animefringe september 2003 / reviews

Those Who Hunt Elves II Vol.1
Format: Bilingual DVD / 150 min.
Production: ADV Films / Yu Yagami / Amuse
Comments: The continuing adventures of Those Who Crack Me Up.
Animefringe Reviews:
Those Who Hunt Elves II Vol.1

Thanks once again to my obsessive need to get shows that I've merely heard of, I bought the first two DVDs of Those Who Hunt Elves when I pre-ordered the first volume of the sequel series. There were twelve episodes in the previously released set (published domestically last year), and there are six episodes on this first new DVD from ADV Films. I had some spare time in a day, so I decided to begin watching the series from its inception...and I found myself unable to stop watching the show.

Three DVDs and 450 minutes later, I thought that it might be a good idea to eat.

I'm not sure what this show offers that other comedic series do not. I love Excel Saga and Slayers, but perhaps the simple (but bizarre) premise of Those Who Hunt Elves is too funny for me to resist.

In short, TWHE is about three Japanese people from modern Earth summoned to a strange fantasy kingdom by the comely elven Elder, Celcia Marie Claire. The powerful and dense karate master Junpei, the alluring and brilliantly intelligent award winning actress Airi, the young and cute weapons expert Ritsuko, along with Ritsuko's JSDF Type 74 tank, were all ripped away from their reality and suddenly forced to battle an evil sorceress.

They won easily. So easily, in fact, that their battle against the reason they were summoned is only a small part of the series.

Sadly, the spell Lady Celcia was preparing to cast in order to send the three heroes back home was interrupted, and its key elements scattered across the land. Rather than appear on Celcia's body, the spell left its mark upon five unknown elven maidens. Thus, in order to return home, the trio must hunt down the elves with the spell fragments upon their body. The only way to make sure every elf they encounter is free of a mark is to strip each one they come across, which in itself is pretty funny. I'm assuming that those of you reading this have already seen the first season... but just to be safe, let's just say that by the start of the second season, they still have elves to seek and disrobe. Oh, and don't be surprised if Celcia has trouble keeping her elven form once again. If you recall, she spent most of the first season in the form of a funny little dog.

As I said, it's hard to place my finger upon any one key factor that made me enjoy the show so much. Perhaps it's the fact that their tank is possessed by a cat spirit named Mihke. Or perhaps it's the strange little fuzzy creatures that excrete toilet paper as a waste product. It could be Junpei's mindless love of eating, screaming, and fighting. I enjoy the way it doesn't take itself seriously, with Junpei's frequent complaints about how fantasy series don't ever make sense to him. In the second season, I particularly got a kick out of the second episode, "Those Who Wipe." I wouldn't say the stripping part has too much of an effect on me, for while it may be fan service, there's not enough nudity here to justify buying these discs if that's all you're looking for. This is comedic - not sexual - nudity.

The characters are very well written, and while there aren't many, each one is very unique and fun to watch. They're much more developed than is necessary for a comedy, and they drive the show as surely as the weird situations they get themselves into.

The animation is average, but then this isn't a shiny new show by any means. TWHE is colorful enough for a fantasy series, and while the elves may all start to look alike, they're all attractive, at least. It's the story and characters that keep this series interesting more than the show's visuals, in any case.

As far as the music goes, it's catchy, and I like the themes of the second season even more than those of the first. It's a bit video-gamey in nature, and yet it's completely appropriate for such a show.

Both language tracks feature exaggerated acting (I didn't listen to the included Spanish track, but I'd wager it does, as well), but the English dub tends to take things to an even more absurd extreme than the Japanese version. Even the Japanese subtitle track is rather liberal when it comes to translating more out of simple phrases than what was said in Japanese. Sometimes, the subtitles go beyond alternate interpretations and insert phrases or sayings that don't make any cultural sense at all, but that's not a problem if you're just using the subtitles as a guide for the Japanese rather than a literal translation. It is most assuredly not a literal translation.

I usually use subtitles as a crutch for understanding the Japanese, so Romanizations don't tend to bother me, but there were a few differences in the way ADV localized this disc from the first two. For example, "Mike" is now spelled out "Mihke" in the subtitles, and "Celcia Merikreel" is now "Celcia Marie Claire." In Japanese, it all still sounds the same, so these differences didn't bother me, though it is interesting to note how the subtitles changed from the last release.

Extras include a clean opening and ending, trailers for Those Who Hunt Elves II, and ADV previews. Nothing fancy, but the inclusion of a Spanish dub on the disc may be a significant extra for some people out there.

While this series sometimes resorts to potty humor, overall it's a unique and funny show with plenty of action and tongue-in-cheek humor to keep a wide range of fans content. With six episodes to a disc, this excellent series is a pretty good value for those of you looking for a new comedy to keep you smiling. And so, without warning, another show that I knew nothing about has become an addiction I can't wait to satisfy.

Let's just hope ADV puts out the manga soon.