good nor remarkably bad-- but I think it serves its purpose well enough. I'll be the first to admit that there are some plot holes, but as you will see, other things make up for it a bit and in the end it doesn't matter as much as it really should. This series isn't very serious most of the time, so I was inclined to be slightly more lenient regarding such things. Those of you who are tired of some of Bee Train's slower stuff need not worry; El Cazador goes at a decent pace as far as things go. I think the animation is pretty good, but then again, I don't appreciate these things from a very technical point of view. And I love the character designs.
Now, to sound-- the music part of this assessment is pretty darn easy. What it comes down to is this: Kajiura Yuki composed the music and I love her work. As for the seiyuu, I'm a bit more ambivalent. I like Itou Shizuka (Nadie's seiyuu) quite a bit here and Shimizu Ai (Ellis' seiyuu) managed to sway my opinion a bit in her favour with her performance as Ellis (whereas I usually cringe at her presence). And Hisakawa Aya is always fun, even though I'm not a particularly big fan of hers. I didn't find anything astoundingly memorable, but it was a good, solid performance throughout and many parts were... how shall I put it... rather cute (in the heartwarming sense and not so much as moe). I'd probably rate it an "eight" if I were rating the seiyuu only, but Kajiura's music bumped the sound category up.
Now for the best bit-- the interpersonal dynamics between the characters, and namely the sweet (not sugary) subtextual interactions. It's great stuff if you go for the slightly more understated sort of thing (though it's also quite in-your-face at times). I think the most delicious part of all was the character development. Especially with Ellis-- you go into the series thinking of her in a certain way, and only in the end do you realise how much she's changed. There isn't one sudden moment where she just changes on you; it's a subtle process, that, as I've said, is great if you go for that sort of subtlety. I also love how some things were played up in the conclusion.
The fanservice is kept to a minimum, for which I am grateful. I could do without it completely, though, since it seemed a bit incongruous to me in El Cazador, what with my experiences with previous series done by Bee Train with no fanservice at all.
I think, really, this is one of those fun series where you don't have to think too much. The plot just carries everything along, but what I think ends up mattering most at the end is the characters themselves. The whole "intrigue" of the plot, in my opinion, takes a backseat to the characters' development, most notably in Ellis' case. And of course, you do get your dose of action and adventure to go along with it.
Here we are on the final review of girls with guns month. Two weeks ago I discussed Noir, a really well done anime from Bee Train. I also briefly mentioned that it has two spiritual successors. The latter one ran in '07. Six years after Noir. This is El Cazador de la Bruja, written by Kanemaki Kenichi. Does it live up to its predecessor?
Nadie is a bounty hunter on a mission. She has to find and protect Ellis, a girl with a bounty on her head. With some help from the elderly fortune teller looking after Ellis, Nadie is able to convince her
that they should travel together. Thus they begin their journey to the eternal city, Wiňay Marka. Presumably because it's holding the year's girl on girl tea party and Overwatch tournament. Actually, it's because Wiňay Marka may hold the key to unlocking Ellis' fragmented memory and the truth behind her mysterious power.
Like Noir, El Cazador has a really strong set up. It quickly introduces the mysterious elements that will get expounded upon and eventually explained. It does so in a way that captures the attention and keeps you invested. Unlike Noir, however, El Cazador doesn't have any elements where the reveal is kind of weak. Its mysteries all have satisfying, well constructed resolutions. El Cazador may also exemplify what I like about so many of Bee Train's works. This series actively makes fun of two tropes I really hate. The first being the stereotypical gay characters which they poke fun at with a pair of gag villains. They do it pretty subtly too. You might think they were playing the trope straight if our protagonists weren't so blatantly gay for one another. They also poke fun of generic let down endings in a way that's absolutely brilliant but that I won't spoil. I will say, this series has one of the best, most satisfying endings I can recall. It's even better than Noir's and that one was fantastic.
This series may also have the best romance I've seen in anything. The relationship betwixt Ellis and Nadie is beyond superb. It starts out being very much all business, transitions into friendship and finally blossoms into something more. Part of what makes it so good and believable is that our heroines fall for one another at different times with Ellis falling in love with Nadie first. Which makes sense since Nadie has to move past thinking of Ellis as someone she needs to protect for a job before she can fall for her. Their relationship also has very natural ups and downs stemming from various events, which may or not may be related to the main plot. Not only that but it has a lot of absolutely adorable moments. Just when you think that nothing can top the cute scene in episode 15, episode 19 happens. Then you think that nothing could possibly top that in terms of being a cute romantic scene but the series does.
The main heroines are absolutely phenomenal. I love Nadie's flippant outlook and the way it occasionally masks the fact that she's actually taking something seriously and the writing is complex enough that you can tell when she's actually flippant versus putting on a façade. I like that Ellis is innocent and naïve in some ways but also clever and knowledgeable about certain things that she's more familiar with. The side characters aren't as strongly developed, but they've enough to them that they have verisimilitude. Even when they go by bizarre code names like “Blue Eyes.” I'm not sure if she's called that because she has pretty, piercing blue eyes or because she wants to have her face put in a children's card game. I actually really like Lirio, the child character, as well. I'm not normally a fan of child characters or children in general, but I really like the way she's handled. I like that we see her take inspiration from the adults around her and grow as a person thanks to their influence and I like the way the change is gradual and subtle, like the character development in general. Then we have our antagonists. Unlike Noir, El Cazador doesn't give us sympathetic main villains. There are still some sympathetic antagonistic characters, just not the big two. They're complex villains with understandable motivations, but they're also right creepy gits who have some small redeeming qualities, but they get heavily over-shadowed by all the ways they're despicable. Chloe was a villain you felt sorry for. L.A. Is a villain you want to see get his comeuppance and you kind of want to see it come from Ellis so he'll stop doing things like stealing her hair while she's sleeping.
The artwork and animation are probably the best I've seen from Bee Train. The character designs are distinctive and the way they do the eyes is incredibly expressive. It's like their artists took the old adage about the eyes being windows to the soul and decided to represent that. The action scenes can be strategically slow to build up tension or fast-paced and intense. The backgrounds are nice. About the worst I can say about it is that it does do the usual Bee Train thing of having odd angles because... weird angles are more dramatic according to some high up animator's theory.
The acting is amazing. Itou Shizuka and Shimizu Ai are fabulous in the lead roles. They not only deliver the lines well, but they manage the difficult task of conveying the tension and chemistry between the leads. Which may very well be the result of superb directing. Miyano Mamoru also gives a really good performance as L.A. Hisakawa Aya is splendid as well in her role as Blue Eyes. The cast is just top notch in general. The music is really superlative as well. Savage Genius does a great job with the theme performance Kaida Yuriko did a sterling job of the music composition throughout the series. It really evokes the setting and complements the series as a whole.
In addition to the greatest romance I've ever seen inn media, El Cazador de la Bruja also has the aforementioned gag characters designed around taking the piss out of common stereotypes. There's also some indication that Blue Eyes has a bit of a thing for some of the other ladies. The stuff betwixt our heroines is certainly the most pervasive, important and blatant use of ho-yay in the series, though.
Dammit Bee Train, stop being good so I can heavily castigate one of your series! In all seriousness, this anime is astonishing. It combines a compelling narrative with an awe-inspiring romance. A road trip full of twists and turns with a fascinating cast of characters met along the way. I have very little that I can say about this series that's negative and that complaint is very minor. I absolutely adored this series and I'll re-watch it periodically. My final rating is going to stand at a 10/10. Well, we ended girls with guns month on a powerful note. Next week I'll look at the notorious Dance in the Vampire Bund.
Have you ever watched a show that drags out its plot through marginally entertaining but ultimately wasted episodic stories? Haven't we all. Well, here is another one for you, El Cazador de la Bruja. It is a fun "Girls with Guns" anime, with a likable duo at its core, but it certainly eats up more time than it is worth.
Nadie is a bounty-hunter, and she has just come across her next paycheck. A young girl named Ellis, who is wanted for the murder of her former caretaker, Dr. Heinz Schneider. Ellis is a mystery even to herself, with only vague memories of her past (she
does not even know if she had killed the doctor or not), and strange powers she does not know how to control. After spending some time with the peculiar girl, Nadie decides to help Ellis find the truth about herself, though she insists she will still turn Ellis in later. Together they travel South toward the unknown destination of Wiñay Marka, a place that supposedly will reveal Ellis' mysterious past.
As mentioned earlier this show drags out its plot, stretching material fit for a 13 episode anime to 26. Needless to say, there is a lot of padding, but that is not to say that it is not fun. El Cazador has a Spaghetti Western appeal, it takes place in a Central American setting (it even incorporates some Spanish into its dialogue), and indulges in the joys of the genre. From quirky characters to tense stand-offs, El Cazador has all the makings of a good western, and that is the biggest thing going for this anime.
A lot of the fun comes from the show's two leads, Nadie and Ellis. Nadie's years of traveling as a gun-slinging bounty hunter have given her a wry sense of humor, which adds greatly to the shows enjoyment. Nadie always has a smart-mouth comment, even in the most dire (or awkward) of situations, and this really makes her a likable character. Ellis on the other hand is naive, but enigmatic. This odd combination of traits suits her well, giving her a child-like charm which is used to great comedic effect. Together these two distinct personalities make just about every situation they find themselves in enjoyable. Unfortunately, they still feel somewhat underdeveloped, dramatically at least, which makes the more serious bits in the later half of the show feel forced.
Unfortunately, the show is at its worst when it takes itself seriously. The plot is nothing special, and honestly, kind of disappointing seeing how long the series drags it out (it is more or less like any other girls-with-guns anime). In between all Nadie and Ellis' Spaghetti Western shenanigans, El Cazador likes to cryptically tease its audience with bits and pieces of the main plot. The problem is that the viewers are given no real reason to care about the plot. The pacing of the show is too lay-back to build any intrigue, and the plot is presented through vague exposition that does little more than interrupt the fun of the leading duo's misadventures. Worse yet, the secondary characters are incredibly dull. This is especially sad because it seemed the writers were trying very hard (maybe too hard) to make them interesting. The obsessive L.A., and cool and calculating Rosenburg are the worst cases; they developed the least despite all their screen time.
El Cazador's technical merits are just as unimpressive as its plot. Character designs are generic, the only quirk being the Southern American attire the characters wear. The Central American setting at least provides different landscapes from other anime, but even then they are nothing breath taking. The animation is decent and gets the job done, but do not be expecting eye-popping, the amount of movement and action is typical of a TV anime. The only thing that stands out visually is the strange camera angles the show uses in more dramatic moments. These shots were doubtlessly added in an attempt to spice up the shows visuals, but they really do not do much for the show, simply coming off as strange and sometimes out of place. The music is similarly underwhelming. Most of it is unmemorable, with the exception of strange chanting that usually is heard during the shows dramatic moments. All together, El Cazador de la Bruja is not bad on the technical-side, but it is certainly nothing special.
If you like spaghetti westerns, you might want to check out El Cazador de la Bruja. It has a likable duo of leads, and their misadventures are at least entertaining more often then not. The settings and the bits of Spanish in the dialogue add a little more flavor as well. Unfortunately, there is little else that sets this apart from its girls-with-guns brethren. The fact that other anime that have gone the western route (Trigun for example) have faired much better does not help this series much either.