City Hunter: But He Always Misses With His You-Know-What

The title of this post really is a tagline used in the books: the publisher must have figured that readers were going to see so much of the City Hunter’s boner that they might as well get them acquainted right away.

Explaining City Hunter, we have to go back to Hojo Tsukasa’s previous work, Cat’s Eye. Cat’s Eye has perhaps the dumbest, most emasculated male lead ever seen in a shonen action manga: the put-upon cop and love interest Toshi. Toshi’s single-mindedly obsessed with catching the art thieves known as Cat’s Eye (our heroines), but he can’t figure out that the waitresses at the cafe Cat’s Eye, which he visits daily, are clearly the art thieves, who wear no masks or disguises save leotards. Also: one of these women is Toshi’s fiancee. Week after week, oblivious Toshi has his ass handed to him by his girlfriend and her sisters, and we’d feel bad for him, but he’s so damned stupid that he deserves it.

In creating Ryo Saeba, the City Hunter, we can only assume that Hojo Tsukasa decided, in compensation for Toshi, to go all the way to the other end of the masculinity scale. Ryo is a ridiculously skilled gun for hire who works the streets of Shinjuku, looking for jobs that move his heart. In truth, Ryo’s real drive is his libido: when a woman is so much as in the same room as him (in City Hunter all women are beautiful), Ryo’s loins take over, and he reverts to a ragingly horny buffoon. These early volumes– all five books of the late, great Raijin Comics’ never-completed English run– tell stories that all go the same way, with minor variations:

    – Ryo is hired to do some job. A beautiful woman is involved.
    – Ryo gets a boner, says his catchphrase “mokkori!” (the sound of an erection) and attempts to grope beautiful woman. He fails, and is beaten up by beautiful woman.
    – Ryo saves the day, all the while continuing his attempts to grope beautiful woman.
    – Beautiful woman falls deeply, madly, and inexplicably in love with Ryo.
    – The two look about ready to retire to the bedroom when the story ends (this ran in Shonen Jump, after all!) and the beautiful woman disappears, never to be seen again.

From there, simply repeat with a new beautiful woman. Ryo has a steady woman in “partner” Kaori, but she tends to exit the story entirely whenever it’s convenient. What all this formula leads to is a predictable, stupid, chauvinist good time: you know exactly what you’re getting, from the silly gunplay to the beautiful women, who are only differentiated by their somewhat differing hairstyles. This is the comfort manga of the 80s. City Hunter isn’t quite as dumb as Cat’s Eye, where heists simply happen with no warning or explanation, but this isn’t meticulously thought-out stuff either. Raijin only published these five volumes, and they end as a new arc is just beginning, but read one of these arcs and I suspect you’ve more or less read them all.

City Hunter is best summed up by two scenes: the sequence in which a beautiful drug addict takes a fatal bullet for Ryo within five pages of meeting him, and the title page of Chapter 37, where Ryo attempts to relieve a lady of her top while she points a revolver at his crotch. The sound effects are “stroke!” and “poke!” respectively.


  1. Raijin Comics was giving out free issues of their anthology comic at Anime Expo 2003, and although I picked it up I never got around to reading it until well after they had folded.

    It’s a shame they didn’t make it, but I couldn’t help but feel that their choice of titles would have been better received by Americans ten years earlier.

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