It’s so refreshing to watch Hunter X Hunter. It goes right where nearly all other shounen series go left. It’s here where Nippon Animation show that shounen series don’t necessarily have to be fight-fests with shallow battles that last for episodes after each other. The first Greed Island OVA continues where the previous OVA left off. And to be honest, it isn’t as good as the OVAs. But those standards were set really high after all. Greed Island has a lot to like here.
The interesting thing is that this OVA is mostly focused on two things that are often really hard to do well in anime: training arc and exposition. They actually pull it off, though!
Here’s the thing with most training-arcs: they’re completely shallow. They often pointlessly waste time and advance their characters way too unrealistically. Way too often, we see characters do some random movement over and over, and suddenly they’ve mastered a new technique, became twice as strong, etc, etc, yadda yadda, without actually understanding the deeper meaning behind it. Part of the beauty of martial arts is that you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t know what you’re doing, and that’s a trap that so many shounen-series fall into.
Hunter x Hunter is different though: it links the series concepts of Nen and combines it with realistic fighting abilities. It’s true that the lead characters are talented, but the reason how the powers work here is detailed and fleshed out in one of the most believable ways I’ve ever seen in a shounen series. Or a series based on superpowers for that matter.
Then the exposition: a lot of time of this OVA is spent on outlining the unique features of the world that the characters have run into (Greed Island), ranging from how the rules work, to strategies one could take in playing it. It fleshes out the residents, as well as the other players inside it and explores their motivations. Seeing as there are only eight episodes, a lot of time is just spent on people talking, and I don’t mean in the way in which series as Katanagatari use their dialogue to build-up to a climax each episode.
The reason why exposition often gets boring is… well, because it is. When you’re detailing some obscure details of your world that are shallow but require a ton of of time to explain it just wastes time. Here however, I was consistently interested in what was going on. This OVA kept making me hungry to learn more about what was going on.
This is of course also helped by the fact that it has already seventy episodes full of character-development behind it. And unlike the TV-series, the pacing here wasn’t as unbalanced: this show knew when to shut up and move on and not go on for too long on the same subject. It’s a shame that the best characters are virtually gone in the OVA, but Gon and Killua themselves are excellent characters themselves as well, and the creators did well in giving the new characters believable personalities, rather than stuffing a bunch of stereotypes in. My only complaint here was one particularly overacting minor character. You’ll know who I mean when you see him.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – One of the rare cases of exposition and training arcs done right.|
|Characters:||8/10 – The best characters… aren’t here. the ones that are here do a great job, though.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Not as good as the OVA, but decent enough.|
|Setting:||9/10 – Excellent. A lot of time is spent on fleshing the setting and back-story out, and it’s very interesting to watch it unfold|
– Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi
– Darker than Black
(no need to recommend the first Hunter X Hunter OVa of course. It’s a truly excellent OVA, but by the time you’ve arrived at Greed Island you’ve probably already seen it ^^;)
PS. A short update on my to-watchlist: I still have three OVAs left to watch before I can get to the 50 series on my to-watch-list that I’ve been looking forward to the most. It’s taken me two years, but I’m finally nearly finished with its first (and by far largest) part. Just do expect that from now on I won’t take any new suggestions to watch.