What They Say:
WARNING! NAKED ELVES AHEAD! The elves of Middle Earth never faced a foe as terrifying, as determined, as down right demented as Those Who Hunt Elves. Strongman Junpei, Hollywood actress Airi, teenage Ritsuko and their T-74 tank have landed in a (different) world of elves, and the spell to send them home has run amuck and split into five pieces that appear as tattoos on the bodies of five young female elves. So they set out on a quest to strip every elf they can lay their hands on until they find the missing spell pieces. Get ready for the wildest, craziest fantasy ever animated as Those Who Hunt Elves prove that elf stripping is more than just a job; it’s an adventure!
For this viewing session, I mainly listened to the English track, switching to Japanese for portions. The Spanish language track available on the individual releases appears to be removed from this set. Both languages are given in 2.0 stereo, though neither really take advantage of it. The sounds and dialogue are clear and generally well done, but it all mostly stays in the center channel. There is occasional directionality with some sound effects, but not much. A little disappointing, but not unsatisfactory.
This show has a 4:3 aspect ratio and displays a pretty nice transfer. Season one is virtually flawless, with clear coloring, visuals, and no major distortions outside of some brief instances of pixelization here and there that you probably would not notice if not looking for it. The second season is almost as nice, though there were more instances of pixelization than the first, and it showed up a bit more. All in all, though, this is a really nice transfer of a somewhat older show.
The box for this set has fairly complex images on both sides; each depicting many of the main and sub characters from throughout the show. The show’s logo is placed at the top of each side. The spine has the logo, with an image of Airi and Celcia at the bottom. The top of the box also has the logo, but this time with small images of Airi, Ritsuko, and Junpei on the tank and Celcia in her panda form. Technical details are along the bottom of the box. The set comes with an insert placed inside the shrink wrap that has sell points for the show, along with a few quotes and the show’s premise, all set over an image of Celcia in human form preparing a spell ritual.
The discs each have the same artwork of the original DVD releases. Season One: Disc One has an image of Ritsuko in a camouflage bikini holding her sniper rifle, while Celcia lounges on the tank in the background. Season One: Disc Two features the same image of Airi and Celcia in traditional Japanese silk dresses that were on the spine of the box. Season Two: Disc One has a picture of Celcia holding Pichi, with the other three sitting on the tank in the background. Season Two: Disc 2 Features Airi in the foreground holding her sword, again with the other three and the tank behind her. The series logo is displayed along the top of each box.
The backs of the cases have plot synopses along the top with a random image of the characters interlaced with screen shots from the show underneath. Junpei eating curry in his boxers is on the first disc, Junpei riding a dragon is on the second, the group with Celcia in panda form riding the tank on the third, and the group again with Celcia as a panda in a pose is on the last disc. Along the bottom are the disc credits and technical details.
Each disc has a picture of one of the characters. Both Season One discs feature Celcia: the first is the same image of Celcia preparing a spell ritual that is on the box insert, and the second shows Celcia in her dog form swinging a pick ax. Season Two: Disc One show Junpei getting ready to deliver his heel drop kick, and Disc 2 has Ritsuko holding a handgun and looking like she is about to cry from happiness.
Altogether, another top notch packaging job from ADV.
The menus for this show are nicely done as they are simple in design and easy to follow. Each has an image of one of the main characters as the dominant image on the screen, with episode selection right on the main menu. The first disc of Season One has an image of Airi posing with her sword, and an elf in the background. Season One: Disc Two has an image of the tank on the top left, with a picture of Celcia in dog form on the bottom. Season Two: Disc One shows Junpei reaching for the pile of toilet paper seen in the second episode of Season Two, and the last disc has an image of Pichi filling most of the screen with a smaller image of the group posing with the tank in the bottom right corner. A language option goes to a sub menu where one can select either English or Japanese with English Subtitles. The first disc also has options for the DVD credits and ADV Previews. The main theme for each season, which differs between the two, plays while on the menu.
A few previews for other ADV titles, but nothing else here.
I was looking forward to those Who Hunt Elves, as the premise of the show seemed ridiculous enough to be great, and despite the show turning out to be a bit different in some aspects to what I expected, it did turn out to be the fun romp that I had imagined. The fact that this set comes with both seasons of the show is a nice bonus.
Those Who Hunt Elves is the story of four people, their tank, and their need to strip elves. Junpei, Airi, and Ritsuko are three humans that, thanks to a powerful spell designed to defeat a powerful dark elf, have been transported from Earth to a fantasy realm where elves reign supreme. The head priestess elf, Celcia, then tries another spell to send them home but messes it up thanks to a distraction from Junpei, and the spell breaks into five pieces, disperses across the land, and attaches itself to the bodies of five elves. That the five elves are all young, attractive, female goes without saying. So Junpei, Airi, Ritsuko, and Celcia journey the land stripping all the elves they come across in an attempt to find the spell fragments and rejoin the spell so they can go home.
Being a martial arts expert, Junpei is the muscle of the group and tends to do most of the fighting; Ritsuko, despite being the tender age of 16, is a heavy arms expert who lends heavy firepower when needed; Airi is a Hollywood actress who uses her acting gifts to trick people, and is generally seen as the leader of the group since she comes up with the best plans. Along with the magic power of Celcia, these four form the feared, invincible group Those Who Hunt Elves.
Season one starts with the failed ceremony that Celcia performed to try and send the three back home, and quickly moves onto the group’s adventures in hunting down elves. For the most part, their adventures consist of our “heroes” hiding their identity as long as possible and helping people out with some situation, before taking to stripping some elf in payment for their services. Hiding their identity is necessary since they are notorious around the planet for their indecent attacks on female elves, and people flee in terror before them.
However, as the season progresses, it rapidly becomes apparent that the group does not like their methods any more than their victims; even Junpei, as the lone male of the group, finds their actions fairly disgusting. Eventually, many of the women they attack see the group for what they are and forgive them, at least in some measure. The first season closes with the group on trial for their indiscretions, but ultimately winning the case when the testimony of one elf brings the rest over to their side.
The second season follows the same premise as the first. Those Who Hunt Elves found all five spell fragments, but thanks again to a distraction from Junpei, Celcia screws it up again, and again the spell shatters, though into over a thousand fragments this time. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The premise of this show suggests that wacky hijinx be abound, and they certainly are. Between the constant infighting of Junpei and Celcia, Celcia continually getting stuck as either a dog or panda thanks to the spell, and the completely ridiculous situations that they find themselves in every episode, this show is filled with almost non-stop hilarity. One of the funniest plotlines in the show is when, early on, the group’s tank becomes possessed by the spirit of a playful kitten, who then proceeds to lend its personality to the tank. The image of a tank chasing a rabbit or mouse never ceases to be funny.
Season one of the show is really well done. The show finds a really nice balance between focusing on the individual episodes and using the overall plot to drive the episodes forward. However, Those Who Hunt Elves takes a little step backwards in season two, as the plot of the second season is not as cohesive as the first, as it seems the writers took the approach of “what wacky hijinx can the characters get into this time and how can we work hunting spell fragments into it?” instead of “how does looking for a spell fragment control the actions of the group?” In other words, the long term goal of the show seemed to take a little bit of a hit in favor of the individual episodes. It should be noted, however, that the second season was good in its own right, and while the show ends with no real definitive conclusion, it is the journey leading to the end that are really the important parts, not necessarily the destination.
The biggest issue I really had with the show is that a seemingly major plotline from the first season is completely dropped in the second season with no real explanation. It is discovered late in the first season the spell that Celcia cast that brought the three and the tank over to her world is also slowly merging the two worlds together. This is a slow developing idea throughout the first season, and it becomes hypothesized that if allowed to continue, the two worlds would destroy one another. It is this that pushes the elven court to allow Those Who Hunt Elves to continue their search. Yet, when the spell of returning fails again, and the four continue their journey, the merging of the worlds is completely forgotten. Again, it is not that big of a deal since the overall plot of the show is not really necessary to the enjoyment it, but it would have been nice for some form of payoff.
The really interesting aspect of this show is that despite the plot being built around stripping female elves, there is virtually no fanservice to be had. Most of the stripping is done behind the scenes, and even on the occasion the girl is shown, she is always conveniently covered up either by another person or some inanimate object. In a way, this is actually a nice move in terms of the plot. The group, especially Junpei who does most of the stripping, continually states that they have no real desire to be wandering the world stripping elves and that they only do it because it is the only way they can think of to find all of the pieces of Celcia’s spell. By not showing the naked elves, and therefore not glorifying it, it helps reinforce Junpei’s claim that they derive no pleasure from their actions.
The other interesting aspect of this show is how invincible Those Who Hunt Elves really are. There is never a situation in the show when it feels like they are in any real danger. Junpei is perfectly capable of handling any physical situation, while Ritsuko’s tank and weaponry along with Celcia’s magic are able to mop up anything Junpei’s fists cannot. Couple those with Airi’s decision making and planning, and the group never faces a situation too big for them. One would think that this might make the group a little boring or one-dimensional, however, it really works in this case. It would not make sense for a group of people with the power and weaponry in their possession to not be almost unbeatable in a fight when mostly going up against foes that carry swords and bows, and since the main point of each confrontation is really if they find a spell fragment, and not so much on who wins and loses a battle, the show gets away with it. In some ways, it is actually a little refreshing to have a group of heroes not come up against something out of their league.
Despite its premise, those coming into this show expecting fanservice should probably look elsewhere. Otherwise, Those Who Hunt Elves is a fun look at what might happen if real world people and objects are dumped into a somewhat typical fantasy world. It never really delves into any serious subject matter like many shows of this nature do, but considering the zany plotlines, any gravity would really have been out of place. Those Who Hunt Elves does not have a tremendous story to latch onto, but it does what it set out to do, and it does it well. Those that are looking for good laughs and some decent action should look no further. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: October 25th, 2005
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Phillips Magnavox TP3285 C129 32″ TV, Samsung DVD-V5650 Progressive Scan DVD w/ DD/DTS, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System