Marking my 1800th review here on Mikomi is perhaps a long-running shounen anime I haven’t been hooked on in years in the form of Hunter x Hunter. Focused on the adventures of Gon Freecss, this young man attempts to become a Hunter, a licensed and elite member of society tasked with hunting anything such as treasures, rare beasts, or other humans. Making friends during his journey, Gon attempts to learn details about the whereabouts of his father and famous Hunter, Ging, while improving on his abilities as a Hunter.
Hunter x Hunter is notable for being a deconstruction for many conventional storytelling and character cliches you may find among long-running shounen action/ adventure titles. It is still set in a fantastical world featuring characters with supernatural abilities you would find in any popular shounen title like Naruto or Bleach. But unlike those titles, Hunter x Hunter offers up a more grounded, mature, and practical exploration of its world and the challenges faced by its characters.
Let’s first start by exploring the one major area Hunter x Hunter excels compared to many long-running shounen titles in that it doesn’t waste time with its storytelling. Many of the typical ways that shounen titles would expand their length such as dragged-out battles, glacial pacing, and filler arcs are nowhere to be found in the series. There are a couple recap episodes found during the earlier episodes in the Hunter Arc, but Hunter x Hunter eventually ditches those all together. Every episode within the series has a reason to take place to explore its world, develop its characters, further advance whatever story arc it is currently in, and/or show how major characters are affected by the events of said story arc. With 148 episodes, the series has more than enough time to develop many of its plot and character elements, while progressing its storytelling at a fairly smooth pace. The only shortcoming with Hunter x Hunter’s plotting is that it lacks a conclusive ending, with some plot threads left unresolved due to its manga source material still being ongoing and having no end in sight thanks to mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi’s frequent hiatuses with advancing the series.
Hunter x Hunter’s battle system with the use of Nen is a noteworthy element to the series as it serves as the means for many major characters to utilize their special abilities. Like many shounen titles, the anime does go into great detail on the applications, capabilities, and limitations that come with using abilities based around Nen. However whereas many shounen titles will depict the characters either defying their limitations or bending its rules for the sake of storyline convenience, Hunter x Hunter firmly sticks with the rules laid out for its use of Nen. A number of characters do have Nen abilities limited in application, work under specific conditions, or are not meant to be used in battle conditions. As a result, they have to plan out how to utilize their ability to their fullest in whatever limited circumstances they have for it, thus a good number of conflicts in Hunter x Hunter revolve more around strategy and tactical planning over power struggles between ridiculously powerful characters. The series also has a few points where it shows some serious consequences that can result from Nen users trying to go beyond whatever natural limitations they have, one such example sticking out as a major dramatic event within the series with the life-threatening circumstances that result from it.
Another strong element that sticks out with Hunter x Hunter is its character development. Many of the show’s characters get a great deal of fleshing out and development throughout the show’s run and respond realistically to the various situations that develop within each story arc of the series. In particular, Gon’s character development sticks out as he is shown to deconstruct the “young, naive, and good-natured hero” character type seen within many shounen titles. While Gon has many of the typical traits of this character type, his determination to uphold vows and protect others is shown to usually be self-destructive or self-serving in some of his conflicts and his inexperience on understanding more morally gray areas of the human condition does drive him into ideological conflicts with others at points, particularly during the Chimera Ant arc. Characterization isn’t perfect as there are some major characters that felt underdeveloped and could have been more fleshed out, particularly Hisoka and the members of the Phantom Troupe.
While not perfect in some facets, Hunter x Hunter is still one of the best shounen anime titles I’ve had a pleasure within recent years thanks to its strong characterization and storytelling, as well as deconstructing many elements of shounen action and adventure titles. It may not be for anyone who has more interest in the typical elements of shounen action anime. But for those craving something different within the genre and don’t mind the rather intimidating 148-episode length of the series, Hunter x Hunter is a series I would strongly recommend checking out at some point.
Last updated Tuesday, January 08 2019. Created Tuesday, January 08 2019.
I was unaware of the original 1999 TV series, but wanted to comment on this one. This is a very nice Shounen story, with kids venturing off to make friends and vanquish enemies while they explore their world. I haven't watched many of this genre, but what strikes me about HxH is how many characters there are and how well each one has its own unique design, personality, and individual characteristics. Even a character that only appears for a single episode will have a strong presence and an essential part of the story, there are very few that are just for scenery. I'll have to rent the original series sometime and see how the two compare.
74 episodes watched.
Last updated Sunday, April 14 2013. Created Sunday, April 14 2013.