Written by TheBigN
As it was another girls and guns show by this guy, I decided to check out El Cazador de la Bruja not really expecting anything despite the theme of the shows. Each of the previous series of this that I’ve seen from Mashimo has been interesting in some way. Noir was initially filled with a lot of wonder at what Kirika’s kill of the week was going to be (the ID card kill is still my favorite one), then at how Mireille and Kirika would solve the mysteries of the past together, and while the story fell apart at the end, I was mostly satisfied with how things went. I only saw the first couple of episodes of Madlax while the main plot hadn’t even really started kicking up, but the side stories themselves held my interest; and Avenger held it’s story togethe, though the characters felt weak as we went through the series. El Cazador didn’t have as much action or intrigue as Noir, as much mystery as Madlax, or as much cohesiveness as Avenger based on what I remember of those series (one can never tell). But apparently compared to others this happened to be my favorite of these types of shows, and probably because of it’s failure to match it’s predecessors in those areas, while being stronger on other aspects.
I’d like to say that El Cazador ends up being more character-driven than it’s predecessors. While Noir does a good job showing how Mireille and Kirika develop (feelings for each other) as they go on their quest, I’d say that at a lot of times, that relationship became second-fiddle to the mystery of how they once were connected in the past. While we had that aspect of mystery in El Cazador as well, the attention was always solely focused on the characters, with a lot of stuff being afterthoughts. While that’s a weakness, the characters make up for a lot of it in my opinion. The side characters all are enjoyable in some way, from the smug, narcissistic, know-it-all bastard Rosenberg (who stayed that way throughout), to creepy, crazy L.A. (who noticeably becomes less of both as we go on), to imperceptive Mrs. Hayward, and the odd couple of always serious Ricardo and always smiling Lirio. Our main duo were a fun pair to watch, as Ellis and Nadie played off each other well (too bad we didn’t see the opposite :P), and we (and they) learned more about their idiosyncracies (“Yes Sir”) and feelings as we went on journeying with them.
I also really loved the fact that El Cazador was a much less serious work in it’s execution. You can’t really take a show seriously when the main characters have to fend off transvestite bounty hunters several times, or having Ricardo saying the same cheesy finishing line twice in the same episode. Especially when you consider the joke that never ended (taco taco tacos), or how certain characters are (like L.A. or Lirio) a lot of these things wouldn’t have made it into Noir or Avenger since they definitely wouldn’t have fit in with the mood of those pieces. And as many of the places Nadie and Ellis traveled to and the random people they met were very out of the ordinary (like the constant Amigo Tacos restaurants appearing in the area), the laid back nature of the series made those visits and interactions work for me. Hell, even the situation itself with Ellis’ identity can be considered pretty fantastical, but I was able to take it in stride. In cases like these, I think the silly is done better than the serious, and most times it easier to do; when something serious is seen as silly, as with Noir in some cases, it’s doesn’t say good things about what the show was trying to be. I certainly don’t think that El Cazador was harmed by it’s mostly tongue-in-cheek nature and I found it a nice refreshing change of pace.
I can’t say that it was all good though. I already mentioned that the story was weak, and to add to that, it was inconsistent and disjointed in a lot of places, and the ending was anticlimactic and a little expected (but that isn’t a bad thing). There are a lot of angles that could have been more focused in the story such as Ellis’s past, and as such a lot of loose ends were left unsolved. As this show suffered “Misleading OP/ED Disorder”, there also seemed to be a lot of potential angles that could have been covered, as well as the potential for something epic occurring if the direction/story was better (this is another way expectations can shoot us in the foot. With a bazooka.) Music-wise, this wasn’t Yuki Kajiura’s best work at all, but it was a decent offering. There are some standalone tracks from the OST though, and I’ll be listening to “project leviathan”, “desert sunset” and “sad yearning” for a while afterwards.
El Cazador de la Bruja was an enjoyable work, and while it isn’t anywhere near the best shows of the year, it’s still a solid show to watch, if just for the novelty. If you care for a strong story or are expecting something totally awesome or very action-packed, this won’t be your cup of tea, but if you don’t mind that and are interested in the characters, it should be a fun show. I can’t say that it’s a better piece of work than it’s predecessors, but I can say that El Cazador is my favorite out of Mashimo’s girls with guns works regardless.
Granted, I won’t be able to see get that taco jingle out of my head anytime I see a taco now for a while though. 😛