During my time as an Anime fan, I’ve loved and enjoyed countless shows from just about every genre imaginable.
But what’s my favourite show? Well, if you’ve read any of my previous posts that should be obvious, because it seems I’ll use just about any excuse to bring up my love for this show and how remarkable I think it is.
Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Hunter x Hunter is a phenomenal series, and it was a real surprise when I first watched it. I initially started the show because I was bored one day while stuck in the house and was in the mood to try out a new show, and this happened to be the one I tried out.
From the first episode, I knew there was something special about Hunter x Hunter. I was hooked immediately, something that a show had never done since Tsubasa Chronicle, which was my favourite show at the time. There was just something about the shows opening moments just really grabbed me, even if it was a fairly typical beginning you’d expect from any Shonen Jump series.
On top of that, I immediately took a liking to the main character, Gon Freecss. Within minutes, I instantly fell for his energetic attitude and happy-go-lucky personality. The same can be said for the rest of the supporting cast introduced in the shows early moments.
By the end of the first episode, I knew I was in for one heck of an amazing ride, but I had no idea I was about to experience the greatest Anime I’d ever see.
As I got further into the show, I continued to be more and more impressed. With each and every story arc, my interest in the series increased to even greater heights. I couldn’t put this show down for a moment and I watched it religiously for 2 weeks straight until I eventually caught up to the weekly episodes. And despite having a strong distaste for watching shows on a weekly basis, I was into Hunter x Hunter so much that I was able to get over this and watched the series weekly from episode 136 all the way to its final episode.
But what makes Hunter x Hunter such a great show?
While I don’t want to get into too much detail, as that would be more of a review of the series, I’ll do my best to convey my feelings for this show and why it’s so special to me.
Hunter x Hunter’s narrative originally appears to be a standard Shounen series, but it takes the idea of a typical Shounen and continuously deconstructs the genre and breaks the audiences expectations time and time again. There are many moments where the series feels like it’s about to do something typical, only for it to do something completely unpredictable instead.
The best example of this, is how the series handles its main characters, Gon and Killua. Unlike most main characters, Gon and Killua are not “special”. They weren’t born with any special powers like Ichigo, they weren’t raised by a Dragon who taught them ancient lost magic like Natsu and they didn’t eat a magical fruit that gave them incredibly flexible powers like Luffy. Gon and Killua are talented individuals sure, but they’re also extremely average and normal people. They need to consistently work hard to achieve their goals and become powerful enough to succeed, and even when they do, the series always makes it seem like they have a very long way to go.
Gon and Killua are kids, and they lack experience, and the show constantly reinforces this fact. They often serve as bit players in the story arcs, and are rarely the deciding factor in the main conflict that’s going on, and even when they are, they have to rely on outsmarting their opponents through tactics and planning, rather than brute force or overpowering them.
I guess it also helps that Gon and Killua have what is probably the best handled and most realistically developed friendship in all of Anime. The two of them genuinely feel like the best of friends. This isn’t some Naruto and Sasuke nonsense where we’re expected to just suddenly believe they’ve always, totally cared about each other for years. Gon and Killua’s friendship develops naturally over time, and they feel and act like best friends would in real life.
It may sound simple, but Hunter x Hunter does such a fantastic job when it comes to portraying its main characters as actual people who develop and grow naturally, that it puts pretty much all other battle Shounen to shame in how they always glorify their main characters as a chosen hero who can do and be anything.
And what’s even more incredible is how the series approaches its conflicts. The conflicts are never one-sided. The villains often beat the heroes, and the heroes can suffer severe consequences as a result. A lot of heroes die or suffer worse fates. The villains may sometimes lose, but that doesn’t mean they go away forever. In fact, a ton of them continue their ambitions even after losing, and remain prominent forces with their own agenda throughout the series.
As for how the show approaches the morality of its characters, it handles that aspect realistically as well. The villains are not just evil, soulless bad guys. They treat each other like family, they have reasons and motivations for what they’re doing and they go as far as to grieve for their own when one of them is killed by the protagonists.
As for the good guys, they tend to do a lot of questionable things for heroes. In the 60+ episode long Chimera Ant arc, there is a moment where the protagonist, Gon, completely loses his grip on his morality due to a certain event that twists his perception of justice and “doing the right thing”. What was once a good natured and innocent boy, becomes a soulless, empty and completely hollow monster of pure malice and destruction. He walks down a really dark path, one that is incredibly unsettling to watch and that honestly had me frightened. I’ve never seen a “good guy” go down such a twisted and corrupted road in any Anime series before, and my god, was it a breath of fresh air.
And the fight scenes are also spectacular. They’re well animated and full of amazing choreography, to the point they’re some of the best battle sequences in all of Anime. And the fights themselves are always about tactics and wits rather than brute force and big explosions, something which I found really refreshing and it kept the battles interesting as well as prevented them from being one sided.
Here’s some example gifs from one of the best fight scenes:
I would go into detail about how the power system works, but I’d be here forever explaining why its so amazing. Nen is the most well thought out power system in Anime. It’s so creative, it always follows its established rules and it never does anything that you’d consider to be an “asspull”. If you’re curious, go read about Nen, or just watch the show (I recommend the latter!)
And the series also ends in the best possible way. While the Manga is still on-going, and is currently on hiatus with no end in sight, the Anime more or less wraps itself up at a point where everything feels resolved and things feel final. That doesn’t mean I didn’t cry like a baby when this phenomenal series came to an end though.
It’s difficult to explain why this series is so incredible without going into spoiler territory or writing a 5000 word review, so I’m going to leave it there. Although I intend to write that review on this blog some time in the future.
Despite my lack of detail, I hope I was able to explain why I consider this show to be my favourite, and I hope you found my thoughts entertaining.
I highly recommend checking it out. At 148 episodes, it may seem daunting, but trust me, it is worth every single minute of your time. Every episode is a truly fantastic experience, and the Chimera Ant arc is by far one of the most thematically deep and satisfying story arcs in all of Anime. Dive into the world of Hunter x Hunter, embrace its incredible story and you will never look back.
It’s the greatest Anime I’ve ever seen, and I’ve yet to see anything near to its level of quality or come close to taking its spot on my favourites list.
It’s a damn shame the Manga keeps going on hiatus for 2 years every 10 chapters. It’s literally gotten worse than D. Gray Man in that regard. Maybe one day it will be published on a regular schedule, and then maybe, just maybe, I can smile again. Like the Opening for this show tells me.
What’s your favourite Anime?