In a world much like our own, but with more danger and more mystery, a young boy named Gon Freecss, raised since infancy by his aunt, discovers from a traveling stranger his father's true identity: Ging Freecss, a world-famous Hunter.In this world, you see, there are elite mercenaries known as Hunters. And Hunters truly are elite: among other benefits, they get access to world-class amenities and exotic locales that are off-limits to ordinary people. Of course, the life of a Hunter is also dangerous, for Hunters make their living taking on some of the most dangerous missions on Earth. Some scour the world for treasures or exotic goods, while others are Bounty Hunters who track down the world's most dangerous criminals. Gon isn't so much interested in riches or fame, however: he wants to be a Hunter so he can track down his father.Just becoming a Hunter is an adventure in itself. During the incredibly difficult and incredibly dangerous "Hunter Exam", Gon faces peril both natural and man-made. He also acquires a circle of friends, such as Leorio, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who wants to become fabulously wealthy so he can become a doctor and open a free clinic; Kurapika, a blonde Bishōnen who is last of the Kuruta tribe, which was hunted into near-extinction by those who sought the Kuruta's "crimson eyes", which turn a fetching shade of red when emotionally excited; and Killua Zoldyck, the middle son of a Dysfunctional Family of notorious assassins.The series is very noticeable for having many long hiatus breaks during its run, one of which continued for a grand total of 1 year and 20 days! Hunter x Hunter returned in 2010 Weekly Shonen Jump Double Issue #5-6, and ran for 20 chapters. It then went back into a year long hiatus since 2010 Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #26, but has finally returned again in 2011 Weekly Shonen Jump Issue #35-36, for 30 chapters then it went on a break again on Issue #16, 2012. It seems to have settled into a system where we get one tankobon (single volume collecting 10 chapters) every 6 months, instead of every 2 months; this puts Hunter × Hunter on par with mangas that get a new chapter each month, instead of each week.Weekly Shonen Jump's double issue #35-36 in 2011 ultimately confirmed that the series would get a complete anime remake, disregarding the previous animated series and OVAs by Nippon Animation to start from the very beginning of the story; it is being Animated by Madhouse and directed by Koujina Hiroshi, the character designs are being handled by Yoshimatsu Takahiro.A movie for the series has just been announced.Manga that go on this long likely have their own character page. This one Needs More Love.Late Arrival Spoiler warning: To those just starting with the manga/first anime or are watching The Remake, beware of major unmarked spoilers for the first few arcs below!
Art Shift: This is more in lieu to the author's hiatus, but one can see he was really rushing at the end of the Greed Island arc. The artwork look on par with that of a sketchbook and yet SJ still published it.
Asskicking Equals Authority: The Chimera Ant hierarchy. The Hunter Association is kind of like this too, though there's actual politics behind it. Presumably badassness is just a major consideration in voting.
Author Avatar: He even makes a cameo appearance as a plushie in the background of the manga.
Awesome but Impractical: One Heaven's Arena fighter had the ability to form a duplicate out of nen. It seems impressive at first, until it's revealed that that nen style is the exact opposite of his innate ability, and is complicated enough that he can't learn anything else, making him a one-trick pony that's easily thwarted once the ability's weakness is found.
Back for the Dead: Pokkle and Ponzu from the first Hunter Exam return in the Chimera Ant arc and are both brutally killed by the ants themselves.
Battle Tops: Gido tosses tops infused with Nen. When hit, the main character remarks that they hit like a sledgehammer. If the opponent gets too close, Gido can then spin like a top.
Be Careful What You Wish For: This is the basis of Alluka Zoldyck's Nen. If you grant three of her requests, she'll grant you one wish. But the wish often has unintended consequences, and the bigger it is, the more severe her requests become (to the point of asking someone to give her their organs). Whoever denies four consecutive requests dies on the spot, along with the person they care about most, and a number of other people depending on the last wish's severity. However, this is all completely averted for selfless or compassionate wishes, which just make Alluka sleepy and bypass the entire request system.
Apparently the rules don't really apply to Killua but he might be the only exception. He doesn't need to fulfill Alluka's three requests before being granted a wish. All he has to do, is ask nicely.
It's been revealed that Killua can even order Nanika to do things instead of asking as well. Such as sending Illumi home.
Bee Bee Gun: Ponzu, a competitor in the first Hunter Exam.
Bequeathed Power: Pakunoda gets afflicted with a curse that causes her to die if she uses her powers. She makes her way back to the organization she works for and uses her powers one last time, to insert what she knows about her attacker into their memories so they all have detailed information about this assailant.
Beware the Superman: The Genei Ryodan. The Chimera Ants. And it certainly isn't unheard of among regular hunters.
Blood Knight: Hisoka again. The only reasons he's helped out the main characters is because he wants to fight them once their powers are fully developed. Ditto his involvement with the Genei Ryodan, except he wants to fight Chrollo.
And arguably, the Greed Island arc. Especially since it takes place in between two very dark story arcs, and mainly involves Gon and Killua exploring a virtual world that's actually real,training, and finding items to return home.
Killua: Do you have to yell those words every time? Gon: Huh? Sure. Otherwise it's not like a special attack. Killua: Maybe... but you're telegraphing the enemy. What if you get attacked while you're yelling? Gon: I'll dodge and say it. Killua: What if you can't?! Gon: I'll still say it.
This is partially explained by the nature of Nen, in where a user's familiarity with the activation of their ability will make that ability more powerful.
And used to clever effect by Gon to psych out an opponent who knows about Gon's penchant for calling his attacks.
Cartesian Karma: Possibly subverted when one of the side characters gets kidnapped by the ants, brainwashed and altered to be one of them. She eventually comes to her senses, and as Killua points out, Gon's not one to judge and the Hunter organization isn't going to persecute her just because she's now a chimera ant.
Also it's a pivotal point played straight with Gon. Blinded by his rage, he activates a technique that allows him to rapidly age/grow and defeat an enemy vastly superior to himself. Unfortunately after calming down, he's still mutated and puts himself on the brink of death.
Also his teacher and role-model Kaito, who is made into a living rag doll for the ants to manipulate that Gon desperately wishes to bring back. The realization that he can't do so, and Kaito truly is 'dead' is what pushes Gon into the transformation alluded to above.
Charles Atlas Superpower: The four main characters are all able to lift several tons, before learning Nen, due to extreme weight training.
Children Forced To Kill: Killua is an example. Being a member of a Big Screwed-Up Family of assassins, he's taught to kill from infancy, and forced into the life of an assassin without being given much of any choice in the matter. He was murdering people before he turned 6, and by the time he appears in the show at age 12, he's already killed hundreds of people.
Another side effect is that technology seems have gotten a bit more advanced in recent chapters. Cell phones look like they've leapt ahead 5 years and at one point Killua is clearly using some kind of tablet PC. The Madhouse remake also retcons a few things, like VHS tapes turned into discs and a lot of the older-looking TVs in the show have been changed to LC Ds.
Convection Schmonvection: Averted with Feitan's power Rising Sun, which creates a miniature star which does exactly what you expect it to do: It produces tremendous heat and thus quickly and violently burns down everything within a perimeter of several dozens of meters.
Covers Always Lie: The early tankobon covers are deceptively lighthearted, featuring a lot of giant cartoony animals. Eventually, when the Yorknew arc starts up, the covers get darker and more representative of the series, but Togashi occasionally throws the audience a curveball, like a cover of the Phantom Troupe as adorable chibis (followed by a cover of Gon and Killua as very vicious-looking chibis.)
Crapsack World: Thought 9/11 was bad? Here terrorists kill 11 million people in one event. The mob runs the world. Parts of the world are inhabited by demons.
The 11 million people thing? It's not even an actual part of the plot. It was just a throwaway remark.
Crapsaccharine World: A charming world full of funny creatures - and unfunny creatures, and bad, bad people.
Creator Breakdown: Long rumored to affect the author, particularly the arcs that appeared to be sketchbook work. At least a couple breaks have been confirmed due to a literal physical breakdown causing health issues such as chest pain.
Cycle of Revenge: The Ryodan killed the Kuruta tribe, so Kurapika killed Uvogin, so Nobunaga wants Kurapika dead...
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Kurapika puts conditions on his Nen to increase its power, but it will kill him if he doesn't follow the strict code. Gon forcefully ages his body to increase his power, causing such trauma that his life will be shortened, and he may even lose his Nen powers.
And then of course, he recently risked his life to turn into a huge muscle-guy with endless hair in order to destroy Neferpitou for destroying the mentor Gon wasn't strong enough or old enough to save... it was horrifying as hell, but a little bit funny, too. Because look, it's grown-up Goku Up to Eleven.
Also, in the beginning of the series Gon wasn't a very skilled fighter and didn't immediately learn how to hold his own against older and stronger opponents like most Shonen heroes. He often had to rely on quick thinking alone to survive.
Five-Man Band dynamics also played straight and deconstructed. Interesting because Gon, Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio map onto the team from Togashi's first big series.
Of course, Yusuke and Hiei weren't the best of friends, but the group had about as little cohesion—which is to say, everyone pursued their own goals, and fell back together by circumstance. Except they stopped doing that in Hunter × Hunter. Hisoka came back. The rest of the Ryodan appeared to have a Villain Episode wiping out a local outbreak of the new Big Bad. Leorio is not likely to do so. Nor Kurapika.
Chrollo Lucifer is weird. Hisoka does not belong in children's comics. And Meryem is an attempt to be psychologically realistic about a cosmic-level entity born full-grown to devour humans and conquer the world.
Dirty Coward: Tonpa. Not only does he admit that he's a lying, cheating son of a bitch, but that he also gets his kicks from watching men in their prime fail and die horrible deaths in the Hunter Exams. Sometimes, he'll even sabotage his team's efforts to win if he gets far enough.
Of Killua's brothers, Illumi is kind of androgynous and Kalluto is more or less always in female clothing, Alluka subverts it by actually being a girl, though Illumi still refers to her as a brother (when he's not too busy calling it "it" or "a thing").
Kurapika is very feminine looking. It doesn't help that he's crossdressed on more than one occasion as a disguise.
E.g. Shizuku's and Coltopi's powers don't work on living beings; Gensuru's main ability won't activate until he explains it; Kurapika will die if he uses Chain Jail on someone outside of Genei Ryodan (in order to avertHe Who Fights Monsters).
This also explains why Gon calls out his attacks (see Calling Your Attacks above). He has subconsciously put a condition on his Nen attack, meaning he has to say the attack out loud, otherwise it wouldn't be as destructive, or even activate.
Fluffy the Terrible: A giant guard dog with a cutesy name guards the Zoldyck household. Even Gon is afraid of it.
Forbidden Zone: The "Outside"/Dark Continent, original home of the supersized chimera ants, quite possibly all magical beasts, and special types of humans. The land has been called "Humanity's most immense taboo" and all attempts to go there throughout history resulted in disasters. 200 years ago, the five greatest nations in the world agreed to outlaw any further exploration attempts.
Fun with Acronyms: It's eventually revealed that 'Greed Island' is an acronym, consisting of the first name of everyone involved in its creation.
Well, sort of... One of the characters involved in the creation of Greed Island had his name changed by the protagonist's father to make the acronym work, which appears to be a sore spot for him to this day
Gender Misdirection: Years after being told the Zoldyek's had only sons, Alluka, the missing brother, turns out to be a girl.
Played with. Killua refers to Alluka as a girl, but Illumi and Milluki refer to Alluka as a boy. Alluka is androgynous enough that s/he could be either.
Gorn: Has LOTS of it, though much of it is (self-)censored because the manga runs in Jump. The writers of the new anime which is aimed at a younger audience have already gone on record saying they will be in deep trouble once the series catches up with the later manga arcs. The anime writers decided to go Mood Whiplash on the show, so after all the adorable cuteness of friendship and Bloodless Carnage in the first twenty episodes or so, the Genei Ryodan comes in, and the body count spikes, with a side of big pool of blood, and nearly dead guy getting sucked up by a vacuum.
They did find a workaround about this, using clever camera angles to cover Gon severed hand among others. Some scenes where the brain or internal organs of the victims were shown (during certain battles with Uvogin and Chrollo, The Bomber explosion mass-murder and before the Dodgeball battle) and notably everyone favourite pedo-clown hotspring scene (with Gon and Killua's eyes slowly following the offscreen ... "reaction" of Hisoka) were redone in the 2011 anime so that it doesn't show as much as in the manga.
Kurapica (touching his lips): Whew... I was lucky she didn't choose me.
Half-Human Hybrid: The Chimera Queen absorbs the DNA of anything she eats and gives birth to hybrid children, and the Chimera King can mate with the female of any species and turn her into a Chimera Queen.
Hard Work Hardly Works: Subverted. While Gon and Killua have incredible natural talents when it comes to learning nen, the true source of their phenomenal growth is the fact that they also train very dutifully to refine their abilities. The result is that they're able to make the kind of progress that would take most people years in a few months.
Heads or Tails: Members of the Spiders flip a coin to settle disputes.
Heart Is an Awesome Power: Hisoka has the power to make his aura sticky like gum, and the power to change the appearance and texture of thin surfaces. Those are his only Nen abilities. As lame as they sound, the way he uses them makes them overkill.
Interspecies Romance: Meryem and Komugi, it was being subtly developed along the Chimera Ants arc, mostly one-sided by Meryem's infatuation with Komugi, although in the arc's climax/closure it was developed into a mutual relationship.
Intimidation Demonstration: Early on, one of Kurapika's opponents punches a concrete wall, leaving huge cracks and chips in it, then reveals a tattoo resembling that of the deadly Spiders organization as well as his kill count on his back. It turns out that he embedded a steel plate into one of his hands to enable him to punch with more force but can only do it once in a while as it really hurts, that the Spiders have a membership number on their tattoos, and that their kills are so numerous that they don't bother to count.
Jerkass Façade: Leorio initially claims he's only in it for the money, but he later reveals that he needs the money to pay for medical school because his dream is to open a free clinic, having lost his best friend Pietro to a disease.
Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The original anime... Good lord, the original anime... It was to the point where they would occasionally stretch out one chapter of the manga over two episodes.
The only major exception is the way Chimera Ants are created, such as Kite might be now if taken at face value, retain memories and personalities of the devoured humans used to create them. Initially these personalities are suppressed, but those who recover their memories fully can be said to be a form of this.
Leave the Camera Running: The 5th episode of the first OVA has a scene near the end which consists of the camera zooming out of Pakunoda's face while she has numerous flashbacks (in transparent). This lasts for about 1 minute and 30 seconds.
Living on Borrowed Time: As of Chapter 311, Meryem due to the Rose bomb's poison. Palm Siberia claims Meryem will be dead in a few hours. Shiapouf, who was infected by the poison when he fed Meryem his body, is dying even faster.
Magically-Binding Contract: Nen users are able to use this to bolster their abilities and become more proficient in nen types they aren't compatible with, usually by handicapping themselves in some way.
Malignant Plot Tumor: The Chimera Ants arc started as a side story completly unrelated to the main plot. It ended up being longer than the Yorknew and Greed Island arcs combined.
Meaningful Name: Meryem, according the the Chimera Ant Queen, means "The light that shines on everything." Meryem demonstrates the truth of this when he reaches a level of power where he is able to use his Nen on individual photons, and in the chapter titled "A Flash".
Meet Cute: Subverted and lampshaded during the Greed Island arc with "Love-Love, The City of Romance" which is "famous for its easy meetings": Various Moe Moe-looking characters crash into the main characters, lose their glasses, and generally need rescuing, but the main characters (mostly) ignore them because they've got a mission to complete.
The Millstone: When Gon and co are forced to team up with Tonpa during one stage of the Hunter Exam, he actively tries to be one. Ironically, at one point this actually helps the protagonists.
Mix-and-Match Critters: An entire race of Mix-and-Match Critters, the Chimera Ants, is the foe during the Chimera Ant arc.
Morality Pet: The Chimera Ant King only avoids slipping past the Moral Event Horizon because he takes care of a heavily handicapped girl when she's injured.
Possibly you could state that on the blimp, Gon played this part for Killua. He was about to kill the girl when he heard Gon still fighting for her outside, and it brought him back to his old self. Since then he's seemed to avoid killing people if there was an alternative.
From the beginning Gon was this to Killua. During the Hunter Exam arc Killua still murders people rather casually (including killing a couple of candidates because they were rude and he had a bad day), but thanks to Gon he grows to be a much more moral person.
More Dakka: One of the Genei Ryodan removed his own fingers to replace them with Nen machine guns.
Mundane Utility: One round of the Hunter Exam was a cook-off. Also used in the York Shin arc, where Gon and Killua use their aura-sensing powers to locate cheap antiques that they can later resell for a profit.
Murder the Hypotenuse: Shaiapouf is afraid Komugi might distract the King from his "true goal" and is therefore considering killing her for "the King's sake".
My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Often subverted, as ostensibly powerful and experienced characters are often defeated by weaker characters who simply have a better preparation and make a wiser or more optimal use of their skills; see Kurapika vs. Uvogin, Gon vs. Genthru, many fights against the Chimera Ants, and so on.
Doubly subverted when Uvogin fights the Shadow Beasts. Just after we have established just how badass he is, the three Shadow Beasts, through carefully combined attacks and proper use of their abilities, quickly render Uvogin seemingly harmless... and then he manages to defeat all three of them in 10 seconds using only his neck and head after warning them that that was actually all he needed to kill them, although to be fair he still would have died if his allies hadn't treated him.
Only Sane Man: Parodied with the 3 guards of the king; both Shaiapouf and Menthuthuyoupi see themselves as the only sane of the 3 guards... but in the heat of battle, they both lose a lot of time due to their respective temper problems, whereas only Neferpitou is able to keep his cool and display razor-sharp intuition and light-speed decision making even as all odds are against him.
Redemption Equals Death: As soon as we start to see Pakunoda's good side, she dies. She's still a villain, it's just that we start to understand why she does the things she does... And then wham. Dead.
The Remake: In just another one of the series come back from its hiatus, Jump's double issue #35-36 (2011) confirmed the rumors that Hunter X Hunter would get a new anime adaptation, the surprise was that it won't be a continuation from where the previous OVAs left off, it will be a complete remake, starting from the very begining of the manga.
Series Hiatus: Three of 'em, leading the more cynical readers to refer to the series as Hiatus x Hiatus.
Shaggy Dog Story: Gon and Killua's adventures in auctioneering during the Yorknew arc. They never make anywhere near enough money for the minimum bid on Greed Island, and then have to make enough money anyway just to buy back Gon's Hunter license that he pawned for the seed money while they just go with an alternate plan to volunteer to play it for a multibillionaire that ends up buying all the copies.
The guy that helped them in this endeavor also ends up leaving to take the Hunter Exam, only to get stomped by Killua in the first few minutes of the exam.
She Cleans Up Nicely: Palm Siberia, whose usual appearance is rather ragged: Messy hair, barefoot, a dirty dress etc. When she goes out on a date with Gon, she looks quite cute When the date starts to turn sour she reverts to her old look.
Hisoka is completely naked in the last scene, at least in the manga (his intimates covered up by a speech balloon of all things). Gon and Killua don't seem too disturbed, but Biscuit, an older women who has the ability to turn into a little girl, has to run away and giggle furiously while red in the face.
How about having to choose between surnaming Killua as Zoldick or Zaoldyeck? Or Jin/Gin/Jing/Ging Freaks/Freeccs? And then we move into the Chimera generals, with names like Neferpitou, Shiapouf, and Menthuthuyupi. And since the "official" romanizations are pure gibberish in many cases, no two fan translations are ever consistent. Even on this very PAGE there are vastly different spellings for the same character's name.
An in-universe example. Ging Freeccs forced his friend Wdwune (the guy who gave out the last card in Greed Island) to change his name to Dwun despite his friend's fervent protest.
An out-universe example. For a long time, the dodgeball player in the Greed Island game had his name translated as "Laser", until it was revealed that the "R" in the "Greed Island" title standed for his name's first letter. So it was changed to "Razor".
According to the databook, the official spelling for Kurapika and the Gen'ei Ryodan are:
Spoiler Opening: The first opening of the 1999 version wasn't one, but the second was. Especially the OVAs and the 2011 anime version have spoiler openings.
Stealth Mentor: Hisoka shows hints of this at times, but who knows what his motives are: It could be that he's simply batshit insane.
At least a part of his motives is that he simply wants to fight strong opponents. At present he's doing his best to help Chrollo get his nen powers back so he can fight him, and he also wants Gon to grow into a fighter powerful enough to give him a helluva fight.
Also helps Killua out by tricking Illumi into revealing his killing intent so that Killua knows to avoid the area Illumi is in, because Killua is on a mission to save Gon. Though also subverted later on as Hisoka wonders if he should just kill Alluka to make Killua hate him and then kill Killua to make Illumi hate him so he has at least one strong opponent out of the three (Gon, Killua and Illumi) left, and gets to fight the second.
Super Cell Reception: Pretty much everyone, from the 12-year-old protagonists, to the gang of bandits that Shalnark's a member of, to the Chimera Ant commanders have and use cellphones to communicate with each other over distances. Gon and Killua's beetle-shaped phones, in particular, are described as being able to get service nearly anywhere in the world.
Supernatural Phone: Shalnark uses his cell phone as his weapon of choice. It lets him mind-control anyone he places a receiver on (and seems to control what they say via him texting the phrases). He can also stick a receiver on himself to give himself a power boost, though he can only move by inputting commands into the phone, and it quickly exhausts him of his energy. It can work as a normal cell phone.
Superpower Lottery: Within some limits. There are six different schools of Nen you you can end up with that is random, and each school determines what type of powers you can develop for yourself.
Take That: At the North Korean government, as seen in the Republic of East Gorteau, a dictatorial country that parallels with a country of the same name at its West side. It's ruled by a Supreme Leader whose name, Ming Jol-ik, is an portmanteau of the former dictator Kim Jong-Il.
Also, at China. The country's capital city is called Peijin.
Talking Is a Free Action: Lampshaded. Knuckle thinks several paragraphs worth of text, realizes that he's thinking incredibly quickly and that the only way that could happen is because time slows down in the few seconds before he dies, then turns to see an obviously-fatal attack coming right toward him.
Torture Technician: Feitan. His torture acts are actually never shown, but it is hinted in various ways that he is a particularily sadistic pervert. The fact that he partially subverts the trope by being not a weakling at all, but actually one of the strongest and toughest fighters of his group, does not render him any more sympathetic.
Nobunaga: You're aiming to break his arm, right?
Feitan: I was thinking of starting with the fingers. Carefully removing his nails...
Neferpitou too. His modus operandi is extracting information via wires implanted in the brain.
The Hunter Exam arc ends in a tournament, though it differs from your standard shonen tournament in that every match is a submission match (you must get your opponent to forfeit the match,) killing results in an instant disqualification and instead of competing to be the winner, everyone's competing to not be the one loser. This leads to an interesting match where Gon wins the fight by getting the crap beaten out of him so hard that his opponent forfeits for fear of killing him because he refuses to submit.
True Companions: The four main characters and also the Genei Ryodan, who are a rare villainous example.
Verbal Tic: Not sure if it counts but, most of Hisoka's word bubbles have the symbol for one of the four suits in a modern deck of playing cards; in other words, it'll have Clubs, Hearts, Diamonds or Spades.
Wild Child: Gon has all of the advantages: Charles Atlas Superpower senses, super strength but none of the disadvantages: The whole fish-out-of-water thing. Wing notes that though he was raised in a town, he was very outdoorsy.
World of Badass: When passing the Hunter Exam requires you to be a top-grade Badass at the very least, you know you're in one of these.