El Cazador de la Bruja
Nadie, a young bounty hunter, is hired to bring in a mysterious girl named Ellis, but finds herself becoming emotionally involved with this girl who seems to have enemies everywhere, finally joining her on a journey to uncover the secrets of her origin and true nature.
Let me state at the outset that I never really "believed" Nadie's character; she always seemed MUCH too light-hearted, good-natured, and (at times) naïve to be someone whose profession was bringing in other people "dead or alive"; in fact, we're shown just how naïve she STILL is in the one episode that shows us any of Nadie's past, though paradoxically this was also one of the best episodes of the series. I would have preferred Nadie to have started out, more realistically, as a cynic who gradually grew out of it under Ellis' influence. But the show instead wants us to like Nadie from the start, I guess.
Another problem is that a show which is basically a 26-episode "road trip" through Mexico is going to be tempted to do some "filler" episodes that don't really advance the main story, and so it does. The episode with the lady in the mine struck me as particularly weak.
On the other hand, the episode where Nadie actually meets a well-known Native American deity (in disguise) was kind of charming, even if it doesn't really deal with the central issues, so I couldn't ALWAYS make that last complaint. And the show does have some really strong points. One is Ellis herself. She's been raised in isolation because she has some psychic abilities, but somehow is now loose in the world. There are various ways you can depict this sort of hothouse-flower-loose-in-the-fields; for example, Burn-Up Scramble's Lilica was a timid ingénue; but El Cazador's Ellis is a bit different- she's supposedly emotionless, yet you can easily sense the air of melancholy in her. She somehow comes across as inexperienced, but not really naïve. It's because her background is not quite completely emotionally sterile; she has loved, and BEEN loved, and that loved one suffered for it. The episode that shows all this, #14, is just as heart-wrenching as it should be. Ellis doesn't want to see another suffer for her, and this becomes a subtext in the plot. And yet not only does Nadie defy her own employer on Ellis' behalf, but other parties end up doing so as well. Ellis is really the only one of her kind- the last full-blooded representative of an endangered species, we might say- and any sensitive soul might come to want to protect her. But her enemies just want to USE her for their own plans.
The enemies include bounty hunters hired by a man named Rosenberg (who was deeply involved in the project that created Ellis in the first place), and a young man simply known as "L.A.", who claims to be the same sort of thing that Ellis is, though he doesn't seem to have her psychic abilities. (He CAN do impressive, and disturbing, things with some razor-sharp wire, however.) I gather that L.A. is supposed to ultimately be seen as pathetic, but I found him more annoying than anything else; he's certifiably insane, but the show seems to go out of its way to keep him from being an effectual menace. The other major characters in the show include one Jody Hayward, who's usually known as "Blue Eyes", and is the person who originally hired Nadie. It turns out that she, too, has bosses, and they may eventually ask more of Blue Eyes than she herself is willing to countenance. Another party, of two, is an older, taciturn fellow bounty hunter named Ricardo; and Ricardo's ward (I guess, the relationship is never explained), a rosy-cheeked little girl in a cowboy hat named Lirio, who seldom speaks.
But the show is primarily built around the relationship between Nadie and Ellis, and it succeeds quite well with this, giving the whole thing a kind of Thelma and Louise flavor WITHOUT our main protagonists going over a cliff (though other parties MIGHT.) The background art is frequently absolutely gorgeous, though I'm not sure the Southern Cross, frequently depicted, is quite that high in the sky for any point in Mexico or even Central America proper. (It's unclear how far south we eventually end up, though our duo is always headed in that direction.) The character art is "old school" enough to suit me. The show does extremely well with two themes- first that one should be willing to abandon contractual or other commitments when they conflict with conscience; and second, that one should NOT abandon one's life for an inappropriate obsession. (One character actually has a pretty good life as a "kept" individual, and yet abandons it to pursue someone who doesn't WANT their attention, even if they hadn't also done THAT OTHER THING to tick them off. This CAN'T end well of course, and DOESN'T.) The opening and closing J-Pop themes are absolutely unmemorable, but some of the BGM is OK.
I'd like to explain that "Maxwell's Demon" business a little better than the show does it. "Maxwell's Demon" was an imaginary entity capable of reversing entropy (disorder); the card trick we see Ellis doing when we first meet her, where she unshuffles a shuffled deck of cards, is a very good example of this, though Ellis is of course capable of doing quite a bit more than this. But she can't control most of her power (at least at first), so her relationship with Nadie starts as one of dependence for protection- Ellis is like Plastic Little's Elysse to Nadie's Captain Tita- but the relationship DOES become more equal in time, as gauged by who is saying (in charmingly accented English) "Yessir!" to whom.
I never found Nadie completely credible as a bounty hunter, there's quite a bit of filler, and the villains were (usually) not as menacing as you'd normally expect. On the other hand, the relationship between Nadie and Ellis- and it's really more like a sisterly one, this is not really a yuri show- WAS pretty believable, and actually sort of sweet. And it's a very "pretty" show. I would have definitely liked a bit more of Nadie's backstory than we get. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: For a show filled with gun violence it's fairly restrained, though we do see blood and occasional bullet wounds. Some mild fanservice (shower scenes, and even a hot-spring bathing scene- sometimes the show's Mexican veneer gets peeled off, and we can see the "Made in Japan" underneath, but not often.)
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (26/26)
El Cazador de la Bruja © 2007 Bee Train
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