Hunter X Hunter (2011) Review [No Spoilers]

Hunter x Hunter is a battle shounen by the mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi and this version was produced by studio Mad House.  Battle shounen series are one of the types of anime that brought me into the anime fandom realm.  Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho, and the Dragon Ball franchise are what I started off with.  I’ve watched and read a lot more series since then, but not many shows captured my attention like Yu Yu Hakusho did.  I mean sure, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of my favorite anime series of all time and Rurouni Kenshin was fantastic before it went into filler hell, but there was something special about Yu Yu Hakusho that made me keep coming back to it for years on end.  I knew I would like Hunter x Hunter the second I heard who the source material is from and that is why I waited so long to watch it.

When talking about either of Togashi’s works, the first thing that stands are the characters.  Not just the main characters, but the side characters and the villains too.   The main characters of his stories are all interesting, but Togashi has this way of writing characters that even if you spend five minutes with a character, you know Everything about them.  What their personality is like, what their motivation in life is, and what their abilities are, they are fully realized people.  Once again, this goes for every type of character.  Villains are well textured and realized as everybody else which makes this show what it is.  Each character also has a unique ability of their own which keeps the battles the same as just basic character interactions, fresh and interesting.  Without the animation, we wouldn’t see these characters realized in any form.

Animation is usually the crutch of these kinds of shows.  Since these shows last so long, the budget is usually spread thin throughout the show except to have budget increases for points in the show that had the most impact.  This will lead to a lot of panning shots of characters staring at each other with nothing but a little bit of the soundtrack behind them and many other ways to slow down the production of the story.  Hunter X Hunter does not suffer from this.  The animation starts pretty solid but gets even better as the show goes on.  Battles usually take from one to two episodes and they are very well done.  Episodes later on will really push the boundaries of animation even more.  Unfortunately, the show did run out of material because no many chapters after the latest arc in the anime has been produced.

IF there is one word to solidly define what Hunter X Hunter is, it’s varied.  Each character is different and so is every arc in this story.  There is the usual tournament arc that most battle shonen used to have, but is also a crime drama arc, a lost in a video game arc, and a war drama arc.  The strange thing is, the flow of the story is never hurt by the type of story the show is trying to tell.  It just works for story that Togashi is.  The increasing darkness of the plot is told through shifting styles of the arcs and it all feels natural.  It’s very true to life.

Hunter X Hunter is currently my favorite long running shonen series because it’s the best execution for these type of stories that I’ve ever seen.  It can be though provoking, it can be exciting, it can be funny, and the most important part is that it all works.  I highly suggest that beginners to anime watch this show to get the full range of what anime can do.  It prepares people for what good shows look like and what type of shows to look for in the future.  Watching Hunter X Hunter is as much as a journey and an experience as the main character’s was.  Give it the time that it deserves and I will guarantee that you will love it.

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