A revolver, a bazooka and a wooden mallet

City hunter Ryo Saeba with his .357 Magnum, Kaori Makimura, Falcon with Bazooka and Saeko Nogami
City hunter Ryo Saeba with his .357 Magnum, Kaori Makimura, Falcon with Bazooka and Saeko Nogami. Source: Google.co.in

City hunter was my token of entry into the world of manga. I saw this anime about Tokyo’s underground hitman Saeba Ryo in 2012. Ryo is tall, well-built and usually seen in a red undershirt, black pant and a long white coat. He was attractive of course. He lives with his assistant Kaori Makimura, the sister of his best friend Hidayuki Makimura, who dies in the beginning of the story and his eventual love interest. Put in a dark past, it makes Ryo sounds like classic Bronte hero Healthcliff. Dark, brooding and ruthless.

That is where you go wrong. As sharp as he is, Ryo is a pervert and a skirt chaser who gets an erection every time he sees a beautiful woman. For a manga based on a hitman with a past so dark, it was funny. You would not even get to know his past until the very end. Apart from hints here and there, even romance takes a back seat.

Apart from entertaining myself with Ryo’s shenanigans, did I learn anything from this particular manga and anime? Hmm. May be, if I think hard enough. It is a story about a hitman, so obviously there are lot of things that are unbelievable. Like how Saeba Ryo can fire continuous shots in a single hole or the amount of beautiful who actually seek services of underground hitmen. You will see him dodge bullets and come out alive from a building that was burnt.

Yet in all this drama, there is still something you could latch on to. It is information about weaponry. (Seems like I’m trying too hard to find something in an anime that virtually has nothing. But then again, therein lies the heart of a journalist. Finding something even where there is nothing.)

Guns. I have never been interested in knowing about them. I know there are different types but to actually understand why each of them are unique needs a whole different set of interests. But when you are watching a series like City Hunter, it is impossible to neglect them even if you are not interested in it.

I know that Ryo’s favourite is Colt Python magnum .357 and the one he habitually carries. It is known for its accuracy and smooth trigger. For Ryo, it is more like an extension of his hand and the ease with which he handles tells you a lot about his skill as a gunman. I fancied myself once or twice shooting the target with same swag as Ryo. I miserably failed. For when I actually tried it, I realised I sucked big time. Forget about missing the target, I did not even know where the bullets went. (Do not worry I’m just talking about the time I tried shooting balloons in Elliot’s beach in Chennai, where you get to shoot balloons for Rs. 20 for 10 shots.)

Ryo’s assistant Kaori uses Colt Lawman, her brother Hidayuki Makimura’s keepsake. It is another in the Colt revolver series. It is a lighter version of .357 magnum. In the manga, Ryo tampered with the gun so that she will never be able to locate the target with an to kill.

There are many other guns in this series like Trooper and Combat commander. The revolver series is manufactured by Colt Manufacturing in the United States founded in 1855 by Samuel Colt. Colt is known for the engineering, production, and marketing of firearms, most especially between the 1850s and World War I, when it was a dominating force in its industry and a seminal influence on manufacturing technology.

Yes, this is the same Samuel Colt we knew as the person who mass produced revolvers and changed the way weaponry works from our general knowledge sessions in schools and the one we had forgotten as we grew older.

Other weapons in City Hunter include bazooka, rifles and pistols. Falcon, Ryo’s rival and friend, uses a bazooka and it is his favourite weapon. Falcon aka Umibozu is a large bald man who could be more than 7 feet in height and was a mercenary. He too is a hitman and bazooka  somehow complements his image. It is an anti-tank weapon normally used by the army. It has a huge barrel and you position it in the shoulder for shooting the target and used for creating a huge impact.

There are many other weapons manufactured by other industries that are used in the anime and manga like Smith and Wesson. Arms produced by this company have been mainly used by the police and armed forces. They are also popular among sport shooters. In the manga, it was used by Saeko Nogami. She is an attractive police officer in Tokyo. Saeko’s sister, Reika uses COP .357 Derringer that is made of stainless steel components and a lot heavier. She too was a cop, but she quit after her partner’s death to open a private detective agency.

There are way too many technical details available in the internet if you want to know more about them.

As you read or watch City Hunter, you get a feel that hiring a mercenary or hitman is in fact a very common phenomenon. Since it is a story about underworld, I guess it is expected. So it is not very common and you do not see them happening on real life. It is very similar to Tamil movies that portray South Indian town Madurai as a place where people behead someone using aruval everyday and still roam free. Incidents do happen and I have read in newspapers of stories about unsolved cases of men who were killed and police are still on the lookout.

But I wonder how much of the story in City Hunter could actually be related to the life of a mercenary?

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