This movie is not for everybody. It is primarily aimed at those in their 30s who grew up watching the "Club Dorothée", a french kid TV show in the early 90s that was the first vector of japanese animes in France.
Nicky Larson was the french version of City Hunter, and it was altered a lot compared to the original version. The serious stuff was edited out, the bad guys had silly voices and words, and it all worked to produce a goofy detective series with the heavy and adult themes glossed over. The tone of this movie is aligned with this representation of City Hunter, it's not faithful to the manga, it's faithful to its arrival in France in 1990.
For this reason, Nicky Larson is a cameo trove specifically aimed at those 90s kids. The TV show presenter has a cameo, the french theme singer has a cameo, all the other japanese animes that were shown at the time in France have (not-so) hidden references (Captain Tsubasa, Attacker You!, Saint Seyia, Fist of the North Star, Nobody's Boy: Remi, Dragon Ball, Inspector Gadget, and so so many more). It's a constant.
As a part of this french generation, watching this overflowed me with nostalgia and I was grinning from ear to ear for the whole movie.
But it's not just a nostalgia machine, this is an actual Nicky Larson episode with real actors who play their roles well (I liked the Ryo and Saori actors a lot). Laura (Saori) chases Nicky (Ryo) with her hammer, we see the XYZ board line, we learn about Saori's brother, a crow crosses the screen, we meet a damn ressemblant Mammouth (Falcon). Nicky has perfect aim and kicks ass in pretty well-made actions sequences, especially considering the budget of the movie. As tradition we get the goofy "pervert Ryo" start to a mission, and we end with a "serious Ryo" kicking ass.
I went into this movie expecting another disastrous adaptation, I left it with a broad smile. For the target audience it's a masterful adaptation, but I fear that many of the references might not work outside of France, which would only make it a weird/ok version.
Finally, I give this movie a 9 and not a 10 because that intro sequence is gross, will turn some people off, and is not representative of the rest of the movie.
Still the best anime-to-live adaptation I've witnessed so far. Philippe Lacheau knew his material from front to back, and it shows even in very tiny details only massive fans would detect. This movie is made out of genuine knowledge and passion for the original material and era.
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