El Cazador De La Bruja: Part 1
In the fantasy-adventure El Cazador de la Bruja ("The Witch Hunter," 2007), the heroines--Ellis, a blonde waif with erratic supernatural powers, and Nadie, a bounty hunter who's sworn to protect her--ramble through a landscape reminiscent of the Mexican desert in search of the "eternal city" of Winay Marka. Ellis is an artificially created witch, the product of the sinister Project Leviathan. A lot of people are after her: Leviathan boss Douglas Rosenberg, the effete L.A., a council of hooded figures, armed soldiers, numerous bounty hunters, and a corps of blue demons. As they wander from town to town, it becomes increasingly evident that Ellis and Nadie are anime clichés. A naive dimwit unaware of her powers, Ellis recalls the title character in Key the Metal Idol; Nadie continues a long line of big-mouthed heroines in fan service costumes. Director Koichi Mashimo has an unfortunate predilection for weird camera angles, including upside-down shots, and little sense of story. In episode 4, a landslide across a road forces Nadie and Ellis to take refuge in an old cabin inhabited by the skeleton of its former owner. Two transvestite bounty hunters cut the rope bridge that links the cabin to the outside world. But at the end of the episode, Ellis and Nadie tool down the highway, having somehow gotten past the missing bridge and the landslide. (Rated: TV MA, suitable for ages 16 and older: violence, violence against women, grotesque imagery, profanity, risqué humor, nudity, alcohol and tobacco use; potentially offense religious imagery, ethnic and sexual stereotypes) --Charles Solomon
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This is the point of El Cazador de la Bruja (much like Noir before it, albeit by very different means): to make viewers *feel* the bond between the main characters to such a degree that they could almost think themselves included in it. And on this point, for this viewer, it very much succeeded.
Coming in at a total runtime of 325 minutes, El Cazador De La Bruja Part One consists of the first thirteen episodes of the show spread across two discs (housed in a pair of thin packs within a cardboard outer sleeve). The show wears an appropriate TV MA rating due to animated violence, some suggestive material and a bit of light adult-oriented dialog.
Language options are standard sub and dub fair, which means the viewer has the option of running the original Japanese dialog vocal track (stereo) or an English dub (Dolby 5.1 Surround) and the choice of displaying English subtitles under either track.
Extras in this collection and include textless songs, a commentary track with the English production crew over Epsiode 01 (A Woman On The Run) and a crop of FUNimation trailers on the second disc.
The story goes something like this: Ellis, a young girl suspected of murdering famous physicist Heinrich Schneider, is on the run from prosecution when she is tracked down by a female bounty hunter (Nadie) in a small South American town. Instead of turning her in to collect her reward, Nadie impulsively decides to accompany the confused girl on a journey south where they hope to uncover clues about Ellis' amnesia-riddled past.
While in no danger of being mistaken for a modern day masterpiece of a plot, the journey of the bounty hunter and the amnesiac criminal are about all viewers have to cling to for the better part of the first 13 episodes. Clues that will (hopefully) eventually unravel the mystery surrounding Ellis are fairly few and far between initially. All the pair know is that they are heading south and that there are no shortage of criminals, bounty hunters, and other unsavory characters along the way looking to either kill Ellis themselves, or capture her for the bounty on her head. Nadie plays the role of protector/ guardian from the get-go and manages to thwart the evildoers' efforts with near supernatural efficiency.
Though the main prose is simple enough in both structure and execution, viewers are given ongoing hints toward a second story thread development called Project Leviathan. While this thread is never solidified by the first collection's conclusion, the ongoing presence of the mystery certainly hints to a heavier undertone driving the quest of the lead characters.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the fact that Ellis is being monitored by several factions all the while provides an interesting sense of not only Ellis' importance but also suggests that we will eventually learn how she does what she's able to do.
The audio presentation is appropriately modest throughout with just enough inflection to place tension where appropriate. This is one of those instances where the original Japanese dialog track gets the nod as being the superior of the two options presented. Not to discount the stellar vocal work of FUNimation's ever-impressive roster (in fact the native Texan drawl of many of its actors works fantastically in the southern setting), this is one of those occasions where the Japanese inflection adds to the mysteriousness of our gun-toting gals.
In all El Cazador De La Bruja (which translates to "The Hunt for the Witch" or "The Witch Hunt" by the way) is a solid, if not unspectacular, mystery laced romp that is sure to delight fans of shows like Noir and Madlax. The settings are rich and the atmosphere is good and moody. I'm just hoping the second volume (episodes 14-26) does an adequate job of solving some of the mysteries the first volume goes to great lengths to establish and hence makes the latter portion of the journey a bit more exciting.
(I recommend the Japanese over the English dub, because the Japanese dub is great; also, this show is nowhere near MA! It's more like a tame PG-13)
As for the DVD set itself, it's very well done, with a cardboard outer case that houses a slim DVD case for each DVD; each DVD case also has a unique cover picture, as well as a unique inner picture. For its price, this DVD set is a great deal.^^