Those Who Hunt Elves

What was reviewed: Subtitled Vol. 1, English-dubbed Vol. 2
Released by: A.D.V. Films
Released on American home video in 1999.
Reviewed by:

Three wanderers are lost in a mystical land of sword and sorcery, skeleton warriors, frightened townspeople, and beautiful elves. Their hopes of returning to Tokyo rest on the recovery of a teleportation spell accidently printed on the bodies of five elves. "Those Who Hunt Elves" just have to find those special elves and, well, strip them. Aided by fate, providence, or the magic of elf Priestess Celcia, they search, disrobing all the elves they pass.

There hasn't been such an ingenuous action comedy concept since Ranma 1/2. Of course, the trio is capable of handling any situation with ease, more so when the Priestess Celcia joins them as a powerful magic-user. Junpei can grapple hundreds at a time: he's a martial arts expert without an equal in the land, dedicated to eating curry and perfecting the way of the fist. An Oscar-winning actress and master of disguise, presence and influence, Airi can fool the most observant of opponents. Tokyo schoolgirl with a tank, Ritsuko has the heavy artillery and ballistic know-how to handle golems, pirate ships, and just about anything else. Any challenge thrown at them is easily achieved, either it being a combination of aquatic pirates trying to exact revenge or tricking elves to denude themselves. The way the team wins show the anime's genius; they are elaborate and shamelessly entertaining. Try Junpei organizing the defeated pirates into sushi boats, or Airi tricking an elf to drink a potion that will cause her to become a giant, her clothing being too small and torn to hide any spell fragment...

Much of the humor comes from the thin line between discretion and shamelessness. As cordial and honorable as circumstances allow, they strip elves. Story concepts like this have endless material to work with, wonderful and colorful characters to follow, and plenty of room for satire. The various towns they go through mirror Japan in some regards, medieval Europe in others. And the trio themselves are absolute anime creations, each pushing several archetypes we have come to love in the genre. Celcia, the disgruntled fourth member, appears as a super-deformed dog.

Technically, the animation and soundtrack are pretty good for a late-night animation series. Great care has been taken in the character designs for maximum comic effect and appeal with plenty of attention paid to acting. As is often the case with comedies, the translation works well and the dubbing is not distractingly bad. One point that will bother the purists out there: the translation of Ritsuko's dialogue loses much of her personality. She was supposed to be our strong-willed and energetic anime schoolgirl. Instead, she sounds like an English teacher, much too similar to Airi. Overall, this is an anime to add to your collection.

© Yu Yagimi / Media Works • Amuse • Sotsu Agency
© 1999 A.D.Vision, Inc.


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