Reviews: Hunter X Hunter
Pure, well-written storytelling
I started Hunter x Hunter 2011 on a whim after My Anime List recommended it to fans of FMA Brotherhood. When I started, it seemed like your basic adventure show. I was not expecting to find my favorite main character in all of anime. I was not expecting to find the best friendship in all of anime. I was not expecting to find the most thought-out power system I've ever seen. I didn't expect such strong emotions. And I wasn't expecting to find my current favorite anime of all time. If it wasn't obvious already, I love this anime. It's absolutely amazing. The first thing I noticed about this show was how realistic and genre-defying it is. Whenever I watch these kind of shows, I find myself shaking my head at Goku/Naruto and saying "Why not just do X?" Imagine my surprise when I said the same to Gon, only to see him do it a second later. Unlike other shonen, which eventually lose themselves to random power-ups coming out of the characters' butts and who can punch who harder, Hunter x Hunter's fights rely almost entirely on strategy. When a character is stronger than our heroes, they stay that way, and the characters wind up either having to find another way to accomplish their goals or finding a way to beat them regardless. Because of this, we get way more actual planning in the fighting, and more awareness of what exactly each character's strengths are and how they can use their environment. The fighting is on a smaller scale because of this, but this was the first show in a long time that had me cheering during the fights. Even better, our heroes can actually definitively lose! As in lose to the bad guy, and that's the end of that. No second chances. No last minute ditch efforts. And for once, our main hero is NOT an idiot! As for the characters, some seem like cliches at first glance (Gon, Kurapika), but all of them have surprising depth and character development. Even minor characters and villains get as much love. I ended up loving someone I hated just 10 episodes ago, and I actually rooted for the bad guys at one point. Negatives? Well, even though every main player gets enough time in the spotlight, Gon and Killua get the most focus. I didn't mind but others might. Also, it takes a bit of time to get going. The opening stays the same as well. Don't let the visuals fool you. Give this a chance. You won't regret it.
not everyone's cup of tea
Let me say something, I LOVE this anime, but I have only seen the 2011 anime, I have not read the manga or seen the 1999 anime. In this review I will list pros and cons, before giving my final rating. PROS: Great story Awesome characters (ranging from Gon the sweet kid to killua the assassin to Hisoka the clown pedo. really.) Great power system (Nen, which works using a persons very ideologies and beliefs manifested into something that is in a persons specific type, e.g. enhancing, conjuring, emmiting. Its complicated, but cool) Very intelligent CONS Can be anti-climatic (a certain king of mutants, yes it was really sad, but still) Severe mood whiplash (a montage of all of humanities worst feats, such as war, crime etc, followed by the incredibly upbeat opening, or the saddest moment in the series followed by the Next Episode Preview with its goddam CIRCUS MUSIC) FINAL JUDGEMENT Clocking in at 148 episodes, It isn't that short, but not insanely long, and with no filler (apart from the two recap episodes). However, not everyone likes the slower, psychological storytelling method (used egregiously in the Ant Arc) and the complex power system, but overall, a brilliant Shonen that deconstructs many anime tropes (idiot hero, etc) and has a great plot with deep and interesting characters. 9/10
Anti-Climax: The Series
First of all, let's start by saying this isn't exactly a negative review. HXH is good. Really good. It's a shounen manga, but one with a level of intelligence you don't usually see in the genre. This manga focuses heavily on character development, showing characters that deal realistically with their problems, and conflicts that are not as simple as good guy VS bad guy, with each side being capable of being both selfish or selfless depending on the situation. It also has what is probably the best fighting system in the genre, with a very elaborated power level system, and very strategical fights, where the stronger guy can always lose to the weaker one if he is outsmarted. Finally, the storytelling is phenomenal. Each arc has a carefully constructed plot composed of multiple characters, complicated intrigues and numerous plot twists. This is a manga that will leave you thirsty for more, as the story grows more and more thrilling and the stakes are raised to impossible levels. Unfortunatelly, that's where HXH's biggest weakness lies. Because I've never seen an author so good at destroying audience spectations as Togashi. At each arc, we get a long and thrilling build up, which promises us an epic battle, and in the end doesn't even try to deliver it. For example, in one arc, the villains are developed so much, and the hero's motivation is deconstructed so well, that by the end there is simply no reason for the hero to fight the villains. In other arcs, the power level system is built so realistically, that the heroes realize they don't even stand a chance against the mooks, and then fulfill their goals by other means. There is only one exception, Greed Island arc, which delivers everything it promises and is my favorite one for that reason. In the end, all that's left is a bitter taste in the mouth. A feeling of what could have happened, as the plot moves into another arc to start it all over again. It seems Togashi attempted to deconstruct the genre, but ended up overdoing it and forgot what made shounen fun in the first place: the epic, badass moments where good triumphs versus evil after all the hardships. But please, read HXH. It will be unlike anything you've read before, and a worthwhile experience. If you like shounen, you'll enjoy it. But if you really love shounen, you'll always feel like something is missing from it.
One of the BEST, if not the BEST battle-shounen manga ever
My favorite manga of all time, well at least until Togashi comes out with another masterpiece. The complexity of each and every character in the series is what makes it fun to read. Gon is not your typical battle-shounen hero. Sure he's dumb, naive and friendly, but he's really quick to get serious. Throughout the series Gon has to fight stronger opponents, and he has to rely on his brains to outsmart his enemies. Some of the fights ends up with him running away because of the enormous power gap between him and his opponents. Gon also has a darker side to his personality, which is emphasized in the Chimera Ant arc. The other characters, protagonist or antagonist, primary or secondary, gets enough of the spotlight that makes them interesting and human. They're aren't cardboard cutouts. Hunter x Hunter is heavily character driven. Some of the reviewers complain about the complex nen system and the messed-up Chimera Ant arc. Let me clarify these things. The nen system is the most complex and unique power system in fiction. But just because it's complex doesn't make it boring. Rather it did the opposite. For those who didn't know, the Nen of one person is based on his/her personality and ideology. Nen ability also becomes stronger or weaker depending on the emotions of its user, and the restrictions which the user imposed upon him/herself on the usage of their Nen ability. Nen portrays one's own personality and ideology. And when nen is used during fights, it clearly shows the clash between ideologies and personalities. And the main reason for fight-scenes in any story is not to portray two or more people beating the shit out of each other, but to show a clash of ideologies of the characters, to force them to grow. Well, at least that's my opinion. The Chimera Ant arc was spectacular and the ending of the arc was awesome. It portrays humanity and what it means to be human, and the advantages and disadvantages of individuality, compared to the hive-mind of the ants. The tension of the series is taken up to eleven in this arc. The build-up was great and crucial to the excellent climax of the arc. @ Pieballz on "no one tried to fight the King", if you're unarmed and the enemy rides a freaking tank, would you face him one on one? Of course not. If any of the hunters tried, they will die meaningless deaths.
The anime, OV As and all.
Hunter x Hunter is your typical, conventional Shonen. For the record, I don't like Shonens. They often have far too many episodes for their own good, they always cast tenacious, loud mouthed boys in the lead role, and the animes are often surrounded by communities of fanatical fans who often neglect the fact that Shonens are made purely for ten year olds. Hunter x Hunter is no different, expect perhaps in that it has far fewer episodes then say One Piece or Naruto, probably due to its current lack of popularity. Because there are so few episodes (60 or so, a measly amount by Shonen standards), there is a lack of filler episodes, and the plot keeps strictly to story arcs (a small mercy). The first story arc is far more enjoyable then the next couple. Whereas the first story arc is adventure heavy, the later arcs become bogged down with trying to explain a highly complicated area of martial arts called "Nen" which our characters are trying to learn. Entire episodes seem to consist of characters staring at diagrams of Chi powers, or providing lengthy expositions about the various applications of Nen in recent fights. It is as boring as it sounds. What makes it worse still is that the most interesting character in the series, Hisoka, undergoes a really undesirable change in character. In the first arc, he is portrayed as an enigmatic, psychopathic, and unbelievably dangerous clown. In the later arcs however, he is transforms into a camp, paedophilic, bisexual fruitcake who hangs around in the all-together far more than this troper cares for. He is still dangerous, but devoid of any previous mystique. Like the series in general, he simply degrades over time.
SPOILER ALERT!!!! Togashi is a genius. Not because of the quality of the series, but because of the success, because I don't think any other Mangaka could get away with such a subpar mess of an arc (and a manga) and have it still be looked at as one of the greats (to some even the BEST ONGOING SHONEN...lol) I'll try to make that as rude as this review gets but I make no promises. This arc isn't just the worst arc in HXH it's possibly the worst arc I've seen in any work of fiction. It's pacing is god awful, the story comes out of nowhere, the good characters are swept to the side while the unbearable ones take the lead, and the conclusion was so disappointing and anti-climatic I almost dropped the series (thankfully the arc after it was a breath of fresh air) For starters this arc last to long for an arc that's the ultimate or pen ultimate arc. 132 chapters? really? And that's not even bad enough, half of the chapters in this arc are practically nothing but text boxes EXPLAINING situations rather than conveying them. this is a problem throughout the series, but it really shows here that Togashi has a problem with letting characters express themselves and feels the need to complicate things to sound like he's a deep writer. Then for the majority of the arc our heroes are doing practically nothing but fail, in fact they would have completely lost the battle had the strongest guy they had NOT die. That's right they win by having the strongest weapon getting murked by the antagonist. That's not even getting into Knuckle who spends the entire arc pretending to be strong and then bitching and whining and ultimately failing at everything he attempts. Even our main protagonist is not spared as he only wins his fight through an Eleventh Hour Superpower bullshit ploy, that somehow gets praises. also I understand the ANTagonist is suppose to be a more complex character, but that doesn't excuse the poor ending to all the terror of the arc. After seeing him become utterly unstoppable he goes out through poison...not even one attempt to combat him... unfortunately 400 words are not enough to truly comprehend everything that makes this arc so bad, in fact the things that ruin this arc are also the things that ruin the entire series but that's for a muuch lengthier discussion.
All of the manga to date
Perhaps one of the most vastly overrated series of all time. This is not to say that it is bad. It has good-to-decent character designs, fairly interesting characters, and when motivated the artist is quite capable. But it also has glaring flaws that force it into mediocrity: massive inconsistencies in the art (which will occasionally look like he inked his storyboards and submitted them as finished work), weak story-telling, and awful pacing. Its initial flaw is that it fails to properly explain what a 'hunter' is and does. We are told what it takes to become one, and some examples of jobs that they do, but not why what the purpose of the Hunter system is, who authorizes it, who funds it, why they're in such high demand, or why it's so godawful hard to become one. There is no sense of coherency to the concept of a 'hunter'. This makes it rather hard to care about whether Gon passes the exam to become one. The first two arcs, comprising almost a hundred chapters, are nothing more than a shallow excuse for fight scenes, filled with threats of an entirely artificial nature. The danger is real, but the danger can also be walked away from at any time. There would be absolutely no consequences if Gon and Killua walked away from the exam, and from there the story catapults directly into a rather dull tournament arc with absolutely nothing on the line. It is difficult to maintain tension under these circumstances. Even once it moves past this phase, it runs into another problem: training sequences. Endless, mindless training sequences. The entirety of the Greed Island arc is, more or less, Gon and Killua doing training sequences while guys nobody cares about muck around with game mechanics in the background. That's fifty chapters, flushed down the toilet. This is not even including the chapters devoted to lengthy explanations of the mechanics of the pointlessly complex Nen system. The series is constantly interrupting plot for this sort of arbitrary garbage. And the fight scenes just are not that great. Not bad, but extremely typical of a shonen series. Overall, not a bad series. But it does not even remotely live up to the hype. Except for Netero. Netero is everything promised and more. [EDIT] As of the most recent chapters, the author has officially gone insane. Manga is now utter shit.
I was initially put off by the art style and cutsey-looking premise, but that was COMPLETELY WRONG. It's hard to put into words, but the series is one deconstruction after another. The world is a mash of fantasy and sci-fi, and there's always something for a Hunter to hunt— no tedious/repetitive/predictable storylines and this author is not afraid to go there, whatever it is. You get used to the shonen formula, and while this series is undoubtedly shonen, it doesn't follow set conventions. Friends can go their separate ways, meetings and deaths happen at any time, wounds are taken seriously and effect fighting ability, luck happens and doesn't, people die and stay dead, plans are followed, 'villains' are fully fleshed, thirst for revenge is an acceptable trait, people lie, fights have strategy, murder doesn't make you evil/dark/angsty, /everyone/ has their own backstory and unpredictable actions, there's always someone stronger- naturally, not forced by the storyline to make a new arc. Pretty awesome. As for the art, character designs are very distinct, though a large amount of guys look like girls. Action/background are portrayed super-nice and clear. To be clear, the story doesn't degrade... it expands. Same with the characters, which gain more depth as time goes on. All the mystery is in the Hunterverse, and how the Hunters react to a given situation. Cons are: this is a particular kind of story, it can come off as pretty weird to people, I imagine. If you're looking for an easy-to-follow storyline and don't want to read closely, this will be pretty puzzling->gibberish. In fact, I'd go so far as to compare it to series like Gantz and Liar Game rather than Naruto Bleach One Piece. Since the whole series runs off a more cynical-realistic base, any information is dispensed in large quantities at one time according to a specific character which may or may not be lying or changing conditions so prepare your analyzation skills. The art fluctuates wildly from nice to 'how did this even get published' sketch-style. Sometimes, this manga is so subtle that you can't be sure you completely caught the author's meaning-and on the flipside he filibusters quite a bit to explain situations (I personally enjoy it). It's unpredictable, and fun, very interesting, and occasionally gross. Characterization is amazing. Hunterx Hunter=above par.
One of the best Shonen out There
All in all, one of the best shonen manga out there. Pros: Characters- they are many and diverse, and usually very interesting (and, of course, entertaining). The main cast and certain villains (Genei Ryodan, Chimera Ants and Zaoldyck family, if you want to count them as villains) , as well as supporting characters like the Hunters stand out particularly. Character development among the main cast and occasionally in the Genei Ryodan is fascinating to watch and lifts the characters above being unchanging and boring. The Royal Guards and the King also grow and develop in fascinating ways. Hisoka also gets creepier as he goes, while the Zaoldycks become Affably Evil. Plot- the fights, while not the most epic in the phsyical sense (they are always excellent, but fights are often physically brief), are epic in every other way. The nen system is well-developed and makes a fight more than just "I must charge my POWERRRR!", and thought is put into how the characters manouver around. Most of Kurapika's conflict with the Genei Ryodan is almost completely non-physical, since after one fight, the only direct attack he uses is kidnapping (after a lengthy game of cat and mouse with each side trying to manipulate the other into a less strategic position), which develops into a hostage situation. Even the training sequences are interesting, but then again I actually enjoy training, provided it gives you new and interesting details about combat in that world. Also, the conflicts themselves are interesting, such as the fight between the humans and the ants, and between Kurapika and the Troupe. Setting: The world is quite entertaining, and childish in a sort of warped way. Cons: Greed Island- while alright on its own merits, and with a few standouts (the final fight against the Bombers and the Dodgeball game, and whenever Hisoka shows up), this arc drags. The villains are just plain boring. The plot gets dogged down by elaborating on game mechanics, which unlike earlier details are just not interesting. Art- usually very good, but there are a few chapters (five or so) that are simply terrible. (These are fixed in the tankoban). There are a few panels that are less fleshed out, but they usually fit in with the author's style so it works, it's just not up to par with his better art in the series. Overall: Definitely recommended!
Truth be told, I like the manga of this series much better than the anime. The show starts off as a show with a rather fluffy/idealistic premise and gets darker/more cynical over time, which, for me, was most of the appeal- in addition to the standard Togashi Author Appeal factors of gay/bi men, psychos, and Action Girls. The best part so far for me is the recent Chimera Ant arc. The ants seem to be some of the more sophisticated villains in the series, even if they aren't the first Complete Monster antagonists. However, if you dislike shounen, you probably won't get this far, and, like Yu Yu Hakusho, I would not recommend it. Even though I think YYH is slightly superior due to its being both more succinct and Togashi's not suffering Creator Breakdown at that time (as opposed to this series and his Incurable Cough Of Death), this is a good series on its own merits, and something for those who enjoyed YYH, or would like slightly more cerebral shounen. Score: 7/10
This is good.
I might have exaggerated how much I disagreed with the previous review. The Nen system is a bit overcomplicated and Hisoka does undergo some Flanderization. However, HXH is definitely not "conventional" Shonen. It's more intelligent, for lack of a better word, than Naruto and One Piece (I say this a someone who likes those shows). The protagonists win by strategy more than simple determination, the plots involve tasks besides just fighting, the characters don't go into voiceovers with sad music whenever they feel emotion, and the general tone is more serious than in most Shonen.
story in danger!
Why I say so? Simple...it's losing it's charm~ horrible artwork in recent chapters... I can let that down, the author is not well so we should be grateful he can draw at all. However... mutant ant arc is really BAD idea in my book, it involves large scale of massacre and gore that would scare you for life (the author did it in YYH too) All I can say about this arc is glad to know Gon got to meat his father's friend then what? Stopping mutant ant? This story by now begin to lose direction added it seems Gon is the only one who have something to do at all with looking for his father.