10:51 a.m. - Monday, Jul. 27, 2015
*The following anime may contain content that is unsuitable for kids under the age of 17. If you are not mature enough to handle content like this, and you are likely to be influenced by this anime, don't watch it.
*The following anime is considered to be under the shonen genre. Therefore, it is meant for a young male audience.
Hello, ladies and gents. Yes, yes, Animejournal is BACK! I know it's been a while since I've added to this journal. But I have been watching anime, okay, even if I haven't been adding reviews.
The last couple of animes I've been watching have been in the horror genre. Lately, though, I've been trying to move away from horror and try the adventure genre.
The most recent anime I've watched has been Hunter x Hunter.
I really mostly have great things to say about this anime. But for the sake of this review, I will be focusing on the Story/Plot and Setting, Characters, Music, Creator & Inspiration, Animation, and adaptations.
Story-There is not one person who has grazed the story of Hunter x Hunter that has watched it and said "I hate this anime". This may surprise some of you who have only seen the opening and maybe watched the first episode.
From first watch, and after watching the first four episodes, this anime may seem to feel like any other shonen: You've got the main male character who is goofy and underestimated but is really powerful. You've got the adventure and the search to become something more powerful (the "Gotta Catch em All" syndrome). And, at first, it seems the main character can do no wrong.
There are some things we just expect from shonen. And there are some things about Hunter x Hunter that can remind you of other shonens.
But there are far greater differences between this anime and other shonens. I would even compare it to Seinen if the episodes didn't carry an element of youth (not the kind of youth people would expect though).
If you are someone that is open to main characters who are kids and you're looking for a happy, light adventure story, stop this anime after episode 4. If you are looking for something deeper, something horrific, and something that jerks your heart strings, KEEP WATCHING.
You may think I'm saying that Hunter x Hunter offers something for everyone. Really and truly, it doesn't. But it does happen to draw in a few suckers who are looking for something light and who have never watched a horror in their life only to destroy their dreams.
It is no wonder why this anime doesn't have the strongest fanbase. It doesn't have any fan service (no real love story). It doesn't have any unnecessary episodes (you know, those episodes where the characters attend some festival or event that has nothing to do with the main plot?), and it is very close to the manga in its adaptation. Shouldn't these things make it popular? Well, at first glance, Hunter x Hunter seems like all the others. Closed-minded people will write it off before it even gets past episode 1 because it seems like such a cliche anime, with the upbeat opening and the young kids hopping and skipping everywhere.
But trust me. It is not what it seems.
On the other hand, lovers of shonen may find the anime to have a vastly different tone from what they are used to. In this anime, the main character isn't the strongest and the main character doesn't even always beat his enemies neither does he always save the say.
This 148-episode anime is based on the manga of the same name. The story has many arcs, but the general plot focuses on a boy named Gon who sets out to become a Hunter and meet up with his dead-beat father, Ging. Gon was told when he was younger that his parents died in a car accident. But when he got older he learned the truth: that his father left him to be a hunter. Gon was determined to find out why his father left him. In his mind, being a hunter must have been so great that his father was willing to abandon him to become one. So Gon resolves to become a hunter and find his father. Thus, our story begins.
(From the synopsis, you might not know just how deep and scary this story is. This story put me right back into the horror genre I was trying to avoid. It feels like the genre follows me like a plague.)
In order to be a Hunter, Gon must take the Hunter Exam so that he can gain a Hunter license. This exam is considered the hardest exam in the world. But millions of people gather to take this dangerous test, risking their lives, because there are many perks with owning a Hunter badge. A Hunter license can allow anyone to go anywhere and get into restrictive places most people would not be allowed. It covers all expenses, no matter how expensive. But it is worth it, especially considering the price many pay to achieve it.
The first arc focuses on this Hunter Exam, where Gon meets many of his friends throughout the series.
The rest of the arcs are deeper and more involved. I can't really get into detail about them because I don't want to give too much away. It would be hard to describe them without giving too much away and I want you readers to really enjoy this anime. It's worth it. Trust me, you'll stay up late trying to stuff 90 episodes into one day.
The arcs include: The Hunter exam arc, the Zoldyc Family arc, the Heavens Arena Arc, Yorknew City Arc, Greed Island Arc, Chimera Ant Arc, and the 13th Hunter Chairman Election Arc. There is supposed to be one more arc but the creator has gone on a hiatus. He goes on hiatus several times throughout the manga and anime runs. The newest arc is supposedly called the Dark Continent Arc. I'm super excited about it.
The lightest arc is obviously the Heavens Arena arc. The deepest and darkest is the Chimera Ant arc, though I found Yorknew City to be a close second.
This anime is a mixture of Dragonball Z and Attack on Titan as far as story goes. I really didn't come in expecting much of anything in particular, but I was told to expect the anime to get darker. But I did not expect it to get as dark as it got.
But you know, I've seen worse. If you haven't been through my list of reviews already, you should probably know that shonen anime can't possibly be on the level of horror Seinen genres. The themes of friendship and the feeling that the main character will save the day somehow makes this anime one step away from being a Seinen. (Sometimes Seinen can be so horrific for just no reason. La Chavelier D'Eon did it for me. That completely took me out of the horror genre.)
For an anime that is 148 episodes long, not one episode feels out of place, unnecessary, or dragging. In fact, the pacing of this anime is smooth and even throughout, surprisingly. I found myself wanting more, feeling like the anime was too short! 148 episodes really isn't enough! This anime has a way of making the viewer want to know what happens next because most of us know we will get the answers we want in the next episode. It doesn't waste time getting to the juicy stuff. The story is engaging throughout, covering many different emotions from the viewer: anger, sadness, happiness, fear, platonic love, and overall contentment.
Again, what makes this anime different from other shonen is that it doesn't have any fan service or any episodes that are non-cannon. In other words, no "filler" episodes. Surprising for an 148 episode anime, right? The goal of the anime is also different. Most shonen anime focuses on the character's drive to become a master in some way or to avenge someone or some other cause, making the story focused on fighting. This anime is actually focused on a boy searching for his father and fighting is just an asset to doing so, but not mandatory. The story focuses on the "realities" of being a hunter.
The story takes place in many places according to the arc. This is an adventure story, so obviously the main character never stays in one place. The main character is from Whale Island, a small island with a humble village. But it is not the only place we see more than once, so it makes every new adventure more refreshing and makes full use of the animation.
There are four other main supporting characters: Killua, his best friend from a family of assassins, Kurapika, his friend from the Kurta Clan, a clan of people with violet eyes, and Leorio, a young man who looks way too old and has a desire to be a doctor.
The characters are nothing particularly special. They are the typical characters you'd find in anime. Gon is the over-optimistic, honest boy who is super strong. Killua and Kurapika carry on Tsundere traits and make up for where the other is absent. Leorio is the character that provides comic relief (he reminds me of Kogoro Mouri from Detective Conan).
However, all characters show evolution, even if the evolution is small. Though they may be typical, things happen to them that test their personalities. Despite the fact that Gon is typical of most shonen, for example, his simple personality often has serious consequences throughout the anime. He is not as perfect as other shonen anime characters. Gon has moments where he loses and there is nothing he can do about it. He has moments where he is not strong enough to fight, where someone else wins where he fails. There are those in this anime that ARE stronger than him. And that is what makes his character so unbelievably tolerable for viewers who would normally despise such characters.
(This anime has a way of making up for the weaknesses in most shonen anime.)
Many characters are introduced throughout every arc. Many of them become very important throughout the adventure. But just because they are friends of the main character, super strong, or important to the story doesn't mean they won't die. That's right. It doesn't mean they won't die...for good, too. Often times, things happen to characters in this anime that Gon, the main character, can never save.
It's best for the viewers not to become too attached to characters in this anime. You never know which cool character will be killed next, and sometimes in the most gruesome way. At the end of this anime, you will never smile again.
Still, it's so hard NOT to become attached, and that brings me to this anime's biggest let-downs.
Some of the characters are treated as if they are expendable. Some characters are designed to be so awesome and strong just to fail to be used at their potential or some characters are put out there to be more important than they end up being. Two examples would be Baise and Pokkle.
Baise had an amazing ability that I thought could become more important in the arc she was introduced in. But she turned out to literally be expendable.
Pokkle was the most disappointing. He had been introduced in the Hunter Exam arc and he had so much potential. When he returned in the Chimera Arc, he seemed to be someone important. He seemed like he would serve some greater role. But shortly after he showed up in the arc, he was abandoned as a character. For those of you who remember, many people became Chimera Ants. I kept thinking, so which Chimera Ant did he become? It was never answered. I felt that he literally just showed up so the author could get one small purpose done in the arc and then move on. It really was the most disappointing part of the story.
I felt that while it was great that Gon was looking for his father, I still wanted to know what happened to his mother. I mean, I know mothers are usually not deemed important in Shonen, and I know the main character had a close relationship with the woman who raised him, and so didn't want her to feel less significant. But still, who was the woman who gave birth to Gon? I felt it could have given insight as to what kind of blood-line Gon came from. It could've been used, but sadly it wasn't taken advantage of.
Leorio is supposed to be considered one of Gon's best friends and yet I really don't feel there was any emphasis on his character's evolution. Though we heard of his development as a character, unlike Gon's other friends, there were no arcs centering on his life or background. I really felt that there should've been. Without it, he felt like the most one-dimensional character in the series.
Bisky was another character that truly didn't get the chance to develop as well as others. Really, none of the female characters were given that chance. I would've liked to see how Bisky, Palm, and Melody (some of the series' main female characters) got their powers.
Still, at least the female characters were actually powerful and cool...That's more than I can say about other shonen anime.
Despite all of the things I wished were elaborated on, the characters were developed enough. It's hard not to understand or connect with the characters. Each character served their purpose in each arc, which was all that was needed to keep the story flowing. The story had a power all its own. The viewers are left valuing characters even stronger because so many could be lost within one episode, even characters that were amazing. Any character that was unimportant didn't last too long. But there wasn't one character that was just garbage. Further, even some of the lead characters often had moments where they were excluded from the entirety of an arc if they were not considered important.
Let me get down to the villains. Oooh, the juicy villains. Generally, there was a new antagonist every arc. The main antagonist, who seems to show up in most arcs, is Hisoka. Ever since the Hunter Exam, he has been bent on fighting Gon. Maybe it's more than that because he seems to get a boner every time he looks at little boys...Yea, he's a creep. There is a lot more given to him than the Hunter Exam arc, but his overall backstory wasn't developed enough. He is another character that I wished was elaborated on.
The most well-developed villain was the Chimera Ant King as we were shown his evolution from becoming an ant to becoming a human. He was from the most intense arc in the whole series and really his presence in anime is unseen in anime. Still, I wanted to know a little about his life "before" he was born. You'd need to watch the series to know what I really mean. But in the Chimera Ant arc many people were being turned into Chimera Ants. I still wonder which person he was. I also wonder the same things regarding his Royal Guard. It could've been useful when trying to take the ants down. Yet, it was not focused on at all.
Then there is the Phantom Troupe which inspired two Hunter x Hunter movies outside of the series. The troupe consists of a collection of merciless thieves. Really cool characters with awesome powers, but again, no real emphasis on their backgrounds.
But the main character's development, and any other characters' development that relate to him, was all that was needed to make the show a success. Though we knew nothing about many characters' past, we saw them all grow from the point they were at in the story. Still, some characters would've been a lot more interesting had their past been elaborated on.
However, despite the fact some characters weren't elaborated on within this series, it still doesn't take away from the anime at all. In fact, it just adds to the anime's appeal. The anime has plenty of room to elaborate on characters that it didn't so far. The rumor is that the manga artist is just on a temporary hiatus. Who knows what the next couple of arcs or episodes will reveal. There is so much that can be worked into Hunter x Hunter without it ever really feeling like it's dragging on. It just has that feeling. It feels like the adventure can never truly end. The way the story is set up makes it feel like the main character will always have an adventure and will always meet people. And I'm okay with that, unlike with animes like Pokemon, Detective Conan, DragonBall Z, and even Naruto. This anime truly can never get old, really. I guess because no arc is the same as the last. There is nothing repetitive about this anime. There is just so much to explore with the hunters, there is no possible way it can truly run out of ammunition.So, I'm not too disappointed.
Still, there are some characters I really hope to learn more about in the future.
The 1999 version was better at developing the characters, but it's not as close to the manga. And that is a must for me.
The ending songs vary according to the arc and better fit with the arc it ends to.
Hunter x Hunter, the original manga and anime, were released in 1998.
The artist had a hobby of collecting all sorts of objects and so wanted to make an anime that involved collecting. The name "Hunter x Hunter" was inspired from the Japanese show Downtown where the hosts of the popular variety show often repeated words for comedy.
The birth of the artist's first son influenced much of his work regarding Gon, the boy in search of Ging.
The writer/author of the series is very hard on his work, often apologizing for his "poor artwork.". Because he doesn't hardly have any assistance with his work, he doesn't have anyone to finish for him when things come up in his life. He goes on several hiatuses for long extended periods of time. He went on hiatus in 2012, came back in 2014, and then went on hiatus two months after returning.
Dragonball Z was actually one of the inspirations behind much of the elements in Hunter x Hunter. It was the popular anime at the time.
One obvious character that is inspired from a creature in DBZ is the Chimera Ant King. The Chimera Ant King was inspired from Cell from Dragonball Z. He has the stinger on his tail, the green-ish body, and the black finger-nail polish. He also has an affinity for games, just like Cell did (remember the Cell games?). The King is also some higher cellular form that was meant to be invincible, just like Cell.
Animation-The animation is well-drawn. The details, like the forests, bodies of water, and creatures all show lushness. The coloring captures the tone of the anime well, from the lighter moments to the darkest moments.
Adaptations-There are two anime adaptations of the Hunter x hunter manga. There is a 1999 version and a 2011 version of this anime. Of the two, most fans say the 1999 version was darker, but it was not as true to the manga as the 2011 anime was. I feel that the 2011 version is darker in content, even though the coloring is brighter. I advise you watch the 2011 version first and if you feel like you just can't get enough, head on over to the 1999 version. Of the two, I prefer the 2011 version. I like adaptations that are closer to the original story. Then we can see the true artist's intentions.
Honestly, I haven't seen all of the 1999 version, so this review is mostly for the 2011 version. But so far based on what I've seen, there are significant differences:
1) The 1999 version drags on more than the 2011 version. The 2011 version has a quicker pace and jumps right into the action each arc.
2) The 2011 version follows the manga closer than the 1999 version.
3) The animation in the 2011 version is obviously more up-to-date but the 1999 version gives a feeling of nostalgia.
4) The 1999 version is darker. I suppose it's because the visuals are not as lush as they are in the 2011 version. The 1999 version isn't as righteous but it has more comedy. However, the comedy is edgier than the small comedy in the 2011 version. But in content, the 2011 version is actually less censored despite what fans say. The stories are also more focused and have less humor.
5) The 2011 version actually covers all the arcs that have currently been created, whereas the 1999 version ended after the Yorknew City arc and then there are some OVAs about Greed Island. It is missing one of the deepest arcs in the series, the Chimera Ant arc.
6) The 1999 version has stronger character development (which comes from all the fillers) than the 2011 version.
Overall, I think this anime was fantastic. I recommend this anime to all anime lovers, though I know many who are interested in the Shoujo or Shonen genre may not be able to handle all of the gore. Still, it has a really good story and the characters are interesting. I doubt this anime could disappoint any viewers...Unless, you're a Negative Nancy about everything.
I give this anime a 9.5/10. It actually may deserve a 10 out of 10, but the simplicity of the characters don't make the characters stand out the best out of other shonen anime. I was also disturbed about the abandonment of many characters. It left me feeling a bit empty, like there were holes left untouched. I really hope they clean this up in future arcs. I would like many characters, especially the ones considered important, to be touched on a little more.
If you like horror anime, and you want to see a Shoujo/Shonen equivalent, I recommend Ghost Hound and Ghost Hunt. They are very unique for their genre. But they are not adventure stories, which makes them even more unique.