Hunter x Hunter Episode 1
What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.
Series Premise: Hunter x Hunter is a weekly anime television series started in October 2011, based on a long-running shonen action/adventure manga series. In addition to over two dozen manga volumes, there was also an anime adaption in 1999 and extended OVA series in 2002; this is a brand-new series, not a sequel. Gon has always dreamed of growing up to become a “hunter”, one of the elite few who travel the world on dangerous missions to find rare creatures, items or people. At the age of 12, he decides to leave the island and follow in his legendary father’s footsteps to take the Hunter examination.
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Spoiler-free Series set-up: Since he was a little boy, Gon has always dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming one of the legendary Hunters, searching the world for rare animals, hidden treasures and lost people. Even though his aunt is reluctant for him to go on such as dangerous quest, she says if he can capture the “Lord of the Lake”, she will allow him to go. At the age of twelve, he finally manages to snare the behemoth, and heads off the island on a large ship to take the Hunter examination along with several other applicants. While at sea, he meets two of the other examinees, the demure Puripika who is the last of member of his clan, and Leorio, who is only in it for the fame and fortune. But as a massive storm looms, they soon learn that they are not just on a trip to the exam, but that it has already begun.
My Impressions: Hunter x Hunter is just another in the long line of popular, long-running (decade-plus) manga series aimed at younger boys to receive an anime adaptation. But what makes this a bit unusual is that this is not the first time it has received such a treatment. There was already an extended television series (92 episodes!) over a decade ago, which was followed up by an extended OVA series (30 episodes!). So, why did they decide that now is the time to return back to Hunter x Hunter — and not only that, not as a sequel, but as a totally new retelling of the story?
Whatever the reason, they pushed forward and we have an all-new Hunter x Hunter. Which is fine by me, since I was not familiar with the previous episodes at all, and only vaguely familiar with the manga series, because I’m just not into action/adventure stories aimed at the pre-teen audience. I can’t say that I was particularly looking forward to this.
But in the final analysis — it turned out quite decent. Well, for a shounen show, that is. It has this sort of grand, cinematic feel to it, almost like watching a movie instead of a television show; probably the sweeping symphonic score helps in that regard. The animation and the character designs are serviceable, no complaints there. But what about what is really important: the story?
Eh, too early to tell, but it is most definitely following right along with what you might expect for a show of this type, and has the dangers of falling into the trap of becoming highly formulaic and derivative, making it indistinguishable from all the other high fantasy action/adventure shonen boy’s shows out there, like One Piece, or Soul Eater, or Yu Yu Hakusho, Fairy Tail, Pandora Hearts, Dragon Ball, Full Metal Alchemist, Kekkaishi, Inu Yasha, Busou Renkin, Jing King of Bandits, Naruto, Mar, Gatekeepers…the list is endless. Almost as endless as the supply of ten year olds discovering anime for the first time, which explains why it’s such a popular category.
So yeah, the story is somewhat hackneyed and predictable, but that is to be expected from this type of show aimed at this type of audience. Already we see some of the most common, time-worn tropes in shonen anime popping up in the first episode, and I am willing to bet I could predict what is going to happen over the course of the next three or four episodes as well with a high degree of accuracy. The *real* test of Hunter x Hunter, however, is going to be whether it can break out of its formulaic roots and forge its own unique path, and also whether or not the characters can break out of their stock foretold roles and create their own unique personalities for themselves. I cannot say that I am especially hopeful in that regard, but I will admit that the first episode hit all the right notes to get the story started, so now it’s just a matter of seeing which direction it will go from here.
- Preview trailer on Youtube.
- Info resources:
- If you like this, you might also like: Yu Yu Hakusho or One Piece.
Sampling of Online Reviews:
- “The best way to describe this first episode is probably “very Shounen Jump”. It really represents all that shounen jump series tend to be, with the super-optimist main character, a few hot-headed side characters, and some grand adventure in the making with these new companions…That being said, I am a bit wary of how this adaptation will turn out. Grade: 7/10.” – Emory Anime Club
- “The first episode was a delightful introduction to compelling characters, narrative threads, and a rich world waiting to be explored.” – Otaku in Review
- “From what I can tell from the first episode, Hunter x Hunter embodies all that is good and shounen, but feels somewhat prototypical in how it does so. And considering the age of the source material, it makes sense for it to be so.” – Shinde Iie
- “The biggest reason I can’t stand shounen fighting shows like Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece is that the pacing is so slow. It’ll take multiple episodes to get through a single fight. And I’m already bored of the battle after the first five minutes. This episode stayed well clear of that problem: if anything, the pacing was too fast. This episode was filled with action and didn’t leave you time to catch your breath.” – Draggle’s Anime Blog
- “It was fun. It looked pretty good, was briskly paced, and screamed “Shounen Jump!” from the top of its lungs at every turn.” – Lost in America
- “Overall I think this first episode was well done. I know that Madhouse will probably move at a fast pace for the first few episodes of Hunter X Hunter because they want to get to the juicy meat of the story. I have no objections and I hope they will carefully consider what details they are removing in the future.” – Rabbit Poets
- “AWWWWWWWWWW YEAH! HUNTER X HUNTER IS BACK!!! …Admittedly though, my feelings are a bit mixed here. On one hand, it seems like they’re going to breeze right by some of the more tedious parts and get straight into the story, which is a good thing, but on the other it also left this episode feeling a bit messy and rushed.” – Sekijitsu
- “Though I think Gon is the most annoying 12 years old kid I have ever seen, there are other characters like Leorio that pique my interest and without me realizing it, I was actually enjoying the entire episode of this seemingly cliche story of adventure and dreams. Grade: 6.4/10.” – Conspicuous Klux
- “Mmy problem with the series, as was my problem with the original, is I can’t see anything that makes this special.” – The Cart Driver
- “I may have been bitching about this series, but don’t get me wrong: if this gets done right, it can easily be the best shounen of the past years. Potential: 75%.” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
ROUND ONE RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:
Thumbs-up for Round One: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Working Season 2, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Season 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter
Thumbs-down for Round One: Morita-san wa Mukuchi Season 2, Kimi to Boku, C3: CubexCursedxCurious, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls, Shakugan no Shana Final
Coming up next: Mashiro-iro Symphony: The Color of Love, Tamayura: Hitotose, Persona 4: The Animation, Maken-ki, Cross Fight Bedaman, Digimon Xros Wars II, Yurumates wa, Sengoku Paradise Kiwami, Gdgd Fairies, Sora no Kiseki, Kyousougiga, High Score