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City Hunter: Bay City Wars & Million Dollar Conspiracy Anime DVD Review

7 min read

Bringing two of 1990’s City Hunter OVA’s together in one package, this release provides a solid selection of good Ryo action and mokkori.

What They Say
Bay City Wars: After the US military ousts a sadistic Central-American tyrant, a spirit of merciless vengeance is born. And when the Bay City Hotel unveils its new supercomputer, the deposed ruler and his loyal daughter devise a plan. With the daughter’s hacking skills, the very same computer that can help room service deliver breakfast can now deliver a nuclear payload right to Washington’s front door. But their nuclear vengeance has one unforeseen problem-City Hunter. And now, the only question remaining is whose finger is faster? The girl on the button or the man on the trigger?

Million Dollar Conspiracy: When a mysterious (and gorgeous) stranger shows up needing protection, City Hunter’s partner leaps at the million-dollar offer. The price seems a little high, but a beautiful woman with a full purse is pretty hard to resist. And it appears the tall, blonde, and beautiful client isn’t above throwing in a little something extra to sweeten the deal. But before City Hunter can collect on his bonus of lacy lingerie and nights of passion, he’s got to endure some rather dangerous foreplay-think “a barrage of bullets and deadly, explosive-rigged toys.” There’s no time for playing around in City Hunter: Million Dollar Conspiracy!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo along with the English language dub, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. Having seen so much City Hunter in Japanese now, it’s only natural to continue viewing it that way. The movie has a basic stereo mix with little in terms of directionality across the forward soundstage, but dialogue and effects come across nicely. We didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions during regular playback of this otherwise pretty average sounding soundtrack.

Originally released in 1990, the transfer for these two OVAs are presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The encoding of the transfer here does a solid job of presenting the materials as originally done, which is very much in the same style as the TV series itself with just a bit more splash and pizzazz in a few areas. Cross coloration is visible throughout both episodes, but it’s pretty minimal as well as aliasing. Colors are solid without getting blocky and there’s very few nicks or scratches to be seen, though some of the darker scenes show off a bit more dirt and dust.

The front cover is done up similar to past releases with the stylized lines and boxes in various shades of yellow and blue while having a nice shot of a full color Ryo in his traditional sport jacket wielding a gone popping out at you. The back cover provides a few shots of the show itself and a couple of paragraphs of plot. The discs features are listed much better than the last release, so that you can tell what’s actually here. No extras are listed though. Basic production information is included though. The insert replicates the front cover while the reverse side uses part of the back cover but in the same style.

The main menu is a static version of part of the front cover and the blocked style of blues and greens that has a portion of the opening song playing to it. Selections are quick to access and load times are nice and fast. There’s little here in general beyond the show itself, so the menus are simple and effective.

Like some of the earlier releases, there’s only one extra included in here and it’s a good one; a full length TV series episode. I’m not sure which episode number it is, but it’s titled The Lady Vanishes, an amusing nod to Hitchcock. The episode itself uses DVD subtitles, though the opening and ending song are hardsubbed.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Several months after wrapping up the third City Hunter TV series in early 1990, Sunrise was able to come back with two OVAs billed as films that clocked in at about 45 minutes each. With this release, there are two quite different plots, though one of them is referential of the other, and each shows off the various strengths of the franchise. The opening act, Bay City Wars, clocks in at about forty-three minutes in length. The story here moves right from the get go with little fluff time spent, as we’re introduced to Bay City, an extension off of Tokyo proper in the bay where the city and playground of the future has been built, all fully automated and made to meet any need of the citizens. While we get a bit of the high-tech beauty of the innards, it becomes little more than a tool as the show progresses.

As it turns out, during the opening celebration party being hosted by those who built it, an exiled general from some country the U.S. has just invaded has fled to Japan and is using some paramilitary forces to capture it. The intent is to use the supercomputers contained within to break through the Pentagon’s super tough security and take control of America’s nuclear arsenal. What better way to seek revenge than to use the country’s own weapons against itself?

Ryo ends up entangled in this after chasing a young woman down one of the streets, only to run into Falcon who is also trying to get her. As both men fight each other and try to go after her, we learn that she’s the daughter of the exiled general, and ends up leading both men into Bay City, which results in a continual firefight between them and those paramilitary types that are all over the place. Add in that Kaori and Miki were attending the party itself, and you’ve got a real fun little situation.

The Million Dollar Conspiracy, clocking in around forty-eight minutes, brings things to a more personal level and without quite as much firepower. Bringing over the very attractive and blonde Emily from Los Angeles, she arrives in Ryo’s city and seeks him out for bodyguard protection. She spins a fantasy tale about a mafia bosses son who she rebuffed, only to have the father send a hitman after her, so she’s spending some time in Japan till things cool over. Offering a million dollars for the protection, and nookie as well after a most amusing exchange between Ryo, Kaori, and Emily, she moves in with them and things settle down a bit.

There’s actually a fair amount of crosses and double crosses that get revealed as this story progresses, as the real reason that Emily is in Japan is revealed and the CIA aspect of the story starts to get exploited. Ryo really makes out great in this episode since he’s so overly on the prowl that he’s practically bursting at the seams. Kaori gets to actually do stuff in this episode, more than just hitting him with the mallet, and Emily actually turns out to be a fairly interesting character for the time we know her. Ryo really shines throughout this episode as he reveals the layers to his makeup, as Emily is so disbelieving at first that he could actually be the person she’s heard about.

Both episodes are quite well animated, with lots of fluidity in both of them at key scenes and a really nice color palette. Million Dollar Conspiracy plays out much better in the visual department since it takes place mostly during the day and in the open city itself, whereas Bay City tends to be more confined and happens over the course of one night. Both episodes play up the strengths of the characters in different ways all while keeping the humor that is key to things readily apparent.

In Summary:
The OVA’s work out much better than the movies for me, which while enjoyable, just feel far too long to really be effective. These just cut right to the chase and provide a solid and entertaining story. The more you know of the franchise, the more you will enjoy it, but I think they’re still wholly enjoyable even for virgins. And we know Ryo loves virgins. This collection is a great addition to my slowly growing but excellent City Hunter library.

Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Full-Length TV Episode

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: June 3rd, 2003
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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