Posted by psgels on 10 June 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



There aren’t many OVAs that are based on TV-series that actually manage to contribute to their respective story. Most of the time, they’re just silly DVD-extras, or have side-stories that just aren’t as interesting as their TV-counterparts. But oh boy, when an OVA is made with a clear goal and purpose, it sure does become good. Take Rurouni Kenshin Tsuiokuhen and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni for example. The first OVA from Hunter X Hunter is also such a wonderful example of this.

Seriously, this is EVERYTHING a shounen series should be. Creative, intelligent, a plot that for once doesn’t try to prevent the destruction of the world, a huge emphasis on strategy, an awesome cast of villains, the main character doesn’t scream, yell or play the hero all the time, nothing drags on whatsoever, whenever the show threatens to catch up to the manga, it simply takes a hiatus rather than come up with a bunch of pointless fillers, it’s without a doubt one of the best shounen series ever. It’s an incredible shame that today so few anime take up the example that Hunter X Hunter provided.

So anyway, the OVA basically continues where the TV-series left, and it’s actually one big cat-and-mouse game between Kurapica and the Spiders. Because the TV-series already did all of the building up, it really can immediately dive into the action, and the result is a very tense and complex strategical battle, which for once has the biggest focus towards using one’s head; in fact, there’s actually hardly any fighting aside from a few key scenes here and there.

This OVA really opened my eyes on the use of intelligence in anime. Usually, if shows even bother to use their brains during a fight at all, there is one party who actively uses his head, while the other stupidly rushes in without much of a strategy. In this OVA, everyone thinks carefully about his/her actions. As a result, this show can get away with powers that would be entirely overkill in most other series: the ability to read minds, the ability to copy any technique you want, the power to create clones or simply pull out the heart from one’s chest. This OVA carefully examines the different advantages and disadvantages of all the different powers, and it doesn’t even try to make use of every single obscure loophole to create tension.

The cast of characters is also really good. Both main and side-characters, everyone is in this story for a reason; no matter how small, they contribute to the story. Out of the most important characters, especially Pakunoda leaves an impression. We hardly know anything about her, but the performance that she puts down is very convincing and gripping. The leader of the antagonists also is unlike any other of his counterparts: for once you have a leader of an evil organization who doesn’t spend his time sitting on a chair doing nothing: this guy isn’t afraid to get his own hands dirty, and yet at the same time you can clearly see why he’s the leader of the bunch. The protagonists Gon, Kurapica, Leorio and Killua also get their own share of development.

There is one point of criticism I have for this OVA: I feel that it’s already done a wonderful job in characterizing its villains, but this would have been even better if some of the history of these guys had been revealed. But then again, there have been hints that the next two OVAs are going to delve into that.

The Hunter X Hunter OVA is exactly why I love those short but very intelligent and well-crafted series, and why it’s also a shame that there are so few of them. This OVA is basically the best of the TV-series, stripped from all the long training arcs and any kind of other boring part, and showed us eight episodes of what this series is best at: characters and actually intelligent strategies. For me, the best shows of the shounen genre are the Law of Ueki for the humorous and fun side, and Hunter X Hunter for the serious side.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 10/10

13 Responses

  1. The Big Easy says:

    I don’t want to depress you, but the next two OVAs aren’t even in the same caliber as the first two. Unfortunately, they’re helmed by pedestrian directors and the budget is significantly lower than that of the main series and first OVA. In fact, I think Nippon Animation is done with OVAs after what was done to those two. If Hunter x Hunter is ever animated again, it’ll hopefully be through another TV series like Hajime no Ippo.

    The manga series preserves the same qualities that you highlighted here, which is why it’s such a shame about what’s happened. If anything, I implore you to read ahead after you’ve seen the last OVA.

  2. AKI says:

    I agree, as well, that the successive OVAs were not as good as this one. However, they preserved the continuity of the series, which is a good thing. The successive OVAs (2 of em) still has high testosterone level but the animation was just meh.

    Just to make a point, the HXH manga is still ongoing and many more complex and exciting characters will appear. You won’t even see Kurapica or Leorio after the Spider arc, and some recurring characters will get killed. And a very powerful enemy will arise.

    Yoshihiro Togashi will occasionally put the manga on hiatus so we will never know when the series will end or if ever a second season will get announced. Here’s hoping…

  3. Denizen says:

    This OVA does pretty much represent the ‘Best Of’ when it comes to HunterXHunter, maybe even the shounen genre itself.

  4. Kim says:

    I really liked Hunter X Hunter at first (only read the manga never actually watched any of the anime) but it unfortunately didn’t seem to hold up quality. Maybe its because of the endless breaks Togashi takes.

  5. Machi says:

    I told you this one was brilliant XD. What impressed me the most was how such a wall flower of a character was propelled to such heights of development that I’m still at awe with her death, quite possibly one of the best death scenes ever its the only one to get me teary eyed. But alas the successive chapters/OVA’s have not been as strong as the yorkshin arc (in fact right now the author has gone into forever hiatus XD).

  6. Pax says:

    You should also try Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (the OVA’s),another brilliant shounen that tries something different,i would recommend the manga but i know you don’t like reading,so oh well.
    Actually i still can’t believe you have not yet started to enjoy reading manga too,it took me like 3 years after i started watching anime to also start liking manga too,you are really missing a lot of great stuff that will never be animated.

  7. Khan says:

    I could barely sit through the Zoldyck Arc, but there are some parts in this series that really shine through. I loved the villains even more than the main characters, and while good and evil remain quite clear, I find myself becoming morally ambiguous at times with my support. I still strongly dislike the main character though; he’s the stereotypical shounen protagonist in a cast of brilliantly complex characters.

  8. Machi says:

    @Pax: You make it sound like the manga will finish hahahaha, oh god when the hell will the ant arc end let alone when will this current hiatus end! I do think the ant arc will get animated assuming the arc finally finishes though… But the biggest issue with the ongoing arc is censorship galore, HXH has always been hovering closer to Seinen than Shounen and it shows with the ant arc.

    @Khan: Yep, Gon is pretty much a typical shounen character fortunately the show isn’t as typical as him. Mainly thanks to as you noted the brilliantly complex cast of characters in the show, the spiders are indeed villains so to speak but they’re still very much identifiable not simply as a villain but a tightly knit group akin to a ‘loving’ family (they share a bond that’s definitely closer than the main character and his group XD).

  9. The Big Easy says:

    I don’t think Gon is the typical shonen hero at all. Sure, he’s a talented and optimistic kid with a lot of heart. But that scene where Zepile sort of “appraises” Gon in the TV series paints a different picture. He’s easily influenced and his curiosity isn’t concerned with what’s good or bad. It’s the people around him that will shape his ideals and ways, and you’ll notice the huge difference in who he is as a character at the beginning of the series and where he is now in the current story arc in the manga. Time and time again, it’s foreshadowed that Gon seemingly isn’t on the road towards “hero.”

  10. Rednights says:

    mmmm good times … good times …. they just don’t make em like they use to eh

  11. Machi says:

    I just re-read the GI arc and I can say that you really won’t enjoy it as much mainly because it is more ‘typcial’ in that its a training arc itself, with a final major battle to show the results of training of course.

    But still I think it does show the creativity of the creator well in that he’s really managed to combine several popular trends of that time, card games and online gaming, into making his own game… The next two OVA’s are good but definitely not as great as this one, and I think that’s the double edge of the following arcs after yorkshin namely that its hard to live up to a great arc. Argh after re-reading GI I realize just how much I wish Togashi would get out of hiatus!

  12. Kurniarto says:

    oiiiii kapan nie Hunter X Hunter tamat cerita nya & FiLm nya

  13. Matej says:

    Gon is neutral or chaotic good charachter. He does what he likes and is not judgmental at all

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Dec 26. 2014 12:56 AM)
    @Aidan: I think the world agrees that it does stand the test of time rather well tho, and there’s an inherent fallacy in expecting old original works not to be tired, specially considering that you were born in a time that exposed you to copies before the originals. That’s like saying “Oedipus is just a cliche hero with an Oedipus complex”.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Dec 25. 2014 11:01 PM)
    I bet you anything when Nisio Isshin’s monogatari franchise is exhausted of adaptations we are getting zaregato and mahou shoujo ritsuka.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Dec 25. 2014 10:59 PM)
    “The best don’t normally have an anime”
    I feel this way about visual novels sometimes.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Dec 25. 2014 10:58 PM)
    With light novel translation in mind, Yen press is starting to have a go at that, if thats successful maybe, just maybe who knows what we’ll see official translated.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Dec 25. 2014 10:53 PM)
    And again you are basing this off of limited knowledge. LN are not like anime which has translators putting out each season of anime to us folk. There are likely dozens if no hundreds of light novels which escape a English translation. They only go for the ones that have anime adaptions or are getting one. The best normally don’t have an anime. Hell in my LN I mentioned two and one of which is neglected.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Dec 25. 2014 10:53 PM)
    It wouldn’t surprise me if these light novels were outselling proper books, I think I heard that manga outsells books in Japan too.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Dec 25. 2014 10:50 PM)
    The comparison between light novel and young adult sits well in my head also. That sounds right.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Dec 25. 2014 10:49 PM)
    I wonder if some of these light novelists ever go on to write proper books and simply use writing light novels as a training ground or something.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Dec 25. 2014 10:49 PM)
    @Bam, excuses. If it can’t stand the test of time then it is not above criticism. Just cause he did it first does not mean he did it best.
    I figure light novel was essentially Japans Young adult. And mate I would be surprised if there was children who enjoyed through the looking glass. It was essentially a bunch of weird shit happening for the writer to make philosophical musings.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Dec 25. 2014 10:47 PM)
    I also recall studying Mice and men, but the film adaptation however its been far too long since I’ve seen it to give much of a viewpoint.

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