City Hunter

City Hunter is an anime series in the City Hunter franchise
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This series follows "sweeper", the lecherous Ryo Saeba, who was also known as City Hunter, as he takes on case after case of protecting damsels in distress.

Ryo (Joe, in some U.S. dubs) Saeba is a professional "sweeper," an Equalizer who packs a .357 Magnum and specializes in bodyguard details in the Tokyo district of Shinjuku, where he can be reached through coded messages on the train station billboard. Promising his dying partner, Hideyuki, that he will look after Kaori, Hideyuki's sister, the terminally lecherous Ryo is lumbered with a prim female assistant, who nevertheless remains eternally jealous of his conquests.

Tsukasa Hojo's 1985 Shonen Jump comic proved even more successful than his Cat's Eye, running for a total of 35 volumes. The regular cast of characters, including Ryo, surrogate wife/daughter Kaori, policewoman Saeko, and rival investigator Reika (both gorgeous, of course) would be reprised for TV directed by Cat's Eye-alumnus Kodama. The TV edition kept Ryo's relationships with his female clients unconsummated, preferring instead to truncate many seductions with farce and slapstick.

Steadily gaining popularity (the closing theme "Get Wild" became a hit in its own right), the series moved from seven to six o'clock after 51 episodes. An 87-minute theatrical feature, Magnum of Love's Destiny (1989), was released in the U.S. as .357 Magnum and featured beautiful European pianist Nina trying to track down her father amid a then-topical backdrop inspired by the reunification of East and West Germany (here renamed Galiera). In a typical City Hunter setup, Nina is the unwitting mule for a vital microchip planted on her by a Communist agent shortly before his own death. Ryo takes one deceptively simple mission only to find himself deep over his head in another.

With new theme music but otherwise unchanged, seasons two and three introduced occasional hour-long "special" episodes that were eventually to become the franchise's medium of choice. Bay City Wars (1990) features a Central American dictator using drug money to take over the world and reprogramming U.S. nuclear missiles, all from the titular Shinjuku hotel. Ryo's natural lechery is brought to the fore when he must stop the general's beautiful daughter from destroying the world. Million Dollar Plot (also 1990) pits Ryo against a CIA conspiracy to liquidate a beautiful rogue agent.

City Hunter '91 was the fourth and final TV series, ending after just 13 episodes. However, in 1993, the franchise was rejuvenated by Wong Jing's live-action film, which cleverly exploited the show's popularity abroad by casting big Chinese names in the lead roles-Jackie Chan as Ryo and A Chinese Ghost Story's Wang Zhuxian as Kaori. One of the few anime series brought back regularly for TV specials (another is Lupin III), Ryo's more recent one-shot TV adventures have included The Secret Service (1996), in which he teams up with a pretty secret agent to protect the leader of a banana republic, and Goodbye My Sweetheart (1997-released in the U.S. as City Hunter "The Movie"), which imitates Patlabor 2 with its tale of a disgruntled soldier bringing his war experiences to Tokyo. The End of Ryo Saeba (1999) quite patently wasn't-it's likely that City Hunter will be back before long. In the meantime, the "special" format has been retroactively imposed upon the original series in Japan, now shuffled into 20 video compilations designed to showcase the best TV episodes, out of chronological order but in a semblance of feature-length editions. At least part of the CH franchise lives on in Hojo's manga Angel Heart (2001), in which a former assassin receives a prominent character's heart in a transplant operation. NV
Series Credits
Person Name Episode Count
Kenji Kodama
Kiyoshi Egami

To edit the cast, go to an episode page.

Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name City Hunter
Name: シティーハンター
Romaji: Shitii Hantaa
Publisher Sunrise Inc.
Start Year 1987
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Aliases Nicky Larson
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