Hunter x Hunter
Studio: Nippon Animation
Manga Author: Yoshihiro Togashi (Yu Yu Hakusho manga)
Genre: Adventure, Martial Arts, Shōnen
First complete run: 1999-2001
Regular episodes: 62 (Plus 30 OVA Episodes)
Hunter x Hunter is one of those shows whose anime barely scratches the surface of its manga. Far from being a complete story like Death Note or Code Geass, Hunter x Hunter’s universe is humongous; the manga has been in production since 1998 and is still ongoing. The anime, with a set of highly recommended OVAs which continue where the anime left off, leave the viewer unsatisfied and just about ready to pick up a manga volume. It doesn’t even attempt to give you some closure; there’s no alternate anime ending, no cute good bye, the arc simply ends and the credits roll. Nonetheless, Hunter x Hunter is one of the more memorable anime series you will ever see.
This shōnen anime focuses on a young boy name Gon Freecss, whose father is a legendary hunter shrouded in mystery. A “hunter” in this anime refers to a special group of licensed professionals. Any person, good or evil, can pass an intensive examination and become a hunter, part of an important organization which lends reputation, resources, and a nifty badge to its members. The show traces Gon’s journey to become a hunter, as well as his adventures in pursuit of his father. True to its genre, Hunter x Hunter places a reasonable emphasis on fighting and martial arts, accomplished using the supernatural power of “Nen,” which is basically chi. It may sound generic, but this anime contains an incredible variety of dynamic characters whose allegiance and full range of abilities are always in flux. Becoming “stronger” in Hunter x Hunter means a whole lot more than simple physical training, it means the development of awesome powers which differ radically on a character-by-character basis.
That said, the characters, and not the fighting, form much of Hunter x Hunter’s powerful allure. Gon is a determined, strong-willed person whose admirable qualities don’t deter from the feeling that you are watching a real boy. The other hunters and villains in the anime are equally charismatic. Combined with the fact that it is never quite clear whose side each character is on, everyone is so fascinating that the viewer is frequently left wondering who to root for. Hunter x Hunter is a colorful, fun anime that doesn’t feel kiddy for an instant. The 92 episodes, in total, feel barely longer than a 26 episode miniseries, and more importantly, I enjoyed each arc better than the last. Shōnen fans will experience a wonderful ride from this coming-of-age tale of friendships, martial arts, and fantasy.