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.