There is a big part of me that wishes that I had decided to review this anime as I went along. It didn’t matter as much with the longer series Gintama as that didn’t exactly rely on separate story arcs. With Hunter x Hunter I have the issue where SO much has happened in the different story arcs. Still let’s make the best of it!
To say this was the anime series I was expecting would be a lie. From the title and the spiel I was expecting an anime more along the lines of Monster Rancher – a fairly light and comedic anime where they hunt and collect various beasties. NO! I was very wrong. There was a lot more depth and interest to be found in this.
Like with Fullmetal Alchemist this is not the first adaptationof the Hunter x Hunter manga. In fact, the 1999 adaptation currently resides in the lower section of the anime list. This is how beloved this series and its characters are amongst the anime-watching community – so it’s a good thing that I enjoyed it!
At the very centre of Hunter x Hunter are best friends Gon and Killua. It is the friendship between these two that grounds the entire series. As characters go Gon is pretty simple. He is the optimistic innocent in search of his (deadbeat) Hunter father. Then you have Killua, an initially emotionally damaged boy from a family of assassins who grows in emotional strength throughout the series’ run. He is the hands down favourite of all readers of the manga, for obvious reasons, as he is definitely the best.
No matter how far the series veers off track you are brought back to this gorgeous friendship. A lot of the emotional punches in this show comes from the moments where this relationship is tested. This is especially evident in the fantastic (if slightly long) Chimera Ants arc where Killua is no longer able to reach a broken, vengeful Gon.
The moment that this anime went away from my expectations as after the introduction of Nen – substitute magic powers – as a fighting ability. We suddenly get fight sequences that are varied and more in-depth than before. These powers can vary from an almost invisible elastic manifestation used by the incredibly twisted Hisoka (pictured) or something more simple like mind control activated by a kiss.
Yes, there is quite a bit of exposition parcelled out over the course of several episodes, but it’s all done with the peppy Hunter x Hunter music in the background and with such enthusiasm that you don’t really notice. Sure, I am still not entirely sure of the difference between Zetsu and Hatsu… but it doesn’t matter that much.
Considering the main powers in this are magic-based, like the shikai and bankai in Bleach, it is admirable that this show doesn’t keep on ramping up the power levels. There is no Dragonball Level 9000 – just people who are more naturally gifted at using Nen and those who work their socks off. There is also the acknowledgement that to get to ‘Level 9000’ you need to put in restrictions. Kurapika, for example, can use an ability that’s near instant death – but if he uses it on someone other than the 12 people he set out to hunt down his life is forfeit. It just makes it feel more real and less hurdled.
The thing that really has to be commended is the use of set pieces in this show. There are times where it does through some rather beautiful Nen powers – such as the golden dragon of Killua’s grandfather – but the one that struck me most was the use of Mozart’s Requiem when the Phantom Troupe stage a massacre. It’s all being conducted by their leader as he overlooks Yorknew City in a hotel suite.
Another beautiful set piece is done in near complete darkness at the end of the Chimera Ant arc. It’s done simply with flickers of fireflies and the voices of two opponents playing a board-game as they slowly succumb to poison.
Having finished Hunter x Hunter I do find myself suddenly bereft of the show I have been watching for the last 1-2 months. I still don’t feel up to the mammoth task of starting the 750+ episode behemoth of One Piece. I’m thinking something without fisticuffs like Your Lie in April, Major or the adaptation of Nodame Cantibile. Let’s just see how I feel on the morrow.