Yuri Anime: El Cazador, End of Season Review

October 24th, 2007

Reviews are going to be very anime-heavy for the next few weeks, as I have a huge backlog of anime that I haven’t had time to watch, while I’m busy watching new stuff that I will review eventually.

But today I wanted to do a long-overdue review of a series from the Spring season. I had watched it raw but, I wanted to refresh my memory on what happened before I reviewed it. I happily watched it all over again, and am now ready to go on the End of Season review for El Cazador de la Bruja. ^_^

You might want to read my initial review of El Cazador to compare and contrast (and also to see how, ironically, that review began in almost the exact same way that this one did. And I can assure you that it was not at *all* on purpose! I didn’t remember that I had written that until I just read it now.) Okay, so I just re-read it and, I have pretty much nothing to add, except, I think Bee Train came through for us Yuri fans on this pretty darn well.

There is a contingent of people who liked Noir best and therefore did not like El Cazador because it was too fluffy, too silly, not serious enough, not angsty enough. And there probably is a group of people who liked Madlax better, although I haven’t encountered any, yet. I just assume that there’s always someone who has a different opinion *somewhere.*

But I can’t say I liked any of them better than any of the others. They were three different takes on a theme – girls with guns on the run. I commented in my original review that El Cazador almost seemed a parody of itself and you know, I think that that was exactly what they were going for here. It’s much goofier than any of the previous Bee Train series. In-jokes abound, even within the context of the story. Tacos will never look the same to any of us again. :-) And the opening and closing theme animation had just about nothing at all to do with the story, which was nice and pointless. No guy in a mask, no sniper cat. Thank goodness. LOL

Ai Shimizu was fantastic as Ellis. Without ever once sounding less flaky or ethereal, she managed to mature her character in such a subtle, magnificent way that it almost came as an afterthought. Itou Shizuka was great as Nadie, remaining pretty clueless and not-subtle from beginning to end. :-) I found them quite charming and am glad to tell my past self that yes, I came to care about them, as I hoped I might.

Their relationship was total win for me. In the beginning, the idea of the two of them as a couple squicked me out the door. There was no one moment where it changed and became something else – it was a slow process. It was, in fact, the point of all that stuff that other people saw as fluff episodes – they were there entirely to allow the characters to develop a relationship naturally, leisurely. And it wasn’t an even process either. Ellis comes to like Nadie, later Nadie starts to care about Ellis as more than a job. Ellis starts to fall in love, Nadie starts to realize that Ellis mean more than just friend to her. And on and on. Ellis, surprisingly, becomes the seme, the agressor, here; making her case for them as a couple long before Nadie clues in. And it is Ellis who declares her love first, and last. She shoots straight from the hip, too, no implication or ambiguity.

None of the larger plot is particularly shocking or revelatory. The conspiracy is never developed as well as it might be – where in Noir we spend episode after episode poring over Soldats, in El Cazador we spend more time with the people who represent the witches and Project Leviathan, than with the details of the organizations themselves. Which is perfectly fine with me. Rosenberg, the bad guy, is loathsome and his death was way too late in the series. And he treated poor Melissa terribly, something I’m not prepared to forgive, since she was so nice. LA, this series’ crazy stalker character, was loathsome AND annoying and his death was also way too late in the series. But I will forever think of him in conjunction with Ellis setting his crotch on fire, so that sort of evens things out.

Jody “Blue Eyes” Heyward was awesomeness and not *just* cause she was voiced by Hisakawa Aya, who for once wasn’t the creepy stalker character. She was sort of a “good” stalker this time. lol Mitsuishi Kotono, who seems to be working more often these days, which makes me happy, was wonderful as the chief witch, even if she never got a name or a story. Echo and the Bunnymen were never explained, nor were Jody’s henchwomen. But that’s okay. Soldats and Enfant never really made any sense, either. :-) Just go with it.

Ricardo and Lilio. I’m still not at all sure what their roles were – acting as foils, I suppose. The four of them were a kind of oddly functional alternative family for a while there. Or would have been if Nadie had had a clue about Ellis’ feelings for her. Which she didn’t, yet.

And then there was the epilogue. It was pretty much as I expected, in fact, as I would have demanded, with two exceptions – the motivation for the confrontation that would catapult Ellis and Nadie back into their real personas was much stupider than I expected, so that was pretty funny.

In the end, as Ellis once again makes her declaration of love – with an audience this time – there is a HUGELY wooja-wooja beat-you-over-the-head love song playing in the background that is a *strong* indication that this is not meant to be seen as ambiguous or plausibly deniable. The fact that the last line of the song is “My immortal love” helps with that. And so does Pedro’s reaction. (Don’t worry if you don’t know who Pedro is – he’s there to be defeated by Ellis’ love. That’s all you need to know.)

Oh, wait – three exceptions. Jody’s ingenuous comment about her assistant being identical to Rosenberg by chance….yeah, sure. It was a off-beat note that I liked *because it has no explanation.* It just is. Go with it.

So, no, its not Noir with its intense film Noir-ness. And no, its not Madlax with its alternate existences and war-torn world. In the end, it is simply El Cazador, with Nadie and Ellis on the road. And for that, I liked it bunches.


Art – 6 Not good, no. But not “AAAHHH!” either
Story – 7 Sure it had huge holes. Who cares.
Characters – 9 They just grew on me
Yuri – 7 If you weren’t grinning at the end, love song and all, you fail.
Service – 5 – Almost as an afterthought – oh, yeah, we could do an ass shot here…

Overall – 8

Tacos, tacos tacos, oi-ishi-i tacosu. Iketeru tacos ha oi-i-shi ta-co-su. Tee Hee.

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17 Responses

  1. Robert Basiewicz says:

    Ok guess you motivated me to watch it when i’ll get some time on my hands ( seen 1st ep so far:p ). I also loved that “Tee Hee” lol.
    I’d like to see Blue Drop review in the future, kinda got me hooked and i’m really looking forward to new episodes.

  2. Adam says:

    I think I am that person who thought Madlax was the best of the three…

    The ending of EC was great; the characters were a pleasant change (especially Nadie not being inhumanly hyper-competent); it had combat nuns. However, I can’t help feeling it could have accomplished it all in half as many episodes.

    Also, for publishing The Taco Song you will be condemned to one of the lower levels of Hades for all eternity. Damn your eyes.

    (Tacos tacos tacos…)

  3. nae says:

    Good stuff. I agree, and feel even less need to write my own EC review now.

    “Okama”: what’s the best word for it? I was more concerned with arguing for political correctness than getting that nuance right, and I admit I didn’t try very hard.

  4. nae: Cross-dresser or transvestite would do. Most cross-dressers aren’t gay, and a lot of gay men don’t cross-dress so the distinction is important.

  5. Jolteus says:

    Well I am one of those so-called people who found MADLAX better than Noir. The setting was just more appealing to me. I have yet to finish El Cazador but I like how it seems to be different from both Noir and MADLAX. It good to hear a positive review for it overall.

  6. Anonymous says:

    While I am one of the ones who still likes Noir best, I loved this series for just the reasons you listed – a lighthearted parody type with great (female) characters.

    I also loved Jody and her agents, everytime they had screentime together it was just hilarious to me. And Nadie had me hooked when she told the fortune teller she wanted to rich.

    (In regards to LA it should be noted that it really seemed that Ellis was aiming to set his crotch on fire, not just his pants. ouch.)

  7. nae says:

    I see. Thanks. :)

  8. Anonymous says:

    As it turns out, we who like Madlax the best aren’t so rare after all :P

    To refer to your earlier entry on managing expectations, El Cazador’s position as the third part in Koichi Mashimo’s “Girls with Guns” trilogy and the expectations that followed nearly killed the series for me, but towards the end I managed to get over myself enough to enjoy it for what it was: something rather stupid and not particularly good, but sufficiently enjoyable nevertheless. That bit with the okama duo in the final episode was a prime example of “so bad it’s good”. Even so, when it comes to the GwG trilogy, I’m just going to think of Avenger as the third part, despite the conspicuous lack of girls with guns.

  9. Chalcahuite says:

    Echo and the Bunnymen were never explained

    Well, look at that. I guess I kept saying it often enough that it stuck. ;)

    Personally, for just watching their relationship develop, Nadie and Ellis are in my top ten.

  10. TheBigN says:

    I wrote a post about El Cazador myself, and I liked it compared to Noir and the little of Madlax I’ve seen, even if you could say that the other two are better shows than El Cazador is. It probably is because of the “nothing happens” episodes, were they grow closer together while not doing anything of “real importance”. I tend to like things like that. :P

  11. patrique says:

    I totally love this series. The plot is pretty silly, but somehow Bee Train actually manages to make character interaction really stand out. Nadie and Ellis are very believable in their respective roles, though in my opinion Nadie could show a bit more affection towards Ellis from time to time. Still, from all three “girls-with-guns” series this one has the most obvious Yuri coupling. In the end, there is nothing under the covers about it at all. I was even suprirsed that Nadie and Ellis didn’t share a single big bed by the end of the series.

  12. I found myself feeling an equal love for the entire trilogy.

    Noir left me with hints of Yuri.

    Madlax left me with even more.

    El Cazador de la Bruja didn’t leave me with a hint.

    It actually gave me an answer.

    It currently has my love right now.

  13. Peach says:

    I just loved this series! Ellis and Nadie are so cute together! Oh and I really would like to read your fanfic! ;D

  14. RummyRyu005 says:

    It’s sweet to watch Ellis slowly learn about human emotions and her relationship grows with Nadie…but must they really make LA such a *shivers* CREEPY stalker guy? And I still don’t understand the relationship between Ricardo and Lirio…

  15. zacinabox says:

    For those of you who hated this anime, I can see why, however, I found it very enjoyable for many of the reasons it was deemed sluggish, dull, and overtly simple. Not every film you go into the theater to see is going to be an epic masterpiece, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. The same should be said for anime as well. Could it have been better? Most certainly. Did it need to be? In my humble opinion: no, not really.

    I would like to note, however, that the Yuri aspect of this is not as obvious as some will agree. If your looking for Strawberry Panic, don’t hold your breath. Aside from a few little phrases uttered by Ellis and a couple of her jealous glares, I found no reason to think that this was a story about two women who fall in love on the road. Sorry, but I didn’t. Now thats not to say the argument can’t be waged from the other end with it’s own evidence I assure you. If anything in favor, I thought Ellis clearly had some romantic feelings for Nadia (though i question her ability to distinguish “the line”). Nadia, on the other hand, didn’t seem to ever clue in on this side of her, despite what many claim. I think if the creators wanted to explore the romantic nature of this coupling, they had a whole 26 episodes of slow moving plot-line to do it in. In any case, what did happen on the screen, was one of the sweetest woman to woman companionships I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing unfold. It was so heart warming, in fact, that I think trying to dig up Yuri is missing the point. And that’s coming from a Yuri nut!

    And yes I did catch the “shinning eyes” remark by Ellis at the end. It was beautiful, period. Was it a pick up line? Only highly advance alien brain readers for the sub atomic animated world can know for sure…

    Tacos Tacos Tacos ~ had to do it guys…

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