Those Who Hunt Elves is based on a manga series by Yu Yagami. The first series aired on Japanese television from October 3-December 19, 1996. Those Who Hunt Elves II aired on Japanese television from October 1-December 24, 1997.
As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American distribution license for both Those Who Hunt Elves and Those Who Hunt Elves II.
The main characters of Those Who Hunt Elves are three “Elf Hunters” named Junpei Ryuzouji, Ritsuko Inoue, and Airi Komiyama. Somehow, they ended up stranded in a sword and sorcery world after coming there from Japan. An elf named Mistress Celcia Marie Claire tries to transport to three back to their world, but is distracted while reciting the spell; the spell book pages divide out into five different directions, and the words on these pages ended up on the skin of five elves. In order to return home, the group must find the five elves; they have to determine whether they’ve found the right elf by stripping off their clothes.
Junpei is a strong young man with an incredible fighting ability and is the muscle of the group. He is also the only male in the group. He is obsessed with curry, and is also infatuated with Airi. From what I’ve seen, Junpei comes across as a bit of a parody of Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star due to his looks and his strength; this is also mixed with a parody of Goku from the Dragon Ball franchise, due to his love of eating.
Airi is a beautiful and talented actress. She is known to don disguises in order to get out of situations that require brains more than brawn. Airi also has an ability to quickly and accurately assess situations and to plan for their outcomes. She carries a Katana sword and a makeup compact kit.
Ritsuko Inoue is a high school girl and military otaku. She drives and maintains a tank, which the group uses to travel across the countryside as they search for elves. During the series, the tank is possessed by the spirit of a cat known as Mihke. Ritsuko is also a sniper at times, and is the one who will set landmines and booby traps. She also carries various types of guns around.
Mistress Celcia Marie Claire ends up joining the group and tries to help them get back to their own world, because they have been causing a lot of trouble in her world. She has a knack for transforming into animals and getting stuck in animal form. Celcia also has a circular device that is supposed to detect the five elves with the markings. While the device does find elves, it only ever seems to find the elves that don’t have markings. To me, this device seems to be a parody of the Dragon Radar from Dragon Ball.
While the concept of stripping elves makes up the humor of the series and sounds risqué on the surface, it’s actually more on the ridiculous side. For the most part, there’s actually very little nudity in this series. The humor in the series is amusing, and I think it has the potential to appeal to viewers who like anime series like The Slayers.
However, I have to say that Those Who Hunt Elves is a stronger series than Those Who Hunt Elves II. It’s obvious as you watch the second series that not a lot of thought seemed to go into it. This time, the spell fragments are split out into a much larger number, there are a number of episodes in this 12-episode series that feel like “filler,” then they are able to get the majority of the spell fragments quickly after the filler, and the series itself doesn’t seem to truly end. Overall, the second series felt like it was thrown out there just to have more episodes of Those Who Hunt Elves.
Even though Those Who Hunt Elves may not necessarily be a great series, it’s good to watch when you find yourself needing to watch anime that’s more on the mindless side. The first series, at least, does a decent job at what it’s trying to do, and can be fun to watch if you want a show that doesn’t make you think too much about it.