Hunter X Hunter: A Mature Look at Dragon Ball?

So yes, I haven’t talked about Hunter X Hunter (2011) on some major level in four or so years. You know, a month or two after this blog originally started? That long ago. There are some solid reasons for this like me being new at that time and trying different things. You know, like I still am? And for now, I’m back to talk about HxH today. Maybe later too. Who knows? The main reason this exists though is dad suddenly watching Hunter X Hunter 2011 on his own on Netflix and me just sitting down and watching it with him. Yeah, I can’t stop myself from watching it because it’s really good. I have loved Togashi’s writing since Yu Yu Hakusho. Hunter X Hunter is another series from Togashi, so there you go. That’s all that needs to be said. This is one of the few ideas that came to my head after watching through Greed Island again.

The more I have watched Hunter X Hunter, the more I see og DB or even DBZ influences in the show itself. Not everything is, but everything focusing on the character Gon mainlyis. You know, other than the standard way that the Dragon Ball franchise influenced Shonen Jump series itself? Yu Yu Hakusho is where Togashi started and Hunter X Hunter is a much more mature anime series about young kids told from an adult’s point of view. I don’t think that a lot of younger fans that have watched Hunter X Hunter and loved it have seen the original Dragon Ball, so I do feel like this is something worth thinking about or at least writing about. To get the attention out there.

With that comparison there, I still don’t think I can say that this is a very 1 to 1 thing. Hunter X Hunter is something unique and from a different creator so it did some different things. The plot elements from it are mostly original and/or completely Togashi like in nature. From what I’ve seen from Yu Yu Hakusho, Togashi really likes exploring the criminal underworld in his worlds and Hunter X Hunter is far from an exception of that. It had the established group of four as a hero in the beginning too. Still, there some things that remind me of Dragon Ball moments but updated. It’s clear that Togashi looked at some DB things and wanted to critique it.


World Comparisons

I can’t help but feel like the worlds of Dragon Ball and Hunter X Hunter are very similar to each other in a lot of ways. I mean, we can talk about how HxH is more technologically similar to One Piece. It’s true. But from the strange monsters and everything, Dragon Ball had a lot of those in the original series. In fact, that technological dissonance in shonen series must of first happened with the og DB because of Goku knowing the richest girl in the world with all the advanced technology ever, Bulma. That world is also a world where there are still dinosaurs wandering the planet, huge muscular guys that are push overs for shonen kids, monster people exist and want to fight, and so on. Very classic Dragon Ball stuff. Hunter X Hunter has its own weird and cool creatures too which is great fun.

The main difference to me is how each world is portrayed though. Like, I feel a lot safer in Dragon Ball’s world of adventure then Hunter X Hunter’s world of death and cynicism. Dragon Ball has had a lot of dark things going in its world with Goku even killing the Red Ribbon Army, hundreds to thousands of people and such. Still, there is an optimism and cartoony-ness to the original Dragon Ball World which makes it fun. Even with the appearance of King Piccolo and the devastation he caused across the world, which was huge, and humanity was pushed to the brink, you would never feel like the show wouldn’t return to what it was. Because of magic. Dragon Ball magic you can say.

Hunter X Hunter has all of that too, but it throws in a little more into the word’s tone. Humanity and Selfishness. Not from the world only, but from the central protagonist as well. The magic is there, but it’s rarer and feels special moment when the magic happens. To me, the King Piccolo and Chimera arcs are very, very similar. The Chimera Ant Arc itself causes a lot of damage to a nation in the same way that the King Piccolo arc did in DB. Except, Mureum never shows his face at all to the world. No one knows that the totalitarian country changed while the world is slowly being crushed. It wasn’t him that caused it in the first place either, but a natural process put into over drive. This arc really felt like “this is how an invasion would actually happen. Not like in DB, this.” It’s not a direct call out or anything, just something that I noticed and how I interpreted it.


Main Characters

It’s really easy to call Gon from Hunter X Hunter a Goku clone. You know, just by how he acts most of the time? To me, he’s like the combination of Goten and Gohan if Goku never came home. That image where Gon and Killua focused their ren at the same time is like when Trunks and Goten matched their energy before fusing training. That’s the difference here. Goku’s adventure on Dragon Ball wasn’t by his own provocation. Getting stronger is what Goku wants to do, but he never really wanted anything else in the beginning. That is something which can be considered good or bad. For him, the journey in DB was more magical because he was seeing the outside world dragged along by Bulma. I can’t say that for Gon completely, because he is a lot more selfish. His quest starts because he wants to find his father and that makes a world of difference in how they are written. It’s a small difference, but it’s a difference that really matters.

This feels like a massive support of the Dragon Ball. Even if Goku is interested in fighting alone, he at least attempts to be a support in Gohan’s life even if he’s dead or on his way training. He’s there. Gon is someone who has never known his father figure and it really shows how much that pushes him in the series. He had Kite in his life as a father figure because he never even considers Ging to be one. Just a mission and/or a goal for the accomplish. It’s endearing enough of a journey for many others to fall along with it because he’s still a shonen hero that motivates others. But still, when a father figure by the name of Kite dies away in the Chimera Ant Arc, Gon falls apart into some very famous and spoiler heavy moments that I won’t say. That’s how a fatherless figure acts, completely breaking apart because how they believed the world was fell completely apart. All you can do is snap and I don’t think Gon knows how to channel his energy besides fighting. (Ha)

It’s not perfect, but you kind of see what I mean, right?

There is also the balance of power that HunterXHunter plays with in the series compared to Dragon Ball where Goku is on the top and the hope for humanity in a lot of cases. I can’t say the same for Gon, Killua, and/or most kid figures. Gon is the protagonist and he gains strength faster then most normal people would. He and Killua learned how to use Nen in its general form quickly, but he wasn’t able to do much except escape from professionals in their fields. Thieves and hunters who train for use in the use of Nen, unlike Greed Island cases, tower over them on a higher level. Heck, he could barely take on the bad guy in Greed Island without any tricks despite the months of training he did in the arc itself.


Wish Granting and Magic

Ok, this one is the obvious one. Dragon Ball has the well the Dragon Balls. Mystical items that only appear a year later they are used and require a hard journey to find. You know, until a character learns how to fly and can punch through a mountain no questions ask. Then the journey itself becomes pretty easy to do, which it is in Z and gathering them takes less than an episode. Thus, the tone change from DB to Z can be explained right there. Also, this where the jokes that constantly made about how nothing has stakes anymore in Z because of the dragon balls here. That is never really the truth, but people can believe that if they want.

In Hunter X Hunter, there is wish granting, but the wish granter is attached to a human. Alluka Zoldyk, Killua’s sister. She has a split personality with a wish granting force that likes Killua and not the rest of her family. Wish granting requires a lot more things to accomplish here or conditions. Three conditions. Sometimes you have to offer your spine, your heart, and/or your liver to break it up. If you don’t, you and a lot of people you know will die. Unless you are Killua and are actually nice to Alluka. Then your requirements are smaller, a lot cuter, and family like in nature. Hugs, head pats, and such. Awww.


Conclusions

In general, I know that this is a narrow-focused blog post focusing on Gon and his effect on the world of Hunter X Hunter compared to Goku from Dragon Ball. I am not going to ever say Hunter X Hunter because you can focus on any other character and the journey becomes different. Leorio’s journey, Killua’s journey, and Kuraprika’s journey, and whoever you chose are different from Gon’s journey. They are different people with different thoughts and motivations. That’s the appeal of Hunter X Hunter and I don’t want to say that this post is definitive on anything. These are just some thoughts I had and some things that I noticed. That’s it, nothing more.

I also don’t want to walk away from Hunter X Hunter and say that it seems like Togashi wants to improve Dragon Ball at all or anything. He’s still telling his own story in a way that he wants to tell it. There are also little bits of things that appear which show Togashi really loves Dragon Ball. Gon pushing a tall guy out of a ring without even trying at the beginning of Heaven’s Arena is classic Dragon Ball. Same as Gon using Rock, Paper, Scissors as an attack because that’s one way Goku and Master Roshi fought in the first World Martial Art’s Tournament in Dragon Ball. I guess Mereum looking a little bit like Cell? There are just clear signs that Togashi loves Dragon Ball and wants to reference it in interesting ways. You know, the way that Togashi wants to reference them.


9 thoughts on “Hunter X Hunter: A Mature Look at Dragon Ball?

  1. I liked reading about the comparisons that you drew, and honestly, it makes me want to re-watch both to check out the influences in HxH. I think HxH is such a phenomenal series and I always discover something new with each visit back to it. Loved reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always thought of Hunter X Hunter as sort of trying out different genres and series with each arc. For example I thought Greed Island was Togashi’s take on a Yu-Gi-Oh Battle City arc to an extent and the Chimera Arc definitely felt like DBZ to me with its emphasis on Ki and Mereum still looks like Cell to me. I feel like the current boat arc is trying its take on Game of Thrones with the warring factions and of course the big succession to the throne tournament. It’s pretty cool how the series changes and adapts so readily. I hope the manga comes back to finish the arc soon so we can finally get another season.

    But yeah, I can definitely see the DB similarities there for sure. I like to think of DBZ as the grandfather of SJ so a lot of the titles like to take bits and pieces from it but with a modern spin

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, I definitely think that Togashi is playing around with a lot of series and genres in the way he wants to in this anime/manga/thing and it’s great.

      I’ve discussed this with people before and db and DBZ are a great template for what shonen battle things we have today.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You brought up some great comparisons and contrasts with HXH and DB. Some of those reasons are ones I didn’t even think about. Even when I saw the original series, I knew it deconstructed so many shonen tropes and cliches, but I felt like no one appreciated it until the remake came out. I’ve noticed the situations with Gon and Goku. Gon certainly wants to be stronger, but he’s only doing so to better himself instead of being the world’s strongest (no pun intended). The comparisons of YYH and HXH with the main four are even more obvious in direct and indirect ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the 1999 series didn’t really hit the prime time for this series appearing in the United States. Despite the fact that I do think the beginning up to Heaven’s Tower arena were better in that version then 2011.

      But yeah, Hunter X Hunter does play with the tropes a lot more and it’s a lot better for doing that. Like, Gon is barely pushed in a different direction from Goku and you can see the results of that everywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sure. I didn’t see it until the mid 00s and thought it was amazing then. I even bought volume 1 of the manga the day it first came out in America at Suncoast back when that store existed (wow, I feel old saying that). A couple of people at school then who were fansub-savvy knew about the anime, but I introduced people to the manga back then. I think I do remember you saying that you thought most of the arcs were better in the original even though the remake goes much farther.

        Of course. It did play with tropes in so many unique ways. I also think the world-building is oddly reminiscent of some fantastic anachronistic world a child thought up with, but recontextualized when said child grew up and never forgot about those imaginations. Makes sense about Gon and Goku.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yup! 😁. I do think that modern technology and availability just gave 2011 a huge advantage. Like, it’s on a number of streaming services and even appeared in dub form on reborn Toonami.

        Yes, I think that you’re completely right about that. It’s so fantastical, but the deep, dark underbelly of that world is much more present.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Gotcha. That’s certainly true with the mainstream exposure and I did hear it got picked up by Toonami. Now, Cartoon Network can say they’ve had two works from Togashi on that programming block.

        Thanks. It’s cool you’ve noticed that, too.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s