Posted by psgels on 19 April 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews



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

Suggestions:
– .Hack//Sign
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.

11 Responses

  1. Keith says:

    I do hope that you’ve already planned on watching Princess Tutu or else I (and several others) will be very upset!

  2. Alec says:

    would have been a loyal fan if werent for the LoooOOooong hiatusES…. BTW… the manga just started to get interesting

  3. PL says:

    Is there a way to break into HunterXHunter without wading through all of it? or is it all so good I should wade through it all?

  4. Ebod says:

    Hope you have a chance to add Avatar: The Last Airbender onto the top 50 list – *shuts up*

    Anyways, super stoked for that because I can’t wait to see your reviews on stuff like Monster. If it’s not too much trouble, mind telling us if you’ve started a series on the Shoutbox once in a while?

  5. psgels psgels says:

    PL: while I’d like to say that, you really need to have seen the background of the television series in order to get the best out of the OVAs. The length is indeed a bit of a downside, but I do recommend starting from the beginning. It’s a very easy series to get into, though.

    Ebod: I might give hints. ;)

    Although do note that Monster is near the top of my to-watchlist so it’ll still be a while before I get to it.

  6. tomtom says:

    Ah HxH, one of the few running shounen that I find consistently entertaining. Hopefully they will one day decide to animate the chimaera ant arc as well and like Alec said, hopefully no more hiatuses :'(.

  7. AKI says:

    I hope a second season gets announced, the chimera ant arc is, by far, the best arc of hunter x hunter

  8. mambo says:

    But yeah… 1 year hiatus left some bad impression to the reader.

  9. NguyenSon says:

    It’s true that the author took some long hiatuses, but when you see how he researches things, I think it’s worth it. It’s better than the other weekly shounens that almost never take hiatuses but where lots of things just seem dumb. What I like with this manga is that the characters are well developed and feel more real and even ennemies actually have a brain.

  10. Machi says:

    No question you’ve got to wade through everything, the TV series is good. However, do note the series really picks up with the OVA’s, which incidentally are also the most interesting arcs. Its no loss to go through every HXH episode, its just as feasible to read through it say until the Yorkshin arc (as by the start of that arc the anime IMO actually becomes better than the manga by adding more detail to help flesh things out better).

  11. mambo says:

    Mangaka that can rival Togashi’s research/study probably only Ken Akamatsu (among long-running shounen series).
    How many shounen manga we see where foreign language displayed correctly? But in his manga he can portray perfect Ancient-Greek,perfect Latin and some Sanskrit in one packet. (assuming that, he probably understand english).
    Certainly not many mangaka work with such study/research isn’t it?

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:24 AM)
    I also find it easier to get an emotional response from a honest drama, live action film, largely due to the real people doing the acting. Sometimes you get an actor whose just that good too…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    I’ve gotten my odd emotional reaction here from anime and manga but a lot of the time it feels like the jump scare in a generic horror movie, I got shocked but I felt minipulated afterwards it wasn’t genuine, the same goes for some anime/manga drama when it takes a melodramatic turn instead of a bleak, honest one.

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