Hunter x Hunter
hunter x hunter

Hunter x Hunter

“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 x Hunter (2011) is widely considered by many (along with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) as the peak of action shounen anime.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”.

kurapika ,gon, killlua , leorio (from left)
Kurapika, Gon, Killua, and Leorio

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’.

Meruem and Netero

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 “riped”. 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.

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

Story: 9.6/10
Art/Animation: 9.4/10
Sound/Music: 9/10
Enjoyment: 10/10
Overall: 9.7/10

The only conclusion is that if you like action , story and and serious characterization this 148 episode anime is a must watch for you.