Oh, I’m sorry! Did you think this was a cute battle shounen? Oh, you little fool! You have no idea!
Is what I wish I could go back and tell myself when I first discovered this show way back in early high school. Because my god, dude, I was not prepared for this shit! Like, at all!
HunterxHunter (I’ll be going back and forth between that and Hunter X Hunter; you got a problem with that, you can fuck off) is possibly the most intelligently written shounen series I have ever seen. It subverts pretty much every trope of the genre in an interesting and engaging way! From the powers to the characters and the stories themselves, everything here is just, for lack of a better word, genius!
Christ, where do I even begin? Well, normally, I’d start with the story. But the thing is: I kinda can’t. At least not without doing it a great injustice.
See, each and every arc of HunterxHunter is long and fulfilling enough to be reviewed as their own things. Which is exactly what I’m going to do! I’m going to review each arc one by one on their own merits. Cause good god do I have a lot to say about them!
Not to say that they’re completely independent of one another. Every arc leads into the next with utter perfection! The overall story flows so smoothly that you could easily confuse it for water! Plus, it makes the show super easy to binge, despite its 148 episode run-time!
It certainly helps that the characters within this story are just incredible! Gon is one of the most intriguing takes on the typical shounen hero I’ve ever seen! Killua has one of the most fascinating and emotional redemption arcs in all of anime! Leorio is the most pure and lovable motherfucker in anime history and good GOD I wish he were in more of it! And Kurapika… probably gets a lot more in the manga.
Yeah, his story kinda gets cut short before it can really get going. And considering the release schedule of the manga chapters… it probably won’t get a conclusion any time soon.
Unless it’s already over, I dunno. Haven’t read the manga yet.
The list of interesting characters go well beyond the main ones, though. Each arc (except you, Greed Island), is full to the brim with interesting and likable characters! Shoot and Knuckle, all the Chimera Ants, the Phantom Troupe, the various Hunters, and even the one-off mafia characters! The cast of characters is huge (it is a shounen after all), diverse, and wildly fun!
The world they live in is just as interesting! Initially, it seems like a pretty typical anime-modern-fantasy setting. But as the story progresses, it fleshes it all out in a fascinating way. Each country explored has its own culture, history, and best of all: unique set of challenges for our protagonists to overcome. This isn’t like other stories, where the characters can just go wherever they want without issue. Sometimes, simply getting into a country is as difficult as the adventure waiting within it.
And then there’s my favorite bit of worldbuilding: Nen. When it was first introduced, it seemed like your typical Shounen superpower. But as the story goes on, we see just how crazy and interesting it can be! This story has some of the most fun, unique, and creative powers I’ve ever seen! There’s a character who’s power is literally locking you in a room with him to play tag! And another one who slowly steels your energy by lending you his own and charging interest! They’re absolutely incredible and make each fight an amazing display of creativity!
Especially since some of these powers can get pretty… disturbing. Which brings me to my next point: the tone!
In the first few episodes, HunterxHunter sets a pretty light-hearted tone. It’s cute and fun, with a few darker elements beneath. But as the story progresses, it really starts to lean into that darker side. Hell, the Chimera Ant is so different tonally speaking that it feels like it belongs in a whole different show! But the transition is so subtle and smooth that you’ll only really notice if you look into the comments, where people are making jokes about it!
Jokes that I kinda really needed. This show can get pretty depressing.
In terms of production values, this show is surprisingly consistent for one of its length! The animation isn’t all that great in the first arc, but it steps up in a huge way in the ones that follow! At its best, this show delivers some of the most visually interesting scenes in any shounen!
If only they all weren’t tied to massive spoilers. Dammit.
As for the music, I only have a few complaints. All of the tracks that play during the episodes themselves are great! And I love the EDs (except the first one). But Christ almighty, as good as the OP is, I got so fucking tired of it. They never replace it. In all 148 episodes, they don’t ever replace it. I get that it’s the main theme of the show, but would it kill you to add just a bit of variety? Because I honestly don’t think I could ever listen to that song ever again. Just thinking about it drives me up the god damn wall!
And… okay. I think that covers all the general stuff. If I wanted to be any more specific, I’d have to go into each arc on its own. Which, like I said earlier, I absolutely intend to do.
Let’s get the recommendation out of the way: if you haven’t watched HunterxHunter, you are doing something horribly wrong. Legit, this is one of the greatest shounen to ever come out! If you’re a fan of the genre, or you just enjoy some well told stories with good action, this is an absolute must-watch!
Just try not to get burnt out on the OP. Otherwise, the final scene might get on your nerves.