Review: Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Remake of the 1999 TV series of Hunter x Hunter based on the manga by Togashi Yoshihiro!
*Spoiler alert: I’ve tried to not reveal too many key details about the show here, but if you’re just starting the series and are trying to learn more about it, be aware that I have given a few big surprises away.* !
Even though the original anime series Hunter x Hunter came out in 1999, it’s easy to see why it remains popular today through its 2011 remake.
Hunter x Hunter is like Naruto in that it centers on a young protagonist with an optimistic, “Believe it!” attitude. A 12-year-old boy strives to pass a decisive series of tests in order to earn a distinctive title; the title of a pro “Hunter.” The series is also somewhat similar to Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z because the main characters from their respective series, Gon and Goku, both have spiky black hair and an innate sense of goodness, fairness and justice.
However, what separates the lead character and this series from the rest is the fact that you find yourself cheering for Gon, not because you’re supposed to but because you want to, and more so than any other anime I’ve seen (and the list is long).
Hunter x Hunter Characters and Main Plot
Hunter x Hunter features a boy named Gon, who takes the Hunter exam so that he can become a professional Hunter and find the father that he’s never known. He leaves his secluded home on Whale Island and sets off to find the location of the Hunter exam, which is kept a secret and is changed each year in order to weed out the weakest of its hundreds of contestants. Gon is able to easily make it to the Hunter exam, and from there the story really picks up.
In the first few episodes, Gon befriends the other main characters of the show: Leorio, who says his only reason for becoming a Hunter is for wealth; Kurapika, the young, sole survivor of a clan he wishes to avenge; and Killua Zoldyck, a mysterious boy who hails from a family of assassins. Together they use their combined strengths and talents to make it through the series of challenges thrown at them.
The remake of the series started in 2011 and has approximately 116 episodes at the moment, but new episodes are also simulcast each week on sites like Crunchyroll.
What Makes Hunter x Hunter Special?
Without a doubt, the heart of this series is Gon and Killua’s friendship. Killua has been trained his entire life to kill others without a second thought. His family of assassins brainwashed him into thinking that no one would ever want to befriend him and that he would hurt anyone he formed a close relationship with. However, Gon’s carefree innocence and determination to be Killua’s friend opens Killua’s eyes to an entirely new reality where he can be free from his family’s profession and their cynical attitudes. The character development in this show is simply amazing, and you can’t help but love Gon’s pure and determined desire to always fight for his friends.
Far from the lighthearted feel of animes where everyone’s biggest fear is midterms and school uniforms abound, this show is most captivating because it is often extremely dark and violent, and at the same time it can be incredibly heartwarming and sad. Even the villains in the show tend to get some backstory and character development, and you can’t help but sympathize with each character, even while you may hate them for standing in Gon, Killua, Kurapika or Leorio’s way. The Phantom Troupe is a great example of this.
The Phantom Troupe is the notoriously skilled and evil group of murderers and thieves who wiped out Kurapika’s entire clan. In about the third major arch of the series, Kurapika, Gon, Killua and Leorio face off against the Troupe, who the writers do a great job of making you hate. Once one of the Troupe members is killed, though, (and I won’t give away which one), you come to learn of the deep relationship his fellow gang member had with him and how sad they are about his death. Despite all of the terrible things they’ve done, you may catch yourself feeling sorry for the Troupe. Each member comes from Meteor City, a city that is only used as a landfill and where everything that exists is junk and garbage – including its people (in the eyes of the rest of the world). Through the Trope’s backstory, the show’s writers make you aware of the face that everyone is influenced by their surroundings and that society often plays a role in how each of us turns out as adults. Despite how evil the Troupe really is, they look out for each other because they understand one another and you can’t help but want to understand them more too.
Like many other anime shows, Hunter x Hunter exists in a world where people can use a kind of magical ability. In Hunter x Hunter’s case, characters can unlock hidden potentials within themselves through a chi-like concept called Nen. Every person’s Nen is different and can be controlled in different ways, allowing each character to discover, develop and grow his or her power and strength throughout the series.
I’ll admit, when the concept of Nen was first introduced in the show (shortly after the Hunter exam ends), I wasn’t too crazy about it. I just felt that it was cramping the mood that the show had already established. However, after hitting episode 100, I’m incredibly glad that Nen was introduced. It allowed the writers to continue to develop the characters of Gon and Killua and offered some interesting opportunities in terms of plot line later on.
What I really like about Nen in Hunter x Hunter is that its introduction allows you to see how hard Gon and Killua are willing to work to achieve their personal goals. It makes me want to work harder in everything that I do in my life and, even though I can’t use Nen like the characters of the show, I’m continually inspired by them nonetheless.
In the end, Hunter x Hunter is a dark and cynical show with the perfect amount of humor and the message that friendship and believing in yourself are the two most important things you can obtain in life. It’s pushed its way to the top of my “Favorite Anime” list, and I think it’s there to stay.
Download episodes here.
Kayla Matthews is a Diverse Japan blogger, anime nerd and Japanese cultural enthusiast. You can check out her productivity blog at ProductivityTheory.com and follow her on Google+ and Twitter @KaylaEMatthews to get updates on her latest posts!