Wrapping It Up: El Cazadore de la Bruja

A while back I complained about the ending of Cowboy Bebop. Those are almost like fighting words among otaku, because it’s so beloved and such a marvel to behold.

But at the same time, from a narrative standpoint it has a couple holes, and one of the big ones is that although it’s sold as a show with an ensemble cast, it’s really about Spike. So Ed just runs off for no apparent reason and then Jet and Faye (and the Bebop) are all sort of left hanging in limbo at the end.

Don’t get me wrong. Spike dying in the final scene is as dramatic as anything I’ve seen in a long time, and my idea of a long time is longer than most of yours. But structurally speaking the end of a narrative has TWO functions: resolve the conflict AND wrap up the loose ends.

I imagine a scene down the road where Jet is making peppers and beef with no beef for Faye in the Bebop, talking about bounties they want to get, a remake of the opening scene between Jet and Spike. Stick it after the credits. Would that have killed or what? And it would have resolved their futures and wrapped up their stories, too.

One show that specifically made a point of wrapping up the loose ends was the oldie El Cazadore de la Bruja.

Brief synopsis: Nadie (pronounced Nah-dee-ay) is a bounty hunter (Spanish: Cazadore) hired to bring in a kid, Ellis. Nadie soon learns that Ellis is no normal kid: she can leap tall buildings in a single bound, heat objects by the power of her mind, etc. (Ellis describes herself as a “witch” or, in Spanish, “Bruja.”)

Oh, lookee…Gunslinger girl meets magical girl.

Cazadore de la Bruja

Ellis, magical girl (left) and Nadie, gunslinger girl.

Ellis is on the run from the CIA, which built her by some kind of genetic manipulation that doesn’t matter here. Her “handler” is an agent named Rosenberg, and it’s Rosenberg (through several cutouts) who is paying Nadie to get Ellis back.

Long story short, Nadie comes to like/love Ellis and the two pair bond. (It’s not exactly explicit that they are lesbian lovers, probably smart since Ellis is a kid, but there are elements of subtext there.) So now it’s Nadie and Ellis against Rosenberg. Meta-plot: Overcoming the Monster.

There’s a final showdown in Episode 25. It’s wild. Cazadore falls under my rules for spoilers, that is, it’s so old I feel free to give the story away, but I’m not going to. (Well, maybe if someone asks me in the comments…) Seriously, you want to see a wild end, watch Cazadore. What’s important here is that Rosenberg ends up dead. Monster overcome, conflict resolved, meta-plot complete.

So why is there an episode 26? Because one of the things an end is supposed to do is wrap up the loose ends and they haven’t done that yet.

So, as 26 opens Nadie and Ellis are working for a friendly pair of hotel owners, supposedly settled down. It even looks like Pedro, the local sheriff, is sweet on Nadie and wants to marry her. (His son, Joaquin, knows better. He keeps calling Nadie a “She-man.” Out of the mouths of babes.)

Well, as they are hanging out a couple bad guys from their past show up (Loose ends 1 and 2) show up, but the Sheriff runs them off. Then former CIA operative Blue Eyes drives up to let them know she’s in corporate work now (Loose end 3), and brings them a recording from their bounty-hunting friends Ricardo and his little daughter Lirio (Ricardo is teaching Lirio to throw a boomerang) (Loose ends 4 and 5).

Now that those loose ends have been tied up, our buds 1 and 2 come back. Blue Eyes, Nadie, and Ellis kick the crap out of them, revealing to the quiet town that Nadie’s a killer and Ellis is a witch. The townsfolk invite them to stay anyway, but Ellis says, “No, let’s hit the road together,” and they zoom off into the sunset, back to bounty hunting (Loose ends 6 and 7).

So, what the writers here did was use two episodes to do the two jobs of the end of a narrative. This approach illustrates one of the problems of doing this, though: after the trauma of 25 (I’m telling you, watch it!), 26 is literally and figuratively anti-climactic.

Is it better than the incomplete ending in Cowboy Bebop? Gee, I don’t know. Which of them is a revered classic on almost every “Best of…” list and which has largely disappeared from public view? Clearly it’s not better. Different, certainly; worse, maybe not; clearly not better.

To be fair, Cazadore IS pretty good. Both Nadie and Ellis are enormously likable, and as a villain Rosenberg is more three-dimensional than many. Fan service is kept to a minimum (although Blue Eyes believes in sharing the public baths naked, in the Japanese manner). The meta-plot works, and the series isn’t noticeably overlong.

But what we’re talking about here is the way they ended their narrative. By separating the two functions of the end of the narrative into two episodes, they ensured that that the end would be complete. At the same time, if they had stopped at the end of 25, it would have worked after a fashion, and so 26 seems superfluous.

What’s the solution? I dunno. Do a better job of integrating the functions of the end of narrative, so both functions get completed in the same episode? You know who did that pretty well? Kill la Kill. Just sayin’.

I always look at comments and feedback, and I’m sure I’m not the first to see what I’ve seen, so have at it. Just keep it clean and keep it on target…no personal attacks, okay? Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s