City Hunter: Bay City Wars

The formula for City Hunter has often been the same. Ryo Saeba, heroic lech of a P.I., meets a cute woman in need of help. After antics that destroy any hope for the male side of the species, the real threat of the episode appears, causes problems, and Ryo saves the day by eliminating said threat. It's rare for any City Hunter story to stray very far from the tried and true. This made reviewing Bay City Wars a lot more fun. Although it still holds true to the traditions of the show, Bay City Wars dispenses with 95% of Ryo's bad-boy behavior and spends almost all of its 50 minute running time as an action extravaganza. It's predictable, but not in the same way most City Hunter adventures are.

As the show starts, a gala is in full swing. The Tokyo Bay City Hotel has opened, complete with supercomputer and accompanying theme park, and privileged guests are there to celebrate, including Ryo's partner and her best friend. Saeba has been invited to come, but he's misplaced the address. Desperate for free food and a beautiful woman to snuggle, he retraces his steps. He virtually runs into Luna, who appears to be on the run, when all of a sudden his buddy (and occasional rival) Falcon shows up. He's after Luna, but we're not quite sure why.

At the same time, the huge party takes an unexpected turn...a bunch of terrorists in camo surround the building and park, taking the partygoers hostage. Behind it all is a Central American dictator who the U.S. has ousted from power due to his control of a huge international drug ring. He has sinister plans that can only be staged at the Bay City Hotel...but why? And how will Ryo and Falcon make the connection between the mysterious Luna and the events at the hotel? And will lots of stuff blow up? You betcha.

Again, the creative team behind City Hunter has created an OVA just enough above the TV show's animation to please fans. Though the character designs really don't look any better here, there is so much action and fast motion that all the money was spent making things "go boom real good". While the explosions and fight sequences aren't special, they are a reasonable improvement in terms of animation.

I liked Bay City Wars from an action perspective, but beyond that, I'm not sure what to make of it. It kept me interested. But there is so much action that there's precious little time for a story. Unlike Million Dollar Conspiracy, where the gang gets through numerous plot twists, Bay City is so straightforward that there's absolutely nothing to follow. Good guys, bad guys, point and shoot.

Is this a bad thing? Not really, not when you have fun doing it. And this is certainly a better City Hunter outing. Because Ryo is reined in most of the show's running time, his inappropriate comments and sight gags are much funnier when they do appear. Instead of throwing out a few dozen jokes and hoping a few stick, Bay City has just a few but does them pretty well. The action, while over-the-top, is choreographed well. And since it's so differently paced from regular City Hunter adventures, the problems I've mentioned in other reviews about wanting character development from the show didn't come up. It's not a superb OVA, but a good one done well.

The only real blotch on the show is a rather dumb slam on America in the introduction of a character "from the Pentagon" who wants to go in and rescue the hostages guns ablazing. The Japanese agent in charge, of course, feels that waiting the situation out is the best option. She's proven right, though only because our heroes do their jobs well. I'm not all that concerned about the America bashing, but if you're going to make fun of our public servants, at least get them right. (For those outside the U.S., the Pentagon houses the Department of Defense--and as such, if someone who worked at the Pentagon were to go to a foreign country to do work, they would identify themselves by their specific agency, not as somebody "from the Pentagon". The Pentagon by itself is only a place and has no authority.) This minor side plot is not all that surprising, but it's a bad stereotype.

If you can get past that and want to see a no-brainer action piece that's still very fun to watch, Bay City Wars is a worthwhile watch for a City Hunter fan. If you've never seen any City Hunter before, I'd suggest starting somewhere else, since many of the relationships here are assumed knowledge. But if you have a liking for the wayward detective, this is an enjoyable hour.

City Hunter: Bay City Wars -- violence, mild lechery -- B+