El Cazador de la Bruja, Part One – DVD Review

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now

While it’s not as good as a tasty taco, it comes very close.

El Cazador de la Bruja is one of those anime series that I have seriously been looking forward to viewing every since I heard of it and why not? It’s a Latin-flavored road trip adventure with two girls who are special in their own interesting way and there’s plenty of bloody gunplay for good measure. Sadly, while it’s not as ultra cool as it sounds, Part One of El Cazador de la Bruja is not without its really good moments.

As the narrator mentions in the opening episode, the was once a physicist whose theory that it is possible for an entity to control molecules and bend it to their will. These entities were known as witches or demons, hence the theory now called “Maxwell’s Demon,” which is named after him. Years pass by and a sexy female bounty hunter is on the lookout for a young blonde girl by the name of Ellis who is wanted by a mysterious organization. She is Nadie, a young redheaded girl who packs a gun and is determined to find Ellis before other bounty hunters get to her.

When Nadie does meet up with Ellis, she discovers that the young blonde is a spacey kid with no recollection of who she is and she she’ll living with an old woman. When her caretaker is killed, Nadie swears to protect Ellis and take the girl south to see a person Ellis does not really remember. Taking a crystal with her, Ellis joins the bounty hunter on a road trip across the unnamed Latin American country.

Of course, Nadie and Ellis get into many a situation on the road and after having taken the jeep from a pair of tranny bounty hunters, the jeep breaks down way too many times. On the road, they meet the owner of a diner who puts Nadie and Ellis to work to pay for their meal and discover a secret about this woman. After that, the tranny bounty hunter catch up to them again and they have a shootout in a church. It is in this gunfight that Nadie discovers that Ellis has a power hidden within her.

Meanwhile, there’s a conflict within the organization that is interested in Ellis. There’s a man named Rosenberg with very powerful connections who wants Ellis out of the picture. Working in the same office is Judy Hayward, AKA Blue-Eyes who has a connection to Nadie and is secretly investigating Rosenberg who has sent an agent of his own … a young boy in an Austin Powers-like outfit. This boy is known as L.A. and he is watching Ellis closely but for his own reasons that get him into trouble with Rosenberg later.

As the girls travel, they meet and get involved in the lives of several people. In one place they find a girl who wants to travel to the big city and will do anything to get there. They even meet and hang out with a cute little girl named Lirio who travels with her father-figure companion who also happens to be a bounty hunter. When Ellis is shot accidentally in a mobster shootout, it is another mobster who lends them a hand. When they meet a girl posing as a psychic witch, Ellis’ true powers show villagers that she might actually be a real witch.

We also get to learn more about these two young girls as they discover themselves on this journey. We meet a young mariachi from Nadie’s past and learn why she doesn’t trust men. Nadie finds Ellis’ personality a bit odd but she comes to appreciate the younger girl as well as make a number of startling discovers about R-339 and the mysterious Leviathan Project. Ellis is slowly regaining her memories of a tragic moment in her life that left somebody dead. Meanwhile, the organization sends a group of assassins after them and when they finally reach a place in the south that Ellis somewhat recognizes the two girls are in for an interesting surprise.

Thankfully, the series has a good sense of humor and none of the episodes resort to fan service to make the girls more interesting or likeable. Nadie and Ellis grow on you because their personalities come to light little by little along the journey because Nadie changes Ellis and Ellis does the same for Nadie. Unfortunately, Part One reveals most of the juicy bits way too soon and the story suffers because of it. Whether Part Two will spring newer surprises that remains to be seen. Still, there are moments in the series that are good and the action and humor work well.

Part One of El Cazador de la Bruja shows a lot of potential but the story just isn’t as breathtaking as it could have been considering a strong cast of characters and an intriguing plot. Granted, there are good moments and loads of action in this series but it just doesn’t shine through powerfully enough to make Ellis and Nadie’s road trip an amazing journey. Perhaps Part Two will be much better as the pair continue their quest south of the border.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: C+
A female bounty hunter named Nadie is sent to protect a girl named Ellis who has no real memory of her past but has a power that makes her a target of an organization that would much rather see Ellis dead than alive. As the two girls set on a journey south in this Latin American setting, the pair run into other bounty hunters, gunmen and scoundrels aplenty.

VIDEO QUALITY: A-
The animation is not stunning but, thanks to the wonderful Latin American setting and interesting character design, the visuals are quite appealing nonetheless. The action scenes are wonderfully flashy and bloody as well, earning the series its TV MA rating.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original score is wonderfully handled and fits the series perfectly and the ending theme, “Romanesque” is stellar. The original Japanese voices aren’t bad at all but it’s the English dub that truly stands out. Even the Amigo Taco song sounds better coming from Trina Nishimura and Maxey Whitehead.

EXTRAS: C+
There are trailers and the textless opening and closing theme songs in the second disc but the real treat comes in the form of an audio commentary track for the first episode with Christopher Bevins, Maxey Whitehead (Ellis) and Trina Nishimura (Nadie) that is spirited and fun to listen to while watching the episode.

OVERALL: C+
While the story has an interesting setup, Part One of El Cazador de la Bruja just doesn’t shine as brightly as it should considering the fact that the two main characters are a fun pair to follow. Despite the cool action sequences and interesting setting, the story just seem to lack that certain spark that would have made this a great road trip worthy of its cast.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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