Hunter X Hunter (1999)

Type: I Hate Gon

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Synopsis: In the world of anime, Shoen exists. Long running series about boys fighting to get stronger and milk merchandising for years. Luckily, this one was only 62 episodes and in English, so it wasn’t so bad. In Hunter X Hunter, which surprisingly isn’t about adorable shipping art on Tunblr, the world revolves around “Hunters,” people who are allowed to hunt and kill most anything as long as they have a license. Then it becomes about auras or something. Then it becomes about revenge. Then it ends, but I hear a new one came out, so I still don’t need to read the manga!

Pros: Hunter X Hunter is one of those big shoen titles I’ve just never gotten around to. I’ve seen pictures of the character, clips, and even played as them in some of my video games. But I’ve never actually read or watched it.  I finally decided to watch the original anime because A) It was in English, B)It was only 62 episodes, and C) I had time and wanted to marathon something. While I had some issued with the main protagonist, Hunter X Hunter did exactly what a good shoen story (and really any story) should do, it go me engrossed in it’s world. By episode 30, I was reading the Wikia to understand the lore and characters better. The animation makes the show very atmospheric, though apparently the story gets even better beyond episode 62 in the manga. I want to see more, and look forward to the reboot dub when I get around to it. My favorite characters were the side characters, particularly Killua and Kurapika, two morally complex characters with very interesting story arcs. Heck, the last 10 episodes of this series are all about Kurapika (and was my favorite arc). Like most shoen, this anime can be split into story arcs. The first 30 episodes are the Hunter Exam arc, which is more of an adventure story. The next about 20 episodes focus on Gon learning Nen, and is more of a fighting tournament. And finally the last arc is Kurapika’s quest for revenge, and takes place in “York New City” (Yeah). Admittedly, things don’t get truly interesting until Nen is introduced, which is this story’s chi/chakra/magic/spiritpressure/ki energy. I should also point out that during fights, the animators did an excellent job and including every bruise and cut a person suffers. It makes the actions look more realistic, as even the top tier guys take visible damage. If anything, Hunter X Hunter’s 1999 anime takes some animation cues from it’s older brother, Yu Yu Kakusho.

Cons: For the first time ever, I found myself personally disliking a shoen character. I can’t stand Gon. This has never happened before. But here we are. At first, I distaste for Gon came from his bland character at the start of the series. He was the textbook straightforward/confident/always positive shoen protagonist. But as the series went on, some of the other stereotypical shoen traits started to become more pronounced, particularly stubborness and a desire for strength. Gon is very stubborn, even getting his arm broken when he absolutely refused to forfeit a fight. He also has a desire to become stronger, with his biggest rival being some clown who showed “pity” on him for being weaker than him. Again, par for the course, but the thing is, none of it ever felt earned. I have no idea why Gon is the way he is. He doesn’t really have a motivating force behind him. He wasn’t raised to be that way. His overall goal of meeting his father doesn’t explain his personality. Goku was raised to be a fighter from birth, which is why he’s always training. Naruto works hard to earn the respect of his village after years of persecution. Luffy wants a life of freedom and adventure. Ichigo needs to become stronger to save whichever of his friends has been kidnapped that week. Without a reason behind his actions, Gon just seems like a little sociopath who refuses to comprimise if things don’t go his way. Hell, some characters in the show even comment on the potential danger this kid is. He’s an extremist. Even his wikia describes his morality as “twisted!” To put it another way, I’d describe him as “soul less,” a being with character traits but no real depth.  But, ah, we should really be taking about the anime, shouldn’t we? The animation might look old by today’s standards (though I liked the gritty look). The show has a few exposition scenes that are annoying, especially during fights. And it really does take a while to get into the story. About 20 episodes in fact. I personally didn’t get invested until episode 23, when Gon suffers his first true defeat and we get some actual characterization out of him (he pees himself, it was hilarious). In fact, I’m almost tempted to recommend skipping to episode 26, since this is when things get truly interesting.

Watch it?: The second half was good, but I can’t ignore the first (3/5)

MVP: Kurapika

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Boy or Girl, Kurapika steals the show at then end.

Best Episode: Ep. 51-62 The York New City Arc (easier to recommend arcs than episodes for shoen)

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4 thoughts on “Hunter X Hunter (1999)

  1. Karandi says:

    I never got to the end of this series. Not because I disliked it but because I got distracted and by the time I went back to it I realised I’d have to tart again and just didn’t think I could do that. It is definitely on my list to finish at some point.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the series. And I think you are right about Gon. It’s hard to really care about his mission because there doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason for it or consequence for not following through.

  2. I agree that Gon was bland. I think the mangaka wanted a main character similar to Goku, but there is only so much of that kind of character one can take. Killua was my favorite character, closely followed by Kurapica.

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