After years of training, Gon Freecss sets off to take the Hunter Exam, known for its extremely high difficulty and rate of death, for a chance to become a hunter and locate his father. It is there where he meets Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio.
This Arc Contains Examples Of:
- Adaptation Expansion: In Episode 27 of the 1999 adaptation, the match between Hisoka and Kurapika during the final phase of the Hunter Exam is expanded, while in the original manga it happened off-screen while Gon was unconscious after his first match was over.
- Cooking Duel: The second phase of the exam is styled like this. The first part is the examinees hunting down man-eating pigs and cooking them to a delicious dish and the second part (removed in the 2011 adaptation) is making sushi with only a few hints given to them. Nobody passes since pretty much everyone sucks at cooking and Menchi is a Picky Eater with extremely high standards for food.
- Crippling the Competition: Tonpa is usually doing this at the start of every exams, where he give unsuspecting rookies juices laced with laxatives to take them out before it even starts. Too bad for him, the rookies in the 287 hunter exams are more than capable to see through his trickery.
- Establishing Character Moment: Gon establishes himself in the first episode by catching the Lord of the Lake said to be impossible to catch and later saves a falling crew member, showing his bravery and heroic side.
- Fight Unscene: After Gon is knocked out after his battle with Hanzo, he wakes up with the exam already over and all the fights are glossed over in a flashback.
- Foreshadowing: A slightly small one. Netero only uses his right leg and left arm while challenging Gon and Killua to take the ball from him. Those are the same arms that Netero loses in his fight against the Chimera Ant King.
- Secret Test of Character: The travels before the Hunter Exams are set up this way to cull the participant numbers:
- The Captain of the ship that Gon, Leorio, and Kurapika ride on evaluates the potential candidates who can take the exam. Only the three pass since they're the only ones unaffected by the storm and the rest are to be turned away even if they managed to find the exam site.
- The next one is a seemingly straightforward question with only two possible answers: bandits have kidnapped two of the candidate's loved ones (eg: mother and wife, or son and daughter) and the candidate can only save one of them, so which one should they save? The answer is silence since there is no right answer. Anyone who chooses who to save is made to pass into a dead-end filled with magical beasts.
- The last challenge the trio faces are a bunch of Kirikos attacking a human family and must discover the discrepancies of the scenario. Gon passed since he noticed the Kiriko he's chasing switched with another one, Kurapica passed since he realized the "wife" has a tattoo that only single women have while Leorio, who didn't really participate in the fight, passes since his kind treatment to the "husband" impresses the proctor enough to pass him.
- Tournament Arc: The final phase of the exam features a strangely inverted tournament, where the "winner" loses their right to a Hunter's license.