All right it’s time to look at the second anime adaption of the Hunter X Hunter show. The original anime ended quite early as the OVAs had to continue the arcs and even then it didn’t make it all the way. Since the manga is still going this series wasn’t able to finish either, but this time it did make it through the Chimera and Election arcs so it’s getting closer and closer. The series has a lot of dynamic scenes and has some of the best strategic battles in all of Shounen Jump. While the series has a few jump the shark episodes in the Chimera arc the series is still solid as a whole.
The world of HXH centers around professional hunters. In this world this is the most lucrative position as you can get rich just for selling your license. Of course if you went to all the trouble of passing the exam it is very unlikely that you would ever do such a thing. The hunters keep their licenses as a matter of pride and serve as body guards or go on quests. The options are endless. There are quite a few main characters who each have their own goals and ambitions which lead to the various story arcs. Unlike most other series you can get arcs where the main characters shift more than once. Otherwise I think the only other series I can think of where this happened is Naruto where Sasuke got his own arc. Potentially Dr. Stone will count as well if the other guy ever gets his own arc.
The first arc follows Gon in his quest to become a hunter. He is finally old enough to take the Exam and dashes on over. He meets up with a few other applicants known as Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio. The tests are quite rigorous though as you have to go through a forest of death, run for miles, escape a death zone, and then engage in one on one battles with other fighters. This won’t be easy, but Gon has trained quite a lot to be in shape so he would be ready for this. Unfortunately for him this happens to be the exam where a villain has entered the ring as well. His name is Hisoka and his goal is to cause quite a lot of chaos.
It’s a pretty good introduction to the series. We get to meet the main cast and there’s even a tournament. While the Chunin Exams from Naruto do still take the cake for this format you can see how similar these two are. Adding Hisoka into the mix also adds a good level of tension. It would have been interesting to have had Killua and Hisoka meet up early on here, but realistically that probably would not have gone well for the kid. At this point Hisoka already had nen which means he is effectively invincible here.
The next big arc was the Heavens Arena which is another big tournament. Now this arc isn’t very large compared to the others, but it’s a lot of fun. Gon and Killua learn about nen which will be crucial later on and Gon gets to have his rematch with Hisoka. That’s basically his motivation here and Killua works to keep everyone out of Gon’s hair. I don’t think this arc is remembered quite as well as some of the others, but it was another solid way to build more character development. I’ll also take any excuse to have a bunch of extra fights. HXH does a lot of “about to fight, but then doesn’t” moments so it was nice to enjoy these days while you could when every fight did happen.
Next up is the arc considered to be the best in the series and I would agree with that. Yorknew brings Kurapika into the center stage this time. His goal in life is to destroy the Spiders since they murdered his entire clan. It’s his whole reason for becoming a professional hunter and he never lost sight of this goal. This is his chance to take them down, but these guys are world class threats for a good reason. It won’t be easy for Kurapika to bump them off. Meanwhile Gon and Killua wander into the fray, but at their current level they sometimes prove to be more of a liability than a help. We also get the government involved and a bunch of other characters.
Yorknew is just a very packed arc with cool moments around every corner. Kurapika vs Uvogin is still a very iconic fight and seeing Chrollo take on Killua’s father and grand father was epic as well. At this point in the series there are also a lot of fun dream match-ups. For example while Killua may not have much nen yet he still does have a lot of strength and speed. Would he have been able to at least take one of them down if Gon wasn’t around? Kurapika also did good in taking on Uvogin, but would he be able to take down the others? Most of the Spiders have fairly broken abilities so in a sense Uvogin was the easiest to beat because he’s all about strength. His strength was certainly crazy though.
Then we have Greed Island which is more of a peaceful arc in comparison. Gon and Killua enter a video game to find Gon’s father an instead they wind up stuck in the video game. To escape they have to clear it, but in the meanwhile there are a bunch of bombers running around in there as well. Their goal is to clear the game first and they’re willing to murder all of the other players to get their way. They don’t appear to be quite as tough as the Spiders, but the ability to blow someone up with a single point of contact is always helpful. The arc is fun enough and we meet more characters like Biscuit. It’s never quite able to capture the same level of energy and excitement as the earlier arcs though.
Next is the Chimera Ant arc which was certainly anticipated because it had never been animated before. It’s the author’s shot at a DBZ type arc. If you’ve noticed each of the arcs seem to switch genres time and time again. Well this arc focuses more on power levels and the whole alien invasion even makes it part horror. This arc is very long and it feels like the longest in the series although I don’t know if that’s accurate. Basically these insect creatures have taken over a kingdom. They are slowly growing more and more powerful as well as intelligent because of the humans they eat. When they eat someone with nen they start to grow nen as well. The government is trying to hide this, but as a result the situation is quickly growing out of hand. Hunters are sent in to handle this. Gon and Killua will have to prove themselves against professional hunters as well if they want to make the cut. This time they will need to master Nen and have special abilities to help out.
This arc gives the heroes the biggest power upgrades they’ve ever gotten in the series. That’s why it’s a shame that neither Gon or Killua have really gotten to fight after this arc. Not only have they likely surpassed Kurapika now but they’re possibly Spider/Pro hunter level at this point. I’d say certainly since they were taking on Ants that the pros were having a lot of trouble with. There are a ton of fights in this arc and the heroes even have to split up at one point to take down a lot of enemies. That’s why it’s a shame that this is ultimately the arc that really holds the series back. On the one hand, it’s easily the most epic arc in the series. It has a lot of the best battles and the set-up is really solid. This is basically an alien invasion and it’s the most ambitious arc yet. We even see the Hunter association chairman Netero fight for once.
What hurts this arc is how the violence steps up and also covers animals. The insects murder a bunch of animals in this arc. They take down kids and in general the arc gets really dark. We even have a human villain out of nowhere who is basically doing trafficking amidst the chaos in a plot that has no point. The author also started to get a little more experimental around this point so we get an episode about nothing much as a guy with a terrible past is wondering what’s going on. He had an abusive father or something and while I’m sure the episode tied in to something, it feels like half an hour of nothing. The new characters here weren’t all hits so when they get a lot of focus it takes away from the main characters.
That’s why this arc is a mixed bag. It has the largest amount of great moments and the animation is also stunning. The Nen affects and how they affect everyone is handled very well. One character ages many years in an instant which is a dramatic but effective way or showing just how fierce these enemies are. After all, the heroes know that if they’re caught then they’ll definitely be dead. Put it this way, this arc would get the lowest score in the series at a 4 or a 5. Everything just adds up, but it is the most interesting arc. It does get the same atmosphere you’d expect from something like Attack on Titan or Fate/Zero which always does keep you engaged from start to finish. It’s just a shame that usually in creating that atmosphere the series usually has to go into some pretty dark places. You could take away those scenes and the arc would be fantastic. It’s rare to get a series to such an interesting place with so many pieces so you always hope it’ll be the next big thing.
Finally we have the Election arc. This one is more of a return to form as it feels like the first arcs. The Hunter Association is going to pick a new chairman and naturally there are a lot of candidates to choose from. They’ve all got their own motives and agendas so the people have to vote carefully. There are a lot of rules here to prevent anyone from being chosen too easily and I always enjoy this complexity. In the sub-plot Killua has to go back home to rescue another family member and then try to help out Gon. This leads to a lot of chase scenes and clashes of brawn and brain. It’s a pretty fun adventure arc and a nice little adventure to cap off the anime. You definitely feel how there are a ton of loose ends left, but hopefully the manga ends someday so we can get a sequel show. There’s almost no point in making another season yet because there isn’t a ton of content available at the moment.
So lets look at the characters. Gon is our lead here and he certainly goes through a lot of development. He’s a pretty happy kid at first, but as the series goes on we see more of his serious side. I dare say that he showed glimpses of being a little unhinged near the beginning though. All good main characters get upset when their friends are put in danger or threatened and Gon’s no exception. However, mix that in with his stubborn nature to never back down and he completely loses it. Gon tends to lose himself in his emotions which is good for building up his Nen, but it does mean he’ll often do anything for a quick boost of power. He gets the job done, but by the end he does tend to push people away.
Then you have Killua who sort of has the reverse character arc of Gon. At first he’s a deadly assassin who has a hard time fitting in. Eventually he learns to believe in teamwork more and even talks about friendship. He makes some close bonds with Gon and the others and really has come a long way from when he first started. He gets a lot of character development and is the best ally you can ask for. He’s always got your back and balances out his impressive fighting abilities with a strategic mind. Killua’s my favorite character in the series.
Then you have Kurapika who is also a big focus in the series. His origin story is similar to Sasuke’s and his goal of revenge is certainly the same. He’s put everything on the line to stop the spiders including giving himself an ability that is only useful against them. As a result he’s permanently limited himself against any other kind of enemy. He’s the smartest of the main characters and rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. It’s a shame that he misses the final half of the series because he’s a very interesting character. Well if the next arc ever gets animated he’ll be the main character of that one.
Then we have Leorio who quickly gets left in the dust by the other characters. He used to be reasonably skilled, but he never learned a lot of Nen so he quickly fell out of the picture. Nen is something that you absolutely need to have or you just won’t stand a chance as the series goes on. He was never as serious or determined as the other characters though so maybe it’s for the best that he was written out. He can be a fun character, but you won’t really miss him while he’s gone.
Hisoka is one of the biggest villains in the series. He’s a constant thorn in the heroes’ path and the guy’s talents also ensure that it is hard to get past him. He’s incredibly powerful and right now it’s hard to say who in the series could really beat him. He’s at least around the level of the leader Chrollo and that would put him at the very top. His obsession with Gon can border on being a character wrecking trait, but so long as that never goes anywhere dicey we should be good. He’s definitely a wild card for all characters in the series.
As for the Spiders, Chrollo is their experienced leader. His ability to copy other powers is always something really hard to defend against. Mix that in with the fact that he is a tactical genius (Isn’t everyone in this series a genius?) and you’ve got a solid threat. One thing that makes the Spiders especially dangerous is the fact that they’re all reluctant friends and will go to war to help one of their own. They’re a unit so mess with one of them and you mess with all of them. Feitan is one of the stronger members of the group. He’s pretty quiet but beneath that are the abilities of the strongest member of the group. Next to Chrollo I just can’t see anyone else challenging him in a fight. Feitan is incredibly fast and strong and his heat abilities mean that escape is basically impossible.
Machi is the most enjoyable member of the group. She has a lot of fun while doing her job and while that doesn’t take away from her being evil, she’s just a nice contrast to the others. Her thin wires are also a tough ability to fight against for sure. It won’t be an easy match for any of the other Spiders against her. Nobunaga hasn’t done much yet and his abilities are pretty straight forward. If you get close to him then he’ll slice you to ribbons. That being said, just because the technique is simple doesn’t mean that beating him will be easy. His idea to get Gon and Killua to join the Spiders was interesting, but quite far fetched so I guess he doesn’t mind going for long shot plans.
Shalnark is probably the most cheerful member of the group though. He just likes hanging out with the group and seems to think of them as just a group of people hanging out. His ability to mind control people is definitely a scary ability to fight though. You never know when you’ll actually be taking on an ally. Then there is Shizuku who is one of the more inexperienced members of the group. Her vacuum does most of the work but her physical strength is in the higher end from the Spider members. All she needs is one good hit to possibly win a fight. She’s one of my least favorite Spider members but she’s not bad. Her personality just doesn’t click with me.
Uvogin is a fun member. He’s all about beating people with raw strength. The guy did allow himself to get captured pretty quick which didn’t work out well for him, but he always knew that the other Spiders would come to help him out. Had he fought almost anyone other than Kurapika in Yorknew he would probably still be around. He certainly had the best fight out of all the Spiders. As for other villains, Illumi is another big name in the series. He’s always messing with Killua and it can be hard to tell what his ultimate goal is. I believe it is just to break Killua down so he recognizes Illumi as his boss and everything else is to get to that point. He certainly doesn’t want anyone murdering Killua before that happens and is willing to fight for him. I’ts a pretty twisted state of affairs. He does seem pretty powerful so I hope he fights someday.
Genthru is the big villain from Greed Island. He’s probably one of the pettier villains though. He just wants a lot of money and to blow people up along the way. There isn’t much to him beyond that. He’s an okay villain, but not one you will remember. Biscuit left a much bigger impact in that arc and she was a fun coach to have. I do feel like she was surpassed in strength pretty quickly though. I don’t think she would be able to hold her own so well if she were to return.
As for the ants, Meruem is their leader so he should go first. He’s like a DBZ character who was thrown into HXH. He’s way too strong for everybody else. Even when he isn’t fighting seriously he’s able to handle the strongest hunter of them all. I like hie design and skill set. He gets a big character arc with a Go player. Mereum started out as a total villain, but was quickly getting redeemed. He’s an interesting character and by the end of the arc it’s quite telling that you’re almost rooting for his side over the humans.
His three generals were also great. Youpi is the weakest of the group (In terms of personality) He starts out as one of those guys who only wants to fight, but quickly begins to learn strategy. He actually outsmarts the heroes a few times which was cool and his final form would have been really tough to deal with in a fight. Pouf is the strategist of the group. He may not be as strong as the other two, but his abilities ensure that it is difficult to trap him. His voice actor did an excellent job with the character. He’s just a lot of fun whenever he is on screen. Finally we have Pitou who I consider to be the strongest of the 3. She took down Kite like it was nothing and was brave enough to make a move on Netero. If not for power level stuff and overthinking she should have been able to take everyone down.
As a quick aside, that’s another issue with the second half of the Chimera arc. I think the author wrote the heroes into too big of a hole. They were heavily outnumbered already and then he added the 3 generals who were stronger than all of the Hunters. There was no way they were going to mount a real comeback here and it shows. The heroes were so far out of their depth that the arc basically got cancelled and had a sudden ending that was not satisfying in the slightest. The power levels had just started to get out of hand so maybe it was a good idea to suddenly stop it, but as a result there are a ton of battles that should have happened, but ultimately didn’t. It was a very anti climactic end to the arc considering how much build up there was. I think the arc could have used another 20 or so episodes which would have been enough to cash-in on all the anticipation built up throughout the saga.
Ikalgo is a chimera who gets a big role as he eventually joins the heroes. He means well and while the guy was a total villain initially, his redemption arc is handled quite well. Ikalgo contributes quite a lot during the arc and while he may not be the strongest guy on the block, he is pretty sneaky. Then you’ve got Cheetu who is just a fun villain. He’s incredibly fast so it’s hard to tag him and he causes a lot of damage. If anything it’s just too bad that we couldn’t see him fight a bit more. It’s hard to really see anyone taking him down in a straight fight. He can destroy most opponents before they even notice he is around. Cheetu also continued to improve more and more as he developed new powers mid-fight. Rammot’s role isn’t nearly as big but he’s also a fun villain. The guy was really the first Nen chimera. Of course that means he isn’t quite ready to take on any of the commanders, but he still gives a good fight. I think his design is what really made him interesting. It’s a cool hybrid type look.
Then we’ve got Netero. This guy likes trolling everyone and by the time he is ready to act in the Chimera war it’s a little too late. The guy is definitely powerful and is probably still one of the strongest characters in the series. He couldn’t quite match up to Mereum but otherwise there are probably just a handful of characters who could give him a good fight. I wasn’t a big fan of his, but he beats most other old mentor type characters. As for Ging, he’s definitely one of the worst parents you’ll see around. He still has no good reason for ditching Gon and his wife. The guy just likes adventures and doesn’t want any responsibility that comes along with it. I want to see him fight because the guy gets to much hype, but at this rate it’ll be a long time before that ever happens.
A real standout character was Pariston. He really stole the show in the election arc. The guy has a charismatic presence so it’s easy to see why he was a front runner to be the next chairman. He destroys the opposing arguments with ease and is always one step ahead of the other characters. Everything goes according to his plans and it’s safe to say that he is still in control. I wonder if he’ll ever get a big role again, but even if he does not he left a great impression. Morel is a pro hunter who can manipulate smoke. He’s a very calm and calculated guy who knows not to bite off more than he can chew. He’s definitely a solid ally to have around and was a fun supporting character. His partner Knov may have cracked, but I liked that guy a lot as well. Ultimately he wasn’t able to press on with the rest of the heroes, but he was inches close to death. His older design also worked pretty well. It was really surreal to see that.
Knuckle is like an old school brawler character from an 80s anime. His power is pretty good because unless you have broken levels of Nen it’ll seal you off very quickly. Calling his attack Bankruptcy was also pretty neat. I do think Killua surpassed him a while back though and at this point Gon should be able to take him down. The guy was a good coach though and he was always nice to the local animals. In comparison Shoot never left as much of an impact. He did fight hard to the end though. Even while dying he wanted Knuckle to continue the fight. It’s always good to have that level of determination in battle.
Then there is Palm who is an odd heroine. She’s very unhinged and is always throwing threats around. Fortunately the heroes are tough enough where they don’t need to worry too much, but she is not an ally you’d want to have on hand. She wasn’t really my kind of character. Then you have Kite who is nice enough. He seems a lot more reasonable than Ging at any rate. He wasn’t terribly interesting either, but I did like his weapon. It’s pretty unique and the fact that even he doesn’t know what it’ll do next makes it a very interesting weapon to see in action.
Zeno is Killua’s grandfather and we can see why he was such a big threat back in the day. Even now he has some powerful moves and the fight with Chrollo was a lot of fun. We also saw what a large range his attack had in the Chimera arc. Pretty much everyone got affected by that. Then Silva is also a powerful fighter. We haven’t seen a whole lot of him either (Such is the fate of many characters in this series) but you can tell that he is the real deal. Killua’s family is just stacked with great fighters. Just take a look at Alluka. Alluka has never even trained before, but was born with a great ability to grant wishes. There is no wish that Alluka can’t feasibly grant in some way or another. I wouldn’t want to have that ability since I couldn’t grant my own wishes though. Seems like a big downside to me.
This likely won’t come as a surprise but the animation is definitely top notch. The colors are very strong and the battle animations are smooth. Everything about the shows looks quite modern. It’s got that sleek new look while still having a good color contrast for the dark nen abilities. Meanwhile the soundtrack is great as well. It’s a shame that my favorite track was never officially released but you’ll hear it quite a few times like when Killua fought the darts guy. There are many other great themes that you’ll be hearing as you go through the series as well.
One big factor in why the show is so good is the writing. Every character is written to be pretty intelligent and three dimensional. The narrator in the chimera arc also adds to the hype by building up each scene. A good narrator goes a long way and this guy definitely succeeded. The play by play enhanced each of the scenes as opposed to slowing things down too much.
Overall, Hunter X Hunter is definitely a fun show. If you’re looking for a good action/adventure anime then this is the one to check out. In some ways it is still one of the most ambitious titles out there. The mind games are incredible and the universe built around the characters is very interesting. There are so many complexities and various characters running around that the series could last for many years even without all the breaks. Once you watch this show you’ll likely want to go read the manga to see what happens next. It may have had a rough patch with the Chimera arc, but the series is long enough where it was able to survive this. Just dive in and enjoy the ride.