Ryo Saeba, aka City Hunter, comes back in a long-awaited feature-length anime movie after 20 years, and his antics are as outrageous as ever!

The City Hunter manga and anime franchise was a huge hit in the mid/late ’80s to the early ’90s, as the protagonist Ryo Saeba captured fans’ hearts with his shameless skirt-chasing and extraordinary ability as a sniper and trouble fixer. Naturally, expectations were high for the series’ first anime adaptation to come out in 20 years, which opened in theaters across Japan this past Friday. Anxious to check the movie out, we went to a screening over the weekend that included a post-show appearance by some of the voice actors, as well as the creator of City Hunter series.

We saw the show at the United Cinemas Toyosu Theater in the LaLaport Toyosu shopping complex, where to our delight, the adjoining cafe was serving some City Hunter themed items.

▼ City Hunter was being quite heavily promoted at the cafe, including the board at the entrance

There were also numerous City Hunter related items on display, starting with these original script books, one of them signed by veteran voice actor Akira Kamiya, who plays the role of Ryo.

▼ Here’s another item, a replica of the station message board that was used in the series as a means for clients to get in touch with City Hunter.

▼ Figures of Ryo and his partner Kaori Makimura

▼ Ryo, Kaori and detective Saeko Nogami turned into cute plush mascots

▼ Illustrations of the various firearms used in the movie

▼ Inside the cafe, numerous illustrated panels covered the wall.

Of course, we ordered one of the City Hunter menu items: “Ryo’s Blu Cream Soda“, which came with chocolate-covered bananas in the shape of Kaori’s trademark “100 ton hammer” (priced at 850 yen [US$7.75]).

The refreshing soda, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on top, is created in the signature blue and red colors of Ryo’s clothing.

The chocolate-covered bananas are presented in the shape of the 100 ton hammer that Kaori is always swinging at Ryo for chasing after beautiful women.

After fortifying ourselves with the soda and chocolate covered bananas, we were ready to enjoy City Hunter The Movie: Shinjuku Private Eyes! And how was it? We won’t give anything crucial away, but one thing that can be said for sure is that Ryo hasn’t changed at all! He’s just as you remember him, sexually inappropriate yet funny antics and incredible gunmanship included. It sure felt good to have the City Hunter fans know and love back after 20 years.

Is the plot complex or realistic? No, on both counts, but City Hunter is all about Ryo being his zany, crazy self, and you get plenty of that in this movie, so old-time fans should be more than satisfied with all the quintessential City Hunter-ness contained in the film. Of course, there’s loads of action involving even heavy firearms (which again is not realistic for Japan but nothing out of the ordinary for City Hunter).

The artwork does have a more modern look to it, but that’s certainly to be expected after 20 years. And it should be interesting for fans to see how they’ve updated the way clients get in touch with Ryo, as the message board at train stations that was used in the initial series has now disappeared due to the advent of mobile phones.

▼ The commemorative brochure for the movie, available for 1,000 yen

▼ Here’s a look at the artwork from the film. What do you think?

▼ The brochure also includes an illustration by Tuskasa Hojo, the original manga artist who created City Hunter.

In addition, the movie also uses a lot of the songs from the original anime series, so if you watched the old anime with the original Japanese music, you’ll absolutely love how they some of the same tunes are dropped in at perfectly timed points leading up to the climax of the film. The nostalgia from hearing those songs alone makes the film more than worth watching. Yes, it’s hard not to get emotional hearing the iconic ending theme “Get Wild” as the movie draws to a close.

Overall, the movie was a true City Hunter experience, and especially so since the principal voice actors all reprised their roles in what could be called a 20-year reunion.

▼ They were also giving away special illustrated cards as a bonus gift. The cards came in two designs, a Ryo version…

▼ … and a Kaori version, both drawn by Hojo for this occasion.

After the screening, we were treated to a special onstage appearance by creator Hojo, the film’s executive director Kenji Kodama, and voice actors Akira Kamiya (voicing Ryo), Kazue Ikura (Kaori), and Koichi Yamadera (voicing Shinji Mikuni, a new character made for this movie), which further added to the audience’s excitement.

When asked about City Hunter getting a revival now with this new movie and also a live action movie in France, Hojo replied jokingly that perhaps the kids who grew up watching City Hunter are now grown up and in positions to make things happen, and no one could deny them when they decided they wanted to see more of the series. Kodama commented on how a lot of effort went into recreating Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood realistically in the movie, which involved getting permission from many facilities and buildings.

As for the vocal cast, Kamiya revealed that although he was nervous about getting into Ryo’s character after such a long time, the moment he heard the other actors’ familiar voices, he was right back in City Hunter mode. Ikura mentioned that not only the songs from the original anime series, but the new musical score for this movie was crafted expertly to match the emotions and tensions in the story and that she hoped the audience enjoyed that as well. Finally, Yamadera admitted that he was quite nervous about joining a cast with such prominent voice actors, but that he was grateful and honored to have the chance. What stood out most of all was that everyone seemed genuinely happy to have been involved in bringing back this unconventional yet much-loved hero.

▼ The cast also appeared at a separate post-screening event at a theater in the Hibiya district.

City Hunter The Movie: Shinjuku Private Eyes is now playing at theaters across Japan. The consensus among fans so far seems to be that It’s a genuine addition to the franchise. If City Hunter captured your fancy 20 years ago, the movie is likely to do so today too and should be worth viewing. Oh, and if you do go see the movie, make sure to stay until the very end, as the end credits contain some great images, and there’s also a very brief final segment for everyone who sticks around.

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