Thoughts on Hunter x Hunter (1999 series)

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(Potential spoilers)

Hunter x Hunter (1999) is a pretty easy story to describe so here it is with every relevant detail. The show follows the story of a man named Ging (pronounced Jin) who goes on The Maury Povich Show to prove that he’s not the father of a boy named Gon. Once the test results come in, it’s revealed that he is indeed the father of Gon and just like all women on the Maury show who don’t hear the result they’re hoping for, he runs backstage but here’s the twist. He runs so fast that the cameraman isn’t able to catch up so he successfully manages to abandon Gon, effectively starting Gon’s journey to find him. Despite knowing that Ging is a deadbeat who didn’t want him, Gon craves for the father/son relationship seen on television and puts his all into finding him. All jokes aside, the story focuses on Gon’s search for his father Ging. Having been told about his father from a young age, Gon became really interested and resolved one day to meet him.

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Ging’s thoughts on Gon

Hunter x Hunter is interesting to me for a lot of reasons if I’m honest. From when the main cast are introduced, Kurapika looks to be the only truly interesting character but as the story progresses Killua becomes more interesting leaving only Gon and Leorio, who aren’t exactly uninteresting. The way Gon was portrayed really tricked me into thinking this was going to be one of those anime littered with friendship speeches, friendship power ups and some other friendship nonsense but the friend stuff only heavily plays into Gon’s character. The characters stand pretty strong on their own, having established motivations as well as plenty of opportunities to show off their strengths (except for Leorio). Every arc plays well into the characters (except for Leorio) giving them a chance to really develop.

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The plot every time Leorio had to do something.

It’s not too overstated that Gon wants to meet Ging, despite the number of times that he says it and it’s really interesting how things play out. From the start, I wondered when Gon was going to meet Ging and the first arc (the Hunter Exam) made sense in relation to that goal but what it did even better was to open up the story and give me a chance to see Kurapika and Killua develop later on. It almost looks as if finding Ging takes a backseat to the story but it doesn’t, instead each arc has a little plot device that is established for revisiting later and it allows the story to go in so many directions without ever losing sight of the main plot. Gon’s relation to the arcs also make sense outside of him being the main character, every situation that Gon finds himself in makes sense and you can relate it to Gon’s goodhearted nature or the plot devices that I mentioned earlier.

Gon is the main character of the series, but it doesn’t feel like he’s the main focus of every arc and I appreciate it. Part of me really wants to see an anime where there’s a main group of characters who all feel like the main character at the same time and Hunter x Hunter has come the closest by far. Over the course of the show, I got to see Killua’s relationship with his family and the power that they held over him which set up an interesting question. How will the duty his family feels they have to him impact his relationship with Gon? I also got to see the length that Kurapika was willing to go to in order to achieve his goals and this might have been one of the best parts of the series just because of the contrast Kurapika showed when going for his goals in relation to his attitude during the hunter exam.

The storytelling in this show really gave me the impression that the plot was already planned out from beginning to end. Nothing really seemed out of place, even though loads of characters were introduced at points and never returned, it always felt like the situations in the show were thought about well in advance. There’s so much that I appreciated whilst watching this but none more than the way the show handled fights. For so long, it teased the possibility of a fight and so many times there were false alarms. The closest that the show got to a fight in the first 30 episodes or so was Kurapika taking on a convict in the hunter exam but other than that, the show had some really clever ways to attack the subject of fighting without actually showing a fight. It worked extremely well because it showed qualities that the characters had and made me wonder how those qualities would play out when a fight finally happened. One thing I’m used to in anime is the main character getting beaten down almost to the point of defeat and then getting main character power up and winning but there was none of that bullshit in Hunter x Hunter. I hope I come across a series that takes cues from this one and really focuses on the storytelling instead of cool moves and transformations (not to say that I don’t like that).

One thing I had read about this series was how it was different to other shonen and I wanted to know how but I have a pretty good idea of how it’s different. The story works so well to bring out the best of the characters whilst still making sense of what’s going on. I know that I’m going to watch the 2011 series which means I’ll have to watch the arcs I watched all over again and I have no problem with that.

Other thoughts:

  • They could have called this series Resilience and Willpower: The Gon Freecss story.
  • The show did a really good job making Hisoka fearsome, given that he didn’t truly fight until around 40 episodes in.
  • Kurapika is the best character in the show.
  • The soundtrack is great.
  • The first ending is a catchy.
  • In the hunter exam, there was a scene where Gon, Killua, Kurapika and Leorio said goodbye to each other, jumped through a gate and saw each other immediately. It was anticlimactic and I enjoyed it.
  • Tonpa is a pussy and proud. What do you call this?
  • There’s a character called Hanzo and I’m calling him Saitama.
  • Ging is pronounced Jin and it annoys me.
  • The OVA looked a lot weirder than the original series.

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