Everything You Need To Know About City Hunter, The Classic Manga Becoming A Netflix Movie

Despite the fiasco that was Netflix's "Cowboy Bebop" live-action series and the atrocity that was their previous "Death Note" live-action movie, it seems the streaming service is determined to keep making live-action anime adaptations until something sticks. Indeed, they currently have several live-action anime re-imaginings in some stage of development, including projects based on "My Hero Academia," "One Piece," and "Yu Yu Hakusho."

To be fair, these are all sensible choices for live-action adaptations; each of these properties are incredibly popular and play into character archetypes, themes, and stories that resonate across the globe. "My Hero Academia" is literally about superheroes (and superheroes are very hot right now), while the other two are action-adventure stories with supernatural elements and tons of fights and comedic moments alike — not to mention, they also feature characters with superpowers.

While the fantastical adventure elements are part of what makes these franchises popular, they're also a big reason why they're so hard to translate to live-action. For example, a character like Luffy from "One Piece" — who is essentially made out of rubber — would look unavoidably silly as a flesh-and-blood person, but works well in the medium of animation where your imagination (and budget) is the only limitation.

This makes it both exciting and kind of unsurprising that the next big live-action manga adaptation over at Netflix looks to be none other than a new movie take on the classic '80s manga "City Hunter." Now, if you've never experienced the neon fun of Ryo Saeba and Hideyuki and Makimura, this may not mean that much to you. For that reason, here's a crafty guide to everything you need to know about "City Hunter" before the Netflix adaptation drops in 2024.

What is City Hunter about?

The original "City Hunter" manga was first published in the popular Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from 1985 to 1991 and was written and illustrated by Tsukasa Hojo. Its story follows Ryo Saeba, an underground private detective who strives to rid Tokyo of crime. He works with Kaori Makimura, the sister of Ryo's old partner who was murdered. In time, the two become partners and team up to find the killer responsible for murdering Kaori's brother.

Now, "City Hunter" is as '80s as a manga can get. It may not have Kenny Loggins, cuts to speeches by Ronald Reagan or either Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, but it is still a hardboiled detective story told through the lens of '80s buddy cop comedies. The protagonist is a notorious flirt, there are lots of shoulder pads, neon lights, absurdist comedic situations, and thrilling action sequences. The anime also adds plenty of '80s J-Pop and montages to better help sell its aesthetic.

The manga has inspired several adaptations, even in live-action. There's been a live-action Korean series, a Chinese live-action film, a French live-action film, and even a Hong Kong version starring Jackie Chan — with the added benefit of seeing Jackie Chan cosplay Chun-Li during a "Street Fighter" themed dream sequence.

The City Hunter cast and crew

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix's "City Hunter" movie will be the first live-action Japanese adaptation of the manga, and it will update the story's setting to the modern-day, focusing on "the bustling streets of Shinjuku." The film is set to star Ryohei Suzuki as Ryo Saeba and will be directed by Yuichi Sato, drawing from a script by Tatsuhiro Mishima (who's also penning Netflix's "Yu Yu Hakusho" adaptation).

Now, it is a little bit discouraging that the new film will leave behind the '80s for the present, on top of seemingly replacing the slapstick elements of the anime and original manga for a more gritty and realistic look (judging by Suzuki's costume in the above image, anyway). Still, this is exciting news.

For one, "City Hunter" is a title free of the baggage that tends to plague manga adaptations, like fantastical elements and intricate character designs that aren't easily replicated in live-action. What's more, the property has a rather universal premise (a detective fights crime and flirts with girls), and its comedic tone is not dissimilar from the type of buddy cop movies Shane Black excels at making — and those have always ruled.

Will "City Hunter" usher in a shiny new era of live-action manga adaptations? We don't know yet, but it's at least one adaptation that doesn't immediately raise skeptical eyebrows.