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ADV Films presents
City Hunter: Secret Service (1995)

Rosa: You certainly have a way with words Mr. Saeba.
Ryo Saeba: Your beauty has unleashed the poet within me.

- Keiko Toda, Akira Kamiya

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: June 23, 2002

Stars: Akira Kamiya, Cazue Ikuru, Yuri Amano, Akio Oosuka, Yoko Asagami, Tessho Genda, Fumi Koyama, Martin Blacker, Pamela Ribon, Jana Brockman, Adam Dudley, David Kroll, Johanna McKeon, David R. Jarrot
Other Stars: Keiko Toda, Mugihito, Kazuhiro Nakata, Osamu Ichikawa, Konta, Kinryu Arimoto, Edwin Neal Laruren Zinn, Ellie McBride, Grant James, Paul Cater Deaton, John Lucas
Director: Kenji Kodama

Manufacturer: JVC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (15+ for mature content)
Run Time: 01h:29m:55s
Release Date: June 25, 2002
UPC: 702727013126
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Tsukasa Hojo's City Hunter began as a pair of short stories in 1983 and 1984, with the first of the 35 volume manga released in 1985, and running for the next decade. Sunrise produced the first of four seasons of the TV series in 1987/88 which by 1991 numbered 140 (152) episodes. A feature (marketed as .357 Magnum) was produced in 1989, and a pair of OVAs in 1990, with this 1995 TV special, Secret Service being one of the most recent installments, preceding 1996's City Hunter: The Movie.

When it comes to dirty jobs, Ryo Saeba is the best in his field. They call him a "sweeper" as his job is to "clean up" the streets, but he is more notorious as City Hunter. He is a master of weaponry, and his personality is slick and smooth—that is, unless he is placed in the presence of a woman, in which case he becomes a raging pervert. As Ryo stalks his case—and his clients—his partner Kaori Makimura's position on the team seems to be to keep Mr. Saeba in line with the help of her magic hammer, which is routinely used to bash a little concentration into the mind of her lecherous sidekick.

Their assignment this time out is to protect a secret service agent, the daughter of a presidential Third World candidate who herself is assigned to protect her father. There is some bad blood in this family. James McGuire spent the past sixteen years at a political prison in his country under the previous military regime, during which time his daughter had been sent to Japan and got a job as a secret service agent. As a small child before leaving her homeland, Anna had witnessed her mother's murder, and the man she holds responsible is none other than her own father. However, Anna may not know the whole story, and with her father's prominence in the political scene, there is someone out to thin the family tree once again.

As a bodyguard herself, Anna resents having a pair of babysitters, but the likes of Ryo and his penchant for getting a feel of the situation—in more ways than one—are just too much to cope with. Add that to the secrets her family is keeping, and her position in the service is in jeopardy. When she learns she is the target of a sniper's bullet, can she trust Ryo long enough to save her and her father?

There are a couple of factors that make City Hunter a blast to watch. Even though I haven't seen any of the other parts of the series, the characters are introduced with a familiarity that makes them instantly accessible. The relationship between Kaori and Ryo is in the same vein as Urusei Yatsura's Lum/Ataru pairing: she is in love with him, but he wants to get with every girl except her, which leads to an inevitable reckoning, in this case a whack on the head with a 100T hammer. What is also interesting is that the characters here are all adults, not school kids, which adds another layer of humor to Ryo's perverted nature, since he changes from the very slick, mature man into a hormone-charged idiot before you can say "ecchi." As a professional, he knows his job, which he handles with a cool ease, and with stunning intuition, but dangle a skirt in front of him, and watch the nosebleeds begin.

The plot here takes some interesting turns, and is well laid out, giving just the right amount of foreshadowing to keep the pacing going. The comic elements blend well with the darker undertones, and the personalities are exposed in a deliberate, though well integrated fashion. What we end up with is some good action, some zany hilarity, and a satisfying story. If this is any indication of the rest of the series, I hope ADV fast tracks their TV and OVA properties.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Video quality is for the most part quite good, with saturated color and sold blacks. Aliasing is a little pronounced; there is some visible compression and interlace artifacting, as well as slight edge enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Stereo tracks for original Japanese and English dub are available. Both have good quality audio, primarily center focused, but with a decent stereo soundfield. Neither exhibited any major technical deficiencies, but the English dub does seem to have a thinner music track, which also has a different soundstage than the Japanese.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Excel Saga, City Hunter: The Motion Picture, Dai-guard, Wild Arms TV, Steel Angel Kurumi, Orphen
5 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Clean credits
  2. City Hunter Omake
Extras Review: A nice round of extras include clean opening and closing credits, a 03m:19s City Hunter omake episode, plus a collection of four Japanese and one English TV spot.Trailers for Excel Saga, City Hunter: The Motion Picture, Dai-guard, Wild Arms TV, Steel Angel Kurumi and Orphen are also included.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Good action, great characters and an abundance of humor make City Hunter: Secret Service enjoyable. The personalities are fun to watch, especially Ryo Saeba's instant "Jekyl and after her Hyde" transformations. A level of intrigue marked with ecchi comedy fill out a well developed storyline, as the relationship between the City Hunter and his partner is "hammered" out.


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