Heavens Arena Arc: Stepping into True Shounen

Not gonna lie: while I enjoyed the previous two arcs, this was where Hunter X Hunter really grabbed me. Cause this shit is rad as hell, dude!

After rescuing Killua, Gon and the others split up to do their own thing until they meet up again in Yorknew. In the meantime, Killua decides to help Gon get stronger, since the gap between him and his prey, Hisoka, are currently unimaginable. To train, they head to Heavens Arena, a massive tower where they must fight for money and glory. Here, they meet Wing, who teaches them how to use the power of Nen. Just in time, too, since Hisoka himself is waiting for them on the 200th floor!

In my previous articles about prior arcs, my main complaints have been:

  • Decent but unimpressive animation
  • Decent but somewhat forgettable music
  • Lackluster action

Heavens Arena looked at those, looked me dead in the eyes, and said: “You got it, motherfucker.” And it. Is. Glorious!

The animation in this arc is absolutely stellar! Gon’s fight with Hisoka is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in a battle Shounen! That shit is practically on the level of a high-budget movie! And when you compare it to the hype as fuck soundtrack that you’ll find yourself humming in the shower and you’ve got one of the most visually entertaining arcs in the whole show!

And don’t even get me started on the fights themselves, because these are absolutely incredible! The unique powers of each combatant are utilized to full effect, giving us some of the most fun choreography and tactics in the genre! No fight is a straight-up slug fest, like we’d see in shows like Dragon Ball. Every single battle feels more like the combatants are playing a game of three-dimensional chess while also boxing. Calling them fun and enjoyable doesn’t do it justice.

This is all thanks to the amazing power system, which is also introduced in this arc. Nen is one of the most intriguing power systems in Shounen. It isn’t just ‘draw energy from within to shoot lasers’. Rather, it’s an artform focused on the unique applications of that energy. It falls into six different categories, each one capable of an insane variety of things. Every single person’s powers reflect that character’s personality.

My personal favorite is Hisoka’s infamous Bungee Gum (did you know that it has the properties of both rubber and gum?), which perfectly reflects his unpredictable nature. It’s all about pushing and pulling people and things to satisfy his own needs. When it clings onto something, it won’t let go until he does, which, given Hisoka’s nature, is unlikely to happen. This, along with his Texture Surprise, opens Hisoka up to so many god damn tricks that fighting him seems completely impossible!

Which makes Gon’s struggle seem all the more hopeless. Which in turn makes his subsequent success all the more satisfying.

Damn, this arc is so good! I could go on and on about each fight, each character, how the setting of Heavens Arena itself is so thoroughly detailed and explored, there is so much to unpack in this arc! In my opinion, this is where Hunter X Hunter goes from ‘pretty good’ to a must-watch Shounen!

And then there’s Yorknew. Which is somehow even better.

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