The lack of popularity surrounding Hunter x Hunter (2011) has always confused me, especially after catching up to it six months ago. For an anime that seems to do everything right, it isn't talked about a lot at a popular level. Neither has it been successful in garnering a fan base similar to that of SNK or SAO. I decided to write this review to do the show justice. If a show this good is still flying under your radar or if you are discouraged from watching this because of its "childish appearance" then reading this review is a must.
HxH is about a young boy
named Gon who embarks on a journey to find his father. After learning that his father left him at a young age to become a Hunter, Gon decides to follow in his footsteps not only to find him, but also to see what was so special about the profession that made his father choose it over him. Although a story of finding one's father is simple, it is the path that is taken towards this end that makes the series truly special. HxH is made up of several arcs that are all extremely well-written, which brings me to the best part of the series, the writing. Hunter x Hunter (2011) boasts one of the finest writing in the world of shonen; the depth and flow of the story, enthralling characterizations, strong dialogue and impressive world-building are all crafted into a fascinating tale that can absorb viewers into lengthy marathons.
The amount of variety that is packed into HxH's story is also very impressive. HxH successfully dabbles in several genres in six story arcs tackling survival, fighting tournaments, crime thriller, virtual realities, war and politics. Not only that, the series is also able to undergo significant tonal shifts with ease (light to dark and vice versa). Sometimes, these shifts in tone occur after an arc ends though other times, it even occurs mid-arc. Another thing about HxH is that its arcs are connected with one another, with each arc naturally following the one before it. This creates a natural transition that highlights what the series really is, a journey. As for pacing and development, they are excellent. For the most part, HxH is very well paced. The series does a fantastic job at keeping its viewers engaged, time will fly by as you watch most episodes and you'll find yourself breezing through the show. Excluding two recap episodes, HxH has no filler episodes. Due to this, story progression is solid with the plot moving forward with each episode.
Although HxH initially gives off a light hearted impression, it gives off a good one. Not the kind of “light heartedness” that makes you say “this is childish and below me” but the kind that appeals to everyone. HxH gives off that classic and charming shonen vibe that has been lost in recent years, and it does so with its head held up high. Eventually though, the series takes a dark turn. Although most HxH story arcs are light hearted, both Yorknew and the Chimera Ant arc are two of the best and darkest arcs shonen has to offer. Yorknew can be described as a dark thriller in a big city. The central theme of the arc is revenge and it is similar to Death Note in terms of thrill and atmosphere. On the other hand, the Chimera Ants arc can be described as an attempt by the Hunters Association to control an outbreak of a dangerous man-eating species. It is the darkest and most thematically powerful arc in the series tackling themes such as identity, human nature and survival of the fittest. The arc has drawn comparisons to Yu Yu Hakusho’s Chapter Black for its seinen-like nature and is similar to Shingeki no Kyojin, where the protagonists experience a strong sense of despair in the face of a vastly superior, hostile species. The series undergoes major tonal shifts in both arcs with the color palette, music, atmosphere and amount of violence changing significantly.
However, what sets the series apart from other battle anime is its unorthodoxy and unpredictability. Shonen tropes and storytelling methods are undermined throughout the series. The main character for example, Gon, fails more than he succeeds. Power-ups based on emotion or willpower are non-existent and fighting in the series is radically different from other battle anime. The main protagonist is not the main focus of every arc either. At certain points in the series, you could even say that Gon has taken a supporting role, especially during the later portions of the CA arc where he isn't given as much focus due to the grand scope of the story. The standard battle anime formula of “lose-train-win” is also undermined. Although there is training, it does not always translate to a victory, nor does it propel the protagonists over or to the same level as their main adversaries in terms of strength. For the most part, the protagonists assume the underdog role. Although they have incredible potential, they are still kids who have a lot to learn. In terms of storytelling, unpredictable developments are commonplace. One thing that continues to amaze me with this show is how it leads viewers into thinking that the story will progress in this direction, only to change course and arrive at a completely different outcome. A good example of this would be the series' arcs which often end in an anti-climatic manner. Basically, there are a lot of scenes and story developments that you won’t see coming because they defy conventional shonen storytelling or are unpredictable in their own right.
The series' unorthodoxy can also be seen in its fights which are primarily cerebral. In addition to being well-executed, HxH fights are smart and involve a lot of strategy. Raw power is a factor but it is not the factor that decides battle outcomes, actual power (nen abilities), experience and strategy are all taken into account. If a main character is outclassed by an opponent in all or most categories, he is likely to lose. Moreover, main characters are not given any special treatment in combat. This smart approach to fighting is further enhanced by nen, a unique and complex power system held by defined rules. The concept of nen, its principles, aura types and many applications on the battlefield reveal the huge amount of thought that was put into it. I still remember having to pause episodes, even research a bit during its introduction, just to digest it in its entirety.
The appearance and writing of the series also create an effect of cognitive dissonance, the simplistic look of the show mentally conflicts with the brilliance and unorthodoxy of its writing. As new viewers delve deeper into HxH, they realize that there is much more to the show than its cover art and synopsis suggest. Expectations of the series being immature, simple or generic are progressively overturned as the show reveals its surprising underbelly.
As for sound, HxH has a line of great soundtracks that started off decent but got better as the series progressed. With the exception of a few minor characters, the voice acting in this series is excellent. As a person who has never seen the old series it’s hard to believe that these aren't the original voices because they fit extremely well, especially those of Gon, Killua and Hisoka whose voice actors do a perfect job of capturing their characters.
HxH also has great art and animation. It amazes me how a long-running series like HxH delivers consistent quality animation episode after episode, especially during the fights. The series does a great job of capturing facial expressions and everything from the lighting, shading and colors adjust perfectly depending on the mood of the scene or the tone of the arc. As one reviewer (nagaiyume) said, the bright colors of the show might need some getting used to, though it is usually fans of the old series who have this problem. Personally, I think it fits the show perfectly. It adds to the charm of the series by complementing its sense of adventure, uplifting atmosphere and unique appeal as a shonen that looks simple but is actually remarkably deep.
Although HxH’s primary strength lies in its writing, its characters come pretty damn close. HxH has a huge cast of characters. They have quirks, dreams, inner demons, world views and overall, really likable personalities. To top it off, most of them don’t follow generic character archetypes. Although some may initially come across as “generic”, these assumptions are gradually undermined as the series progresses.
If there's one thing I want to emphasize in the character department it would be the series main villains. When it comes to characters, this is where the show shines the brightest. HxH villains are extremely well-written (with the exception of the Bomber who won't apply to most of what I'll say below). Not only are their characterizations independently impressive, they are also distinct from one another; no two villains are the same. This distinctness does not only apply within the series but outside of it. You won't find another Hisoka, Chrollo or Ant King in any other anime. This is what makes HxH villains so compelling, in addition to having really impressive characterizations, they are also original. Although I excluded one out of the four main villains from most of what I wrote above, all HxH villains do have one thing in common. Each villain strikes fear into audience, the series does a good job of establishing the level of danger these characters bring to the story and our protagonists.
However, while HxH is a great series it isn't perfect. The series doesn't have a strong start, it takes three episodes for show to get going. I've seen a lot of people drop HxH early and it sucks because the first two episodes don't capture the series at all. Things start to get mildly interesting in the third episode, after that, the series just gets better and better. HxH also suffers from occasional BGM misuse. There are odd sound choices for some scenes. Sometimes they don’t really fit, other times they don’t fit it all. Lastly, the Chimera Ant arc also has minor issues with both Togashi and Madhouse to blame. Togashi’s fault lies in his writing during the middle of the CA arc which I think, pales in comparison to the rest of the series. HxH has made a name for itself for holding a consistent high level throughout its run; it’s a series that’s just so engaging and easy to marathon. However, I believe this consistency took a hit mid-CA arc (due to handling of the story and pacing) specifically, episodes 89-98. Don’t get me wrong though, I think there are a fair number of good episodes within that 9-episode stretch but unfortunately, they are surrounded by mediocre episodes that break the consistency of an otherwise exceptional arc. Madhouse’s fault lies in its adaption of the manga chapters comprising episodes 113 and 115, which were dragged out in order to have episode 116 handled by their best animation team. Episode 113 was actually well paced except for one atrocious sequence while episode 115 as a whole was generally poorly paced.
A clarification about the "slowed down pacing" of Chimera Ant arc:
If you’ve been reading up about HxH, you’ve probably seen some people complain about the “poor pacing” during the “narration heavy episodes” of the CA arc. Well if you’re wondering how much truth is there to this statement and were going to ask me about it, my answer would be it depends.
At episode 111, the palace invasion (climax of the CA arc) begins and narration begins to play a huge role in episodes in order to (1) pack a whole level of depth into the story and (2) increase dramatic tension. Rather than a high octane "action fest" people would expect from a shonen arc climax, the palace invasion takes a psychological heavy route wherein a character’s thoughts and mental state are given more focus than the actual action. This psychological focus together with the narration slows down the pace considerably in the sense that episodes begin to cover a lot less in narrative time. However, despite this “slowed down pace”, the pacing of these episodes remain solid with good amount of manga chapters being covered during each of these episodes and the duration of scenes being on point (except for episodes 113 and 115 which I mentioned earlier in this review).
In the end, it depends if the narration works on you or not. If you like the psychological approach and experience an increase in suspense then you’ll have no problems with the pacing and are in for one helluvah of a ride. However, if you don’t like the psychological approach and feel that the narrator’s heavy presence breaks your immersion then you’re in for a grueling experience. Of course, there are other combinations such as liking the psychological route but not feeling the immersion or maybe the narration just didn't work on you completely. Well, if this happens to be the case then you’ll end up with mixed feelings. On the bright side, most people who end up watching the invasion end up enjoying the narration. However, if you happen to be one of the good number of people who end up not liking the narration don’t worry, only episodes 111-118 of the palace invasion have heavy narration. After episode 118, the narration begins to decrease and episodes eventually reach a point where they are “back to normal”.
Heads up to people looking for action:
Although I love the fighting aspect of the series and consider it to be a strong plus, I’ll leave this out there for the sake of subjectivity. HxH does not cater to everyone. Although fights in the series are well-executed, they are also short (1-10 minutes) and happen less in comparison to other battle anime. Moreover, the focus on strategy in battles might be off putting to people who prefer fights with more brawn and less brain. If you're expecting an action heavy series like Yu Yu Hakusho then you will be disappointed. This is because HxH is a series that relies on its story to reel in viewers. Personally, I think this is how fighting in shonen should be done. Fighting should be able to entertain and also make you think. It shouldn't drag on for too long at the expense of the story without leaving you underwhelmed.
Hunter x Hunter (2011) is an intelligent battle anime with a fantastic story, excellent characters and fights that involve a lot of strategy. Separating it from most of its genre, the series subverts shonen tropes and boasts unpredictable plot progressions that make it truly unique.
“You should enjoy the little detours. To the fullest. Because that’s where you’ll find the things more important than what you want”. (Hunter Election Arc).
I don’t have words enough to describe what was this 148 episodes for me.
I'll not spend this review talking about the Synopsis, because It’s right here on MAL.
I need to tell you, why you must watch this masterpiece, and what it represents to me.
First of all I’m gonna talk about the final episode. I felt Joy, sadness, angry (Togashi hurry up with the manga! hahah), and of course, satisfaction. Satisfaction because I heard my friends (you NEED to watch it),
because it wasn’t time wasted, because those 148 episodes, and the nights that I spent watching, were worth, really. Hunter x Hunter is a complex anime, a peculiar story, something that, certainly, will mix up with your feelings, with your thoughts, with your conception of a Shonen.
What do I mean? It’s not that simple. But I’ll try to clarify: Don’t think that you’re about to find predictable arcs. Don't think that the heroes gonna always beat the villains (In some parts of the story... nobody wins). Don’t think that training and good skills can ensure that you'll defeat an enemy, sometimes you'll need more than that. Behold what humans can be (and Togashi show us really well in Chimera Ant Arc). Behold what friendship can be, in all it’s complexity. You’re not gonna see in this anime that kind of Main Character that is AWESOME for no reason, no training. Togashi will make you understand the personality of the characters and their powers. Power, I mean, Nen or aura (vital energy), similar to what we see in other shonens like, Dragon Ball (Ki) or Naruto (Chakra). It's presented to us really well how the "Nen system" works. The explanations are long in some episodes, but simple to understand.
Talking now about the animation: Hunter x Hunter is breathtaking . Indeed, it can be said that Madhouse did an excellent job with the remake . I was amazed with what I saw in some episodes. I confess that many of them I've watched over and over again, just to observe the details of the animation, and not only what was happening in the story ( Episode 131 I’ve watched 4 times ). In the end , I'm grateful that Madhouse animated Hunter x Hunter from the beginning .
The characters.. oh they are unique, really. It's quite impressive how Togashi gave to them a variety of personalities. You'll not gonna enjoy only the four main characters (although many consider that the main are Gon and Killua, since the story focuses more on the two of them from a certain phase). Hunter x Hunter have a significant character development on the supporting ones too, and, of course in the villains (you'll love them, believe me). I don't have a favorite character in this show. It's impossible to choose one. Watch it and you'll experience what I'm saying.
You mean this show has nothing bad?
Yes it has.
1) The worst thing in this show is: It ended.
Okay, joking aside, I think is the worst part is the beginning. You have to watch 4 or 5 episodes to feel in the mood to still watching. Many people just gave up in the first episodes. I can ensure you, go on and watch it til the end.
Particularly I don’t like so much The Hunter Exam Arc, the first arc of the story. If you compare with the other arcs it’s really not the best one. I have in my heart this two arcs: Chimera Ant Arc and Yorknew city Arc.
The second thing many fans of the show complains a LOT, is the Opening song. Why? 148 episodes, different openings, but... THE SAME SONG. For me it wasn't a problem at all. I love the song, and... I think I watched the opening “one hundred and forty-eight” times and I sang it. Hahaha. But I really wanted to see a new song too.
The third thing is totally my personal opinion: the narrator. Your first contact with him will be in the begining of the early episodes. He will explain what is a Hunter.
The narration it's something that we don't see a lot in other animes. I like it, it's brilliant and I totally understand that this add gives the anime the suspense and it's particular style.
The advantage of having a narrator, in my opinion, is the ''observer factor''. Instead of exploring the point of view of all the characters, we have that peculiar element that seems to know everything and adds important information to the audience.
But, eventually, the narrator annoys me, specially in the Chimera ant Arc. I mean: we see what's going on, it's not necessary an explanation!
Of course that the ''narration effect'' will depend on the way you receive it. Sometimes will give that "slow motion" you'll need to absorb what's going on, but in a few episodes it's really overused.
In conclusion, I have to thank above all, you Togashi Yoshihiro. You're brilliant. You can make unique characters, outstanding plots. You still go on, and on, in successive hiatus in the manga, and everyone complains a lot (even me), but then what you show to us is so amazing that makes it worth waiting. Thank you for exist and for this awesome masterpiece.
For you that didn't watch it yet, do not be fooled by the first few episodes or with the synopsis. Both of them will give you the impression that you're about to see a generic shounen. Insist. This is a kind of anime that in each episode everything seems to evolve: the story, the setting, the characters. You will be hooked, unable to stop watching .
And then my friend, you will start to feel pain. Yes, pain, when you realize that you're at the 100º episode and there is only 48 episodes left.
At first, when I read the synopsis of hunter x hunter (2011) (for the rest of this review will be called hxh as abbreviation) I could not quite deduce the rationality of this show being scored and reviewed with such praise as it receives on a daily basis. I am sure many of you ,who are planning to pick up this show sometime soon, are thinking the same as I did before watching this show and I will do my best to change any contravening opinions towards this series.
As you all have likely read the synopsis of hxh, it certainly stands out from most
other shounens ever made. There is a kid that decides to go on an adventure, for a particular purpose, meets friends, becomes stronger and eventually defeats powerful opponents. It doesn't come off as a very complex or intriguing story/plot, nor is there a generic/forgettable cast and an amassed other facts that would remind you of how forgettable this show probably is. Believe me it's not.
Beyond the first few episodes which this generalised speculation derives from, you will see that hxh differs from most shounen in terms of intelligence (strategic battles, clever arcs and plot) and the pacing of the whole show throughout each arc is outstanding. The absence of fillers throughout the 148 episodes ( excluding recaps) makes this show that much less frustrating to watch.
You may have heard an arc in particular, that the MAL community keeps on raving about: the Chimera Ant arc. Without throwing any spoilers in this review, the hype is worth it. This arc is, by most fans of the franchize, seen as a masterstoke and with good reason. The previous arcs create a substantial build-up to the C.A arc which makes the emphasis and usefulness of the arc that much more prominent.
However, the only factor that prevented my rating of a 9 to a 10, was the slow start and the half-open ending; while it not bad and was a good conclusion to the show, left the viewer rather unsettled with the whole experience.
Where hxh really shines is in the shows' magnificent cast. As stated in my introduction, typically, most shounens do not have the best cast of characters that anime has brought out to the community, and more often than not defeat their enemies using the all-mighty force that is 'the power of friendship(!)' which brings sweet victory and joy to the protagonists of the show. Forget this ever existed in anime when watching hxh, as the sincere friendship that is witnessed between the main cast is nothing short of magnificent. It is realistic and evolves over a long period of time.
What makes the characters of hxh further at a stand-point, is that the antagonists are (for the most part) just as likable as the protagonists. Every character is very well developed ( every = any character that mattered to the story) and therefore does not make you want to spurt out the words " Wow, this character sucks " , with the exception of the bomber which, when watching the series, you will notice that had no real purpose for doing things to the extent that he did.
Finally, I will talk about my three favorite characters of the series:
I love Gon. At first he seems like your everyday generic protagonist that has no potential to evolve as a person. He comes across as useless and annoying.Then along the way something happens to him; something that is rarely in a protagonist like him. This is called ' Character Development '. The development that Gon receives throughout the series is fantastic and will make you love him until the end. He truly is desperate to find his father and the audience can see how he never throws in the towel.
There's something really likable about white-haired guys in anime and Killua does not fall short in this aspect. He has a broad and complex backstory, and again, like Gon, significant development, which is seen to play a phenominal role to how realistic the friendship between Gon and Killua is. His background as an assassin and his scarring childhood coupled with his raw talent and one-of-a-kind personality makes him a lovable and three-dimensional character.
Without spoiling much, Meruem is truly an unbelievable antagonist. At first you envision he is ruthless for no purpose, and comes off as a cliche and rather irritating being. With the meeting of another character you see how he evolves and how his facede in his personality makes him one of the best,if not the greatest character in the series.
Art and Animation: 10
When watching an anime that has a plethora of episodes such as hxh, one would expect a decline and rise in animation from time to time. However, Madhouse did a terrific job at keeping the animation and art as consistent and fluid as possible. The amount of money that was spent purely on budget really surprised me and the animation only gets better as the series progresses. When entering the C.A arc, you will see that Madhouse used their best animators to produce stunning images intertwined
with outlines, shadows and fluency that serves as 'eye-candy' when watching the series. Batlle sequences are as well a proof of how much effort is poured into this show, as the studio does not tend to cut corners, e.g using the same background over and over again.
The opening and endings' animation improves significantly st time progresses, which blows my mind when comparing the differences in appearance. That is to say, the animation was brilliant at the start of the anime as well.
The opening: 'Departure' is used throughout the entire anime although it switches between two different versions of the song, as well as changing the animation sequence each time, and this amazes me as every opening suits the anime perfectly! I did not skip the opening even once when watching the series; instead I stared smiling and singing along to the music.
The endings are all fantastic in my opinion, and I love all the songs that are presented to the audience at the end of each episode. The order for me goes
1>4>2>3>5=6 (5 & 6 are different sections of the same song) but I love them all nevertheless.
The ost of the anime is one of the best I have heard in any anime. My personal favorite is ' A kingdom of Predators'. It consists of a great variety of orchestra (mostly in the C.A arc) and lots of violin and piano that can be heard as well. However, sometimes the ost is not played at the most appropriate moments which prevents a score of 10 being given.
Monumental credibility must be given to the voice actors, and for Gon in particular, which is seen especially at episode 116, the mere brilliance that is spurted as 'emotions though words' is extraordinary. The only complaint that I sometimes hear arriving from people is that the narration in the C.A arc ( for around 10 episodes) is irritating and overwhelms the episodes, making them seem extremely slow-paced. I tend to disagree with this arguement , as the pacing seems to only benefit by the narration of those episodes, as it was a crucial moment in the series where narration was essential. I hope you won't find this narration an issue, since I certainly didn't.
Wow what a joyful ride this was. It keeps you hooked from early on and urges you to watch the next episode after experiencing the wonderful ending of each arc. The enjoyment factor, of course, originated from the entirety of the show. If any of the above where to be done poorly, the show would not come out to be nearly as enjoyable as it was. I not once felt bored during this series, and I believe that the pacing is fabulous. There's not a single moment that leaves the viewer wanting to skip ahead or fast-forward. As a result, I am almost certain that you will watch this show, engulfed by the brilliance of this anime.
Believe me when i tell you this: this show is a near masterpiece; as close of a masterpiece as a show of this genre gets. Don't be fooled while watching this anime, and drop it due to its slow start, as you may miss out on a truly miraculous experience.
Thank you for reading my review of Hunter x Hunter (2011). Have a great day. RedInfinity out.
"I see now... Yes... I see... You had me in checkmate from the start." - Meruem
Hunter x Hunter 2011 is incredibly well appreciated within the myanimelist community, however it never managed to grow a fanbase as large as the ones from other popular Shounen Series like Fairy Tail, Naruto, Bleach... Maybe it's because the series is much younger and I sincerely hope that one time HxH will be as popular as Naruto, because it just deserves it so much. I’ve never seen a better Shounen Series, no a better Anime series before. Hunter x Hunter deserves every single praise it gets. It takes Shounen
to a whole new level.
At first glance, I wasn’t too excited to watch Hunter x Hunter, in fact I even wanted to drop the Series after 3 episodes. Everything seemed like your stereotypical Shounen with an annoying protagonist in a scenario, where everything is happy throughout and the fights being overly predictable all the time. Oh, how wrong I was.
As I’ve already mentioned, the story of HxH looks like the one of every single Shounen and it seems, that it won’t offer new elements and topics. My thoughts were completely vanished before the tenth episode. Although the main idea of the young boy Gon trying to become Hunter and finding his father is very simple, the story gets incredibly deep and complex from time to time. The writing is spectacular throughout, the path’s taken by the main characters to achieve their goals are incredibly creative and unpredictable, every arc offers new topics and even new genres, which couldn’t be attached any better. In conclusion, HxH is the most marathonable Anime I’ve seen so far.
The fighting system “Nen” is very complex and offers near to a thousand different possibilities to fight. There are almost no emotion based Power-Ups in this Anime, most fights are decided by pure tactics, which makes the fights so interesting, at least for me.
The story is divided in many different story arcs, like almost every long running Shounen. As I’ve already mentioned, almost every arc sets up things differently. For example, the first arc “Hunter exam” and the “Greed Island” arc have much of an adventure feeling, while arc the fourth arc “Yorknew City” emphasizes much on thriller elements. Most of the arcs take a while to get things set up, for example the “Chimera Ant” arc takes a while to get things set up perfectly, to finish in the most epic way possible with the best use of the genre “Drama” I’ve ever experienced.
The pacing in Hunter x Hunter is very fast in general. Just compare the amount of chapters the Manga has in comparison to the amount of episodes. That means no fillers at all (if you don’t count the two summery episodes near the beginning), no stupid fanservice, just straight forward Story, which is perfect in my book.
The Animation is nearly perfect, that just shows how good Madhouse Animations are in general. The consistent Animation throughout this long Series seriously amazes me. Characters Design is top notch, backgrounds fit the scenery and atmosphere almost every time and facial expressions are done right. I don’t know what specifically is criticize able in this section.
Concerning the Sound, HxH offers a variety of different soundtracks, with true masterpieces in it. Soundtrack wise the Series offered nothing really memorable in the first episodes, but it got better and better when the story progressed, with scenes which couldn’t be accompanied with a certain soundtrack any better. The voice actors did a very good job overall, especially the ones of Gon and Hisoka, which just fit their character perfectly in every scene.
Besides the perfect writing, the second big strength of HxH are the characters and especially their development. Starting with the main character, Gon, his development is absolutely impressive in any way. In contrast to almost every other protagonist in a Shounen Series, Gon fails more than he succeeds and learns from his mistakes. The second main character, Killua, is written perfectly and his backgrounds, intensions etc. are very interesting. The other two members of the starting crew are Kurapika and Leorio, both having their own intentions, good development and understandable backgrounds as well.
However the biggest strength of HxH character wise are the antagonists. They’re written so perfectly and unique, you just can’t hate them. You won’t find another Hisoka, Kuroro or Meruem in another Anime, they’re just too unique and likeable.
Overall, I have to say I’m simply impressed by Hunter x Hunter in every regard, it’s definitely the best Anime I’ve seen so far and it won’t be easy to fill the void after the Series ended. If you look for a Shounen, which is outstanding in terms of writing, story progression, character development and uniqueness, you have to watch Hunter x Hunter. While it has some weaknesses and rather mediocre episodes from time to time, those little mistakes can easily be overlooked due to the overall extremely high quality of all the other aspects.
I often see people complain about a lack of originality when talking about anime titles without giving it proper thought. The very idea of "being original" is within itself a fallacy, especially when referring to any form of storytelling. Everything in one way or another draws inspiration from something else and seeking out "original" content shouldn't be an end goal for viewers. What one should look for is how the content itself is presented. A typical story setup is only hindered by the writer and execution of said story. Proper execution and presentation can often be what makes or breaks a show. And even a
show with a formulaic setup can be refreshing if handled properly.
Nowhere is this more evident than with Hunter X Hunter (2011). On paper it's a standard fare shounen with all the commonalities and tropes that you'd expect from the demographic. But when presented what we get is arguably some of the best materiel you can ever expect from a battle shounen. No it isn't a "masterpiece" like many would constantly proclaim it to be but it certainly reaches ambitious heights very rarely seen with a genre that is usually juvenile at best.
I'll try to refrain from reciting the synopsis:
The story, like I've already stated before, is nothing special. It can easily be summed up as character driven arcs with each core cast having their own objectives they wish to accomplish. What bring these individuals all together is the highly acclaimed job title of "Hunter". The title of Hunter, to save from a long winded explanation, are basically glorified Indiana Jones's positions. Receiving the title and getting the license to be one is like a VIP pass to do whatever the hell you want, may that be bounty "hunting", treasure "hunting", food "hunting", I think you get the gist of it. But the title itself is nothing but a means to an end and obtaining it is only the 1st step for our characters.
Despite Gon being our main protagonist, the story never neglects the core cast that befriends him. Through a given arc we as the audience get a shift in character focus depending on who the storyline corresponds to. Although Gon's journey still remains the overarching one, the others are properly fleshed out to stand on their own without including the MC. For the most part anyway, unfortunately characters like Leorio never got his chance in the spotlight. With each arc and character focus brings it's own themes and conflict. May that be revenge and redemption as found with Kurapika's arc or self acceptance and discovery with Killua's. Each arc explores a given theme, which made the viewing experience to be more enriched. A balance was struck in it's presentation, making it heartwarming when called for it and awe inspiring when it needed to be.
The world building and setting was another area that HxH excelled at. Everything felt well structured and was properly established. This is especially true for the show's fighting system known as "nen". It was extensively explained not only for the sake of the viewer but also to leave no room for asspulls that's normally common with shounens (looking at you Naruto asspull no jutsu). This intricate in-world power mechanics is only 2nd to that of FMA's mechanics behind alchemy. The various ways in which "nen" can be utilized led to some very interesting fights that was entertaining while being well thought out.
The pacing for the series can be best described as a roller coaster ride. The beginning of the ride is simply a slow climb up to get the participant's blood pumping for the intense drop after they reach the summit. HxH knew how to properly set the stage before the main events happen, something many shounens tend to rush. Since we spend time establishing everything from the setting to the characters involved for the given arc, these well written buildup episodes are what help give certain events substance and weigh behind it. It wasn't just tension-less conflicts between characters, it became something that you got invested in.
Of course nothing is perfect and HxH had it's fair share of missteps. One noticeable one can be seen on an overview. While Gon's story tied most of the arcs together, looking at the content of each arc separately shows a lack of unification among them. They simply weren't thematically related or constructed. We go from tournament arc to revenge arc to "stuck in a video game" arc to killer creatures arc. There wasn't any core themes that brought them all together. The transition between them was fine but that never changed the fact that they never quite fit together.
Another issue that arises was with it's themes. It felt like they could of done a lot more with the material presented. Prime example being the Chimera arc. they skimmed over it but never explored it. They had the option to use the Chimera Ants in a allegorical way to display themes such as subservience, the human condition and Social Darwinism. Something similar to what they did in Shinsekai Yori and books like Animal Farm. Animals/creatures have always been the perfect proxy for those kind of themes but they never went that route and simply reduced it to cleverly written shounen fights. It was ideas that sounded good but went nowhere or was never brought up at all. No one's expecting a shounen with FMA's level of complexity but it would of certainly been a nice addition.
Also something else that hindered HxH was it's conclusions. Nothing to do with what's presented itself but the limited material the studio had to work with due to the mangaka Togashi's infamous hiatuses. This results in an ending while satisfying, left many plot points and questions unanswered. The story still wraps up nicely but could of been more conclusive.
Animated by Madhouse there should be little question of the show's integrity in terms of animation. Now it isn't anything to write home about or would leave you giving a standing ovation but what HxH have that most long running titles don't is consistency. From beginning to end it never had noticeable hiccups that distracted from the content displayed. It was brightly lit when needed and ominous during times that called for it. A show that knew how to manipulate its color palette to fit the tone of any given scene. And trying my best not to give away spoilers here but episodes like 36 and 116 were prime examples of this.
Possibly the biggest highlight of the series comes with the characters themselves. If looked at individually very few warrant a character study but as a whole the interactions among them is what stands out. Everyone that's important to the narrative are all given a solid motive to which they strive for. They aren't simply stuck in supporting role, they take an active part in moving the story along. While many of them were fairly common placed archetypes some in particular were actually fleshed out and received actual development. Meruem for example being a character that experienced a catharsis which brought on change in his ideology and perspective in regards to the value of others. This may seem insignificant in other shows but in a genre that reduces villains to being bombastic 1 dimensional megalomaniacs seeing an antagonist with dimensions to his character was very refreshing. Killua being another rare exception for being a character that suffered from an internal strife and inferiority complex. This provided layered characterization to what would normally just be your standard badass. While Gon and a few others remained your dime a dozen characters their organic chemistry is what makes them stand out. (Oh and Hisoka is the best sadistic assassin ever, no this is not debatable, it's a fact lol)
This is a case where the whole was greater than the sum of it's parts. They were an endearing bunch that showed believable interaction among each other.
HxH had its slow pacing during buildups and other issues thematically but it's certainly a show I thoroughly enjoyed. It's been a long time since I was ever immersed into a long running shounen and I honestly thought I had outgrew that demographic. But what HxH did that many failed to do was capture that sense of adventure and admiration I had when I was younger. It felt nostalgic, a feeling of familiarity that I only had as a child when watching Saturday morning cartoons. And to me that was well worth the investment.
HxH is simply a rare breath of fresh air in a genre that has grown stale. It provided well thought out fights, contains a memorable cast and was thoroughly entertaining with lots of jaw dropping highlights. Of course it had it's issues but overall the title had a lot more going for it. As someone that has grown tired of shounens I was quite impressed with what HxH had to offer. It was engaging, it was potent and most of all it left me with a sense of satisfaction upon completion.
After reading the many overwhelmingly positive reviews about this show, I've decided to write a more realistic, honest and unbiased opinion-driven review about this show.
Many people have said how amazing this show is, and that it's incredibly unique and special. Did I? Well yes......and no.
I am probably one of the very few people that didn't consider this series a masterpiece
Hunters are people who hunt. Whether it is criminals, treasures, rare creatures or even food, they will hunt it.
We have the story of Gon, a young boy living on Whale island, aspiring to become a hunter like his father, Ging, a legendary hunter who abondoned
him while he was born to chase his dream. Gon also wants to meet his father and find out why he abondoned him while he was a baby.
To become a hunter, he must pass the dastardly difficult hunter exams, which has an extremely low success rate. Along to way to the exams, he meets a few friends, rivals and a creepy paedo clown, hence beginning the first arc. After that, the concept of nen is introduced, which is basically the life force and magical power source of the series. The concept of nen is actually pretty cool, and it's more complicated to use than some other powers like alchemy and chakra, and it's creativity is often shined upon in fights. However, creativity can destory things aswell, and sometimes nen can be used as an over complicated ability with too much time used to explain different powers.
After the exams, there are arcs all varying in tones and stories and this is where problems arise. Some are dark, and some are light. Some arcs are excellent and others are well......terrible dog shit.
None of the arcs are linked well together and are very disjointed and inconsistent.
Instead of focusing on an overall story, the arcs feel like a bunch of mini-stories building up to a main one, and they focus way too much on the individual arcs instead of an overall story, making it seem like a huge mess. One day, you've got a crime thriller, another one a video game, and then a bug apocalypse. One of the most critcally acclaimed arcs in the series, to me felt like a 60 episode filler, and that experience was not enjoyable at all. It baffles me on how people say it is a masterpiece, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The pacing in this arc was unbelievably bad, as was the horrible story and enemy designs (not the main villains though...they were badass).
The best arc by far is the yorkshin city arc, which doesn't come until episode 40- something.
What's more disappointing is that the story of hunter x hunter had huge potential to look into the life of a hunter, but the hunter aspect of the show is not explored much. The final aspect that irked me about the story was over-using narration to the point of unbearable commenting into the smallest of details of the story complicating itself tenfold.
Now, what was good about the story? A decent amount, actually. In the earlier arcs of the series it felt a lot different from other shonen and the individual arc storytelling was actually working very well, as each arc had a purpose to the overall story. Each arc was well written, well paced and had it's fair share of enjoyable and memorable moments. Also the annoying narrator had much less to say. These earlier arcs were much more interesting and intriguing and didn't bore me the way the later arcs did. Really, the quality of the series started degrading by the end of the yorknew city arc.
The early arcs didn't feel like fillers and contributed something, whereas the later arcs were just random and only inflicted minor things to the story, but did more to the development of the characters, which is not a bad thing, but dragging it out for 60 episodes is a crime in it's own right. Overall the story in hunter hunter varied from being amazing to a total dump. However "the total dump" is considered great by everyone, so you should check up the chimera ant arc anyway, you'll probably like it. What the entire story did well were the fights. All of them had wits and brains and didn't take an entire episode just to charge up an attack or talk for hours before the fight. (*cough* Dbz and naruto.)
However, when nen (the series' fighting system) kicks in the story downgrades hugely.
Instead of focusing on the story, we need to sit through pointless training regiments and stupid explanations of the usage of nen. Not to say i hate the series' fighting system, but in my opinion, it is far too complex and uninteresting and it sacrifices decent storytelling and replaces it with boredom. (Yes, it can be boring- if you've got a short attention span don't bother watching the later arcs)
And last thing I want to note is that the chimera ant arc's story was just horrible and boring- mostly due to its snail pacing.
There were many plot holes (why would the hunter association send two under experienced twelve year olds to get rid of the ants? Why didn't netero just bomb the nest to begin with?)
and unnecessary plot points (the whole episode with gyro for example).
But above all, it was boring, and I fell asleep watching it.
Anyway story: 6/10
Fluid, colourful and bright, the animation is done very well. The large scale battles were animated gorgeously , and they are a joy to watch.
Charcater design wise is a mixed bag. Most of the characters are designed very well, in contrast to the godawful drawings from the manga. However, the chimera ants' design are absolutely horrendous. I know they are chimeras but while I was watching I thought to myself "Wft is this?!"
The design for the chimera ants isn't the animation studio's fault though. The source material is to blame.
The ost is very good, but they do tend to re use the same tracks often so there can be a lack of variety. They also tend to forget earlier songs later in the series.
Voice acting wise, it's done superbly. All the voice actors blend and personalise their characters excellently and they display a lot of emotion and effort as they voice act their roles.
Now this category is a bit difficult to review and I'll explain why later.
The main cast consists of Gon, Killua, Kurapika and Leorio, but I'll focus mainly on Gon and Killua. There are other characters, ususally most important on seperate arcs and i will talk a little about them.
Gon is a 12 year old kid who is, in my opinion, an improved and more realistic version of kid Goku from the original dragon ball, except for the fact that he's not insanely over-powered.
This makes it a good and bad thing. Good is that he's not only a more unique take on your usual happy go lucky young male protagonist, but that he's got layers of emotion to his character and has a rock-lee type moral to keep on getting stronger and improve yourself. Gon is steroeotypical and non stereotypical at the same time, and he's a badass little kid who strives on becoming stronger. The negative is that....he's still got a lot of the same thing. Gon can have a rather predictable personality. One minute he's a clueless little kid for comic relief and the other, he's crying when someone dies. He also doesn't get much development until much later in the show.
All in all he's a decent take on your normal protagonist.
Killua is the white-haired, slanted-eyed guy that's everyone's favourite and rightfully so. He's got a similar, but ultimately different ego compared to his best friend Gon's and he's got layers to his likable personailty and ferocious alter-ego as a darkness-fueled assassin. He's a cool laid back guy that has some serious skill and family relationships. He can seem pretty harmless at first, but piss him off and he'll tear you to shreads. Killua is the one that powers the dynamic and entertaining relationship between him and Gon, and he's a fan favourite character that definitely deserves it.
Now what about the other main characters? THERE ARE NONE. That's right, don't be fooled by the artwork of the anime with gon,killua and the two others (Kurapika the blond cross-dresser and that tall dude with the glasses and suitcase who is Leorio). The other two guys only make appearances in the first arc and the Yorkshin, and then they are forgotten and become irrelevant which is a huge shame and it offends them as characters.
Basically, there's Gon and Killua and then everyone else. Gon and Killua are the only characters prominent throughout the series.
Well, Kurapika and Leorio could be called "important" side characters so I'll talk a bit about them.
Kurapika is a blond-haired badass who is driven by revenge and everything that Sasuke Uchiha should have been. Because a certain organisation wiped out his clan, he desires to hunt that group down and get his revenge. He's also a complex character with layers to him and he's got one of the coolest powers in the show.
however, he only appears in about 40 episodes, which really sucks. We don't know what happens to him when the series ends either.
Leorio is used as a comic relief guy early in the show and portrayed as a bad tempered, money obsessed businessman but he becomes more likable as the series goes on and develops his character with the little screen time he has. Long story short, he is a pretty entertaining and funny character that's certainly not useless.
The side characters and villains are great in their own right but it still irks me that they don't have much screen time until a certain arc, which is a shame.
Killua's family, the Zoldycks are a group of professional Asassins and most of them have a great and powerful presence and each have a set of their own unique personalities. It's a shame that they don't have much screentime.
Netero, the chairman or, boss of the hunter organisation is a pretty complex guy too- you don't know if he's serious or not, you can't just read him like an open book. He's like master roshi or jiraiya with added insanity.
Bisky is a mentor to Gon and Killua and she's a bit of a tsundere with a fearsome alter-ego.
The characters in the chimera ant arc were truly horrible however.
None of the new hunters in that arc were memorable or likable imho. Moving on.
What makes the series truly shine, however, are the villains. Whether it is a perverted clown, an evil brother, an insanely buffed steroid- addicted wild man, a calm, but truly evil mastermind or a bunch of powerful chimeras, all are interesting and wild in their own way.
7/10 (for the lack of screentime for certain characters)
Enjoyment: it kinda depends. Some episodes have you on the edge of your seat and some may bore you with more dialogue. However, sometimes I did not enjoy the show simply because it tried too hard to over complicate things and over using narration. Other episodes could be amazing, however.
Some episodes were foreshadowing and building up to later events, and they range in quality too.
I am not saying that hunter x hunter is a bad anime- I'm just saying it's not for me. I thought the first third of it was really good and well written but after the yorknew city arc I just felt it became boring and that it wasn't the same as before.
I know im going to get plenty of hate for bashing the chimera ant arc, but remember it's just my opinion.
But whatever, you can just be a fanboy and laugh at me for giving naruto and fairy tail higher ratings than the "masterpiece" that is hunter x hunter.
A good show, but it gets some praise that it doesn't deserve- it's pretty damn overrated.
It is a pretty well written (for the most part) show with good themes and morals, with good fights and characters. Yes, it can get dreary and over-complicated at times but you can get over it from the entertaining characters and fights.
A major downside was.....the series didn't connect with me. The story and characters, and the world (which is very extravagant and unique) wasn't very relatable and the entire series is nothing but fighting.
Hell, the characters aren't even relatable if I'm being honest. We don't get to see them being real people if you ask me, we only see them fighting.
If gon and killua and the rest were more fleshed out, the series would definitely be better. They are usually in situations where they have to fight people, it wouldve been nice to see them interacting in normal situations.
Another problem for me was the lack of comic relief in the later arcs, and also in the chimera ant arc the show tried WAAAY too hard to be dark and edgy, it didnt feel natural.
Basically what i'm saying is everything I didn't like about the series was in the chimera ant arc.
If you want a series focused on battles, this may be the one for you.
However, the biggest flaw was the ending.
I know it wasn't the studio's fault but my god it is anti-climactic.
What happened to the zoldycks? Leorio? Kurapika? Gon? Gon's adopted mum? The phantom troupe?
We shall never know.
Hunter x hunter is not a masterpiece, or a special shounen which everyone claims it is, but there are a few things that make it special and differenciate it from other battle anime. Now you may think what i said about the negatives of the show are all bs, but remember, it's my honest opinion.
If I only rated the first 58 episodes of the series I'd gladly give it 8 or 9 out of 10. However, since i need to take all of the arcs into account, my final score is 6/10.
Overall: 6/10 (fair)
Hunter exam 9/10
Zoldyck family 6.5/10
Heavens arena 7/10
Yorknew city 10/10
Greed island 5/10
Chimera ant 3/10
Chairman election 8/10
Please send feedback if you agree or disagree with my opinion on the show!
Heed my warning and heed it well: If you so choose to watch the gracious series that is Hunter x Hunter (2011), watch it well past the first few episodes. Though the first few episodes make the entire series as a whole seem bland, if you think this way, you're wrong and you should feel bad. Really really bad. Think of it this way: the series is a marathon runner. A good runner prepares himself and warms up for the long arduous journey ahead (ie. HxH). The bad runner carelessly takes off from the start with no preparation and eventually dying down halfway through because
of poor preparation (ie. SAO, although the first half was somewhat enjoyable, the second half obviously sucked). HxH takes a while to be set in motion, but its part of winning the marathon. Preparation is essential. Listen, give yourself the first 25 episodes, and you'll see that it actually IS good and well worth your time -- and it gets much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much much better. Much better. In fact, I created an account with the sole purpose to explain why Hunter x Hunter is a must-watch.
Now, I shall ACTUALLY explain....
Story (10/10): Gon Freecss is a 12 year old boy, and an aspiring hunter with a taste for adventure. Sound familiar, eh? His father, Ging, left the newborn Gon, without leaving many clues to where the father had ventured to. Sound even more familiar, eh? Well don't assume that this is like any other cliched storyline, because it's far from it. Throughout his journey, he gains the acquaintance of Leorio (an aspiring doctor), Kurapika (a special-eyed boy enveloped in a deep vengeance for the killers of his tribe), and soon enough Gon's closest friend, Killua (a member of the highest skilled assassin-family, showing the most potential). Throughout the group's journey, each of the character's story play an essential role in driving the plot forward, and oh how the plot thickens.
The story is constantly evolving and constantly moving, sparing no slack in pace. If you hate filler, you will love this show especially. It will constantly keep you hooked. If you've just started the series, keep watching I tell you, keep watching. It keeps getting better.
Art (10/10): Now I'm no art aficionado, but I can tell when too bright is too bright and too dark is too dark. All I can is that it's well balance and is pleasing to the eye. Now it's not seizure-inducing like NGNL, but it get's the job done in an enjoyable manner. The palette, uh, looks nice, and uh, stuff. Yeah. There's no "you're trying too hard" to be expected in the artistic representation of Hunter x Hunter. Edit: and once you get to the end of the Chimera Ant arc, I give you my solemn word: you will not be disappointed with the conglomeration of art and sound and the overall feeling. No spoilers.
*Sound (10/10): Now this is my FAVORITE part. Part of what makes a series whole is the great sounds that go on behind it. I absolutely adore the music that went on behind the story. It did what I find other series have a hard time perfecting. When intrigue is being produced, music that correctly suits the situation will be presented, and in turn your intrigue will be piqued. When you're on the edge of your seat biting your nails, music adds to that experience. I believe it sets a tone for the story, and does it in an extremely efficient way. However, the only fault is that the music does not fit perfectly sometimes, but it isn't enough to irritate someone. It still gets the job done, and helps steep one's mind into the story further. And possible the BEST part of the sound portion of HxH is the inclusion of Gustav Holst's "Jupiter" from "The Planets." It's a beautiful song and it's inclusion in the series legit made me shed a tear m8.
Characters (10/10): No stone is left unturned in the realm of character development. Every character has a specific motive driving them and the drive to accomplish it. There's an explanation for every character's purpose -- and then it develops farther and farther. Think of Gon, the main character, as the main line. As Gon progresses, new characters come into contact with him, creating an infrastructure of development, moving forward at the same pace as Gon. The development only expands around Gon at the same time as Gon ventures about.
Enjoyment (10/10): Need I explain my enjoyment further? The rating clearly declares my sentiment towards the series. The only thing that I DON'T enjoy is that the series is ending at only 148 episodes. That's right, only. By the time you go through the 145 episodes I've gone through, you'll feel how I feel to realize that there's only 148. 148 does not do this series justice. All I, as well as I'm sure anyone else who has ventured through the series thus far feels is that there should be more. and more. and more. and more. There's much more to be explored! Given, there are only 350 chapters (at the moment) of the manga, and the anime finishes quite close. My only hope, and I'm sure I speak for many others, is that the series picks up maybe even a year or 2 later, when there is more of the manga for the anime to run off of -- and not take 10 years to reboot and recontinue. All I can say is we want more, and more is an understatement.
TL;DR - Watch Hunter x Hunter (2011) past the first season, instantaneously become addicted, and see why this underrated series should be not underrated nor overrated, but rated with high regard. You will not be disappointed. Just watch it. 10/10.
PS. People who give this show less than a 9 eat children.
Hunter x Hunter could be described as a revolutionary and unorthodox anime in the sense that it is unpredictable, cunning and intelligent, especially when comparing it to other popular shōnen such as One Piece, Bleach or Naruto. It is a tale which seems to start off as a simple battle shōnen, yet escalates into an unforeseeable development that delves deep into human psychology, death and hope, in addition to being composed of one of the greatest cast of well fleshed out villains, which is very rare to see in the genre itself. It is a must watch for anyone who is acquainted to the medium.
It is a show that can arguably boast of having the best arcs presented in shonens, which is an achievement on its own. With that being said, it naturally has its flaws as well which will be illustrated below in addition to its numerous strengths.
The premise of Hunter x Hunter is simple in nature, the twelve-year-old Gon Freecs setting out to find his father, who abandoned him as a child to become a Hunter. Trying to understand why his own father abandoned him because of his profession Gon chooses to become one in order to find his father. It is a profession riddled with danger, ranging from tasks such as researching species, capturing criminals, searching for treasures or exploring the unknown. What however makes this anime outstanding is the journey it undertakes towards its conclusion, as many have pointed out, with a compelling narrative and fleshed out characters, fantastic soundtrack and animation. It is an adventure enveloped in friendships and encounters with the likes of Killua, Kurapika and Leorio, in addition to countless hardships and the search of what it actually means to be a hunter, an exploration of oneself.
The narrative is the strongest point of the anime, carrying a powerful analysis of humanity and several messages: to not group people into categories such as evil or good, friendship and the appreciation of the little things in life. Exposition wise, there is an external narrator at times, which explains in more detail several situations, as well as the characters thoughts, which for some may be a drawback. It presents itself with various types of situations seen in other anime such as tournaments, card battles, thriller and psychological ones throughout its duration, which in some cases don't blend in well with the narrative and the atmosphere. In a way, this breaks the immersion in the story as it often The story is structured into seven arcs, some huge, some magnificent, others arguably lackluster in comparison. Viewers may observe a progression into a darker atmosphere, whilst maintaining its moments of cheerfulness. Some of these arc are however far from perfect: plot holes, illogical actions, and plot convenient situations happen as well, together with some progression issues. Nevertheless, these could be easily overlooked as these were intriguing, full of suspense and were unpredictable; these can be brutal, where death and mayhem is present.
The pacing of the narrative is overall well done, hardly ever having stretched or rushed scenes, although later on it is apparent that some episodes were affected by these to accommodate the battle intense animation scenes. This affects mostly some episodes in the Chimera Ant arc. The first batch of episodes are mainly dedicated to the introduction of different characters and their respective goals, as well as slowly giving the viewer an image of how the world of Hunter x Hunter might be shaped. Furthermore, as story progresses, more is shown, which is actually quite interesting, as it is pretty unconventional. Being based on current human civilization with all the different flavours within, the flora is much more exotic, with huge trees, which could be said about the fauna as well. Audiences may attribute it to the likes of Dragon Ball in its variety. In addition, there are many places inaccessible for the common folk, only restricted to hunters due to the dangers within that region, which creates a lot potential for the author to work with.
As mentioned earlier, as the story develops, it begins displaying the different things in the world, such as the introduction of "Nen", social structure, a great variety of characters including villains, the different political factions within the Hunter Association and naturally, the adventure of the protagonists. However, when the anime begins to explore the psychological aspect, it is where it shines: it dedicates itself to the analysis of humanity and their nature as a species, as well as themes as cynicism and hope, whilst increasing the characterisation of its cast. These aspect are conveyed through the representation of dictatorship (which audiences may see some similarities to that of N.Korea), political discrepancies among hunters and the government, you name it. The author manages to portray said elements thoroughly, in addition to showing viewers the true beauty of nature and its infinite potential. Through the characters and their evolution, egoism, individuality, selflessness, loyalty and love are portrayed. It also exposes both ally and foe at their best and worst, enhancing the overall experience of the show.
Finally, another important aspect to consider is the battles that are executed alongside the story and its respective techniques and exploration. These are wonderfully relayed to the viewer, being well paced, intense and unpredictable. Another positive aspect is that said abilities are obtained through rigorous training (comparing it to other shōnens), which nearly eliminates the occurrence of power ups and "asspulls". What comes as a surprise however is that the main protagonists are susceptible to defeat, and are not the necessarily the strongest characters in the anime. In fact, the protagonists experience defeat on numerous occasions, creating much more tension when the fighting starts. Nen is also introduced in the anime, which could be considered a superpower to the likes of Chakra or Devil Fruits, or the famous Ki from Dragon Ball.
What makes Nen interesting is the endless variety within. What however stands out, which in turn makes Hunter x Hunter somewhat unique, is that the battles are not solely dependent on raw power: intellectual cunning is heavily relied on. It ultimately proposes what true strength really means: power? Intelligence? Speaking of Nen and power ups, the anime sadly suffers some issues, affecting in particular some rules introduced with regards to Nen and its abilities, which was a rather big drawback. This was especially the case when the story was nearing its conclusion, having managed to create an atmosphere where stakes were high, Nen could suddenly be used to obtain ridiculous amount of power, leaving audiences thinking why all the other characters (antagonists in particular) didn't do the same.
The story of Hunter x Hunter wouldn't be as well crafted without its numerous characters. First of all, let me begin by mentioning that even though they may come over as typical archetypes, these are well-developed characters, especially the main protagonists. Another thing to note is the fact that most characters are susceptible to death, although positive, sometimes is not well executed. This is the case when some characters are introduced, only to shortly afterwards die without any character progression whatsoever, leaving viewers most of the time indifferent. Maybe another thing to note is the fact that the female cast takes a background position: males are of importance.
The characters that undergo most character development are definitely Gon and Killua. Gon has a cheerful and positive personality, in addition to being egotistical, yet it is clear that he is smart as well; characterised by the use of his fishing rod, he uses strategies that are tied to this, such as sneak attacks, hit and run, you name it, which is quite unconventional. As the story progresses, viewers observe how he grows and get to know his values and personality, seeing his deep affection with life and that of his friends. This deep-rooted loyalty to his friends causes him to cast aside his humanity in one instance. As for Killua, he could be considered the most interesting character, as he undergoes the biggest character development in the whole show. He has a dark past, entangled with his family: he knows no love, nor friendship, he only knows superficial joy. It is apparent that throughout the series he begins to see the bright side of life, in particular that of unconditional friendship, especially during the Chimera arc, where he plays a central role.
The exploration of other characters such as Leorio or Kurapika are very weak in comparison. A lot of potentiallly interesting characters are relaid to the viewers, yet most of them are left unexplored, or are either forgotten. There are several chaarcters that stand out, yet one should be mentioned, and that is Netero, which no one could ever forget. A cheerful old man, yet very strong, both in his conviction and skills, who lives to acquire the ultimate power. Other characters of interest are Knuckle, seen as a typical "delinquent" of the 90's as well as Morel McCarnthy. The Zoldyck family is certainly of interest as well, as these are composed of a great variety of interesting characters, and will play important roles in the events to come.
Where the anime really shines character wise is in its villains. The villains as a whole can be described as varied, with motives and values. Almost every single one of them is fantastically fleshed out, caring for their companions, which is so rare to see in shōnen counterparts. As mentioned earlier, the anime proposes to not categorise people into evil or good, which can be appreciated through the phantom troupe, which may seem at first as remorseless killers. This is however clearly visible are the chimera ants, as these may seem "evil" for humanity, yet these only act according to nature, which in turn draws parallels with how humans treat other species. In addition, the story often focuses on these characters, rather than the main protagonists who at times take supporting roles, carefully showing the viewer their personalities, as well as developing them through the numerous situations and own struggles with their beliefs. This is especially apparent in both the Yorkshin and Chimera Ant arcs. Villains of note are: Hisoka, the crazy battle hungry clown, the phantom troupe and its respective members, as well as the numerous members of the chimera ants.
~Animation and sound~
While the characters design can be seen as childish and may be a drawback for some, it has a great distinctive cast of characters, which is a huge bonus. This is in addition to the different unimportant characters that have distinctive designs as well. It must be mentioned that some character's design is lacking, in the sense that those are nearly exact copies of iconic characters such as Cell from Dragon Ball. Speaking of animation, it is done by the studio Madhouse. It is very fluid, in addition to its combat scenes, as well as correctly conveying the emotional states of the characters through detailed facial expressions. Backgrounds are well drawn and varied, often befitting of the setting.
The voice actors performed their roles well, easily conveying the personalities of each different character. What however stands out is its soundtrack, which is varied and suited the atmosphere it is trying to portray: drums, electric guitar, simple sounds, orchestra, there is really a lot of variety. It must be noted that some of these are either overused or wrongly implemented in some situations.
Hunter x Hunter was overall a fantastic experience, with its gripping storyline, characters and soundtracks. Although the story was very gripping, it also had its share of flaws, and some big ones at that, especially when nearing its conclusion. The interactions with the cast are smart and never dragged out either. Furthermore, it is interesting to see how many of its ideas were implemented later on in series such as Naruto for example. Nevertheless, the well paced narrative, well fleshed out villains and its unorthodox approach to its execution, alongside with its psychological aspects, make it easily one of the most entertaining shōnens out there, which in turn made it very easy to watch a lot of episodes in a session. Hunter x Hunter is highly recommended to anyone who likes shōnens. At face value it seems like it's targeted to younger audiences, yet the underlying depth to the characters/story will only be appreciated by older audiences.
Thank you for reading.
-Special thanks to the fellow user OnTheShore for proofreading and pointing out mistakes made.
HxH is one of the many overrated shonen anime out there and I can summarize my review with one sentence: „If you became kinda interested in HxH, because you have heard it’s so much more than just a shonen, don’t believe it, because it is exactly that, just another shonen." Now I’m not a fan of shonen, and if you read that review you will find out why, so this anime is not made for me, but just for more diversity in views I will analyze this anime a bit closer.
HxH is one of those anime where you can literally see the quality dropping, with
the earlier episodes being made nicely and at the end it has one of the longest pacings I have ever seen. Since the artstlye isn’t in any form detailed and costly they can’t tell me they ran out of money. I assume they just wanted to milk the cashcow to the end and stretch manga material of 20 episodes(in relation to the beginning) to around 60.
Like I said before the start of the show was quite nice. It had a few things which didn’t really make any sense, especially the riddles, but it had a nice build up and a good pacing. It seemed to me as if the start also really wanted to surprise the viewers with something unexpected, regardless of how illogical it was. It also didn’t do much good in terms of atmosphere, in some cases it even destroys the atmosphere it built up just for surprise reasons. The main characters are also unexplained overpowered, sure there are a few stronger but that alone doesn’t justify a little kid being physically stronger than a well-trained grown up man, just because he “grew up in the woods”, which is btw contradicted later on. But besides a few negative things to say the start (first 17-20 episodes maybe) was ok. It had a goal and set motivation from the character side, the main story kinda made sense (more than the rest of the show) and they had some kind of what the fans claim as “tactics in fighting”.
In the second arc the terror already begins. Motivations from the character where completely forgotten and not even mentioned in order to have a little conflict for the goal of this arc. The reason for the first arc and what they have achieved was completely pointless and even contradictory as explained in the later arcs. The following arcs shine with not knowing what to call somethings. For the show an assassin is someone who is physically strong and can endure much pain instead of being stealthy and deadly, the so called “mafia” is a bunch of unorganized idiots who apparently have a lot of power (they at least have a lot of money) which is contradictory in every way and let me question the whole world building of this anime. The writers have no idea of how money works, which wouldn’t be a problem if the hadn’t dedicated a whole arc just for money getting purposes, which later on is also completely useless. Not to forget the story is full of convenience, which goes beyond the acceptable amount. Some of the arcs are complete filler since they either are pointless or have nothing to do with the final goal (the motivation of the main protagonist). There is even one arc where the main protagonist is inside a video game and literally the first thing he hears there is that being here is completely pointless, but he doesn’t care and goes on anyway, which makes the whole arc pointless and questions the existence of the build up to it.
This show becomes less endurable from arc to arc, with the mafia arc being an exception but still not good. It’s like comparing a pile of shit with a pile of shit which has a cherry on top of it. Seeing the later arcs lets you remember the earlier ones as if they were in any way good, that’s how horrible this show gets.
HunterxHunter also likes to copy everything that was or is popular it seems. That goes from character design (Robocop) even to whole story arcs (the video card game arc which was copied from magic the gathering).
A thing that really bothers me as well is the fact that this show has no scale what so ever. The abilities and the strength of every character are so completely random and out of order. It even shifts during the whole anime, making character who should be strong considering their rank utterly weak and character who should be weak unnecessary strong. Its like as if one writer wrote the hierarchy of all the characters and their relationship and then another decided, because how much he liked their appearance how strong they are.
All of the above was pretty much the first half of the show. The show was like I said very bad but had at least some arcs which were watchable and had a decent pacing. From episode 80 onwards the chimera arc takes place. This is basically the main difference between the original version of the HunterxHunter anime and the 2011 version.
The chimera arc is the worst thing I have seen in a long time in terms of writing. You can’t take anything they say and do seriously, since the character design is so freaking retarded. They say they are ants but then a penguin and a pink panda in a suit is sitting there with them. NONE of the so called Ant-villains looks even remotely like an ant. The writers wanted to make this arc dark and mature but only showed how childish their writing is. Wow, characters are dying more often now, but that’s about it with all the change they made. As if character dying = mature and dark. This is the most naïve way of seeing it, but it fits a shonen.
In this arc this show really shows how little time they spend with thinking through the whole thing. Where villains came from and what their motivation is was never a thing HunterXHunter spends any time in but in this case it makes absolutely no sense that some ant-people who just came into existence are able to be as strong as one of the strongest person in the whole anime. So again.. no scale existend. And with no time spend with motivation and personification the writers now believe they can put drama in the show when the villains die. Are you freaking kidding me? Yeah the ants just killed hundreds if not thousands of people and now I should feel sorry for them? The drama in this whole anime is the worst sort of melodrama, forced and reliable so much on double standarts.
In the last arc the tactics really shine, in terms of sucking like shit. In the last 50 episodes there is only one fight anyways, so there is not much to talk about, but the tactics there is so utterly idiotic. There is so much bullshit that happened during this arc. There was not 1 episode where I wasn’t facepalming.
But all of the above would have been minor points if it wasn’t for how boring this whole arc was. The reason I criticize their “tactics” is only because they spend so much time with talking and every fan thinks the tactics are so great. 90% of the time they talk about irrelevant stuff and when it comes to real tactics they are utterly bullshit, convenient or deus ex machina. I would tell you how bad this anime is in more detail but that would spoiler it, and I probably already forgot more than 50% of it^^
Characters of this show are not in any terms special. Have you seen either Naruto, One Piece, Bleach you know the personality of the main character. Add a bunch of extra typical side characters and you got them all. It’s just the typical teenager character who is strong enough to change the world stuff. In HunterXHunter they at least didnt go full overpowered with the main character, but considering the age of the protagonist and the enemies he is fighting later on I would say its pretty unrealistic. He is a very wishful filling character and not that much of a role model. I think there is nothing really wrong with this wishful filling kind of anime, but they are really nothing for people older than their demographic (in mind of course). So saying this is more than a shonen is really wrong.
Music is also pretty bad. All the good song where copies of famous classical songs, such as Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem, the rest is rather forgettable boring background music. Artstyle is simple and character design in the WHOLE show is the worst I have ever seen, but that’s ofc only my opinion. I found it to be nice to see no cgi, if I remember correctly.
So overall: This show is not more than a shonen and I might add the worst written shonen I have ever seen, but I am not into that genre so I only saw a few of them. If you are a person who likes more mature stuff and think there is something behind this anime, otherwise it wouldn’t be so popular, don’t fall for the trap and stay away from it. At the end you will just regret it.
Note: This is to any newcomers to the series. No spoilers in this review.
It has been a long time that I watched an anime that evaluates and explores many aspects of the genre, especially coming from a Shonen demographic anime. While I started watching this series, I was skeptical from the anime by watching the first five episodes, considering that it brings a light-hearted, child-like feel. I stopped watching it for a while because it didn't bring any interesting I found captivating. As time passed by, I doubted myself for not even continuing this series. Many older fans
of anime get thrown off by the demographic how anime such as Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Fairy Tail,etc demonstrate a protagonist in search for glory to become someone important and known to others. Antagonists are shown later in the series soon later confronts the hero in a long-dragging, continuous fight. Eventually, the hero will overcome their goal during a long voyage of his traveling with their friends in either constantly wining in every single battle with their closest rivals, having a bigger ambition to accomplish to become "someone" important, or making a difference in their power level in a outrageous moment while being in a ridiculous, near death, battle..These characteristics of what these series provided hindered me from watching a long, ongoing anime from predictable wins and losses from the Shonen heroes. However, one anime takes all these Shonen tropes and throw it out of the window. That anime is Hunter X Hunter.
Story: The premise of the story takes us to a journey in Whale Island with our hero, Gon Freecss, a young 12 year boy who is destined to become a talented hunter just like his father, Ging, who is a legendary hunter known to many. Hunters are highly skilled professional fighters who have the exceptional ability to lure others into a trap at will, find uncommon creatures at sea or land, or search for undiscovered treasures. On his quest, he finds other companions such as Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio who also strived to have the same goal to become the best hunter while they participate in the Hunter Exam. This appears to be like a typical, light-hearted Shonen premise in most cases. The pacing in the beginning of the series can commences very slowly for most people. This creates a hindrance with older audience who are used to Seinen type anime such as Monster, Berserk, Gantz, etc. However, gradually, the development of the story arcs within each episodes creates a further relationship between each character in a more complicated situations. While it appears to be a cheerful, humorous at first, it ultimately alludes how each story links up to create a further character development for a protagonist Shonen hero like Gon to overcome mentally and physically especially in the 6th arc of the series, the Chimera Ants Arc. Over the course of the episodes, the arc steadily deconstructs the elements of the Shonen demographic into a true brutal, psychological nature of what it really means to be a hunter or even a human. As the story progresses within each episode, you will appreciate what the previous arcs has to offer in order to fully understand how the characters feel, hell even the villains' motivations and thoughts as well.
Art/Animation: Madhouse studio did an excellent job adapting Yoshihiro Togashi's (creator of Yu Yu Hakusho) long hiatus manga since 1998 into a more faithful anime adaptation. They keep up with the action orientated sequences fluid into constant beating from facial expression, anticipation, and even suspense. However, some older fans from the 1999 version may disprove of how "colorful" art style that the show presented from facial expression and animation wise. But, I'm not going to go into details with the flame war between two series from 1999 and 2011. They also meticulously improved the quality that the original manga drawing lack into a more vivid, watchable experience. For example, the character designs in the manga are considered poorly drawn due to Togashi's long hiatus since his sickness is very challenging overcome for years. This Conclusively, Madhouse excelled Hunter X Hunter manga into a more faithful adaptation it deserves story wise.
Sound/Music: At first, the opening of the anime really suited to the atmosphere and how really addicted the song can really be. Even though the opening theme, "Departure" by Ono Masatoshi doesn't change arc after arc, the song becomes a tradition that really suits the mood of the show. It appeal repels me from watching every second of the episode that I couldn't stop watching episode after episode without knowing what is going to happen next. It brings such strong anticipation and curiosity to viewers what is the next moment is about to happen. The music sets the setting of traveling and exploring the world of Hunter X Hunter. It gives off how much is there in the world that is undiscovered. In the future, people will looked back and feel nostalgic how the atmosphere suits very well in the HxH universe.
Character: This is where the anime leaves positive note on how well-written the character development really is. While Togashi was writing the manga his hiatus on the manga really makes the story more unique than most Shonen series I witnessed since they emphasis long term fights, rather than a thought-out character development. Gon and Killua are like yin and yang. They build a long, ongoing friendship through the series, learning and knowing their weakness they have to overcome. Not only the main characters have to conquer their own conflicts in each arc, even some minor/supporting characters get screen time in some episode so they wouldn't appear to have a very generic, one dimensional personality. Within each episode, the characters flesh out their morality from what is right or wrong. While in battle, the anime dives into their consciousness on how they can resolve the situation. Tactics and skills play a very important role in the Hunter X Hunter universe. You have to ask yourself, is killing your sworn enemy really going to bring satisfaction for everyone? Can your desire really lead to contentment for your own preservation? These questions lead you to think that the characters are not always what they seemed to be when you start to watch how they first interact each other.
Enjoyment: Personally, I found this anime to be worth of my time, if not the best. Masterfully well-developed writing. Though-out tactics to weaken an opponent rather than random overpowered abilities for no particular reason. The only downside is the pacing might start off slow in the beginning, but Hunter X Hunter truly delivers what a classic Shonen anime can be without dragging its viewers into unnecessary cliché. At first the show starts to grow as an innocent, cheerful child then it matures into a merciless, cold-hearted butcher regarding to the characters' dark past and essential role that will affect them emotionally and ethically later on in the series. Each have their own motives they have to undergo mentally. I enjoy every minute of humor yet complicated growth of each character the series has build to recent episode.
Overall: The anime has surprised me in a so many ways that I just want more from its universe. As of today, the manga is on hiatus due to Togashi's back pains. Who knows when the manga is going to come back? Maybe in two years or even a decade from now. What we know now is that Hunter X Hunter is exceptional to the Shonen tropes that most common anime suffer from. After years of watching anime, I never witnessed of how unforeseen this anime can be from the same demographic as the big 3. For any one that is new to the anime, go watch it now. Be patient and you will gradually be rewarded for one of the best writing you will ever experience in a Shonen anime.
Whenever Shonen Jump releases anime based on a popular manga they are usually for the fighting and story enthusiasts. Hunter X Hunter is a show that balances the two perfectly in the form of a Yin-Yang. Although this story is fiction, it’s still based on some part of the truth of the real world we reside in. The story is brutal, deep, emotional, breathtaking and much more! A story that is different, but yet has the same basic elements you would expect from a Shonen anime. I won’t go into details of the story or the arc because I can’t mention that without spoiling
but I’m going to express what I can in whatever words while keep it short and sweet.
Hunter X Hunter mainly focuses on a Young boy named Gon Freecss who like his father wants to become a Hunter. He wants to experience what the world of Hunters is like and why his father left him to attain the wonders of that world. You can say that Gon wants to look for his father and ask him this question and that sets a goal for the narrative for the anime. Now, with this type of narrative, the Hunter X Hunter universe sets itself to become everlasting much like One-Piece and Toriko, where various arcs can come about without going astray from the initial plot and connect each other with everything else within the medium. You can think of it as a programming flowchart that is always connected to the main command. What really sets the story apart from others is the way it’s told. Its starts of slow, puzzling and full of questions but slowly starts to unravel itself and it gets really interesting as the arcs progress forward. Personally, no arc for me was boring. Every single one of them had something different and unique to offer from the introduction to new characters to foes and bros and new unexplored land which keep everything fresh and interesting. This is something that I feel makes Togashi-sensei such a spectacular author. Another great thing about the series is that Gon isn't the only main character of the series. There are a few more who are later introduced in the series which is what makes Hunter X Hunter special and different which hence makes more room for different types of arcs with different variations.
As you go deeper into the story you will see how complex, intriguing and thought provoking Hunter X Hunter actually becomes. A lot of the arcs in this show changed my perspective of how I looked at the world and the kind of potential it has of becoming, but at the same time it also made me think about the type of creation we are and negative impacts it brings to the table.
In terms of animation and sound, this show probably has the most beautiful and the most precise animation I have seen for a long running series. The manga was very lucky to not have been picked by garbage studios like Toei or A-1, instead it was picked up by one of the best ones in Japan, Mad-House. Mad-House studio is known for its amazing animation and to have consistency in all of its long running 148 episodes is a feat. Animation is spectacular. Togashi isn’t a very good drawer when compared to other manga artists but the anime comes and rescues that part of the story. As for OST, it’s pretty good. There are tracks that are pretty awesome here and there and fit the mood perfectly. You will enjoy the animation and sound for this show. I follow some of the staff members who work on Hunter X Hunter at Madhouse Studios and they love this manga very much and they put a lot of effort to make it perfect.
Finally, I know I’ve praised this show a lot, but I feel there is no reason not because, as I see it, Hunter X Hunter is a masterpiece. It is slow to start off with like any other show, but once you get past the first few episodes, you will start to enjoy the show and that’s mainly what hooks a person as he/she starts to gain interest. I always mention this is the reviews and tell people that fighting isn’t everything in a Shonen manga/anime. Sometimes having a good story that keeps the audience at bay and keeps them guessing is what you need in a story and Hunter X Hunter delivers. Over the course of 3 years this show has become my favorite anime of all time and it was sad to see it come to an end. Sure the manga still continues (very slowly) but surely so I hope to see more of it in the future. With that I say good-bye to a spectacular anime which is a MUST watch for all!
THIS WILL SURELY BE THE LONGEST AND MOST IN DEPTH REVIEW I HAVE EVER DONE.
Forgive me as I try to collect my thoughts and review this epic masterpiece of an anime. As tears rolled down my face during the final episode's conclusion, I realized HunterxHunter's true greatness. The way the series drew me in with its endearing cast, and brought me on a roller coaster thrill ride for 148 episodes was me experiencing something truly pure and un-replicated in the medium. That is not to say it's without its flaws, but the overall reward from HxH is something gratifying and magnificent. And
of course, there are spoilers to be had here.
I will admit, when I first went into HxH I had a fair amount of hype because Yu Yu Hakusho was my favorite battle anime ever made. I just loved the constant growth Yusuke underwent during the franchise's 100 plus episodes. The similarities in writing from Togashi are clearly present, but they do nothing to detract from the uniqueness HxH possesses. Oddly enough, with such a staggering amount of episodes, HxH contains virtually zero filler. Instead, the series is delicately divided into 6 independent arcs, which all focus on completely different methods of storytelling ranging from the suspense thriller Yorknew City arc to the dark and defeating Chimera Ant arc. The series literally touches on everything: politics, humanity, tournaments, failure and video games. Perhaps even more impressive is that it manages to do all of this without ruining itself with unneeded romance or fanservice.
Sure, I will be the first to agree that HxH does not have a strong start. The Hunter Exam arc is actually my least favorite in the entire show, but that's not to say it wasn't necessary. Togashi uses this arc as a way to develop ties to the main characters and establish its roots. It also gives an introduction to one of the most unpredictable characters in anime history, Hisoka. I wouldn't say I was necessarily bored with the beginning of the series, but it wasn't something I was binge-watching straight through. I stuck it out in part due to my love for Yu Yu Hakusho and for the respect I had for my friend's recommendations. The positives of this arc are the necessary character developments and diversity in events within the exam itself. Also, the first time Hisoka went on a killing rampage, I knew this wasn't any ordinary kid's shounen. The negatives would be the pacing and how Killua didn't recognize Illumi's needles while he was posing as Gittarackur. Illumi's reveal shouldn't have come as such a surprise when it occurred. When Killua's composure snapped, it again reinforced the actual target audience for HxH. The way Togashi can border innocent and playful dialogue with such sinister and bloodthirsty themes is eloquent to say the least.
The Zoldyck and Heaven's Arena arcs are probably the closest thing HxH has to filler, but again, these arcs are an integral part to progressing the story and introducing both Killua's past and the life energy many of the skilled fighters have in the series... also known as Nen. I almost feel like Togashi used the tournament avenue to introduce Nen out of need to fill his Hakusho void. As many remember, the Dark Tournament arc from Yu Yu Hakusho was hands down the greatest tournament style arc in anime history. I understand that climbing the steep ladders of the heaven's arena wasn't necessarily the focus of the arc, but I would've liked to see a little more fighting that would've transpired later in the tower. It was also requisite to invite the viewers to peer into the secluded life of our assassin MC, Killua. This introduction intrigued me, and made me even curious as to how Killua would eventually face his brother again after the Hunter Exam. As the show went on, I was slightly disappointed that Gon and Killua's Nen instructor and apprenticed never reappeared, but other than Bisky mentioning him in the Greed Island arc, their paths just didn't cross.
Next came one of my favorite arcs of all time... The Phantom Rouge or Troupe arc. Finally, we were able to understand the seething rage Kurapika endured from having to recount the loss of his family and tribe due to those notorious, ravenous killers. This arc is also the point at which the show really begins to pick up. I was ecstatic to see massive character development in Kurapika's case, and also to see Gon and Killua take on more of a supportive role. I remember the scene when the Troupe heads into the auction hall and obliterates everything in sight, my jaw dropped to the floor. HxH's writing surpassed a level I didn't believe was even possible in a facade of a kiddy shounen. Not to sound morbid, but I was transfixed. Enthralled by just how much I was starting to enjoy the series' variety, and ho Togashi wasn't afraid to transport it away from a stereotypical shounen. I kept thinking, “how do more people not talk about this show?” What unfolded in the next 20-30 episodes kept my finger trigger happy on the skip button as I couldn't get to the next episode fast enough. The fight scenes in this arc, although fewer than I hoped, were entirely cerebral and constantly shocked me. In particular the battle between the ten dons and how effortlessly and grotesquely the paralyzed Uvogin dispatched them. I couldn't believe I was still watching the same show.
Despite my immediate attraction to the Phantom Troupe arc, I still had a few small issues with it. In a self-centered “perfect” world, I would've liked to see the arc taken further. Once Chrollo's Nen was stifled, the arc was basically over. I've never been a fan of plot conveniences, and it almost seemed as though Togashi got bored with one idea and meandered towards a new one. Needless to say, the fight between the Zoldycks and Chrollo was brief but intense. I would've also liked to have seen Nobunaga and Franklin in an actual one on one fight to fully explore their abilities. The majority of the Troupe just feel like abandoned characters. However, this might facilitate itself as a necessary evil in a series was such an enormous cast as HxH has. Also, Hisoka never gets his rocks off by being able to battle Chrollo, the entire reason he falsely represented himself as a member of the Troupe in the first place. This was another notch in Hiskoka's complexity however, since it's sometimes hard to pinpoint his alignment or rationale.
The Greed Island arc was more than likely my favorite behind the Chimera Ant and Troupe arcs. There was something about it I was fond of. Maybe it was the small break it had in the tense action of the preceding Troupe arc, or the sense of discovery or exploration it contained. As an avid gamer, appreciated the subtle nods it contained to the MMO world, and this added yet another notch on HxH's belt of variety. I quite enjoyed the introduction of Bisky, although her true ability and past is not fully explored. I believe she saw a part of herself in Gon and Killua, and took it upon herself to provide them with the highest quality training she could in the short time available. I did have an issue with the villain of the arc, The Bomber. Not only is he improperly developed, I found it very hard to believe he was as strong as Togashi alluded to. And if that was the case, couldn't Bisky have disposed of him with ease? At any rate, the Greed Island arc was a nice break from the intensity of the previous arc, and a qualified precursor to the series' longest arc.
The Chimera Ant arc's greatness is constantly debated among HxH fans. On one hand, it explores humanity, self-identification and features some of the most cerebral battles of any anime I've come across. On the other, there are some severe pacing issues and blatant disregard for some major role-playing characters. I personally enjoyed the arc, but I threw caution to the wind when it came to criticizing it. In retrospect, I can understand the issue many people have with it. After some research, I discovered that some of the odd pacing developed because Madhouse was waiting with bated breath for their best animators for a future episodes. This left a few episodes when the heroes invaded the Ant King's stronghold narration heavy and quite boring. It certainly had the DBZ effect for awhile, and I was left slightly confused. I also find it hard to believe that Hisoka didn't make his presence known upon the Ant King displaying his immense power. Since Hisoka was so fixed on fighting the strongest person he could lay his eyes on, I was sure he'd emerge in this arc.
Despite the few negatives I have with it, the Chimera Ant arc is nothing short of spectacular. The amount of themes explored is staggering. Sure, most animes probably would've taken the safe route and made Meruem some sort of bloodthirsty tyrant with zero regard to humanity. But the introduction of Komugi certainly turned the arc upside down and changed Meruem's view of humans entirely. The way the inner monologues were written during his Gungi battles was inspiring and refreshing. I was certain the King would end up vanquishing everything in sight, but he saw more than just brute strength as a display of power. Man, Togashi didn't dissapoint again. Killua's transformation after Kite perished was also uplifting. As my favorite character in the series, it was exciting to see Killua break away from his brother's burden and play such an integral role in saving the human race. Lastly, Gon's transformation, although some would be quick to criticize its “convenience effect”... I thought was well constructed. The effects his brief, immense power had on his body were believable and warranted. It also reinforced the type of person and Nen user Gon was in the first place.
The last arc, although slightly rushed added a nice bow to the magnificent anime. I thought it was unnecessary to introduce 12 new characters so close to the end, but I guess the new Chairman selection served as nothing more than plot support for the more pressing issue at hand, Gon's recovery. I actually thought (well, hoped) that Killua and Illumi were going to fight in this arc, but I guess we can't all be pleased. Leorio's reappearance was refreshing and reminded me how much I enjoyed him as a character. Most importantly, after Gon recovered, his father/son moment was everything I imagined it would be and more. Ging look flustered but quickly adapted to talking to his son, who was so much like him. When the closing sequence played after Gon and Ging laughed and shared stories atop the World Tree, I actually bawled. I'm not ashamed to admit it, I had the same reaction when Yu Yu Hakusho concluded. When you devote so much time to something, it's sad but satisfying to see its conclusion.
Given the staggering amount of characters that HxH contains, I'll try to focus on the ones I feel are main. Gon, as a main protagonist initially worried me due to his immature personality and blinding trust in others. However, as the series progressed these qualities became part of his strengths, and his development and growth was made possible through his unparalleled tenacity and heart. Many people seemed to have issues with his “found” power when he goes to fight Pitou, but this accurately illustrates an equivalent of “making a deal with the devil”. Gon had gone through so much in order to find out why his father left his home to become a hunter, and while he never received an explicit answer, the journey leading up to meeting Ging made the answer irrelevant. In contrast, the feelings I had for Gon at the anime's conclusion couldn't be farther from my initial observations.
Killua was my favorite character from the HxH franchise. His calm, somber demeanor is contrasted greatly by his murderous capabilities, the quintessential assassin. His rebellion from his family was strengthened by his unadulterated relationship with Gon. The two were essentially brothers, and Gon helped Killua unearth emotions he previously felt weren't present in his own body. His transformation was amazing to witness, and his quarreling relationship with his brother Illumi made the change that much more impressive. My favorite quote from Killua was “If I ignore a friend I have the ability to help, wouldn't I be betraying him?” It really shows his growth as a character throughout the series. His inner monologues always made the show more enjoyable and really offered a perspective often omitted from most series out there.
Leorio was a fan favorite and was unfortunately missing from the show's biggest arc. His enthusiasm and vigor, although sometimes unnecessary was a joy to watch, and I wished he played a larger role in the overall story. From what I understand, he plays a much larger role in the manga and gets the “screen time” he deserves. Kurapika also initially rubbed me the wrong way, but steamrolled into the limelight during the Phantom Troupe arc and reversed my opinion entirely. Again, he was another character completely left out of the later arcs, and I find it hard to believe that he wouldn't be willing to help out Gon and Killua if the the fate of mankind was actually at stake. Instead, we were left with odd shots of him looking stressed out in front of multiple pairs of scarlet eyes. Hisoka was probably my second favorite character, as he was clearly an atypical villain. You didn't always root against him, as part of me really wanted to see him go all out in a 1 on 1 against Chrollo. Sure, he gave off a pedophilic vibe and often pissed off the wrong people, but it was refreshing to have an antagonist who had some depth and wasn't one-dimensional.
The music in HxH is uplifting, suspenseful and “mostly” well placed. There were a few instances of misplaced background music, but nothing major. It was irregular but refreshing to see the same OP though the entire anime. I can assuredly say that a year from now when I hear this OP, I'll probably choke back tears of nostalgia from how powerful it was to me. The ED's were mostly additive, with the exception of the one in the Greed Island arc. I mostly preferred the first ED as well as the Chimera Ant arc ED due to the contrast it had to the subject matter within each episode. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the sound was the voice acting in HxH. Every voice seemed to emulate the portrayed character pefectly, most importantly in Mariya Ise as Killua and Keiji Fujiwara as Leorio. Hisoka's VA also performed brilliantly and left an overall creepy aura over his persona. There was rarely an awkwardly casted role in HxH at all which led to the relatability of the characters.
In summation, I thoroughly enjoyed HxH for everything that it was. Whether it was for the endearing and complex characters, or for the intellectual battles the respective characters consistently found themselves in. Mix that with the engrossing environments, real-life themes and incredible voice acting and music, and you'll find yourself immersed in a shounen for the ages. Maybe I'm still drunk on the aftershocks of the series, but either way it was truly a masterpiece. It really baffles me as to how small the fan base is for HxH, as it is clearly superior to most (if not all) long running shounen out there, and it contains nearly every necessary element for success in the genre. Nor is there any filler. I mean, what more could an anime fan ask for? I only wish that if the franchise is rebooted in anime form that Togashi exercises the same level of finesse he did with this series, as it is one that will remain one of my favorites for years to come. I plan on eventually watching the 1999 version at some point, but I'd better let my Togashi high rest for a little while. While not a perfect 10 due to some minor issues I had, HxH is pretty damn close. As always, thank you for reading!
Ok, before you click on the not helpful button just because I rated this series a 7. Which from what I'm seeing the majority of reviews are dashing out 10/10 left and right. Time to have some variety in these hxh reviews. ;)
First thing I'll have to admit is that when I first watch this series it was so goofy, Gon fighting with a fishing rod was such a turn off, I thought this series would be another fairy tale with no dark element in it, oh boy was I wrong.
Story 7/10. The story starts off with Gon and his soon to be
friends which are Killua, Kurapika and Leorio who has set out a task of entering the hunter exam to be a official hunter. Now the story does branch off to other sub plots after they became hunters. For eg. Kurapika story which was in the Yorknew city arc, and imo was the best arc in the entire series, it had drama thriller action, interesting dialogue everything in it was perfect. The beginning of this series was quite slow and uninteresting, all the arcs I watch was just good nothing great or spectacular except for the Yorknew city arc, after the greed island arc the chimera ant arc came into play, and imo this arc felt out of place I didn't feel like I was watching hxh anymore, ants coming out of nowhere devouring people and wants to rule the world, so unoriginal. The pacing in the series started to drop the story in my honest opinion was not interesting each episode I watch in the chimera ant arc was just ok, nothing special. I did enjoy the Ikalgo episode though, the mind game was awesome in that episode, there were a few other good gem in the chimera ant arc as well.
Art 8/10 The art in this series was really crisp and nicely drawn, I rarely saw the art being bad or having bad animation, I think madhouse did a very good job in this series when it comes to the art.
Sound 6/10. This was the weakness part in the series for me, yes, there is some good soundtrack in it, but the majority of soundtracks imo didn't fit the atmosphere or scene of what was happening at the moment in the series. What makes the soundtrack even more disappointing is that they reuse the same soundtrack over and over in each episode. I think they needed more soundtrack for this series. The variety of soundtrack in this series was poor imo.
Characters 7/10. The characters in hxh is good imo. Each characters have depth in them, the only person that felt one dimmensional to me was Gon, overall I can see why a lot of people liked the characters in hxh even the antagonist as well. Also Togashi did a good job in making us hear the thoughts of the characters even the villain as well, this gives them more depth and I think that was one of the major reason why a lot of people got attach to the antagonist in this series, me personally I didn't. The new characters in the chimera ant arc that are on the good side was just too much imo, and I wasn't interested in none of them, except Ikalgo.;) So when I was watching a episode focus on these new character I wasn't interested at all which made my experience unsatisfactory. Too much new characters were introduce at once in this arc.
Enjoyment 7/10. This part is kinda tricky. I enjoyed this series but I also got bored to hell out of it as well, especially in the greed island arc and the chimera ant arc. I was bored to hell. But I think it was balance out. Some episode was just drag out and it felt like nothing happen the pacing imo got slow in the chimera ant arc, which took up the majority of this series, so it affected me a lot on the enjoyment part and also the overall of the series, plus you can factor in things like me not interested in the new characters or the lvl 1 ant characters, not talking about the royal guards if anyone is wondering, which our heroes did have to face.
Overall 7.5/10. Overall I had a blast with this series I started to watch it in 2013 so I came in late in this series. This series was overall a good series imo, if you notice I didn't say anything was out right bad in hxh, hxh did a good job in most of these categories, but for me it just did a good job not anything that will make me go "Woah" or anything extra ordinary, it was just a good series and it was overall good. I personally think this series is overrated just by seen the amount of 10/10 it's getting and also hxh looks like it will soon to be in the top 5 on mal. Any ways just like everyone else it's just a opinion, and I just wanted to share it with whoever is reading this.
A 10/10 review for Hunter X Hunter 2011 is nothing new on this website: plenty of people have already eloquently described what makes the show such an incredible experience, and for that I'm glad. The show deserves all of the praise that it receives. The reason I decided to write this review, however, was not merely to explain what makes the show so great, it's to convince you to try to watch it. If you're anything like me then the fact that Hunter X Hunter has 148 episodes can be a little daunting: that's a hell of a commitment for a single story. In conjunction
with this, the show's kiddy art style and first few episodes don't really seem to be indicative of a higher level of storytelling. To top it off, all of those gleaming reviews are a bit of a double-edged blade: going into anything with such high expectations can ruin the experience, and many solid shows have been brought to their knees by over-enthusiastic fans who build them up to be more than they could ever hope to be.
I had all of these doubts when I went into the show. I usually stay away from anything longer than 50 episodes, I didn't believe that anything truly compelling could be spawned from Hunter X Hunter's sugar-coated beginnings and that the show was getting a lot of credit just for having zany ideas and a good sense of humor, and I had heard both strangers and people I respected tell me over and over again that this was the one: the fantasy epic that did it right, that only continued to get better over time right up until its stunning conclusion. If you're feeling any of those reluctances, if you've started the show and just can't seem to be able to get past the first few episodes, know that I was right there with you. Even as the show's first arc came to a close I still didn't consider it to be anything more than "well thought-out fun". But dear reader, I URGE you not to fall into that pitfall. I URGE you, if you have any fondness for the world of Hunter X Hunter, if there is any inkling inside you that says "I might be able to dig this", PRESS ONWARDS. The reviewers are right and the legends are true: Hunter X Hunter delivers one of the most sprawling, powerful stories of all time. It went in directions I hadn't even considered. It was one of four shows to ever force tears out of my eyes. It delivered powerful stories time and again, and it tied everything together with a conclusion about the meaning of life itself.
As for the review itself, it seems cheap to merely ride off of the backs of other reviewers, no? Let me give my own two cents at what makes this masterpiece so compelling.
Hunter X Hunter is a shonen. It's several tiers ahead of every other shonen I've watched, but it still does have a focus on battles and conflict. What sets it apart is that there's actually usually very little animation involved in the Hunter X Hunter fights: instead of showing the fast-paced high-energy showdown of two characters from the point of view of a third party, Hunter X Hunter takes the internal route. It shows the thought processes of the characters throughout the course of the battle and it makes sure to lay down a tangible battlefield so that you can understand exactly what's happening. Tactics and experience play a HUGE role in combat in Hunter X Hunter: strength doesn't prevail by itself, it's the ability to put it to creative use that makes the victor. Psychological warfare is also a common strategy, with combatants using attitude and knowledge about their opponent to get opponents that may hold huge advantages over them to make stupid mistakes. People don't just fight for the sake of it in Hunter X Hunter: they fight for discernible reasons, whether it be to protect someone or avenge someone or out of pride or stubbornness or fear, and the motivations behind every conflict often play a role in the outcomes themselves. Speaking of which, Hunter X Hunter isn't really all about the "who wins" part of fighting. It is rare that it resolves story arcs in straightforward and clean-cut ways, always choosing to honor the choices its characters would make over whatever expectations people may have. This can lead to surprisingly happy and simple resolutions, or it can lead to a morally convoluted clusterfuck that seems to fall apart more than it does resolve itself.
The characters themselves are one-of-a-kind: in part, this is due to the undeniable uniqueness of their personalities and character designs. However, it's also due to the show's respect for each and every one of the people it introduces. Hunter X Hunter is a forgiving world, where assassins can become heroes and serial killers can command respect and rise to the top. But it's also a harsh one, where people's misguidance can have disastrous consequences and where virtues can be a double-edged sword. In it, everyone has a voice, a goal or goals, a chance to make a difference. Whether it be a previously undeveloped face in the sea of Hunter Exam applicants or an octopus sniper that just happens to be stumbled upon, there are no extras or standbyers in Hunter X Hunter. The ideals of its central protagonists are valued no more than anybody else's, and stories are created and resolved not through convenience but by the show's immense living breathing cast. Each character's story is their own: whatever they may achieve during their time in the show, they have no obligation to stick around for the next phase of the story if they belong somewhere else, and they have no obligation to resolve any of their personal struggles just because the main protagonists are there. Those are something for them to figure out in their own time. What this does is it creates a world brimming with energy and passion, a world where you find yourself simultaneously invested in an unbelievable number of characters because they all feel like individuals, a world where you're constantly on the edge of your seat to see what happens next because 'convenience' has been kicked to the curb. This isn't to say that the show's main protagonists aren't important: quite the opposite, it is their brilliant character arcs that sell the show's ending and create some of the show's most powerful moments. However, the show never gets swallowed by them and it never gives them any more influence on the outcome than they deserve.
The execution of the show is constantly top-notch as well. Animated by studio Madhouse (famous for shows like Death Note and always able to adapt to the tone of any show), Hunter X Hunter looks absolutely pristine for the entirety of its 148 episode run. It uses crisp, clean lines, bright colors and an indescribable glow to its shots that elevate it in the visuals department while making sure that it has its own unique style: it isn't just "pretty"; I could recognize a screenshot from Hunter X Hunter in an instant even if it had no distinguishing characters or story elements in it. The sound is great: the show uses the same opening for the entirety of its run, and oftentimes uses slow instrumental versions of it for the OST during the episode as well. The soundtrack is for the most part a series of the same few songs redone in different ways for different moods, but when the show shifts gears later on into a far grittier and unprecedented arc the soundtrack shifts entirely to reflect the changing protagonists and the alien situations they are now finding themselves in. The voice acting is superb, with a cast that nails the fun and breezy feel of the show but is wholely capable of turning up the intensity when shit goes down. I place an immense value on the literal written dialogue of a show: not just the story or the thoughts behind the characters, but in the way that they interact and their thoughts are portrayed. In this regard more than anything, Hunter X Hunter exceeded my expectations with a script that never dragged and was comfortable and natural switching from long-winded explanations to well-delivered humor to drama and existential woe. Some of the show's most powerful scenes owe themselves to the writing, using just the right words in the right ways to convey what was trying to be said.
Did I love watching Hunter X Hunter? Absolutely. Would I watch it again? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to anyone with even the slightest inkling of a desire to try it? Absolutely. There's only one thing you need to enjoy Hunter X Hunter, and that's an open mind. If you go into its lucrative antics, nonsensical world and over-the-top characters and conflicts with an open mind, you will find one of the most compelling, tragic, powerful and ingenious adventure epics of all time, full of heart and unforgiving to anyone who fails to recognize that the greatest treasure in life is the road one takes on the way to where they are going.
If you want to see a far more in-depth examination of my thoughts on Hunter X Hunter, I have a spoiler-ridden blog post on my page where I'd be happy to discuss the show with anyone.
Hunter x Hunter has always been one of those anime that looks amateur or goofy at first hand. Yet, behind those innocent faces is a classic tale of an adventure. Hunter x Hunter is more just about becoming hunters and being the best at what they do. Rather, it’s a show about development with a cleverly written story wrapped with a colorful cast of diverse characters. For starters, Hunter x Hunter is a series that invites attention when it comes to storytelling. There are various arcs with characters that can easily be attached for their personalities, abilities, and most importantly…class. As Hunter x Hunter is
a shounen series, it’s also an anime that develops beyond just the typical “save the world”.
Adapted from the popular manga series written by Togashi, Hunter x Hunter (2011) is a remake of the original series. Now, it not only has more detailed animation quality but also expands on several arcs that never made itself debut on screen.
The story tells about a young boy named Gon as he strives to become a professional hunter and find his Father. During his journey, he meets protagonists including Kurapika (a young boy with a dark past), Killua (an assassin from the infamous Zoldyck family), and Leorio (a fellow Hunter candidate hoping to make a career from his journey). Essentially, the series details Gon’s ambition to become a hunter. And to do that, they must go through the torturous Hunter Exam, a series of brutal tests that pushes the boundaries of survival and wit. While this also seems like good old fashioned fun, the series also expands beyond this and gets darker as well as more complex. The Yorknew Arc is a testament example of this as it takes on an unusually mature style of storytelling. The infamous Phantom Troupe (antagonists involved in the arc) serves as a driving factor to how dangerous the HxH world can truly be. Along with that, we also have Kurapika and his quest for revenge against the Troupe for what they’ve done in the past. What makes the show shine itself in this particular isn’t just by the growing more mature style of its presentation but by the driving factors. Surprising twists are revealed and the main characters gets intertwined in way that may change their lives forever.
Similarly, the Chimera Ant arc also adapts into a more mature style of storytelling. What makes this arc stands out also is not just the typical shounen style battles. Instead, it cleverly crafts its antagonists (the Chimera Ants) including its leader, Mereum, the King. Several of the antagonists undergoes unique changes and their dynamics is reflected by development through relationship building. Most prominently, Mereum’s characterization blurs along the line between human and monster as his development is expanded by his interactions with a human girl. Additionally, Gon’s inner desires to avenge a friend reaches a peak in this arc that will change his character forever. Along with that, the arc is notorious for its violence as blood is spilled, heads flies off, and limbs are blown to pieces. In one triumphant moment, the series pulls off a stunning moment that leaves almost every character shocked and speechless in their words. Maybe you might get that reaction too. With cleverly constructed dialogues and character building, the Chimera Ant arc goes beyond just a fantasy trope of ‘invasive species taking over mankind’.
Characterization is important and it comes in all shapes and sizes. The first instance is Gon, an energetic young boy with a whole lot of potential. His friendly demeanor earns him many allies including the cold-hearted Killua. Fearless and putting others before himself, Gon’s true visage comes to his ability to keep a promise. Several instances in the series depicts him shooting for near impossible tasks. But it’s important to realize at the same time that Gon’s actions are not self-motivated but usually for others’ sake. On the other hand, Killua comes off as a socially awkward boy with a head of mischievous ideas. Even so, he is a talented assassin having being trained from an early age in the art by his family. His relationship with Gon is a driving factor as the two becomes similar to brothers. This is very evident during one of the arcs when Killua plays on a very big risk to save Gon from death by consulting with a dangerous individual. Also interesting to note is the very family relationships he has with others. Killua’s family is a group of assassins including his mother, father, and brothers. They treat him differently on individual basis as some sees him as the rightful heir of the Zoldyck name while others wants to control him. The most prominent relationship he has is perhaps with his older brother, Illumi, a talented assassin who has installed fear into the young boy. Throughout the series, it’s interesting to note how Killua deals with the inner struggles of that fear. He faces against powerful opponents such as the Phantom Troupe and Chimera Ants. Sometimes, it feels as if he is fighting against himself when he struggles with his psyche. Nonetheless, Killua’s family is more than just deadly as they held some influences on the young boy’s life.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a family anymore in this show. Kurapika is perhaps a tragic example of this as his clan was murdered. Seeking revenge against the Phantom Troupe, Kurapika’s desire to wipe them from the face of the earth goes to mind-breaking depths. Not only does he put himself in grave risk with his newfound abilities but also his friends as well. The way his character is depicted becomes something of an avenger as we witness how he matures from a professional hunter to a warrior seeking for redemption. As the final main character, Leorio plays more as a support to the team. His role is often overshadowed by the others. Yet, he is involved in several key moments throughout series that influenced deciding factors. I wouldn’t call his role in the show as useless or stale though. Think of it more as lacking the “It” factor. What this means is that while Leorio lacks moments that viewers will remember him by, his role in the show is noticeable when the push comes the shove.
In essence, the antagonists of Hunter x Hunter may seem stereotypical. However, it’s easy to see that they can also be complex like a labyrinth. Characters such as Hisoka, Chrollo, and Mereum are prominent examples of this as their motives are often shrouded in mysteries. For instance, Hisoka (a serial killer and hunter) often plays life itself like is some kind of game. He always seeks out powerful opponents and hope that people like Gon would one day by strong enough to become a fruit to be “ripped. In certain ways, his role in the series can seem ambiguous as he sometimes tries to get in the way of the protagonists while other times assists them. In the end, it’s all fun and games to the man as he toys with other people’s lives for his own amusement. On the other hand, there are also antagonists that falls under a more stereotypical category such as the Bomber Trio during the Greed Island arc. Genthru, the leader of the trio, serves as an obstacle the protagonists must overcome. And as a sociopath, killing is no stranger in his vocabulary.
Hunter x Hunter also likes to play more on mind games but in a more logical way through conversations rather than a typical mind rape trope you might see in some psychological series. The final arc of the series (Election Arc) serves as a way to convey how certain characters talk in their style to characterize themselves and stand out in order to get what they want. Pariston, the Rat Zodiac, is perhaps the most prominent character of this as we see his role. But to say the least, the series’ ability to command presence of this characters to the viewers is through its innovative concepts to adapt. Most of the characters in this arc are also shrouded in mystery. And through this background, viewers will become interested by the potentials they hold.
The series’ fantasy style comes with in a variety of ways. The lavish lands such as the forest of the Hunter exam or the RPG gaming environment of Greed Island arc are examples of this. Similarly, it can rebound and become more civilized like a more modern setting such as the streets of metropolis of Yorknew City. Nonetheless, the show achieves its purpose by its ability to comfortably shift between settings without going off track. Similarly, the series has a battle system with Nen. Divided into six categories and heavily explored in the Heaven’s Area arc, it follows this concept for the remainder of the series. It’s easily understandable too without getting viewers to scratch their heads because the Hunter x Hunter shows, not just tell. And by doing that, it leaves behind an impression to viewers to understand and appreciate Nen and its ways.
Hunter x Hunter isn’t without flaws. While the series is more complex than meets the eye, there are moments when it feels painfully indulging to get through. The first arc (the Hunter exam) may seem slow and dragging at times. Leorio’s role in this arc may easily be forgettable while certain fights will be underwhelming. Certain characters may also be hard to take seriously throughout the course of the series and hard to understand. And while some of the antagonists may seem memorable, others can be a nuisance to get used to. This may even feature a few of the hunters in the show as their roles are diverged after their presence as compared to the main characters. Also noticeable is the repetitive OP song that never changes throughout the show. While this wouldn’t be a problem at first hand, it can feel less appealing. Similarly, the pacing of certain arcs can feel slow. In fact, it can be slow enough that some viewers may distance themselves from the show to come back to it later. In retrospect, it breaks apart the strong development into a weaker focus. Oh and while narration wasn’t a big problem for me throughout the series, certain viewers will find it distracting and needless as it drags out episodes; in particular the Chimera Ant arc. Nonetheless, this is a faithful adaptation of the manga so praise is definitely earned there.
Madhouse is the brainchild behind the anime production qualities. While some parts may lack the classic feeling of the original series, the show’s quality improves by its visuals. Certain scenes are enhanced or remastered to improved quality while others are expanded. However, the backlash might be their lesser faithfulness to certain parts to the manga. Nonetheless though, the series’ quality improves as the show goes on. The character designs are also distinctive such as the case with Hisoka, members of the Phantom Troupe, and the Chimera Ants. Characters’ designs also become more mature and complex such as the case with Kurapika. And as mentioned previously, the show’s fantasy atmosphere is a like a breath of fresh air. Most welcoming of course.
Soundtrack is decent although some parts lack appropriateness in the beginning and some bits later on. For most parts of the series, the soundtrack is strong and balances well between the comedy and serious moments. Emotional OST is also used during certain episodes to evoke feelings such as during the Phantom Troupe and Chimera Ant arc. Certain theme songs also fits their arcs well for overall impression. While the OP song remains the same throughout the entire course of the show, the ED song undergoes through various changes. Most of them have its dynamic setup and the ‘time to get it done’ feeling. Similarly enough, the voice mannerisms of the characters deserves its praise for their portrayal. Their voices not just serves as representation of their characters but also their personalities and development. With such a development, no wonder Hunter x Hunter is more than just a classy shounen.
The endgame of Hunter x Hunter is not just its battles. In fact, most of the battles aren’t very long or featured as the highlights (except in some cases in a few arcs). Rather, it’s by the structure of its well written story and unpredictable plot twists that will really suck you in for its delivery. The characters are complex with a style that is unparalleled when it comes to characterization. Not only do the main characters get spotlights but certain antagonists will also be memorable for their roles and development. And with Madhouse being at the steering wheel, you can expect this show to be worth every minute of it.
What makes a show great? Is it the engaging story? Is it the interesting characters? Is it the immersion the show creates? I find myself always asking these questions whenever I start a series. Hunter x Hunter was no exception. I hadn't heard much when I first started it, but I had heard comparisons to Fullmetal Alchemist and Attack on Titan, both of which are some of my favorite shounens. Still, I had my doubts. "148 episodes? How could there possibly be that much interesting plot without fillers?" I asked. I was a fool.
Let me tell you right now, 148 episodes is not enough. I
would give anything for more episodes of arguably the most outstanding series I have ever had the good fortune of watching.
Story - I'm not going to go into detail about the story; you can read the synopsis for that. I'll instead talk about the storytelling itself. The story starts off fairly interesting and grows exponentially more interesting per episode/arc. The author, Togashi, has an amazing sense of pacing; some plots take several episodes to resolve, but so much happens in each episode that it becomes something that enhances the show. The story is also incredibly immersive because of how well Togashi builds the HxH world. As you follow the main characters on their journey, you learn more and more about just how expansive and unique the world is. There's always something new to explore, which really does make the show feel like an adventure.
Each arc varies in tone. The show starts off pretty light, and gradually gets darker. My god does it get darker. Not to imply that the light arcs are inferior; they're still immensely enjoyable. The show just contains many different forms of entertainment. The darker arcs will include scenarios and scenes of such intensity, drama, and action, that you won't understand how anyone could've possibly waited a week for the next episode. Lastly, there's one element in the story that snuck up on me and transformed into something so beautiful and moving that I simply didn't know what to do with myself.
Characters - There are very few ways to adequately describe how brilliantly the author writes such likeable, unique, and interesting characters. And I mean all of them. This is a rare kind of show where every time I see a character come back after not being around, I feel such joy seeing them. Especially the villains - you will love the villains so much that you legitimately will not know who to root for at many parts in the series. The show often develops villains so much that I found myself at times hating a "good guy" just because of what they did to a "bad guy".
Sound - I know this upsets many people but I enjoy watching dubbed anime. However, this is on my short list of shows where the voice acting in Japanese is so good, I'm afraid of a dub being made because I honestly don't think the characters can be done justice. I'm even afraid to watch the original 1999 version because the voice actors are different.
As for the soundtrack, I don't have much to say. The soundtrack fits the show remarkably well, however there's nothing particularly outstanding about it (save for a few episodes, when a "requiem" is played for a certain character for example).
Art - The art studio Madhouse really brought their A-game. Their production of this show is almost paramount to how enjoyable it is. As great as the manga is, it wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable without the stunning artwork and directing that Madhouse designed.
Enjoyment - This is pretty self-explanatory at this point. If I could erase my knowledge of any anime and watch it from the beginning, it would likely be this one. Hell, at this point I'd gladly watch 30 episodes of pure filler just to see more of the characters and the world.
Regardless of the genres you enjoy, Hunter x Hunter is guaranteed to be a breath of fresh air. Togashi seems to have a penchant to subvert almost every trope and cliche in the book, leaving you guessing at every turn. The result is a brilliant and captivating piece of entertainment, guaranteed to captivate you like almost no other show can. Whatever your answer to the question "what makes a series great?" is, know that Hunter x Hunter has it.
"You should enjoy the little detours in life to the fullest, because that's where you'll find things more important than what you want." - Ging Freecss
Hunter x Hunter 2011 is a unique beast of a show. It sits in a strange limbo between genres in a space all its own, like some kind of odd Chimera of shounen and seinen. At first glance it appears to be a rather childish show, with an art style composed entirely of cartoonish proportions, large eyes and bright colors, which stems initially from Togashi's manga style. In fact, without any outside input, one would not be wrong to assume
it was targeted at children. But under this initial layer of bright colors, and messages of friendship and loyalty, lies a deeper, darker show than anyone could have initially imagined. Questions of what it means to be human, what constitutes a life well-lived, and other topics that would not be out of place in serious adult dramas. One could say that I have stared into the abyss, and I am here to tell you that the abyss has most definitely stared into me.
Story - 10/10. Story telling is really Togashi's specialty. He crafts a continuous and satisfying narrative from start to finish, with excellent pacing, lovable characters, and some entirely unexpected twists along the way. Characters aside, the story itself is fairly straightforward - Gon, the protagonist, wants to become a "Hunter" not for the benefits the title confers, but so he can find his father, who abandoned Gon as an infant so he could follow his own dreams (hence the name of the show - Gon becomes a "Hunter Hunter"). Along the way, Gon encounters a variety of characters that each have their own relative significance, makes friends and enemies, and undergoes any number of trials and adventures. But this straightforward story is presented and executed in such a way that it feels very organic and comfortable. This comfortable feeling serves as a waypoint during the darker points in the story, a lighthouse of sorts to guide one through the moral murkiness and sadness that the story presents.
The story covers what is now a total of 7 story arcs, each with their own self-contained narrative. These arcs vary in length greatly - the shortest covers only 5 episodes, while the largest spans a time-consuming chunk of 61 total episodes - over a third of the entire show. But none of these feel out of place - each one seems to last only as long as it really needs to, and none of them feel as if they left too early, nor that they overstayed their welcome. Given that some episodes take 23 minutes to cover 5 seconds of in-world time, this is a marvel of pacing and narration. Some points are slower than others, particularly the beginning episodes of each arc, but at no point does it feel as if it is dragging. This is due in part to the complete lack of filler content - aside from one "recap" type episode, each episode of the show presents some kind of story-relevant material, so it always feels like the story is moving forward. All of these factors combined come together to create an overarching narrative that feels very much as if it were adhering to the quote at the top of this review - this is a show, and a story, that focus very much on the journey, the PROCESS of going somewhere, instead of on the destination.
Art - 8/10. Madhouse has always been hailed as a studio that produces high-quality work, and this show is no different. It is not always the pinnacle of visual quality, but like the story, the visual quality remains at a very consistent and pleasing level. At no point is it glaringly obvious that they neglected to spread the budget properly. High moments (i.e. the major fight sequences) have appropriately high quality, while those in-between sort of segments maintain a pleasing, but not excessive level of detail.
My one main gripe with the animation of the show is the amount of time dedicated to hand-to-hand combat in the show. In a show that is predominantly about martial artists engaging in battles, there is a somewhat disappointing lack of choreography. Very rarely do you see two characters exchanging blows directly, even if both of them specialize in hand-to-hand melee combat. This is ultimately not enough to knock a point off of the score, but is something I would have liked to see more of.
Sound - 8/10. Much like the art, the sound quality stays at a consistent and pleasing level throughout the entire show. Any complaints here are simply my own personal tastes, i.e. I don't very much enjoy the opening song that is used for the entire show, and some of the background pieces that play during the show feel sometimes out of place. But when the music needs to deliver, it does in spades.
One thing I feel that is worth noting is that the show is obviously very aware of the value of silence. At a few points, there is no music at all, which, I feel, greatly increases the impact of these scenes. Very often now, we see shows that seem to feel as if music must ALWAYS be playing in the background, and when a show goes the opposite direction and uses silence, it creates a wonderful distinction.
Characters - 10/10. If the overall story is the bones of Hunter x Hunter, then the characters are the muscles and organs - the "heart" of the show. These are the elements of a story that allow us to connect with it personally, to draw parallels between the world that a story presents and our own reality. Inhuman or inorganic characters can completely break the immersion of a story, or if it presents characters that we dislike in a way that feels unrealistic. Togashi excels at creating likable and relatable characters, who each have his or her own (relatively) understandable motivations. The characters develop in a meaningful and noticeable way over the course of the story, lending them a definitively human feeling. Morality is very subjective in this show - very few characters fall into a black and white "good vs evil" morality. In fact, I would say that this show does not have a moral "grey area," it has instead a "moral rainbow," a multitude of different motivations and moral scales that interact with each other in an ever-changing spread of different moral hues. We see "good" characters exhibit emotional and perhaps even "evil" behaviors, while at the same time in a different place, our "villains" may be helping to save someone they care about, an action one would normally consider to be a "good" action. I would like to believe that this show does not have heroes and villains - it simply has protagonists and antagonists, two parties working in opposite, but equally understandable and justifiable directions.
Enjoyment - 10/10. I think it would come as no surprise that this is my verdict after the review above, but this is my place to reiterate that I believe this show is a masterpiece of storytelling. To have so many exceptional moments, emotions, and wonderful landmarks packed into 148 episode worth' of show is nothing short of spectacular. Togashi and Madhouse have worked together to create what I think is one of the best stories - not anime, not shows, but stories - of all time. Highly recommended.
I came to know the original version of HxH since years ago. At first, the only thing I cared about in the series was the Hunter exam. I just wanted to know what kind of test it was so I tried watching it and surprisingly, I loved both the story and the characters after a few episodes. Years later, I was delighted when I heard about the reboot and from start to finish, Hunter x Hunter (2011) doesn't disappoint.
The story starts with Gon, a 12-year-old boy who sets out for a journey to find his father and his first step is to become a Hunter.
A Hunter is an individual who has enough luck and talent to pass the Hunter exam. A Hunter specializes in something, can be practically anything, you name it. A Hunter lives by a power system called Nen in a universe that cleverly reflects the dark side of our real world.
Essentially, being a Hunter isn't special but when it's combined with a well-designed power system and universe, it means infinite possibilities and I have to say Yoshihiro Togashi brilliantly executes that.
This series has all shounen elements but doesn't follow generic shounen patterns. It begins simply but gradually gets more complex and very unpredictable. A journey of the protagonist and his friends to achieve their goals is as reasonable and realistic as it can get. It has many details, takes time and consists of both success and failure. The MCs don't get a privilege to have special powers or suddenly get stronger for no reasons. They train and evolve as the story progresses. On the other hand, the antagonists don't just act out of pure evil. Their reasons are justifiable in different perspectives.
HxH has 7 arcs. Each one is related but has its own conflict and uniqueness. My personal favorite is the Yorknew arc from episode 39-58. After each arc, the concept of Hunter is explored bit by bit and you will keep getting a bigger picture of the whole Hunter universe. The atmosphere varies from a light-hearted shounen to one of the darkest seinen to fit each arc so it keeps things fresh and intriguing. Each fight is mostly strategic-based and relatively short. It's clever and never defies the logic of Nen.
Apart from the story, the best thing about the series is the characters. For me, characters make or break the show and HxH characters are top-notch. They really make the series shine.
Most, if not, all characters and their relationships are realistic because they are imperfect. Not only the MCs, many supporting characters have also undergone a substantial amount of development through the course of the series. Most of them are round characters with distinctive personalities, appearances, backgrounds, powers, ambitions and the ability to think. Their actions are driven by their own judgment as an individual, not what the plot requires them to do so it's very easy to sympathize with them, even the antagonists.
In term of production, HxH has unique art style with great and very consistent animation for a series that has over 100 episodes. The pacing is satisfying because there are no fillers at all. Voice actors and actresses are suitable for each character. OPs, EDs and OSTs are good even if there is only one opening song so far.
As for the negatives, there isn't a major problem in the series and all the minor ones i.e. change of narration style and slow pacing in 6th arc, repetitive op song, long absence of a character etc. didn't bother me as much. If anything, I think the only reason you shouldn't watch HxH now is because the manga is still ongoing. Despite a somewhat satisfying conclusion, you could call these 148 episodes a season one and honestly, you will not get a season two, not anytime soon considering the hiatus history of Togashi.
All in all, Hunter x Hunter (2011) exceeds all my expectations. I would recommend this series to anyone, especially a shounen fan because I think it's one of a very few anime that is truly remarkable, well-executed and very enjoyable. Watch it and you will understand why this anime deserves its rank.
This review should help people who don’t know yet if they should watch this series or not. It shall give you a small insight to the series and shouldn’t spoil you in any way.
What is Hunter x Hunter(2011)?
So Hunter x Hunter is a series which is not really new. In fact the anime series had its debut already in 1999. The HunterxHunter(2011) anime series is simply a restart/remake of the 1999 series by MadHouse and is being extended by three arcs.
Since both series adapt the same manga they have somewhat the same content.
But let me tell you, HxH is not your average
shounen series you might expect. I’ll tell more to this later on.
Gon, Killua, Kurapika and Leorio; these are the names of the protagonists you’ll meet in the beginning. In the world of HxH people seek to become a hunter to get more rights, a higher reputation and power. The first arc features these four and shows the hardships of becoming a hunter. The first three episodes mark a slow start but steadily the series gains the pacing it follows for the rest of the series. In total HxH has 7 animated arcs.
With each arc we get to know a new set of protagonists and see many different actions taking place at the same time. So Gon, Killua, Kurapika and Leorio are not the only characters you get to see, in fact you might not see some of them for several arcs. That’s typical for the HxH franchise and what makes it interesting.
I’ve heard from many people things like “it’s not about kids fighting or some bullshit like this, right?” Don’t be confused. On many promotion posters you see covers of Gon etc. and yes, they are kids but this will not bother you. The development of each character throughout the series is remarkable and you will hardly notice that there are actually kids. You will only be reminded of this fact by watching the fighting scenes where their inferiority to the adults is displayed. It’s often shown that Gon and Killua are skilled and strong but they are just kids and lack the power and experience adults have.
It says “shounen” series, so can I expect that friendship and effort are needed to achieve your goal? Do I get to see some kids fighting and half-hearted action fights? Nope. It’s true through friendship and a lot of effort the goal can be achieved but the fights in HxH are exceptional and well thought. Personally I think the series has a pretty slow start. The first 26-30 episodes should be seen as some kind of long intro. We get to see a lot of action taking place in these early episodes but this is hardly what HxH consists of.
If I were to describe the tone of the series in the beginning I’d say it’s somewhat bright. The tone changes later on extremely and the series gets darker. Especially after episode 36 we get to know the cruelty and darkness of the society. Don’t think you will not see heads, limbs or blood flying around. This is what HxH truly consists of.
In many other shounen series we see protagonists fighting and winning the fight through friendship values or who has the bigger muscles. But in HxH we actually witness the hard training Gon and Killua for example have to go through to achieve their goal. The fact that they are kids is indeed some kind of handicap for them. They can’t be stronger or have more experience than adults. But this doesn’t restrain them in any way. Bigger muscles or more power are not needed, fights in HxH are often won through technique and knowledge. There are a lot of characters who are actually stronger and more skilled than the protagonists. Gon for example knows that he has no chance against his opponent but he keeps going on and comes up with a plan to defeat his enemy. This is something that you sadly don’t often see nowadays in shounen series.
I would even go so far as to say that HxH defines the point of the shounen genre anew which as been forgotten in last years.
But let me tell you HxH doesn’t only consists of action, the comedy deserves its own section. With Gon we have the usually simple- but also broad-minded shounen protagonist. He has a somewhat childish character that is often displayed in the comedy scenes. Killua on the other hand is the one who acts more like a grown-up of the duo. Killua as a descendant of an assassin family is more skilled and acts more reasonable. He actually is the one who comes up with the plan and acts like the brain of the group. There are often some quarrels between both of them which helps to refresh the situation. The comedy scenes always have the right timing and leave you at least with a smirk.
So what can I say to the music? Without naming anyone I can say the music is another forte of HxH. Throughout the 148 episodes MadHouse used the same opening with different visuals though. The ending changed for each arc and there are some good songs among them. The sound composer has done a good job on conveying the situation by using some epic OSTs.
I should have mentioned this way earlier but I hope some of you are still reading this. So what’s up with the animation? MadHouse had in the last seasons a rise in well-known anime series. The animation is high quality as to be expected of the studio. The character concept got a full revamp: slightly new designs and new voice actors (compared to 1999 version). Personally I am someone who despises the use of the CGI technique. If it’s not needed it’s not needed. But you hardly get to see any CGI textures or movements in the series. As to be expected of nowadays series, HxH has well-animated effects, surrounding designs etc. The fighting scenes as I said before are what make HxH unique. You can almost see how much love the animators put in the fighting movements. In many series you get to see the, I’d would name it, “rubber-effect” where the movements start to melt and you just see some wobbly characters moving (as in Naruto). This is not the case in HxH though.
One last thing I’d like to mention would be the Nen system. Without spoiling anything, everything that is happening in HxH can be explained through Nen which is a power almost every human can gain through training. This complex system is another forte of HxH and shows how much thought the mangaka has put into his work.
Throughout the review I’ve mentioned some other series for comparing. I didn’t intend to criticize them in any way. Every series has its weaknesses and strong points.
Well, that’s what I think of this series. Hunter x Hunter is a series worth of its rating and should be seen as something that could be on par with the top 5. To be honest I’ve seen many people not watching this series because of the length (148 episodes). Yes, it is long but worth the trip. You will soon get absorbed by the atmosphere it emits and will enter a totally new world you will surely fell in love with. Trust me you will not regret your decision.
A glance at any title from MyAnimeList’s Top 7 Highest Rated (excluding Kimi no na Wa) will tell you why it holds a position there. The Gintama franchise combines an array of genres in its wacky, high-octane futuristic tale of wandering samurai. Steins Gate explores the nuances of the idea of time travel with an eccentric, otaku-oriented sense of humor. Legend of the Galactic Heroes presents a years-long struggle for the stars with style, grace, and intellectual brilliance. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood criticizes mankind’s self-centered grasps for power with unflinching honesty. Then, there’s Hunter X Hunter. From the synopsis, HxH
is marketed as a superpowered shonen of great length (it’s a whopping 148 episodes long!) that values friendship and following your dreams more than anything else. Compared to the other entries in MAL’s Top Seven (again, excluding Kimi no na Wa), I wouldn’t blame you if you feel indifferent towards HxH’s first impression.
One of the most overused saying is “looks can be deceiving” but it’s nearly-impossible to not be tricked by the show’s Hunter Exam Arc. It begins with Gon Freecss, a happy-go-luck 12 year old island boy, leaving home to follow in the footsteps of his father Ging, who wears the title of “Anime’s Ultimate Deadbeat Dad” like a badge of honor, and become a Hunter, which is basically another word for “adventurous explorer”. Befriending strangers (and enemies), learning new things, and having fun are the Hunter Exam Arc’s raison d’être. Like a true stereotypical shonen, this arc glosses over the harsh realities of the Exam with a passion, choosing to portray it as the premier competitive sport instead of the merciless bloodbath that it really is. It is only when Gon is pushed to the brink of death in a fight against an examinee named Hanzo that the Hunter Exam Arc’s underlying sobriety surges to the forefront.
Despite the Hunter Exam Arc’s shortcomings as a story, the animation is a marvelous spectacle to behold, thanks to HxH being produced by the great Madhouse. Although this series doesn’t offer much in visual creativity, the various tints and shades used in each scene deserves recognition and you can really see Madhouse flexing its muscles with its scenery porn. It’s because of the studio’s spectacular backgrounds that HxH’s diverse settings have a life of their own, from the beautiful yet low-key and withdrawn country of NGL to the mystifying nightlife allure of Yorknew City, and even the angelic homeliness of Whale Island. It doesn’t hurt that mangaka Yoshishiro Togashi has a specialty for world-building; you can tell that he genuinely cares about the environments he creates when he dedicates entire episodes to the traditions and subtle nuances of the setting.
Hunter X Hunter’s theme song “Departure”, considered by even diehard HxH fans as hit or miss, is among the reasons why I trekked through the first arc with disappointment. At first, the only thing I thought Departure was worthy of was the skip button but over time it grew on me. I could say the same for HxH’s soundtrack. Save for a few character themes (Hisoka’s, Leorio’s, and especially the Zoldyck Family’s), most of the songs early on are hardly worth mentioning; they’re grandiose and overpowering but collectively fail to deliver a lasting impact. It is later in the series that a multitude of unforgettable tracks make their dramatic entrance, from the rage-consumed “Chain Bastard” to the stage-setting “Legend of the Martial Artist”, and of course the operatic glory that is “Riot”. What really elevates Hunter X Hunter into the upper echelon of musical experiences is its collection of ending themes. Most people laud the fifth ED, Yuzu’s “Hyouriitai”, as the best of the bunch due to its expertise in pulling heartstrings but my personal favorite is “Hunting for Your Dream”. That ED basically personifies intensity.
More than anything else, Togashi’s greatest skill has to be how he expands a simple shonen premise to include the full range of genres. Hunter X Hunter isn’t just your run-of-the-mill action adventure; it dives into the world of RPGs with gusto, it features a pulse-pounding gangster noir thriller in the Phantom Troupe Arc, its final arc is geared entirely towards politics (Name another shonen that does that), and one episode of the Greed Island Arc deploys practically every cliché of the romantic genre in existence. Oh and then there’s the apocalyptic sci-fi horror epic known as the Chimera Ant Arc.
I consider myself a chill, easygoing guy; it requires a lot of effort to piss me off but for years the one thing that I couldn’t tolerate were ants. They’re commonly viewed in a positive light, as the ideal assembly line workers in an ecosystem thriving on individualism. I, however, have always seen ants as disgusting little monsters that steal whatever they want and attack anyone that’s not one of them. It all started at my daycare during my years as an elementary schooler. My friends and I were tired of being harassed by fire ants every time we played in the sand on our playground. With uncharacteristic fervor, I gathered up my friends and a few other kids that also hated the ants, and we marched up the hill of the playground with sharp sticks in our hands. At the top of the hill, the ants were secured in their headquarters, a misshapen mound as tall as my leg that they built from dirt, and we smashed it to pieces with our sticks, fists, and sneakers. Needless to say, the ants weren’t too pleased with our remodeling and they attacked us without mercy. That incident was the catalyst for my hatred against those tiny insects. Whenever an ant somehow found its way into my house, I’d pursue it like a madman and spray it to death with pesticide. Whenever I saw an ant in public, I’d wildly stomp on it until I was absolutely sure it died. In my family, I was the unofficial ant exterminator.
From the start, you can imagine how I felt towards the Chimera Ants, the most dangerous species in the HxH universe. “Kill them all!” I shouted as the series ventured into new territory, with an arc centered on my greatest nemesis. The Chimera Ant Arc, more than any other arc, appealed to me on a personal level; the Hunters’ quest to destroy the Ants was something I could relate to. It’s also an intriguing arc due to it defining everything the series has been about up to this point; the Chimera Ant Arc ponders over the sacrifices a Hunter must take and ultimately what it means to be human. This arc does this while infusing a level of disturbing darkness that’s unprecedented for a shonen. Some are most likely arguing that Hunter x Hunter has always been dark, especially with the massacre scene in the Phantom Troupe Arc, but nothing in this series even comes close to an Ant gruesomely murdering a beloved background character before devouring the dead body. Nothing comes close to another Ant gleefully watching an elderly man, naked and chained, begging for his life before the Ant squashes the poor guy beneath his hoof (When did HxH become Requiem from the Darkness?). The insert track “New Mutation” is the perfect theme song for the Chimera Ant Arc; it’s a somber, stage-setting melody that emphasizes the mysterious bleakness of it all. What I appreciate most about the Chimera Ant Arc is its brilliance as a character study.
When it comes to characterization in a shonen, the most effort that’s normally applied is the main character dealing with dead parents and the supporting cast aiding the protagonist in his (it’s always a guy) adventure. What originality! What complexity! What realism! Unlike your run-of-the-mill shonen mangakas, Togashi treats the characters he creates as real people. He doesn’t murder them at random nor does he escort them to the background, unless it’s Kurapika after he stole the show in the Phantom Troupe Arc or if it’s one of the show’s few female characters (The lack of respect for women in HxH is astonishing. I’m surprised that this show passed the Bechdel Test). The best part about this show’s cast isn’t how truly dynamic the protagonists are (The changes that Gon and Killua undergo throughout the series are a blessing to behold) nor is it how memorable the antagonists are, save for Chrollo, from Meruem (the thinking man’s villain) to Ilumi (a true master of manipulation) and of course Hisoka (the Joker of anime, he puts the “C” in crazy). No, the greatest thing about this show’s characterization is how the transforms the guys that have no right to warrant speaking roles into complex, realistic figures. Tonpa is the self-proclaimed “Rookie Crusher” of the Hunter Exam; on the surface, every action this man takes in the first arc is one of spineless self-preservation. However, we’re shown through his internal monologues that he strategizes through his every more and that these actions are ones that Tonpa knows will benefit him on his quest to destroy the hopes and dreams of other Examinees. Binolt is a wanted criminal that sparred with Gon and Killua for one episode in the Greed Island Arc, his only appearance in the entire series. Through a memorably poignant backstory we witness the murderer’s reason for becoming a criminal and what he thinks of his life up to this point. We see his shortcomings, both morally and as a fighter, and in the end we see how Binolt is inspired by Gon to become a better person. The best of the background characters, however, has to be Welfin. He’s a Squadron Leader of the Chimera Ant army, a wolf-like being notorious for his constant paranoia. Welfin wishes to become the “Shadow King” of the Ants, which is basically what Dick Cheney was during George W Bush’s presidency, and his every action is designed to help him reach that goal. Later on, he establishes a friendship with Ikalgo, a traitorous Ant, and he starts to abandon his paranoia. Whether or not Welfin has ceased dreaming of being the “Shadow King” is yet to be determined.
The majority of the Chimera Ant Arc has been focused on what demonic menaces the Ants are but in one scene during the arc’s last episodes, the show reveals an even greater evil: us. The opening scene of episode 134 exposes the sinister, corrupt sides of ourselves for the whole world to witness in disgust. Through an old film reel effect, our blatant bigotry, our superiority complex, our sickening sadism and our overwhelming greed bleeds profusely from each heartbreaking frame. “Kingdom of Predators”, one of HxH’s finest insert tracks, plays throughout the scene, increasing in crescendo while patiently unveiling why its song title is fitting. When this scene ran its course, I finally discovered the darkness within myself. I realized that my grudge against ants was established an irrational hatred that began years and years ago. Thanks to Hunter X Hunter’s Kingdom of Predators scene, my interactions with ants have changed. Whereas I used to murder them on sight, I now either ignore them or, if they’re crawling around in my house, I place them in a napkin and escort them out of the house.
Emotional appeal isn’t something that’s mentioned too often when it involves the shonen genre but in HxH, it’s impossible for some events in the story to not pull your heartstrings. In my years watching anime, I admit there have been occasions where my eyes watered but no anime series had caused me to sob uncontrollably. Along came HxH’s episode 124. When Killua confesses to Palm about how worthless he feels in helping Gon in his internal struggle, I sensed tears rolling down the sides of my face. To force a grown man that hadn’t cried in years to break down in tears is simply incredible. To have that same man cry a second time 12 episodes later in the same show is nothing short of a miracle. It’s in episode 136, when a village girl named Reina is reunited with her mom, and they’re both sobbing over how weak and fragile they are. The 2011 adaptation of Hunter X Hunter isn’t the “perfect” series per se but trust me when I say that there will be thousands of Dragon Ball Z rip-offs before we witness another show like this one. HxH is primarily a thinking man’s anime but is more than able to pull off amazing battle sequences when necessary. It expands its horizons to include many genres and ideas but is equally brilliant at priotizing one. Above all else, what other series could be a better fighting game than this one? 148 phenomenal episodes and Hunter X Hunter is still radiating with potential to this day. Now, that’s something special if you ask me.