Posted on 8 August 2013 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

“Vegeta, what does the scouter say about his power level?”

Okay, so I just caught up to Hunter X Hunter, episode 91. Overall at this point when I’m behind on so many series, it just isn’t practical to do monthly summaries anymore. That would be way too confusing and I’ll only do them again when I’m reasonably up to date with everything. However, I do have an opinion of this series that I want to voice, because this show still continues to work my patience. This frustration was at its highest at episode 90, and thankfully episode 91 made it a bit less.

But yeah, let’s get a bit into my state while I was watching episode ninety. Do you remember Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, and how the pacing slowed down at the point where the series started to go into the material that was not in the first series? Well, Hunter X Hunter did that too. Yeah.

The difference obviously was that Full Metal Alchemist started with a really fast pacing, while Hunter X Hunter has always taken its time. Sure, it was a bit quicker than the 1999 version, but even then it took a year and a bloody half to catch up. The result is that ridiculously long fight between Gon and Knuckle that went on for waaay too long.

And sure, I like the Chimera ant arc. Emphasis on Chimera ants. I like how they’re growing, expanding and changing, and how they’re coping with the people who come and threaten them and how that plays out. I’ve gotten really tired of watching yet another training arc for Gon and Killua. I mean for god’s sake, how much more can you go with that? “What is this, Dragonball Z?”

Well, that comparison turned to be way more accurate than what I could have hoped with that turn that Gon and Knuckle’s fight took when they started talking about power levels. Power levels! Afterwards they started fighting exactly like what they do in small battles in Dragonball Z: they stand while their arms become a bunch of speedlines. It got even worse when in the next episode the king turned out to be a goddamn cell clone.

Seriously, if it wasn’t for episode 91, I would have probably given up. I mean I like building up and all, but you need to be interesting while doing that. You don’t need to be so shounen-esque as a shounen series. It was this series that showed us that in the first place. Just send Gon and Killua on a bus for an arc, just like what you did with Kurapika or something. Thankfully though, the fight was not dragged out any longer, and instead we got a satisfying conclusion that focused more on the aftermath. That was great, especially if that means that the two of them are going to be out of the picture for a while now.

I am noticing a very nasty trend though. So far, the new episodes have been like this: we first have this string of episodes that aren’t really anything special and dabble along, followed by one awesome episode, followed again by a bunch of boring ones. I don’t know whether I want to continue watching if that pattern continues. The big difference between this series and Space Brothers is that while both series are slow, Space Brothers remembers to be charming and endearing in every single episode, even though it takes bloody ages to get somewhere. I don’t have that with Hunter X Hunter.

Posted on 16 December 2012 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

I can be quick about this episode: watching exposition that you’ve already seen before is boring. Training arcs are even worse. There will be a big chance that I’ll put this show on hold again for blogging in the upcoming Winter season, because the very reason why the Greed Island is so good is its exposition. Sure, this was the point where the 1999 series went downhill in its exeuction, but I don’t want to get bogged down by the details again. Really, with the way things look, it will have taken nearly a year and a half for the series to reach the new material. Like, more episodes than what it took Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood to tell its full story.

Also, the new ED… something tells me that the sound guy was not paying attention again. “WhoaaaahooooooooHOOOOO”… is that really what you want to use as a cliff-hanger for the next half year?
Rating: 3/8 (Mediocre)

Posted on 11 December 2012 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

And it’s over. My favorite arc of Hunter X Hunter has ended with this, and what a ride it’s been. I’m curious for the Greed Island arc, because it’s here where Nippon Animation started getting lazy, so there might have very well been many stuff it skimped over. However, I am a bit disappointed here.

I refuse to rewatch the 1999 series because it makes me focus too much on the stupid details. However, I will say this: as the episode concluded, I felt like “wait… it’s over already?” As a frame of reference: this arc was done in eight episodes in the 1999 series, whereas here it only took less than five. And no, there were no fillers in that part. As a result, I unfortunately do think that this version skimped over the details. The most noticeable for me was Pakunoda. Now that this is over, I can finally admidst that she was my favorite character, which made me all the more surprised how little attention she got in this episode. It’s like, before we got a really good feeling for her she was dead already.

If I gained any new insights the past half year, then it’s about pacing, and how much it can influence the quality of a series. The most important examples of this are Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and Space Brothers: they showed me that a series should adapt to its pacing. There is no universal formula in terms of pacing your series. It all depends on your mood, themes, and execution what the best pacing is, but you do need to pay attention to it. And it’s so important, yet so difficult with adaptations: being too fast or too slow can be so disastrous. If you make the wrong decision then you’ll lose so much emotional value.

And the way we all experience pacing is just completely different. I’ve seen many episodes, in which I blogged about how much I liked them, and then other people were too much bothered by that pacing. It’s a big trade-off that needs to be made: the faster your pacing, the more interesting things happen, yet the slower, the more the characters sink in. If your pacing is slow but you have nothing interesting happen/ A slow pacing can so easily become a drag that pointlessly wastes time, and a show that has a fast pacing can lose some of its emotional impact. And yet some series have to sacrifice this emotional impact in order to fit in their stories. It’s so complicated and that makes me all the more happy to see series as Jojo and Space Brothers that actually managed to nail their pacing in an incredibly effective way.

That’s not that this episode was not excellent or anything. Pakunoda still rocks, but here she is not my favorite character, that instead is Kurapika now. This still was an epic tale of revenge and it’s the kind of plan that would never happen in any other shounen series. I also did not expect that comedic bit when Hisoka found out that Chrollo had lost all of his powers.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 7 December 2012 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

Screw defeating every henchmen before you can get to the main boss! This is a show that has a plan, and if you can get a chance to crush the boss, you should by all means take that chance. Kurapika in this episode was AWESOME and I love how well thought out the plans that he made are. He put the one person who could get in his way (Pakunoda, who knew everything) in a bind, captured Chrollo and used him as a hostage for negotiations. Imagine if they’d do this in other shounen series.

And yes, my favorite part has started. Remember how in the past few months I’ve kept saying how awesome the spider troupe is? Well, this episode takes that even further: it forces the member to make an incredibly difficult decision: sacrifice the boss, or potentially threaten to kill off half its members. One simple mistake could cost so many lives. That’s one of the reasons why this became one of my favorite shounen series: how many other shounen series put so much focus on the importance of life and death? Most other shounen ruin this effect by having characters who survive against way too many odds (oh hello, Naruto, Bleach…).

I also actually cracked up a few times during this episode. I almost forgot that Togashi also put a few very effective jokes here. I loved how Chrollo kept taunting Kurapika, finding out at the same time that Kurapika would not sacrifice his friends. I also loved that one scene in which the yellow-haired guy took over negotiations and made a few stupid comments. That was just brilliant.

Also, it’s a small detail, but showing the spider troupe members in their past outfits before they started to dress so creatively. That was really worth it. It shows that in the end they’re all just humans.
Rating: 6.5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 23 November 2012 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

That. Was. Awesome! I mean, I rarely rewatch series for the reason that I’d much rather spend my time on stuff I haven’t seen before, plus that the impact of watching something again is just not as good as when watching it for the first time. And yet I was completely thrilled when watching this episode.

I mean, what can I say? This episode just showed so well why the Spider Troupe is my favorite organization for a shounen series. This time they really act as a team and they are acted so well, and they all make so good use of each other’s powers. This is also where Gon really shines, and does something that no other main character would do: sacrifice himself so that his friend would not get noticed. All of these characters worked incredibly well together, and I’m so glad that this series has also managed to capture that.

The music also was just perfect. I mean, in the past I criticized this show a lot for not using its soundtrack right, but the scene in which Squala died, it was just perfect. It really sent chills through my spine. That scene also showed one of the strengths of this show: from out of nowhere it can take a random side character and make him or her ten times better from out of nowhere in a realistic way. I loved just showing him taking care of his dogs, and his problems of trying to feed them all. I loved how he just has a completely normal girlfriend. THAT was exactly what was missing in the Hunter Exam arc, and the creators actually found it again!

On top of that, I’m just completely fanboying over my favorite character. And yet again I’m not telling who it is until the arc for this person is over for the sake of spoilers.
Rating: 6.5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 13 November 2012 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

Yes! It has finally started! It was just one sentence, but it has started, and… must… AVOID… posting… spoilers…

So… Hisoka this episode. Talk about cunning; this is just one of those cases in which these elaborate plans are entirely justified, because this was the perfect opportunity for him to keep the Troupe in one place that would allow him to fight Chrollo. It entirely depended on Chrollo being smart as well, which only gave him more reason to get excited.

On Kurapika’s side time was mostly spent to get throught he final bits of build-up for Gon and Killua. I won’t comment on what it’s building up for, but I do want to say that I loved Killua at the end of this episode. This is a bit of a short entry, I know, but we’re NEARLY at my favorite point of Hunter X Hunter!
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 5 November 2012 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

YES! YES! YES! OH GOD YES! It has begun! That one phone text is something I have been eagerly anticipating for more than a year now. The scene where Hisoka sent his message was the point where the original 1999 series ended, and this episode showed the first bits of what would continue in the OVA: the very best parts. Why it’s the best part will become clear in a few weeks, but oh god. This episode was so chockful of hints for that it’s unbelievable.

I am not going to mention these hints for spoilers’ sake. Let me just say that seeing the fortunes read for every spider member is amazing when you know what’s going to happen. Holy crap, I just cannot wait for this.

Also, I want to rain praises at the spider troupe for one more thing: they’re cautious. Most evil organizations glorify death or something like that: they take risks way too easily and they don’t have any value for human life. Here however, it’s more complex than that: some members are valueable and therefore cannot be permitted to die. Some members have a very strong bond together. This whole rope-tagging alone made this episode more than worth it. I just cannot think of any other evil shounen organization that comes even close to how well thought out these guys are.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 28 October 2012 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

Holy crap. I knew what would happening this episode. And yet, it was a shock to see it again. This is just so un-like any other shounen out there. I mean, Hunter X Hunter already was unique as a shounen series, but this time it really set itself apart. This is something you’d just never see elsewhere.

I think it’s clear now why the Phantom troupe is my favorite shounen villain group ever. With this episode, it just becomes clear how cunning they are, and how far they’re willing to go. They actually managed to hi-jack the entire auction with their powers and connections. Last episode’s battle ended with a huge anti-climax, orchestrated by Chrollo himself. And at the end of it it was revealed that Chrollo could have easily killed the Zoldyck family if he actually tried to kill them, instead of taking their powers. This episode just screamed professionalism in every way. Aside perhaps from Kurapika’s actions.

Kurapika. All of that build-up has come now together in this episode. After all his hard work, someone beat him and defeated the Phantom Troupe instead. He felt utterly terrible in this episode, and the creators portrayed that so well. That only lead to an amazing scene where he was forced to bid for the scarlet eyes.

Seriously, this episode had like three moments that I was looking forward to for SO LONG now. AND IT WAS SO WORTH THE WAIT. Oh and for your information, after this there will be a short part left, and then we’ll reach the part where the original Hunter X Hunter TV-series ended. After that will be part that turned Hunter X Hunter into one of my favorite shounen series ever.

Overall, the 2011 series is a lot shorter than the 1999 series. At this point, without taking future episodes into account, I still recommend the 1999 series over this one. The Hunter Exam arc in that series is just better, and that’s necessary for a good introduction in this series, rather than having to wait through like forty episodes to get to the good stuff. However, I do have to say that the Zoldyck, Skytower and Yorkshin lead-up arc are done better in the 2011 series.

As for the actual Yorkshin arc itself. I’m not going to even bother compare. Everything about this arc is amazing. I don’t care whether some details are done better in one or the other. It’s not worth it. Just watch any version you’d like.
Rating: 6.5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 21 October 2012 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

The second half of this episode had a fight that I have been looking forward to for so long now. It’s another one of the stand-out moments in which this series really sets itself apart from other shounen series.

I mean, up till now, Chrollo has been a very mysterious main villain: he’s the head of the spider, but we never actually saw him fight someone aside from the previous episode, which wasn’t even a fight anyway. So here this episode comes and immediately throws the two single most powerful characters in the entire series at him. No tricks, no padding. They’re just there, and they immediately do their job right. It’s a level of professionalism that you hardly ever see in shounen series.

Kurapika is skillfully kept out of the spotlights due to his job of looking over Neon, and instead, even though there are still many side-villains left alive, the creators show the fight between the three most powerful characters in the series (I doubt that even Hisoka would win from Chrollo).

The one scene outside of this that also really made an impact was where Gon and Killua called Kurapika with their information. THAT was actually very important. It may seem like they were meddling, but after seeing Kurapika in control for so many episodes now, this episode is where he’s left at the mercy of others, plus, he actually gets offered help.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 14 October 2012 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

During the Hunter Exam arc, I really kept wondering: how on earth would they be able to do this part well!? Well, this is how. They actually managed to make this into a stunning episode in their own style. They took the lack of subtlety in the Hunter Exam Arc, and completely turned it around! That was awesome!

I remember saying that this version of Hunter X Hunter had a few voice actors who can only do one voice and try too hard with that. Boss was one of them. In this episode however, he wasn’t trying too hard. The part in which he kidnapped Neon was amazingly well delivered. The use of music also was just perfect. This is also the first episode in which I felt that knowing what will happen later on actually added to it: I know what’s coming up, and with that prediction that Neon made made even more impact than what it did when I saw it the first time, and had no clue on its meaning.

The music also was great: whereas it was badly used in the Hunter Exam arc, it worked so wonderfully in this episode. I also really like that they simply bypassed the ED and continued with the soundtrack as if it was nothing: they realized that that ED soundtrack just would not fit in at all, and they were actually allowed to just skip it. That is some great news.

Also, this is a major Level E spoiler, but I have to share this. While I was looking up Neon’s name on Myanimelist, something caught my attention. My mind is currently blown, and to think that I missed it!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:14 PM)
    Synecdoche is incredibly rich in detail, and keen return viewers can find a lot of things they missed the first time thru. Kaufman didn’t have a single teacup in a shot that didn’t mean something. Pacing is a bit of an issue, but if you notice the passage of time you can see that was deliberate as well. The movie could’ve been livelier, but for a movie about death and decay that would’ve been a bit of a sell-out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:01 PM)
    @Emma: Birdman and Synecdoche have a lot of thematic elements in common, and given that Synecdoche was released in 08 makes me realize that Alejandro González borrowed quite a bit from it; although in the end they are different enough to justify Birdman’s existence. Where Synecdiche was a better written movie, I feel that Birdman was the better directed one.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:15 PM)
    And I’d go as far to say this beats out birdman for me by miles.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    The film is a solid mood piece thanks to the in tone cinematography, a great performance from Hoffman that along with his characters drama makes for an emotionally investing film. And before it gets TOO sad theres all those bits of dark humour fitted in there that work out pretty well. This is probably my favourite work by Kaufman currently.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    Well Bam, I had a go of synecdoche there. A bit of a slow burner, near the end slightly drawn out, however that last stretch was forgiven by that bonkers ending.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:23 PM)
    The voice of the main character got kind of annoying though, the dub wasn’t all that good either.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:22 PM)
    This was based on/was a homage to a series by the Gigantor creator and having grown up with gigantors 90s reboot this felt like a nice throwback, plot is fairly simple but used effectively. It’s a shame that it feels like there was more to tell but at seven episodes I suppose it avoids outstaying its welcome.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:20 PM)
    Decided to marathon Giant Robo, I think this was mentioned by someone on here before. I guess it was fairly entertaining, great action direction, looked good for its time, you don’t notice the hour long episodes go by, adequate characters, nice retro artstyle also, not sure if I got excited over this as big O and Mazinger however but still fun enough nonetheless.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:10 AM)
    Seeing Hoffman in before the devil knows your dead and his character being dependent on drugs, that was another thing that hit me a bit knowing the circumstances of his death. Watching most wanted man I could also see that he was wearing out physically.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:00 AM)
    This is not Anno bitching about otakus jacking off to his characters and turning around and selling Rei panties, this isn’t the idiots at Shaft throwing around meaningless camera angles and the oh-so-symbolic teeth brushing scenes, this is a human being looking you in the eye with fear and telling you that he’s dying; morbid, honest, moving and remarkable.

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