Look at This Ending: El Cazadore de la Bruja

The end of a narrative is supposed to do two things, resolve the conflict and wrap up the loose ends.

Some anime try to spread those two functions across two episodes. Speed Grapher, anyone?

Some anime blow off the loose ends in the name of drama. Cowboy Bebop anyone?

Some anime integrate the two seamlessly. Kill la Kill anyone?

Many years ago as the blogosphere measures time I pointed out the oldie but goodie El Cazadore de la Bruja is one of the first kind: They wrap the story in episode 25 and tie up the loose ends in episode 26.

That seems kind of weak to me. If you have a great denouement – I love French cinema, they have a word for everything. Denouement is the resolution of the conflict underlying the plot (*ahem*) – if you have a great denouement it works like a punch to the gut. The audience sits there going “WOW!” and if after the audience has gone “WOW” you bring them another episode, it by definition can’t be “WOW.” It’s “Mnnn, yeah, okay.”

Like the last episode of El Cazadore de la Bruja. Mnnn, yeah, okay.

But that denouement, episode 25 …

You know that thing French chefs are supposedly doing all the time, where they kiss their fingertips and then say something pithy like, “C’est magnifique”? That’s what episode 25 of Cazadore is like, except it’s not an affectation.

Okay, for the uninitiated El Cazadore de la Bruja is the story of a bounty hunter (Cazadore) named Nadie (pronounced Nah-dee-ay) hired to track down Ellis, who, it turns out, is a witch (Bruja).

Cazadore de la Bruja

Ellis (left) and Nadie. Ellis, you’re underage! Put that drink down!

It’s a little bit more complicated than that, since in their world there are people who are witches and Ellis is some sort of CIA manufactured creature, but for all intents and purposes Ellis is the witch, okay? What’s important is that she escapes the CIA but the scientist responsible for making her a witch, Rosenberg, considers her his property and he is prepared to do whatever it takes to get her back.

He hires Nadie to get Ellis. Alas for Rosenberg, girl meets girl and love rears her beautiful head. Instead of bringing Ellis back, Nadie becomes her protector.

The central part of the narrative is Nadie and Ellis pair-bonding, their … love? Mutual affection? Call it what you will … growing stronger. By the end of the central section of the story Nadie is prepared to die to protect Ellis. Literally. When CIA agent Blue Eyes is sent to assassinate Ellis, Nadie puts her own body between them. And as for Ellis, she is pursued by the beautiful witch boy LA, a boy she has grown up with and who loves her with all his heart. But she chooses Sisters before Misters, Nadie over LA.

They’re in love. That’s all there is to it.

Fast forward to the end …

… Where it also turns out that Rosenberg is some kind of witch/warlock himself and he wants Ellis’ powerz for his own. He didn’t really create her, and in fact, he murdered the man who did, the man Ellis identifies as her “Father” (for lack of a better word).

My name is Ellis. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

You see what’s going on here? POWERFUL emotions. Ellis’ father. Rosenberg seeing her as an object. The love between Ellis and Nadie. The stakes are very high now.

Nadie does her best to protect Ellis at this point but Rosenberg has witchy powers and kicks the crap out of Nadie. I mean, it’s not even fair. All she has is a pistol and he has all the powerz. So Nadie is down for the count, and I mean down. She’s DYING.

With Ellis’ protector Nadie out of the way Rosenberg’s path to Ellis is wide open. Except that Ellis has one chance to escape his clutches. She has a coin in her pocket. She flips it to the dying Nadie and says, “I want to take out a contract.”

Nadie’s a bounty hunter to her bones. Even dying, she says, “What is it?”

“Kill me.”

Ellis wants to die rather than end up with Rosenberg. That’s powerful stuff there, but they aren’t done.

Ellis convinces Nadie she’s serious and why.

Nadie pushes herself up from the ground, points her gun at the girl she loves. She says her bounty hunting catch phrase. “Got any last words?”

“I love you.”

BLAM. Nadie kills Ellis.

Nadie kills the girl she was ready to die for.

Nadie kills the girl she loves.

Nadie kills Ellis and collapses next to her, dead herself.

And this isn’t Thelma and Louise, ready to die with each other. Nadie loves Ellis so terribly she is willing to kill her in order to save her. And Ellis loves Nadie so much that her love is her final thought on Earth even as that same lover kills her.

From a narrative standpoint, think about it this way: El Cazadore. Dead. La Bruja. Dead. Man, what an ending for El Cazadore de la Bruja. BOOM. That ratchets the creative tension past ten and up to eleven!

Well, it turns out Blue Eyes is on site. It makes sense in context, trust me, or if you don’t want to trust me, watch it for yourself. ANYWAY, Blue Eyes is there, and she is a latent witch herself. As the deaths of Nadie and Ellis hit her, she harnesses her power and revives Nadie. That takes care of that. Nadie kills Rosenberg. Triumph!

That seems a little convenient, but by then it doesn’t matter. When Nadie and Ellis are both dead after you have invested twelve hours watching them grow together and fall in love, it hits like a truck. The Cazadore and the Bruja in El Cazadore de la Bruja both die.

The mind recoils. It’s a sucker punch to the gut. And then they find a way to pull you out of that depth to give you a happy ending, one that make you say, “YEAH!”

Nicely done.

Sure, it’s a little deus ex machina-y. It’s very convenient for Blue Eyes to be able to negate the consequences of Nadie and Ellis’ actions. But it also works in context.

After that, ANYTHING is an anticlimax. There was NOTHING they could have done in the last episode to top that. So they settled for wrapping up the loose ends and putting Nadie and Ellis back on the bounty hunting road.

Sure, why not? After they both survived dying, why not have them drive off into the sunset?

Works for me.

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.

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