City Hunter: Bay City Wars & Million Dollar Conspiracy

May 22, 2005 on 1:17 pm | In City Hunter | Comments Off on City Hunter: Bay City Wars & Million Dollar Conspiracy

The 1990 City Hunter OVAs! One is not standard City Hunter fare, and the other is closer to normal; the OVAs are what ADV uses to ensnare viewers in the trap of Saeba Ryo, but for that purpose the TV series are so much better.
These two stories are interesting enough detours into the City Hunter world for fans, but uninitiates would be better off elsewhere.

Bay City Wars tells the tale of General Gilliam, who was kicked out of his country by America. Gilliam aims to hijack Bay City, a giant complex built in Tokyo Bay, and use its super computer to fire missiles and destroy the US. Ryo does not take anyone as his client in this 40 minute exercise, and is involved because Kaori happened to be at the gala event. Umibozu is also involved – not because Miki was with Kaori but because Saeko had cooked up her lamest scheme ever.

Bay City Wars feels distinctly unlike City Hunter, and more like an American action film of the period. Throwing oneself into City Hunter action is odd because nothing is unprovoked in this show, Ryo is very rarely simply involved in the middle of events, but then I suppose terrorism is not exactly something that you can fight by appointment.

Umibozu and Ryo’s adventures involve a lot of shooting, quite a few explosions and the traditional “get angry at each other and turn on the friendly fire” antics. The story is fairly well told, but highly unorthodox, and at least one good question is raised about Ryo’s attitude. Definitely not an introduction piece, though.

All of this said about Bay City Wars, it should be noted that, while I love City Hunter, I very rarely laugh out loud at it. One of the early scenes in this OVA was one of the funniest Umibozu and Ryo scenes ever, and I was in stitches. That is great stuff.

Million Dollar Conspiracy is relatively more normal City Hunter, with slightly more gimmicks than usual. Normally you don’t get a gimmicky villain, but rather a heroine with some sort of special thing going for her; here we get a badly dressed American who rigs models with bombs.
Million Dollar Conspiracy concerns a woman named Emily visiting from the US. She claims that she needs Ryo to protect her because she kicked the son of a Mafia don in the vitals. For this mission, she will pay the princely sum of one million dollars!

Naturally, Ryo doesn’t buy this. The story twists to reveal terrorism and CIA corruption are afoot. Emily also attempts to kill Ryo in his sleep for no reason that I can easily divine; it’s just what is expected, I suppose. A parade of blonde Americans settling their scores in Japan.
The story is actually pretty good, even if a bit over the top. The only real complaint is the conclusion, which is about the most unfair treatment of Ryo and Kaori by Saeko ever. She can be a real bitch when she wants to.

Added to any misgivings is the primitive translation ADV was using for the OVA line of City Hunter: “mokkori” is translated variously to “nookie” and “sexy”. Part of the comedy of the term is that it remains untranslated; it’s such a rare word in Japanese that sometimes fun situations crop up because women consent to mokkori without knowing what it is (as happens in Million Dollar Conspiracy).

Interestingly enough I actually started out this DVD by checking what episode of the TV series they had packed on to fill it out. I couldn’t place it in the first few seconds, so I watched it all: it was “Lady Vanish!”, the fourth episode of the first series, and the introduction of Kaori. It is interesting to see how intensely different Ryo, and the series in general, was back then.

The emphasis was on unbelievable gun play. I spent a large amount of my time in my reviews for the first series complaining that Ryo had stopped killing people; now I realise that back then the series was about insanely elaborate criminal plots, and in later times it scaled down to more “personal” stories – which could be construed as “trivial” – and the guns are just incidental.

It was an interesting introduction of Kaori, anyway – the way that she just says “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” to the camera at the end of the episode; I can’t believe they got away with that. You get to see that Ryo was attracted to Kaori before they became partners – not that it’s an easy thing to forget.

A City Hunter OVA isn’t really accessible to someone not familiar with the series; to think that all episodes are like Bay City Wars would be a mistake, and to believe that the plots are as convoluted as Million Dollar Conspiracy is laughable (I mean … a villain trying to escape with a jet pack?).
Unlike Magnum of Love & Destiny, these do not act as an effective exploration of the relationship of Kaori and Ryo; as such, Bay City Wars and Million Dollar Conspiracy are good enough, but decidedly unessential.

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