Reviewby Bamboo Dong,
Those Who Hunt Elves
DVD Vol. 1: Ready Set Strip!
Let the truth be told, anime series come in a variety of flavors: mecha, magical girls, cute mascots, hentai, and many others. Then there's those series that just don't seem to fit in anywhere. Those Who Hunt Elves is one such series. While it possesses the basic foundation of some other series, there are twists and turns that put it into a category of its own. Developing along the 'let's - collect - magical - (insert pleasant sounding noun here)'scheme, Those Who Hunt Elves is fun filled series unlike all the other relic-collecting series. There's a major difference between scavenger hunting for spell fragments, and stripping them off naked Elves. Starring the curry-obsessed, fight-loving Junpei, Hollywood actress Airi, and a teenaged arms specialist named Ritsuko, the series starts in medias res with our heroes helping out a town that is being attacked by a band of villains that look like resurrected Street Sharks. Later, the viewer learns that the three (and Ritsuko's pet T-74 tank) were accidentally transported from Japan by the High Elf Priestess Celcia. Unfortunately, when she tried to transport them back, the spell broke into five fragments and appeared on the bodies of five different elves...
As the title implies, the series is about Junpei et al's search for the elves that have the spell fragments imprinted on their skin. The only drawback is that in order to track down these elusive fragments, the trio must hunt down all the elves in the land and somehow get them all naked. Assisted by Celcia, who is stuck in the form of a dog until all five fragments are gathered, and some additions to the crew along the way, the three heroes quickly earn a bad reputation as "those who hunt elves." Although the viewer should probably sympathize with the poor elves being stripped all over the country, there's something funny to be said about elves floating down the river naked amongst boxes of curry, an image that shows up near the end of the first volume. As implied by the subject matter involved, Those Who Hunt Elves is a humorous series packed with action, slapstick, and a story line that is surprisingly more engaging than it sounds.
Containing the first six episodes of the series, the first DVD volume of Those Who Hunt Elves that is being released by ADV is an attractive bargain for people who want to see the series without buying it two episodes at a time, as on the VHS volumes. Included with the episodes is a gallery of character sketches, which is a great bonus for fans that are interested in the production art of the series. With line sketches of all the main characters, including some of the random objects and critters in the few episodes, the sketch gallery is definitely a great addition to the DVD. Another extra on the disc is the opening sequence devoid of credits, which allows one to view the intro in its original form without having to look at the English title in that odd font that ADV chose.
An interesting touch is the tri-lingual format of the disc, which includes the original Japanese track, as well as English and Spanish dubs. As for the English subtitles, ADV did a wonderful job with the series, nailing every nuance uttered by the characters to the word and second. The Japanese voice actors also did an excellent job, as is the expectation for their industry, portraying a wide range of emotions effectively. Alas, I don't know enough Spanish to order a taco, so I can't comment on the Spanish dub, but it's generous of ADV to give Spanish-speakers the opportunity to watch this series. Regarding the English dub, well, the actors did a splendid job. Although I'm not generally fond of dubs, this one was pretty good, with the actors expressing their characters' emotions with talent and flair. The script that they were reading off of, however, was definitely not something that I would recommend.
ADV seems to have a penchant for letting characters talk where there's silence on the Japanese track, which is something that I have trouble understanding. Also, the script was written in such a way that sometimes it completely changed the meaning of the original lines, often for the worse. Not only did this detract from some subtle plot foreshadowing and details, but it also dramatized certain scenes when all that was intended was light-hearted humor. On top of that, the writers felt the need to insert unnecessary cursing where there was none originally. Under no circumstances would the line "You b*tch!" be an adequate substitute for "Hey, where are you going?" During the worst instances, the characters would be uttering phrases that would completely contrast with the events that were going on around them. Not to mention, the timing was so off at times that a phrase would be uttered and the scene in which the action is illustrated wouldn't appear until seconds later. If the actors had been given a better script to work with, the English dub would have been infinitely better. As it is, stay as far away from it as possible.
On the positive side, two thumbs up for the accompanying music. The themes were jocular and perky, and I had a hard time restraining myself from dancing around the room. While the instrumentals aren't anything spectacular, they nevertheless carry the same light-hearted tone and match the mood of the series well. Although the music didn't quite inspire me to jump up and import the CD, it was still immensely enjoyable. It's a nice break for those who are tired of hearing the heavy, angst-driven ensembles that are becoming the trend for many modern series.
Overall (dub) : D-
Overall (sub) : B+
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B
+ Humorous series; plenty of fun!
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