City Hunter the Movie: Shinjuku Private Eyes is intended as homage, rather than a revival of the classic 80s Manga/Anime.
City Hunter the Movie: Shinjuku Private Eyes Synopsis
Saeba Ryo is a jack-of-all-trades “sweeper” operating in Shinjuku, Tokyo. He’s also an incredible marksman and outrageous lecher, the latter much to the dismay of his younger lady partner, Makimura Kaori. One day, the duo takes on an assignment to protect Shindo Ai, a young medical student whose father had vanished, and before long, they discover Ai might be the key to a heinous conspiracy. Meanwhile, Kaori also reunites with childhood friend Mikuni Shinji. The enigmatic Mikuni, a self-made tech millionaire, might know about Ai than everyone else.
City Hunter was big during my school days, big enough at least for Hong Kong to shoot a movie based on it starring Jackie Chan. The truth, though, I’ve never liked it and I’ve barely read the Manga or watched the Anime series. My biggest complaint, that hammer, and everything associated with it. For fans, this might be the signature gag of the series but to me, it was just plain absurd. More often than not, the comical hammer sequences also feels incongruous with the rest of the story.
Jump forth to today, and it’s obvious the producers strongly believe the hammer gag is still beloved by fans. The first half of the movie is positively chocked full of it, together with other classic Ryo shenanigans and capers. In a way, I must admit this is nostalgic to watch in spite of me hating it – it’s like a throwback to a wicked era when gender respect is but a comical bewilderment in Manga/Anime.
Here’s the thing too. Even if I could ignore that hammer, the movie still feels odd in more ways than one. Odd, or should I say, dated? The whole theme of so many beautiful and sexy women, and an entire city, relying on one lecherous freelancer to save the day just feels so yesterday, if you know what I mean. That the Japanese and police SDF wouldn’t swoop in to counter a major terrorist attack and just leave it to that one dude and his gang, makes it doubly ludicrous. This is so even for the realm of make-belief.
To put it in another way, I think City Hunter the Movie: Shinjuku Private Eyes is strictly, strictly for long-time fans. A loving recap of what once thrilled and tickled them. An audio treat too, for those fond of the soundtrack.
For today’s Anime fans and audiences, it’s likely more of a curiosity than anything else. I suspect some might even find it borderline offensive.
Update Jun 4, 2019: Either my tastes changed without me realizing, or I’m that much of a lascivious “ossan” nowadays. I watched a few episodes of the old Anime, and guess what, I enjoyed them. (More than the new movie too, might I add) I even dug out my 30-year-old Electone score for City Hunter – Ai Yo Kienaide and recorded a performance.
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