City Hunter is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tsukasa Hojo. It was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1985 to 1991 and collected into 35 tankōbon volumes by its publisher Shueisha. The manga was adapted into an anime television series by Sunrise Studios in 1987. The anime series was popular in numerous Asian and European countries.
City Hunter spawned a media franchise consisting of numerous adaptations and spin-offs from several countries. The franchise includes four anime television series, three anime television specials, two original video animations, several animated feature films (including a film released in February 2019), several live-action films (including a Hong Kong film starring Jackie Chan, and a French film), video games, and a live-action Korean TV drama. It also had a spin-off manga, Angel Heart, which in turn spawned its own anime television series and a live-action Japanese TV drama.
The series ran in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1985’s 13th issue until 1990. The series was printed in 35 collected volumes by Shueisha under the Jump Comics range between January 15, 1986 and April 15, 1992. In these volumes the series is grouped into 55 different stories or “episodes” instead of as their original individual chapters. Each story is centred on a different female character or “heroine”. The series was an 18 volume edition by Shueisha from June 18, 1996 to October 17, 1997. A third edition of 32 volumes was published by Tokuma Shoten from December 16, 2003 to April 15, 2005. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the series, a fourth edition City Hunter XYZ edition is being published by Tokuma Shoten across Twelve volumes. The first volume was published on July 18, 2015. The eighth volume was published on October 20, 2015.
Takehiko Inoue was an assistant on the series.
Attempts were made to license the series for the American comic market during the 1980s; however, Hojo insisted the manga should be released in the right-to-left format. In 2002 Coamix created an American subsidiary, Gutsoon! Entertainment. City Hunter was a flagship title in their Raijin Comics Anthology. Raijin switched from a weekly format to a monthly format before being cancelled after 46 issues.
The series is currently available to read in Japanese as an iPhone application by Rainbow Apps.
In 2001, Hojo started a spin-off series titled Angel Heart. The series takes place in a universe parallel to City Hunter, where the character of Kaori Makimura is killed and her heart transplanted into Xiang-Ying, Angel Heart’s protagonist.
A spin-off manga titled Kyō Kara City Hunter was launched July 25, 2017 in Tokuma Shoten’s Monthly Comic Zenon magazine. It is centered around a 40-year-old unmarried woman who is a fan of Ryō Saeba and the City Hunter manga, and suddenly dies in a train accident and is reincarnated into the world of City Hunter.
By 2016, the City Hunter manga series had sold over 50 million tankobon volumes worldwide. In addition, the series was circulated in an estimated 900 million copies of Weekly Shōnen Jump manga magazine between 1985 and 1991, with those Jump issues generating an estimated $2 billion. The series was voted the 19th “Most Powerful” series to have featured in Shonen Jump. In a 2005 poll held by TV Asahi, City Hunter was voted #66 out of the 100 most popular animated TV series, as voted by TV viewers. A TV Asahi web-poll put City Hunter at #65.
In Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson described the manga stories as “well told and entertaining”. Writing for Mania.com, Eduardo M. Chavez describes the series as “funny, sexy, action packed and at times just plain whacked” and praises the mix of action and comedy. Patrick King of Animefringe described the series as “not the most intellectually stimulating piece of fiction I’ve experienced lately” but called it “a blast to read”.
The characters Ryo and Kaori proved popular with fans. In the reader voted Animage Anime Grand Prix Saeba Ryo was voted second in the Best Male Character section in 1988. In 1989, 1990 and 1991 he was first place. In 1992 he was voted sixth place. Kaori Makamura was voted fifteenth in the best Female Character category in 1988 before climbing to eighth in 1989. Kaori then placed fifth in 1990 before falling to sixth and eleventh in 1991 and 1992 respectively.
The Motion Picture has been praised for the quality of its English dub but criticised for changing the characters names.
The first anime ending theme, “Get Wild” by TM Network, and a later 1989 remix, sold a combined 515,010 singles in Japan. The anime series was also popular in France, where it was dubbed as Nicky Larson and 140 episodes aired in the early 1990s.
The series follows the exploits of Ryo Saeba, a “sweeper” who is always found chasing beautiful girls and a private detective who works to rid Tokyo of crime, along with his associate or partner, Hideyuki Makimura. Their “City Hunter” business is an underground jack-of-all-trades operation, contacted by writing the letters “XYZ” on a blackboard at Shinjuku Station.
One day, Hideyuki is murdered, and Ryo must take care of Hideyuki’s sister, Kaori, a tomboy who becomes his new partner in the process. However, Kaori is very susceptible and jealous, often hitting Ryo with a giant hammer when he does something perverted. The story also follows the behind-the-scenes romance between Ryo and Kaori and the way they cooperate throughout each mission.