It’s strange… the more I experiment with my new series rating-system, the more annoying the old system becomes…so that’s why I’ve decided to stop using this old system. In any case, the reason why the next old anime-review this time is partly because I had other things to do, and also because Hunter x Hunter has 62 episodes. And to think that after the series, I still need to watch three OVAs that came out after it, but those are for another time.
Hunter x Hunter starts out as a classic shounen-series. It takes a group of people with special powers (Bleach has shinigamis, Naruto has ninjas, Hunter x Hunter has… hunters), gives them a number of different powers and specializations, creates a number of large organizations and picks a generic young male to be the main character. Of course, with such a huge amount of episodes, I was redundant to check out this series, but ten episodes in, and I was hooked. This is everything a shounen-series should be.
Hunter x Hunter is basically divided into two halves, with an incredible difference between them. The first half feels like a huge game, where Gon (the main character) and his friends need to overcome a number of challenges in order to become hunters. It’s a standard shounen-plot, but its charms come from the cast of characters. It’s so much fun to watch not only the main characters, but also the side-ones as they try to become one of the hunters, and on top of that, the main villain stands miles above his counterparts in series as Naruto, Dragonball Z and Bleach.
This series only really sets itself apart from the rest of the genre with its second half, though. It starts out pretty bad, admittedly. The Zoaldyeck-arc is pretty much the worst arc of the entire series, only to be followed by yet another dull training-arc, but afterwards the series slowly unfolds into a story about the mafia, that for once isn’t about destroying/ruling the world. It’s here were Hunter x Hunter introduces real jobs, such as being a body-guard, and interesting ways for hunters to make money.
The problem with lengthy shounen (at least the ones I’ve seen), is that they get duller and duller as they go on, usually thanks to some kind of training-arc where the creators abuse their powers a bit too much in order to god-mode their main character beyond the point of believability. Gon indeed gets powered up a bit too much, but what I like about this series is that he still is nowhere near the power of the strong guys. Heck, even the main villains aren’t the strongest characters in this series. The creators also make use of the fact that Gon is just a child: it unconsciously lets his enemies spare his life, instead of killing him.
One major annoyance with this series (apart from the training arcs, that is), is that during the times of building-up, it’s got the “everyone who isn’t strong is an idiot”-mentality. Whenever Gon is facing weaker enemies than himself, they’re always portrayed as cocky idiots without any brains or tactical knowledge, and things like a one-in-ten-million talent are pulled out of the creators’ sleeve in an attempt to explain his superiority. Thankfully, there are enough characters with depth to them. Especially Kurapica is someone to watch out for, because the character-development he goes through is truly memorable.
Also, this series has avoided one more subtle pitfall of shounen-series: wounded characters remain hurt, and don’t get magically healed in the next episode. When characters get punched in the face, it remains swollen until it gets a logical reason to heal. The overall animation isn’t anything special, but I really appreciate details like that one. The soundtrack is also really effective for a shounen-series.
Overall, in terms of seriousness, Hunter x Hunter is definitely my favourite shounen-fighting-series. Overall, it still doesn’t match up to the humour and fights of the Law of Ueki, but it easily takes second place. The thing that worked against it the most was its main character: Gon. He does have a number of really memorable moments, but the creators waste way too much time in trying to make his power catch up to the strong people, and he often takes away the screen-time of the much more interesting characters. It’s a thing that unfortunately every series of its kind has. The rest of the cast is rock-solid, though, and especially the second and final quarter of the series deliver. I’m curious whether the three OVAs that came out afterwards will keep this same quality, or fall horribly like nearly every other show of its kind.