HunterxHunter (2011) is a shonen action adventure anime that started airing in 2011 and finished its run in late 2014, the show was produced by studio Madhouse, and is currently being released in English. This version of HunterxHunter is a re-adaptation of the original source material, since the first adaptation was released in 1999. The re-adaptation includes two more arc’s from its older counterpart, but is still left unfinished due to constant hiatus’ by the mangaka. The mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi previously known for creating another successful 90s shonen Yu Yu Hakusho, is husband to Naoko Takeuchi who is the creator behind the hit shoujo manga Sailor Moon. HunterxHunter is a series that has been rising popularity recently as the Big 3 have started to dwindle in popularity and viewership, it currently sits at number 5 on MyAnimeList top anime. Some people myself included think of this as the best shonen anime to date, and a great anime by its own right and not only as a great shonen.
HunterxHunter stars lead protagonist Gon Freecss in search of following his fathers footsteps in becoming a “Hunter”, and tracking down him who had abandoned him at a young age to purse the life of a hunter. Being a Hunter means that you’re a special member of society: You are allowed into almost every single place and country, you never have to pay for public transport and you get paid from doing the most dangerous jobs that only you can handle, such as being a bounty hunter or a monster slayer. To become a Hunter you need to take the Hunter Exam, a gruelling exam where people of all ages are tested in various combat exams, with only a minor percentile pass.
HunterxHunter is split into various arcs like traditional shonen’s, the first one the Hunter Exam arc follows Gon in his attempt to become a Hunter and meeting new friends. The Hunter Exam arc is the weakest out of all the arc because it is the introduction and the story is still trying to take shape and build. The next arc the Heaven’s Arena arc takes place after the events of the Hunter Exam, and introduces a new magic system of combat called Nen. Nen is very similar to other magic systems used in shonen’s such as Ki from DBZ or Chakra from Naruto, but nen is so much better written then other used in the same genre. Nen is diverse enough to allow limitless possibilities in fighting and does not limit itself to power scales to determine how strong a character really is. The Heaven’s Arena arc although it’s one of my favourite in all of shonen is basically a glorified shonen training arc, focusing on improving the main characters power levels and abilities so that they can be able to face the oncoming treat.
This arc based trend is constant throughout the story, but I will refrain from talking about the future arc so as to not spoil them. The great thing about Hunter is not how the heroes are portrayed but rather the villains, all the villains in this story feel fulling fleshed out with their each motivations and goals. The story does bring this aspect of the villains to light, as multiple episodes are dedicated to what the villains are doing instead of the heroes. The story does challenge some topics about ambiguity in the so-called “villains” although it does not press this enough. Topic such as morality, human existence, evolution and defined roles of good and evil are discussed in depth throughout especially in the second to last arc, the Chimera Ants arc.
Alongside our spiky head main character Gon is best friend Killua Zoldyck, and fellow hunter participates Leorio and Kurapika. Gon is a typical main character that can be found in pretty much any shonen action adventure, but the rest of the main characters and the supporting characters are were the anime shines. Killua is a great counterpart to Gon being that he provides the perfect harmony to the duo, Killua being the level headed assassin mellows out Gon’s hyperactive nature. Kurapika has a full character arc that shows his past and why he’s so hell-bent on revenge, and him going to the ends of the earth to fullfil his revenge plot. Leorio is the least developed out of the main 4, revealing only a small amount of his back story and his motivation in becoming a hunter. The villains in the show shine through; from the well crafted bounty hunters the Phantom Troupe, to the bomber from Greed Island to the King of the Chimera Ant and his royal guards all these people are some of the best antagonists I’ve ever seen in anime. Hisoka is one of if not the most complex and interesting character and villain I’ve seen in my years of watching this medium. I could go on-and-on about what makes all these people great and how they compliment each other, but that would risk spoiling it.
Yet again Madhouse proves its animation prowess and adds to its pedigree with this show. HunterxHunter is 148 episodes long, and each and every one of them looks amazing, and to keep up this constant level of animation quality even in scenes that aren’t as combat driven is astonishing. Madhouse proves again why they belong on the top of the food chain, as this show does not dip in animation quality even in the slightest. The fight scenes are so well executed in this anime, the nen system allows for so much diversity in fighting styles, almost all the fights in this anime starting from the Heaven’s Arena arc can be put in my top 50 best fights in anime.
The sound for this anime is great, the OST for this anime is not incredibly long considering it’s length but I can say that the songs that are used are amazing and fight the scene perfectly. I really like the opening and because it was the only opening used for the entirety of the show I really like it, because it was consistent and felt that it always matched the mood the show was in. All the song were great, especially the ones used during combat.
This show is amazing, the fight scenes are some of the best in anime. The story and characters are equally amazing, the OST although might seem to be repetitive to some always fits the scene in just the right way. The animation is amazing and some of Madhouse’s best work, and that is saying something considering some of the shows that they have made. This is the best shonen in my opinion to have ever come out, the ending leaves a lot to be desired as their isn’t a concrete ending because the manga is still ongoing. Yes it is 148 episodes, but excluding the slow start this show is entertaining throughout and amazing from start to finish. The nen system, the villains and everything in-between is executed to near perfection.
[see end of review for weighing]
Another amazing shonen show that most would say is even better than HunterxHunter would be Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Although personally I don’t feel it is as amazing as everyone claims it to be, I still understand why people think the way they do about this show.
And the second recommendation would be an anime from the same creator of HunterxHunter: Yu Yu Hakusho. I vastly different show from HunterxHunter, but because it’s by the same mangaka it still has a lot of similarities in its storytelling and character writing.
[story+characters+animation+sound] + [enjoyment]