This may be one of my more biased reviews, simply because I’m such a large Bee-Train fan. Their particular style of storytelling may aggravate some, but I personally love it. Still, there’s one thing about this series that nearly nobody can deny: the soundtrack is awesome. Yuki Kajiura is behind it, and some of the tracks are among the best of her works. But what about the rest?
Well, El Cazador is the final instalment of the girls-with-guns trilogy of Bee-Train, with Noir and Madlax as its predecessors. One thing that you should know before watching is that while Noir featured some excellent gunfight, El Cazador… err… doesn’t. Believe me, you do NOT want to watch this series for the action, because quite frankly: it sucks.
Luckily, the director realized this quite early on, which leads to a change-of-focus in the middle of the series. The first half is basically a case-based series. Ellis and Nadie basically travel, and as they travel they meet people and explore their cases. These cases are definitely interesting to watch and thought-provoking, and in the meantime the story slowly develops, with nearly every episode brining a small bit of new information to keep the viewers on their toes.
The second half, however, is where El Cazador really starts to shine. The change of focus I mentioned above basically means that the different cases for each episode get abandoned, and instead the characters start developing. Because they already had been fleshed out by the first half, the results turn out absolutely amazing, with an excellent Shoujo-ai relationship if I say so myself. This continues up to the point where Ellis and Nadie become amazing characters, no matter what they do. When the final quarter began, I found myself not caring about the plot anymore, as long as the characters were on the screen. Now that’s a sign of good development.
But yeah, the plot does move awfully slow. The creators chose a very original setting of rural Mexico for this anime to take place in, and it manages to really show this throughout its storytelling, though the plot remains very simple, and just a tool for the characters. I liked how it was so incredibly down-to-earth, though, and how we finally don’t have such a huge plot deciding the fate of the world and stuff. This series is just about Ellis and her strange powers, and the few people that get caught up in her story, nothing more, and nothing less.
The simple storyline does have another advantage: the ending, while cheesy, is finally another one of those endings that isn’t rushed at all. There’s probably only one character (Lilio) that needed more development and background, but apart from that the final episode closes off the series perfectly, without any bad feelings.
Regarding the graphics, well it’s Bee-Train, so the character-designs look great, and the background-art doesn’t look as impressive as with other shows, but it really gives off the feeling of Mexico, when compared to nearly 90% of all other anime, which are set in Japan. About whether you’d like this or not depends on your patience, whether you find the different guests of the first half interesting and don’t mind that at a few times, the show delves into cheesiness. If that’s the case, then you’ll get rewarded with some amazing characters in the second half.
(On a side-note: with Shoujo-ai, I really DO mean Shoujo-ai. There is no yuri in this series.)