Monday, August 12, 2019

My Early Thoughts on Hunter X Hunter

I've nearly halfway through the 2011 anime and I have some thoughts...

So awhile back, a friend and I were just hanging out and talking about anime and we ended up on the subject of shounen anime. We were comparing different shounen protagonists and trying to figure out what qualities a series has to have in order to be considered shounen and we started talking about Hunter X Hunter. Neither of us had ever watched either versions of the anime or read the manga, but we were both pretty familiar with the series and it's reputation in the anime community.

We knew that many fans considered it to be a subversion of shounen anime, or at the very least, a darker shounen. We also knew that there are many fans who consider Hunter X Hunter to be one of the best shounen anime out there, if not one of the best anime of all time. So going into the series, we both had very high expectations.

After watching the first few episodes, my friend and I agreed that Hunter X Hunter was pretty good, good enough that we would keep watching, but we also didn't get the hype. From the first few episodes, it seemed like Hunter X Hunter was a pretty standard shounen like Naruto or My Hero Academia

The only thing that seemed a little odd was that the main character, Gon, seemed to be a troubled child who was unaware that he was a troubled child. His father was a hunter who abandoned Gon at a young age, and at the start of the series, Gon wants to become a hunter to find the dad who left him. With a backstory like that, I would have guessed that Gon would be angsty or emotionally distraught, but instead he's happy go-lucky and innocent. Gon reminded me of Goku from the original Dragon Ball, except I was just constantly waiting for Gon to snap.

The other thing that seemed kind of odd from the beginning was the world itself. I couldn't tell what kind of era the story was taking place during, nor did I understand what role hunters played in this world, or what the laws were in the world. Everyone's fashion sense was extremely different so I still don't know what era the world is in. Hunters seem to be able to do whatever they really want with little to no restrictions. It seemed like actual police officers existed in the world, but people are just killing each other during tournaments with no legal consequences.

Besides all that, I can say that I like Hunter X Hunter so far. I find Gon and Killua's friendship really endearing, despite the fact that Gon is reckless and a bit naive and that Killua is the son from a family of skilled assassins. Gon still has a charm to him and it's admirable how dedicated he is to his friends. And Killua is a good boy at heart, even if murder comes a little too easily to him. 

Then there's Leorio and Kurapika who act as responsible parental figures to the two boys. Both make logical choices, even though Leorio may not always think things completely through and even though Kurapika can be triggered by a sense of righteous vengeance. The four characters all have flaws but their friendship makes up for those weaknesses.

The other thing that I really like about Hunter X Hunter so far are the villains, or the antagonists. Probably the most iconic is Hisoka. Before watching Hunter X Hunter, I've probably seen more images of Hisoka than Gon. He has his own kind of charm. Like obviously he's evil, or at least, not a good guy, but there's still something really cool about him. Maybe it's his very stoic personality, or maybe it's his nonchalance towards fighting and killing. 

And along with Hisoka, the Phantom Troupe and their leader Chrollo Lucilfer have really interested me. While Chrollo is not as cool as Hisoka, he's mysterious enough to get my attention. I want to know more about his motivations and why he's such an indiscriminate killer. And I think the fact that he's voiced by Mamoru Miyano also makes him a really cool character to me. I'm really looking forward to seeing his return as I go further into Hunter X Hunter.

And I just love the Phantom Troupe, they're like a twisted (but not by a lot) version of Gon and his friends. Sure, they're all killers and thieves who steal and kill because no one can really stop them, but they're also friends who care about each other. Even though members can be easily replaced, they're still willing to go to extreme lengths just to avenge their fallen comrades and rescue their kidnapped friends. Among anime villains, the Phantom Troupe are some of the most interesting.

With all that being said and now that I'm just about to enter the Greed Island Arc with my friend, I can now see why so many fans love this series. I can imagine Hunter X Hunter becoming one of my most favorite anime by the time that I get to the end of it. However, I think my own preferences don't put it higher than other shounen that I've seen and read. 

I love American superhero comic books and have dreamed of being a hero since I was a kid, thus I am in love with My Hero Academia. I just started reading another popular shounen title and am starting to obsess over it. So right now, I like Hunter X Hunter, but I'm not in love with it just yet.

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