Those Who Hunt Elves Hilariously Breaks the Fourth Wall

Those Who Hunt Elves Hilariously Breaks the Fourth Wall

Fanservice can be a bit of a dirty word in the anime world. It can imply that a series relies on it for views, and is generally interpreted as a cheap excuse to see more of a popular character’s–ahem–assets. Whether you’re a fan of it as a device or not, it isn’t typically a vital plot point that drives a story forward. Stripping a character down doesn’t have much bearing on the plot. RIght?

Enter Those Who Hunt Elves, one of the best blends of lewd comedy, fourth-wall breaks, and high fantasy that the 90s had to offer. The creator of the series, Yu Yagami, is a true master of parody, weaving a story that is as gripping and engaging as it is silly and crude. This series is chaotic and absurd in just the right way, and perfect for anyone who likes cheap gags and bad puns. 

While this series was, in my opinion, criminally overlooked, It’s never too late to expose yourself to it. It’s the best kind of binge-worthy content for when you need an anime antidepressant. 

The Story is as Ridiculous as it Seems

The isekai genre has taken the anime world by storm in recent years. Normal people living normal lives with normal jobs being transported to another world filled with magic and adventure? That’s the perfect story for those of us looking for an escape. 

In Those Who Hunt Elves, three individuals are magically transported from their native Japan to an unfamiliar otherworld. Obviously, the goal is to get back home, but when an elven priestess attempts a teleport spell, she is interrupted. This leads to the spell being shattered and spread across the world, and the three heroes must find all five of them to get back to Earth. 

Where does the nudity come in? Well, the spell embeds itself into the skin of elves, a bit like tattoos. How else can you find the tattoos unless you strip those elves down and examine every inch? 

While this all sounds rather indecent, the series makes more of a joke out of stripping elves, rather than making it smutty. When looking at the original English DVD releases, however, the more sexy plot point is front and center, with taglines like ‘Ready, Set, STRIP!’ and ‘Elf Stripping for Fun and Profit.’ Despite all of this, there is no complete nudity in the show, so no worries there. 

Throughout their adventures, the trio becomes local celebrities known as ‘Those who Hunt Elves.’ While the titular elves fear their strange demands, they also make a job of fighting evil on their quest, traveling the lands in a tank that made the journey with them. Along the way, they meet fishmen who can’t swim, zombie terrorists, and evil cat spirits. Oh, wow. 

Meet the Bizarre Cast of Main Characters

  • Ritsuko Inoue – While she looks like a normal high school student, Ritsuko is completely obsessed with all things military-related. With unnaturally great sniper skills and an obsession with her tank, she is also skilled at setting traps and has a large appreciation for landmines. She speaks fluent English and German as well as her native Japanese and carries a full arsenal with her at all times. She eventually develops some feelings for Junpei. 
  • Airi Komiyama – A drop dead gorgeous young actress, Airi isn’t just another girl aspiring to stardom. She can switch from overjoyed to sobbing at the drop of a hat and has an insane talent for disguise. Also a tactician, Airi is typically level-headed and carries a sword as her main weapon. She is constantly getting the group out of bad situations with her subterfuge. 
  • Junpei Ryuzouji – The only male member of the group, Junpei only needs his muscles and brute force to take down enemies. With a hatred of fantasy tales and a love of beautiful women, he’s in a bit of quandary in his new surroundings. He loves curry and Airi, though she doesn’t reciprocate those feelings one bit. 
  • Celcia Marie Claire – An elven priestess, Celcia didn’t expect to have to deal with three humans falling out of the sky. Willing to cast a spell to send the newcomers home, she gets distracted and the spell fails, splitting into pieces and scattering across the lands. Ditzy and a little unhinged, she can transform into different animals, and typically gets stuck in these forms more often than not. She has feelings for Junpei, but really doesn’t want to admit it. 
  • Annette – One of Celcia’s most devout followers, Annette is disappointed in the priestess for agreeing to help the three humans who have appeared in their lands. Seeking to send Junpei, Airi and Celcia back to Earth herself, she messes up the spell and instead brings a ton of objects from Earth through. Later in the series, she is more onboard with sending the humans back home, though only to be rid of them once and for all. 
  • Mihke – When Junpei, Airi, and Ritsuko fall into the land of elves, their mode of transportation is a Type 74 tank. This tank is eventually possessed by the spirit of a cat, named Mihke. By the way, a Type 74 tank can be found in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, and have been in service since 1975. Who knew?
  • Pichi – A creature that resembles a white teddy bear, Pichi has the ability to create toilet paper. Yes, that’s her purpose. Without spoiling too much, she becomes indispensable to the group, because a lack of toilet paper is nothing short of an emergency. 

The Original Manga is Over 25 Years Old

Those Who Hunt Elves premiered in 1994, and was serialized in Dengeki Comic Gao! This popular shonen magazine went out of print in 2008 but was previously known for a number of extremely popular titles, such as Burst Angel, Toradora!, Pita-Ten, DearS and Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-Chan

Dengeki Comic Gao! also serialized other works by Yu Yagami, including Dokkoida?!, Go West!! and Hikkatsu! Strike a Blow to Vivify

The original manga series continued until 2003 and was released in English in 2004. However, out of the 21 volumes eventually published in Japan, only seven were published by ADV Manga before the company went on hiatus. As of now, it sadly seems unlikely that the rest will find their way to bookstores in the west. 

One more volume was compiled between 2007 and 2008, called Those Who Hunt Elves Returns. It was also originally published in Dengeki Comic Gao!

In January 2013, a new manga series Those Who Hunt Elves 2 was announced. It continued until 2017, with ten volumes being released before ending. 

Anime Adaptation

Back when ADV was at the top of the anime release game, I can remember seemingly every VHS tape having a preview for Those Who Hunt Elves. The theme song, Angel Blue by Naoko Hamasaki, along with the opening animation, had me chomping at the bit to order the tapes as soon as possible. (Yes, this was at a time when we ordered anime VHS tapes from a catalog. Thanks, Right Stuf.) 

The original anime series ran during 1996 and lasted for 12 episodes, currently being released in the US by Sentai Filmworks. The show was animated by Group TAC, a Shibuya-based animation and computer graphics studio which sadly went bankrupt in 2010. Anime fans will know the company well, as being responsible for Flint the Time Detective, Grappler Baki, and Gilgamesh.

A second season of the anime premiered in 1997 and ran for another 12 episodes. 

The original voice cast of the show is top-notch, with Tomokazu Seki (Sousuke Sagara in Full Metal Panic!), Yuko Miyamura (Asuka in Neon Genesis Evangelion), Michie Tomizawa (Rei Hino in Sailor Moon) and Kotono Mitsuishi (Misato in Neon Genesis Evangelion.)

Kazuyoshi Katayama directed the series, known for directing The Big O and Appleseed. He also did the storyboard for Samurai Champloo and Tiger & Bunny.

One strange fact about Those Who Hunt Elves–it’s one of 38 anime and manga series which are banned in China as of 2015. I’m not sure of the reasoning, but it joins the blacklist with other popular titles like Attack on Titan and Death Note. 

Where to Watch the Anime or Read the Manga

Sadly, the Those Who Hunt Elves anime series isn’t currently streaming on any platform. Though it was originally released on VHS and DVD by ADV, all 24 episodes are now available on Blu-ray released by Sentai Filmworks. 

Though the manga was discontinued, the seven volumes which are available in English can still be found on Amazon, though copies are limited. 

Those Who Hunt Elves
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