English: Hunter x Hunter
Score: 9.121 (scored by 519,768 users)
HxH is about a young boy named Gon who embarks on a journey to find his father. After learning that his father left him at a young age to become a Hunter, Gon decides to follow in his footsteps not only to find him, but also to see what was so special about the profession that made his father choose it over him. Although a story of finding one’s father is simple, it is the path that is taken towards this end that makes the series truly special.
but also to see what was so special about the profession that made his father choose it over him. Although a story of finding one’s father is simple, it is the path that is taken towards this end that makes the series truly special.
HxH is made up of several arcs that are all extremely well-written, which brings me to the best part of the series, the writing. Hunter x Hunter (2011) boasts one of the finest writing in the world of shonen;
the depth and flow of the story, enthralling characterizations, strong dialogue and impressive world-building are all crafted into a fascinating tale that can absorb viewers into lengthy marathons.
The amount of variety that is packed into HxH’s story is also very impressive. HxH successfully dabbles in several genres in six story arcs tackling survival, fighting tournaments, crime thriller, virtual realities, war and politics. Not only that, the series is also able to undergo significant tonal shifts with ease (light to dark and vice versa)
. Sometimes, these shifts in tone occur after an arc ends though other times, it even occurs mid-arc. Another thing about HxH is that its arcs are connected with one another, with each arc naturally following the one before it. This creates a natural transition that highlights what the series really is, a journey. As for pacing and development, they are excellent. For the most part, HxH is very well paced.
The series does a fantastic job at keeping its viewers engaged, time will fly by as you watch most episodes and you’ll find yourself breezing through the show. Excluding two recap episodes, HxH has no filler episodes. Due to this, story progression is solid with the plot moving forward with each episode.
Although HxH initially gives off a light hearted impression, it gives off a good one. Not the kind of “light heartedness” that makes you say “this is childish and below me” but the kind that appeals to everyone. HxH gives off that classic and charming shonen vibe that has been lost in recent years, and it does so with its head held up high. Eventually though, the series takes a dark turn.
Although most HxH story arcs are light hearted, both Yorknew and the Chimera Ant arc are two of the best and darkest arcs shonen has to offer. Yorknew can be described as a dark thriller in a big city.
The central theme of the arc is revenge and it is similar to Death Note in terms of thrill and atmosphere. On the other hand, the Chimera Ants arc can be described as an attempt by the Hunters Association to control an outbreak of a dangerous man-eating species.
It is the darkest and most thematically powerful arc in the series tackling themes such as identity, human nature and survival of the fittest. The arc has drawn comparisons to Yu Yu Hakusho’s Chapter Black for its seinen-like nature and is similar to Shingeki no Kyojin, where the protagonists experience a strong sense of despair in the face of a vastly superior, hostile species.
The series undergoes major tonal shifts in both arcs with the color palette, music, atmosphere and amount of violence changing significantly.
However, what sets the series apart from other battle anime is its unorthodoxy and unpredictability. Shonen tropes and storytelling methods are undermined throughout the series. The main character for example, Gon, fails more than he succeeds.
Power-ups based on emotion or willpower are non-existent and fighting in the series is radically different from other battle anime. The main protagonist is not the main focus of every arc either. At certain points in the series, you could even say that Gon has taken a supporting role, especially during the later portions of the CA arc where he isn’t given as much focus due to the grand scope of the story.
The standard battle anime formula of “lose-train-win” is also undermined. Although there is training, it does not always translate to a victory, nor does it propel the protagonists over or to the same level as their main adversaries in terms of strength. For the most part, the protagonists assume the underdog role. Although they have incredible potential, they are still kids who have a lot to learn.
In terms of storytelling, unpredictable developments are commonplace. One thing that continues to amaze me with this show is how it leads viewers into thinking that the story will progress in this direction, only to change course and arrive at a completely different outcome.
A good example of this would be the series’ arcs which often end in an anti-climatic manner. Basically, there are a lot of scenes and story developments that you won’t see coming because they defy conventional shonen storytelling or are unpredictable in their own right.
The series’ unorthodoxy can also be seen in its fights which are primarily cerebral. In addition to being well-executed, HxH fights are smart and involve a lot of strategy. Raw power is a factor but it is not the factor that decides battle outcomes, actual power (nen abilities), experience and strategy are all taken into account.
If a main character is outclassed by an opponent in all or most categories, he is likely to lose. Moreover, main characters are not given any special treatment in combat. This smart approach to fighting is further enhanced by nen, a unique and complex power system held by defined rules.
The concept of nen, its principles, aura types and many applications on the battlefield reveal the huge amount of thought that was put into it. I still remember having to pause episodes, even research a bit during its introduction, just to digest it in its entirety.
The appearance and writing of the series also create an effect of cognitive dissonance, the simplistic look of the show mentally conflicts with the brilliance and unorthodoxy of its writing.
As new viewers delve deeper into HxH, they realize that there is much more to the show than its cover art and synopsis suggest. Expectations of the series being immature, simple or generic are progressively overturned as the show reveals its surprising underbelly.