This is both a show that started in 1991 and also one that that started in 1987. Which goes some way to explaining why it’s a lot better than most of the TV anime from 1991.
The first City Hunter anime aired 1987-1988, two years after the launch of the manga. It was followed, pretty much immediately by City Hunter 2. When that ended in 1989, there was a break of 3 months before City Hunter 3 aired. There was over a year between that show ending at this one beginning. However, if you needed a City Hunter fix there was a couple of OAVs in between.
All of these were directed by Kenji Kodama (Detective Conan) and produced by Sunrise, so there’s an argument that you can look at them as a holdover from Eighties anime trends rather than fitting into what was new in 1991. But there’s only so many spikey haired Toriyama clones one can watch in a row so consider this me treating myself.
In their fifth year of adapting Tsukasa Hojo’s manga, this is a very slickly made TV anime. There’s plenty of limited animation short cuts, but its strengths overpower any budgetary restrictions.
It’s biggest strength? Akira Kamiya. He is/was THE BEST, and he was perfect for the role of Hojo’s hero, the lecherous gunman Ryo Saeba. It’s hard to imagine anyone else being able to switch between stone cold killer, dapper playboy & goofball idiot and make you believe it’s all the same guy.
Another strength is in how it uses its soundtrack. It’s not afraid to let the soundtrack do the heavy lifting on a scene if needs be. I believe it’s just Tatsumi Yano on the music here. There are entirely still establishing shots in this episode that are boosted immeasurably by the soundtrack cueing you into the following scene.
When Tiger & Bunny prompted my look at the buddy TV show, I didn’t look ahead to the 80s and where the buddy show went then. One place it went was female/male buddy show with “unresolved sexual tension”. From US TV you had Remington Steele, Scarecrow & Mrs King and Moonlighting. From the UK you had Demspey and Makepeace. And City Hunter firmly fits into that trend with the relationship between Ryo Saeba and Kaori Makimura. It almost seems like the makers of Tiger & Bunny had set things up to do a version of that in the future with Barnaby and Kotetsu, but I wonder if the popularity will make them stick with the NC1978 era heroes for now.
Next, the final 1991 anime I will look at and another show from City Hunter ’91‘s Kenji Kodama…