Wednesday, January 6, 2010

DVD Review: El Cazador de la Bruja Volume 1

Written by Kenichi Kanemaki, directed by Kouichi Mashimo, and animated by Bee Train, El Cazador de la Bruja is a series of great lineage. Have you ever heard of Noir or Madlax? Well El Cazador de la Bruja is the spiritual successor to those two. It's the unsung conclusion to a girls with guns trilogy and is a damn kick-ass series in its own right!
Taking place in Mexico, El Cazador de la Bruja is a 26 episode show that follows the exploits of a bounty hunter named Nadie. This red-haired, tanned beauty means business. She's not afraid to pull out her guns and doesn't hesitate when it's time to throw down. When the show begins she's looking for someone and it's quite evident that person is Ellie, who a blonde girl with blue eyes that is quite mysterious in her own right. One event leads to another and Nadie winds up fighting to save Ellie's life and eventually finds herself protecting Ellie, rather than turning her in right away.

Together Nadie and Ellie travel to the south to unravel Ellie's enigmatic past. You see, she possesses some strange powers and seems to be quite dangerous to herself and others. The only memory she has of her youth is the death of a person close to her right before her very eyes. She recalls that it was her that killed him and that certainly has taken its toll. It's also worth noting that there are many references to her not even being human, but rather some experiment. Put two and two together and you have a character that stands out and a background for the series to work off of.

With Nadie and Ellie are traveling south to figure out what's going on, once their trip is done, Ellie has promised to be Nadie's bounty so she can collect the reward. Sounds easy, right? Well, consider the duo is being tracked by other bounty hunters, the CIA, weird people, and scientists things aren't quite that simple at all. There's more at play than meets the eye and throughout the course of the first half of the show the mystery begins to unravel.
Nadie is the hunter (el Cazador) and Ellie is the witch (la Bruja), the two make a fine pair of traveling companions. Nadie's brazen attitude and Ellie's naïveté play off each other quite well, though admittedly we've seen this style of pairing before. Still, the mysterious power residing in Ellie and the revelation that she's something known as Project Leviathan are certainly more than enough to make her stand out. Nadie's nonchalant reaction to everything also belies the fact that she knows more than she's letting on. The rest of the cast fulfills their roles adequately as well. The bounty hunter Ricardo and Lirio, the other witch L.A., and even the main antagonist Rosenberg all fill in the ranks quite nicely.

Though most of the show focuses on the relationship between its protagonists, the series is rather episodic. In traditional traveling buddy format, Nadie and Ellie come upon random strangers and new places, and we see how they react to each situation. The show deftly strings you along with the mystery carrot, but thankfully drops enough breadcrumbs to make each episode worth watching. There's also plenty of action here as well and if you appreciate girls with guns then you'll love Nadie instantly.

El Cazador de la Bruja is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The show is vibrant and sharp throughout with a fine production by Bee Train. The only flaw worth bringing up is a rather heavy amount of grain at times, but thise could be due to grittiness of the desert. English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 make up the audio presentation here and both perform just like you'd expect they would. Clean animations, trailers, and a commentary track are included for bonus features.
The first half of El Cazador de la Bruja leaves one with the impression that the show is shaping up to be something special. Sure it's rather straightforward at times, and yeah the characters fill specific archetypes, but there's an energy here that is completely its own. There simply aren't any shows with this setting and because of that the series stands out. If you enjoyed Noir or Madlax then this one is an easy pick. However, if you've never experienced either of those shows then all you need to know is that El Cazador de la Bruja is very entertaining and packs a punch.

Maki Rating:

1 comment:

Prede said...

Ah...very nice review. I agree 100%. I can't wait to watch the second box set. I own them both, but just finished the first last night. This show is great, and it's main strenght is how the characters play off each other. Also I too loved the setting, Mexico was a great choice. Great review!

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