El Cazador de la Bruja (or "The Hunter of the Witch") is the third and final installment of Bee Train Stuido's "Girls-with-Guns" anime series. Although El Cazador has nothing to do with the other two in the series, Noir and Madlax, it still follows the basic idea of having a female main character (or characters) who use guns.
The story follows a maverick bounty hunter named Nadie who is hired to go after, and protect, a young girl named Ellis who has a bounty on her head. Ellis is a young polite girl, but at the same time she has a mysterious dark past. Although Ellis herself has little to no memories of what happened to her, she is constantly haunted by the memory of her killing the man she loved like a father. After arriving in a small town Nadie soon finds the mysterious Ellis being chased after other bounty hunters. While showing off some of her ace gunman skills, Nadie manages to rescue Ellis, and return her to the fortune teller she had been staying with.
After returning to the fortune teller Ellis is given a strange stone, and is told to head south to a place called Wiñay Marka; this is where Ellis will finally regain her memories of what truly happened back then. Once making up her mind to follow the fortune teller's advice, Ellis helps Nadie steal a car from two of the bounty hunters who tried to kill her, and they then head south across Mexico into the unknown.
("Got any last words, say 'em!" - Nadie)
As both the girls travel south they find themselves being caught up in a lot of different events. Besides the fact that Ellis still has a bounty on her head due to the fact she is a suspect in a murder case, the strange group that hired Nadie to protect Ellis also has plans of their own. Unknown to Nadie, Ellis was created using what is known as "Witch DNA" which gives her strange powers. Although these powers are locked away inside Ellis, overtime things begin to change and the truth behind Ellis' past will come into the light.
Once a strange young man named L.A. (who is obsessed with Ellis) enters the mix, both girls slowly start to learn more about what is really going on. About how there used to be humans known as witches, and how they are related to Ellis. With the help of another bounty hunter named Ricardo and the little girl he is raising named Liro, Nadie and Ellis fight their way south to the truth. Over time Ellis begins to develop feelings for Nadie, and Nadie decides that she will give her life to protect Ellis. Both characters become extremely close, and they both learn to depend on each other in order to survive.
El Cazador's story does in fact become one that you care about, but it's story truly isn't the shows strong point. Since the anime involves the main characters traveling south most viewers should know what to expect. Almost every episode is a new "story" which takes place during the main plot, and this really allows for some strong character development.
As I stated before, Nadie is the ace marksmen bounty hunter who is hired to watch over Ellis. Near the start of the show Nadie is simply out on a job doing whatever it is she needs to do to keep Ellis safe. She keeps secrets from Ellis, and makes it very clear that she's only sticking with Ellis to get paid; however as time goes on things begin to change. During the first few episodes of El Cazador, Nadie starts to show her softer side, and for the first time viewers get to see what she is really like. We learn about her sad past, about how a man tricked her when she was younger, which caused her to be distrusting, and she also begins to open up to Ellis and embrace her "inner child."
For the most part Nadie is the "mature adult" of the group, but throughout the series she shows off her inner child. One minute she is dealing with real life issues, and the next minute she's saying "who freakin cares" and jumping head first into a pool without even worrying about how much the fee's going to cost her to use it. Either way, Nadie is a cheerful young woman who truly cares about her friends, and is willing to do anything for them. She can have quite the mouth on her at times, and fail at hitch hiking, but that doesn't change the fact that she's that "cool lady with the gun."
Ellis' character is the most unique character in the entire series, and she's the type of character that can easily make you love the show. Ellis is a sweet and innocent little girl who just doesn't seem to know much about life. When she talks she's simple and to the point, and she also doesn't seem to have a care in the world. Although you truly do not completely understand her character until the end of the show, many of her characteristics stand out early on and will easily make you love her.
Back when Ellis first meets Nadie she is preforming a card trick on the side of the street to hopefully make some money. After everyone else walks away, Nadie decides to go ahead and give her some cash, but how does Ellis react? By simply saying "That's all?" which only makes Nadie feel sorry for her and give her more. So Ellis then thanks Nadie right? Wrong again! Ellis simply walks away with her newly gained money to buy some food. Of coarse Nadie calls Ellis out for it and demands she say thanks, but Ellis doesn't quite understand and simply replies saying "What for?"
At first Ellis doesn't understand how the real world works at all. "ELLIS COME OUT!" "I'm here!" "Go back inside and hide!" "Yes sir." Either way she quickly becomes a character you can't help but care about, and her "yes sir" line will become one you'll all ways remember. Who knows, maybe one day you'll just be going about your daily life, hear someone say it, and then you'll find yourself holding back laughing.
As I said before, although Ellis is that innocent little girl near the start of the show, she does hold a dark secret, and things begin to change once that secret comes out. While for the most part Ellis stays completely oblivious to the way the world works, Nadie's influence does begin to show over time, especially as Ellis becomes more and more attached to her.
Ricardo and Liro-
Ricardo is a bounty hunter who is hired to follow Nadie and Ellis during the first episode of the show, but back then even he didn't know what job truly was. At the start Ricardo is that standard cowboy type drifting from town to town not sure where his journey is going to take him, but things do change. After leaving Liro at a hotel so she would be safe as he went on a job, Liro notices Nadie and Ellis and quickly runs up to them. All though all four characters have seen each other passing by before, this is the first time they truly met and started to become friends.
As time goes on, Ricardo and Liro begin to run into Nadie and Ellis quite often, and all four of them start to get to know each other better. While Nadie and Ellis are willing to watch after Liro while Ricardo goes out and does a job, Ricardo and Liro also are willing to help Nadie and Ellis in anyway possible. What originally was a job for Ricardo soon becomes personal, and he makes up his mind to watch over and protect the girls no matter what. Even when his contract ends early on, he continues to push forward and follow them despite the lack of money and supplies.
In short, L.A. is one screwed up guy. Like Ellis he was created in a lab with the witch DNA, but other than that his past is a mystery (just like Ellis'). Due to being created, L.A. quickly becomes attached to Ellis and is willing to do anything to be with her. Although he is mentally unstable, he truly does care about what happens to Ellis and can be seen helping out both her and Nadie in secret.
Although L.A. does in fact help the main characters out from time to time, he is anything but an ally. From killing a dozen people for simply looking at him, to disregarding orders for his own personal reasons, L.A. is in short, a psychopathic rebel who does what he wants when he wants. He does seem to have some respect for other strong fighters, such as Ricardo, but for the most part he feels that only he and Ellis are worthy of living.
Since El Cazador's main focus is on Nadie and Ellis who find themselves being put against a backdrop of the Mexican desert (with the dangers of both the land and the lawless bounty hunters to worry about), El Cazador's setting mainly takes place in Mexico and Central America. Although the year is never actually stated, during one episode it's possible to see a tomb stone of someone who had passed away a year ago with their date of death as "2008."
Despite the fact that the show may take place anywhere from 2009 to early 2011, due to the show taking place over a year, many of the towns the main characters visit are a bit old fashion. Pay Phones are used often, with only a few characters actually using cell phones, some houses appear to have no running water, and for the most part not much tech is actually seen. Still cars are in fact the main modes of transport, scenes that take place outside of Mexico show office buildings, computers, and planes. At one point in the series a character talks about "wiking" something for information as well, yet they are never actually seen using a computer. Weapons in the series are in fact modern day ("recent terrorist attacks" are also brought up when discussing why the Colt M1911 .45 Pistol is so popular "now days"), and Project Leviathan, which Ellis was a part of, also is much more advance than anything you would see today. In short, El Cazador takes place in a slightly more advanced version of our modern day world, but at the same time the characters seem to be traveling through less advance small towns which you might expect to see in an old fashion western.
Although El Cazador takes place mostly in Mexico, a lot of characters appear to either originate from somewhere else. It could just be the art style they chose to use for the show, but though out the there only appears to be a few characters with Hispanic features (most of which are only in a few episodes). Although Nadie herself appears to have a slight tan, her other features (such as her blue eyes) suggest that she may not be Hispanic despite the fact that she grew up in Mexico. From time to time characters will use a mix of Spanish and English when talking which help show the setting is in fact Mexico, but at the same time quite a few characters have been shown to know little to no Spanish, and some have even stated that they used to live in the US.
Either way the show still does a great job of setting the scene, and it's very easy to be pulled into it's world.
Although El Cazador may be counted as a type of yuri by some, it is never really made clear how the characters actually feel towards each other. Throughout the series it is hinted that Ellis has romantic feelings for Nadie, but at the same time Ellis is shown to have the mind set of a little girl, and she may simply look up to Nadie as a big sister, and both characters have been shown to have an interest in men (especially Nadie). Either way both characters slowly develop a very close bond, and they see each other, not only as family, but as the only family they've both got.
El Cazador de la Bruja is in fact rated TV-MA, due to blood, violence, and language. Although there is no explicit violence (in fact you may even see more violent content from PG rated animes), the realistic feel the anime has may be the cause for the rating. When characters die the feeling are real, and it can become quite emotional. Either way, most would agree that a TV-14 rating would be much more suitable.
Even though El Cazador is only 26 episodes long, it is one of animes that are worth checking out. If you're a fan of westerns, mysteries, and action adventure shows/animes/movies, then this anime wont let you down. The first few episodes may start out a bit slow, in fact I almost didn't watch episode 2 myself, the show quickly picks up and you'll soon find yourself actually caring about what happens to our heroines.
Although I actually recommend the English Dub, (due to the fact that not only do the voice actors fit the characters, but it also makes more since that the characters know Spanish and English rather than Spanish and Japanese) the Japanese version is great as well. Really it just comes down to what you prefer, and there is no real advantage to watch one over the other. (I'd still give the English dub a shot lol, and that's something I RARELY say!)
Recommended Age Group: 14 +
Number of Episodes: 26
Gender it Most Appeals to: Both Male and Female
NettoSaito's Rating: 10/10
In the end, it was a great anime series, and it's one of the few rare ones that I just had to rewatch! The ending leaves you wanting more, but sadly that more may never come...