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 was adapted into an anime series produced by Sunrise, directed by Kanetsugu Kodama and broadcast by Yomiuri Television. City Hunter was broadcast for 51 episodes between April 6, 1987 and March 28, 1988 and released on 10 VHS cassettes between December 1987 and July 1988. City Hunter 2 was broadcast for 63 episodes between April 8 and July 14 and released on 10 VHS cassettes between August 1988 and March 1990. City Hunter 3 was broadcast for 13 episodes from October 15, 1989 to January 21, 1990 and released on 6 VHS cassettes between November 1990 and April 1991. City Hunter ’91 was broadcast between April 28 and October 10, 1991 and released on 6 VHS cassettes between February and July 1992. The series was later reissued as 20 video compilations.
A 32-disc DVD boxset, City Hunter Complete, was published by Aniplex and released in Japan on August 31, 2005. The set contained all four series, the TV specials and animated movies as well as an art book and figures of Ryo and Kaori. 26 of the discs comprising the four series were then released individually between December 19, 2007 and August 27, 2008. 30,000 box sets were sold, grossing ¥3 billion ($38 million), in Japan.
The series was licensed by ADV Films for release in North America. The first City Hunter series was released on the ADV Fansubs label in March 2000. The aim of this label was to provide cheaper subtitled-only VHS releases at a faster pace than usual. The series was scheduled for 13 tapes, consisting of four episodes each. The tapes could be ordered individually or as a subscription service.
ADV later released the series on DVD. The first series was released as two boxsets of 5 discs on July 29, 2003. City Hunter 2 was released as another two boxsets of five discs on October 28, and November 18, 2003. City Hunter 3 was released as a single boxset on December 2, 2003 and City Hunter ’91 was released on December 16, 2003.
For the 30th anniversary of the original manga, buyers of all 12 volumes of City Hunter XYZ edition were entitled receive a “motion graphic anime” DVD. The DVDe adapted a special Angel Heart chapter entitled Ryo’s proposal and was voiced by the original City Hunter cast. On April 20, 2019, Discotek Media announced that they have licensed the entire City Hunter animated franchise, including the 2019 movie, Shinjuku Private Eyes. The first 26 episodes will be released February 25, 2020.
Theatrical movies and OVAs
Three theatrical movies and OVAs were produced: .357 Magnum was released on June 17, 1989, Bay City Wars was released on August 25, 1990 and Million Dollar Conspiracy was released on August 25, 1990.
ADV Films released a DVD containing Bay City Wars and Million Dollar Conspiracy as well as a bonus television episode on June 3, 2003.
A new theatrical movie produced by Aniplex that is set in present-day Shinjuku titled City Hunter the Movie: Shinjuku Private Eyes premiered in Japan on February 8, 2019, after Sunrise and Kenji Kodama returned to animate and direct the film, respectively. Teruo Satoh and Takahiko Kyōgoku served as episode directors, while Kumiko Takahashi designed the characters and Taku Iwasaki composed the music. The film debuted #4 at the Japanese box office, where it has grossed ¥1,404,747,320 ($12.16 million) as of 17 March 2019. The film earned ¥1,502,665,440 ($13,608,142) by April 15, 2019, in two months since its release, becoming the third top-grossing Japanese anime film of 2019 up until then, and it had grossed ¥1.53 billion ($14 million) in Japan by the end of 2019. Shinjuku Private Eyes was set to release in France on 13 June 2019. Philippe Lacheau, the director and star of the French live-action film adaptation Nicky Larson et le Parfum de Cupidon, is involved with the French distribution of Shinjuku Private Eyes. Discotek Media will premiere the English dub of the movie at Otakon 2019.
Three television movies were produced: Secret Service was broadcast on January 5, 1996 which was followed by Goodbye My Sweetheart on April 25, 1997 and The Death of Vicious Criminal Saeba Ryo on April 23, 1999.
ADV Films released Goodbye, My Sweetheart as City Hunter: The Motion Picture in North America as their first release from the franchise.
In 1993, a live-action Hong Kong theatrical adaptation of the series was released. The film was directed by Wong Jing and starred Jackie Chan as Ryo Saeba, Wang Zuxian as Kaori, and Japanese idol Kumiko Goto. During filming of the movie, Chan dislocated his shoulder. The movie has been criticised by Chan. Fortune Star and 20th Century Fox later released it on R1 DVD along with other budget classic HK films.
Saviour of the Soul is a live-action Hong Kong film from 1991 that uses the characters from City Hunter but changes the plot. In 1996, Mr. Mumble kept the concept of City Hunter but changed the characters’ names.
A new Chinese film based on City Hunter is also in development. It was announced in 2016 that it would be directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Stanley Tong and is set to star Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming as Ryo Saeba.
A separate French action-comedy film Nicky Larson et le Parfum de Cupidon (lit. “Nicky Larson and Cupid’s Perfume”) was released in France on February 6, 2019. The French adaptation has Philippe Lacheau as director as well as the star, playing the title character Nicky Larson (as Ryo Saeba is known in the French dubs of the anime series). Elodie Fontan appears beside Lacheau as Laura Marconi (Kaori Makimura), while Tarek Boudali, Julien Arruti, and Didier Bourdon also appear in the film as per its initial promotional material. Pamela Anderson also appears in the film.
A planned live-action television series of City Hunter was announced in 2008, to be produced and distributed by Fox Television Studios and South Korean media company SSD. Jung Woo-sung, was scheduled to play Ryo alongside Hollywood-based stars, with location filming in Seoul and Tokyo. In 2011, the series was adapted into a Korean television series of the same name by SBS, starring Lee Min-ho and Park Min-young. The series is available to watch with English subtitles on the streaming service Hulu.
In 2015, the spin-off manga Angel Heart received its own live-action Japanese TV drama adaptation.
City Hunter was released by Sunsoft for the PC Engine in March 1990.
Ryo appears as a playable character in the fighting game Jump Force.
- Ryo Saeba
- is the main protagonist of the series. At the age of three, Ryo was the only survivor of a plane crash in Central America. He was raised as a guerilla fighter and has no knowledge of his prior identity. After the war, Ryo makes his way to the United States, before eventually moving to Tokyo.
- In Japan, he forms the “City Hunter” team with Hideyuki Makimura, but after Hideyuki’s death, Kaori takes his place as Ryo’s new partner. A highly skilled gunman, Ryo is known for executing the “one-hole shot”, a series of shots that all land in exactly the same spot on the target. His preferred weapon is the Colt Python .357 Magnum.
- Ryo invented the nickname Umibozu for his fellow colleague Hayato Ijuin, and he answered giving Ryo his own, “The Stallion of Shinjuku” (an ironic name, because Ryo is a real pervert who tries to hit on any beautiful woman he meets or sees, failing every time). Ryo is an accomplished marksman with revolvers, semiautomatic guns, machine-pistols, rifles, carbines and crossbows; he knows hand-to-hand combat very well and drives as a real daredevil when needed; his car is a Mini.
- Kaori Makimura
- is Ryo Saeba’s partner. She is primarily responsible for arranging clients and other managerial tasks. Ryo’s skirt-chasing rouses her ire more than once. Though the partners frequently pick on fights or arguments, they actually form a great team together.
- Hideyuki Makimura
- is Kaori’s older brother and Ryo’s partner at the beginning of the series. Kaori is not related to him by blood, his father had adopted her when she was a child. He’s a former police detective with a strong sense of justice. Kaori become Ryo’s partner and takes over her brother’s role after he is murdered by gangsters. His last wish before he died was for Ryo to take care of his sister.
- is another “sweeper” working the rounds in Tokyo. Umibozu is a Special Forces enemy of Ryo’s from the Central America conflict. Despite being on opposing forces, the two develop a friendship and mutual respect. Between his jobs, Umibozu works as waiter at the Cat’s Eye cafe, owned by Miki, his former fellow soldier and lover. He goes by the professional name Falcon and his real name is Hayato Ijuin, hence his professional name; the nickname Umibōzu was given by Ryo. His favorite weapons are the S&W M29 .44 Magnum six-inch revolver, the Saco-Defense M60 machine-gun (sometimes he uses the M249) and the M1A6 bazooka. Despite his fearsome appearance he has a phobia of kittens, he’s very shy with women and much more unselfish than Ryo. his sight is very low because a fight he had with Ryo in Central America, when Ryo was a guerrilla fighter and Umibozu was a mercenary; since then, Umibozu wants a duel with Ryo to close that story; during the series, his sight will end forever and he’ll have to learn how to use the other four senses to move and fight; however, he decides to not retire before finishing their matter. Later Shin Kaibara, Ryo’s adoptive father and former guerrilla fighter who became a drug lord, comes in Japan; his drug was tested on Ryo during his youth, causing him to attack Umibozu and his unit; when Umibozu learns this from Bloody Mary, a Ryo’s old acquaintance and daughter of the other Ryo’s fatherly figure in the jungle, he joins Ryo and Kaori against Kaibara. During the last story arc he marries Miki, but she’s shot by enemy soldiers deployed by a new enemy of Ryo; Umibozu enters the firefight trusting Miki won’t die.
- The Umibozu is a yokai (spirit) from japanese folklore; he’s said to turn ships upside down if someone aboard talks to him; he is portrayed bald as a bōzu (buddhist monk); the char Umi means sea.
- Saeko Nogami
- is a Tokyo police detective who often outsources certain tasks to the City Hunter team. Ryo keeps a long and detailed list where Saeko owes him for the various favours he’s done for her, which she always manages to avoid.