El Cazador de la Bruja

Ellis is a strange, fey girl, an amnesiac who knows nothing about her origins, but who is convinced she was responsible for the death of a prominent physicist. Nadie is a free-wheeling bounty hunter and an unparalleled expert with handguns. When the old gypsy woman with whom Ellis is staying is murdered, Ellis and Nadie go on the run, looking for a mysterious enclave said to exist far to the south – an enclave that might explain the meaning and purpose of the strange crystal in Ellis’ possession. As their journey unfolds, Nadie and Ellis must contend with the bounty hunters hungry for the reward that has been posted for Ellis’ capture; but beyond this danger lurk other, sinister forces playing out their own purposes. These include: L.A., an obsessive, tormented youth who might somehow be related to Ellis; Riccardo, a taciturn assassin accompanied by Lirio, a silent child as strange as Ellis herself; Blue Eyes, an ostensible employee of the CIA who is actually a member of a far older cabal of powerful women; and Rosenburg, a CIA director who intends to manipulate those around him in order to gain access to an ancient power. As these disparate agendas converge for a final showdown, Ellis and Nadie must find a way to both stay alive and uncover the truth about Ellis’ past – a truth bound up in the meaning behind “Maxwell’s Demon”, an arcane piece of speculative physics that could be the key to immeasurable power…

Produced by animation studio Bee Train, and originally airing on Japanese television in 2007, “El Cazador de la Bruja” (lit. “The Witch Hunter”) was the final instalment in a sequence known as the “Girls With Guns Trilogy”, and which included the series “Noir” and “Madlax”. Rendered in an old-school animation style whose visual aesthetic recalls “Cowboy Bebop”, “El Cazador de la Bruja” imbibes a good deal of the spirit of “Thelma and Louise”, transplanting the action to Central America and adding elements of both speculative physics and supernatural folklore. It is arguable whether or not the story “El Cazador” tells needs 26 episodes over which to unfold, and the conclusion to the final confrontation between the protagonists does have a feel of deus ex machina about it. Nonetheless, the central premise, which links speculations by the 19th century physicist James Clark Maxwell with the alleged existence and powers of witches, is a nice twist that gives this conspiracy story a solid core; and the key relationship between Ellis and Nadie is both convincing and moving. The “sequel” episode at the end likewise adds an air of bittersweet hopefulness that provides a satisfying emotional point of departure. Action-packed and engaging, edged with pathos and not without a sense of humour, “El Cazador de la Bruja” is a conspiracy tale with a difference that makes it well worth investigating.

Text ©Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2020. All rights reserved.