Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter: ANTicipating Greatness

hunter x hunter ant arc

After more than 10 years of anticipation the Chimera Ant arc – the longest and darkest arc in the Hunter x Hunter manga – is finally upon us. While the latest episodes still carry the inappropriate childishness that characterized this reboot from the get-go the Ant arc is slowly forcing this series to return to its true manga roots.

I hate the reboot. The original Hunter x Hunter anime didn’t skip on character introductions, had better music, a much better atmosphere, better voice acting, you name it. After the first ten episodes I gave up on this so-called “reboot”, even though I always considered myself a die-hard HxH fan. But even as I left it behind I marked the date the Chimera Ant arc would start on my calendar, and waited for the glorious day when a never-before animated part of HxH will see the light of television. The time is now and the ant arc sure has good things in store for us. For those unfamiliar with the ant arc it is the longest and most violent arc in Hunter x Hunter. It also marks a point in Gon and Killua’s journey where they must man-up and start killing their enemies or be killed themselves. One of the biggest reasons fans have coveted an animated version of the ant arc for the last ten or so years was the quality of the original serialized manga. When Yashihiro Togashi drew the ant arc for Shounen Jump magazine he was not in good health – a fact that caused the image quality of the HxH manga the drop to an all-times low (the quality of the serialized manga would only improve in the very late stages of said arc). Coming in 2013 the animated version is showing a big improvement over the original art. The other reasons for wanting this arc are obvious: colorful representation and animated action.

hunter x hunter manga vs anime art
The Hunter x Hunter Chimera Ant arc – comparing the new anime art to the original manga art.


But the ant arc might be a bit too colorful for its own good. Unlike other contemporary shounen shows Hunter x Hunter isn’t shaded and uses a fairly basic color palette. The detailed illustrations of the queen and king in the opening sequence put to shame the actual ants with their crayon colors. Granted, as the more grotesque ants will start showing this petty annoyance will come to an end, but for now the ants’ simple colorful designs and half-human half-animal nature look like a cheap homage to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The shows’ music still remains complete garbage. In episode 80 a human is beheaded. This proves to be a powerful scene in the original manga. In the anime equivalent a stupid samba song is playing in the background, effectively killing the tension and sense of doom the original scene had. This outcry continues as Gon and Killua march into the hellish NGL to the  rumbling sounds of the “journey theme” (you know exactly which theme I mean). At this point I am sorely disappointed by Madhouses’ musical choices. Speaking of disappointments, why the hell isn’t Madhouse creating a new opening theme? That theme has been playing for 81 episodes. For crying out loud replace it already!

That said I don’t disapprove of the anime version of the Chimera Ant arc. On the contrary – I’m confident that before too long the darker nature of this arc will force Hunter x Hunter to return to its roots and be relevant again. And in a few more episodes when hot-shots like the guardian Neferpitou and hunter Morau (Morel?) will enter the fray the battle for supremacy between man and ant is bound to become much more intense.

Attack On Titan – Making Action Anime Relevant Again

attack on titan

Shocking, disturbing, unique and mature. Attack on Titan isn’t only the best show to air this season, it’s also a return to that golden era when anime stood out for daring to infuse animation with gore. Continue reading »

Anime Reviews’ 2013 Anime Predictions

Girl with question marks

In the beginning of each new year I like to play a little game in which I predict how the upcoming anime year will unfold. A new year brings new predictions and I’m here yet again to share some of mine. But this time around if you happen to have an anime blog of your own you can also take part! Continue reading »

Shounen Jump Addiction: Watching One Series For More Than 10 Years

Hell (Naruto)

Shounen Jump anime series are an ambiguous creature. They are the most popular anime ever created and are enjoying immense fan bases. On the other hand they are infamously filled with fillers, can be repetitive, are stretched across hundreds of episodes and at times suffer from low production quality. I’ve been watching Naruto for ten years now. I can’t stand fillers and have lost my passion for ninja action a long time ago. So how come I still watch Naruto and am enjoying it? Continue reading »

2011 Winter Anime Season Retrospective

The 2011 winter anime season has concluded and a new season is just around the corner. Instead of summarizing the plot of new series and calculating how the next season might end up being I though I’ll review in retrospective five series from the last season. So before we clear our schedules for the season to come here’s a brief check on how some of the last season’s favorites turned up. I’ll be going at this in a simple manner: each day will bring a new brief spoiler-free (as much as possible) review of one series that aired this last season. These reviews are here to allow you to judge for yourselves which series you missed out on and should watch, and which aren’t worth your time. There were at least a couple of surprises this last season. Which series raised the bar for anime? and which series was so terrible that it should not be watched even by the fans? Read on to find out.


Bakuman (Season 2)

Bakuman’s 2nd season had a promising start. Mashiro and Takagi’s manga finally enter serialization and things are going smoothly. That is until their manga drops down in the magazine’s popularity chart and is cancelled. The rest of the season focuses on their attempts to pump out a more promising manga. It’s an interesting journey to watch, if not a very exciting one. Creating a superb manga takes time, and lots of it. We encounter so many little nit bits about manga production and creation in these episodes that the whole process can eventually become tedious to watch. But somehow Bakuman manages to take mundane tasks and make them exciting enough for us to hang around for another episode. The conclusions of important staff meetings or big announcements are always taunted at the end of an episode to create tension and anticipation. That way, even if these decisions end up being total fish-bait (and some do) you end up watching another episode nonetheless. A lot of new characters join the fry in this season, but surprisingly the best this season has to offer comes from Aoki Kou. A script writer in the first season, she now tries to draw a manga on her own. After passing many trials and errors she not only succeeds in creating her own manga, but also grows as a person. She was a cold-hearted woman in the first season, but by the end of the 2nd season she’s become my favorite mangaka. One that I hope will play an active role in the the 3rd season as well.

Verdict: I have to admit that the 2nd season came a bit short. It wasn’t fast enough, was boring at times and began to stutter considerably in the later episodes. But even with all those shortcomings taken into account it still had enough surprises and tension in it to be more than worth your while. It also helps that Monochrome Rainbow is one hell of an ending theme.


Tantei Opera Milky Holmes (season 2)

A year ago Milky Holmes had a wonderful first season. It was funny, cute and refreshing at the same time. In fact I found it so witty that I hurriedly proclaimed it as no less than the new Power Puff Girls. But then came a  2nd season that was, well, terrible. Although the main theme remains intact – the girls are still looking for a way to restore their Toys – the  2nd season of Milky Holmes quickly spirals into the realm of hardcore slapstick nonsense. All the characters are reduced to their utmost stereotypes and are painfully dumber than how they appeared on the firstseason. It was easy to sympathy with four cute girls who diligently look for their lost powers. It’s much harder to sympathize with four dumb girls who have forgotten about their powers altogether and spend their days leaching on their friends and wreaking havoc in the process. The ideas behind the second season dry up fast, leaving you wanting in pretty much every aspect in the series. The 2nd season is so barren and inconsistent with the first that there is in fact only one battle in the entire series, and it too is reduced to a slapstick finale. If you think I’m overreacting or expecting too much of Milky Holmes watch this:


This is how the characters are shown in the PSP game, a game in which they actually use their powers and solve detective mysteries. Is creating a decent detective plot with some action too hard a thing to ask from a series which has the word Tantei (detective) in its name? Wouldn’t the series appeal to a larger audience if it were a bit more polished, like the games are?

Verdict: This season definitely isn’t worth your time, even if you did watch the first season and loved it. It will only leave you with feelings of emptiness and missed chances. Even though it had a solid first season to build upon and unlimited possibilities it could have exploited the 2nd season turn out to be one big sour disappointment. Better luck next season, Milky Holmes!   


Hunter x Hunter (2011)

A boy named Gon sets out on a journey to find his father. But to do so he first must become a hunter – a dangerous and prestigious occupation for which an elaborate test was established. Along the way he meets up with the assassin Killua, the avenger Kurapica and the inspiring-doctor Leorio. Although their goals are different they find themselves helping each other on the way to becoming hunters…
As someone who watched and loved the original Hunter x Hunter series I pretty much knew what to expect from the new 2011 version. At its core HxH is a shounen series, but it packs considerably more intelligence and surprises then it’s counterparts in the genre. The new series has been polished for the HD generation, has better pacing, much better animation and is a more accurate reproduction of the manga. Mind you the original series was also accurate and “more accurate” in this context translates to less filler episodes. It’s always better to have less fillers and more meat on your shounen series. That said, the new series falters where its old counterpart shined best: in its music and feeling of tension. Hunter x Hunter 2011 has terrible music that doesn’t blend with the action or the comedy. It also doesn’t have a single track to play during times of tension. The old series used the known formula of ending episodes on cliffhangers, and tension was high. The new series lowers your expectations and reflects less tension, not only due to the lack of an appropriate music score, but also because most of the cliffhangers were left on the editing room floor in favor of the better pacing. Moreover, for some strange reason Hunter x Hunter 2011 feels more childish and colorful then it should. This is a dark series we are talking about here. What will happen to all this colorfulness and cheerfulness in the later episodes when blood starts flowing freely down the streets and terrorists start blowing people up?

Verdict: This one’s easy – if you haven’t seen Hunter x Hunter yet you should definitely watch this new version. It’s better suited for the new millennium and is still relevant in all the right ways. Not only is it a good series in its own good, it was also one of the series that built the foundations of the modern shounen genre (want to know were Naruto’s ninjas got their Sharingan from? Kurapica did it first). If, on the other hand, you’ve already seen the old series (perhaps you even own the incomplete Viz sets?) I advise you to skip the first episodes and wait at least until we get to the darker York Shin arc in a couple of weeks’ time.     


Black Rock Shooter TV

After being unimpressed with the Black Rock Shooter OVA more than a year ago I approached Black Rock Shooter TV with low expectations. Little did I know that this 8 episodes show will turn out to be the best thing I’ll be watching this season. I won’t explain to plot here, since I already wrote an entire post about it before. Read that post if you want a more in-length analysis about the series. I’ll just conclude my observations by saying that Black Rock Shooter TV offers an exquisite combination of action, psychology, art and music (and by music I mean the tear-jerking ending theme Our Footprints). It’s what all anime should be – a little risqué, a little vogue, and rewarding to watch.

Verdict: If you only have the time to watch one series from the 2011 winter season it should definitely be Black Rock Shooter TV. I’ll post a more formal review of this gem once I get my copy of the Blu-ray in July.       


Ano Natsu De Matteru

Ano Natsu De Matteru (we’ll be waiting in that summer) was a new romance series from the creator of Onegai Teacher and Onegai Twins. Not surprisingly it featured a young boy who falls in love with an alien girl. Kiato falls in love with Ichika, who appears to be a foreign exchange student at first. The story revolves around the two’s gradual growing relationship. Along the way Kiato’s friends are introduced and they all decide to film an amateur movie together. We soon discovered that most of Kaito’s friends are locked in a strange love predicament in which they are loved by someone they don’t care about and love someone who doesn’t care about them.
Ano Natsu has that magical feel its predecessors had, that feeling of encapsulated nostalgia. You know you never had such a childhood and that everything is over simplified, but it still seems nostalgic somehow. The series itself is far from being realistic or immersive. The plot is very simple and the characters unimpressive. It’s hard to swallow the notion that this group of friends all love each other in secret, and have done so for many years. It’s also hard to care about it considering someone confesses his or her love every single episode. The fact that Ichika is an alien adds nothing to the plot, and in fact makes the series unbelievably tasteless. The first episodes are fine, but you will lose interest by the time the third or fourth person confesses their love. The end of the series relies solely on the whole alien meets boy setting. This in turn causes the series’ shaky foundations to collapse in all their cliché glory.

Verdict: Don’t waste your time on this one. If you yearn for some sweet romance nostalgia you can always play it safe and rewatch Onegai Twins.

The New Hunter x Hunter Movie Could Feature These Stories

It’s been a bitter-sweet week for Hunter x Hunter fans. The first ever HxH movie has been announced, and was shortly followed by news of Yoshihiro Togashi taking another hiatus from drawing the manga.

Today we focus on the upcoming movie. Its plot, production studio and release date are all unknown at this point. However, Mainichi Shimbun’s website report that the movie will have an entirely original plot, which opens the door for many interesting possibilities. Although movies in the shounen genre are usually big hollow fillers, HxH is different than most other shounen title in that a huge chunk of it was never explored in the anime and was only hinted at in the manga. Below are four possible scenarios for the movie that might make it canon material despite featuring stories not adapted directly from the manga. Do note that this post assumes you’ve watched the old 90s anime or read the manga. There will be spoilers.


My Spider Senses are Tingling

Oh Kurapika, how the mighty have fallen. You stole the show during the York Shin arc, and blended well in one of the series’ darkest of hours. For a time it seemed like Hunter x Hunter will be filled with blood, revenge and eyeballs. But then, after encountering the Spiders’ leader Chrollo, Kurapika massacre comes to an early end. In the wink of an eye Hunter x Hunter leaves Kurapika behind and moves to focus on Gon and Killua’s adventures, never to show Kurapika again. That is, until the picture above appeared in the manga last week. More than a year (in story time) has passes since Kurapika was phased out from the main HxH storyline. Could this new upcoming movie be a continuation of his revenge against the spiders? Or maybe a side-story adventure explaining how did so many Kurta clan eyeballs have come to his possession? It certainly seems like a dark route worth exploring.


The Magician and the Tent

One of HxH’s most nefarious and beloved characters is the murderous magician Hisoka. Hisoka’s personality is as twisted as they come – a pedophile, a narcissist and a skilled schemer, all in one. But how did Hisoka come to possess such a strange personality? People sure don’t turn out that way in a natural manner. Wouldn’t you love to see a movie specifically dedicated to Hisoka’s youth? Perhaps one that culminates in him murdering one of the spiders and joining their ranks?


The Adventures of the Worst Father Ever

Ging is one of HxH’s less explored characters. The only things we know for sure about him is that he’s Gon’s father, that he’s a powerful hunter and that he failed at the mission he set forth to accomplish when he left Wail island so many years ago. If you’ve read the manga you also might know by now that he’s the worst father ever. But this doesn’t change the fact that his history is foggy and mysterious. How did he become a hunter at such a young age? Why the heck did he create Greed Island? And how come he ended up leaving his son right after his wife (Gon’s mother) had died?
These are all intriguing questions, but even if you aren’t interested in Ging as a person surely you’re interested in seeing just what Nen powers he uses? Or maybe how he met and trained Kaito? A voyage down memory lane to his early life might shed light on these unknown parts of the HxH history.


Journey to the East

After being cursed by Kurapika’s Judgment Chain, the Phantom Troupes (also known as the Spiders) leader Chrollo is left alone, never the be mentioned again. Per the prophecy he was given Chrollo travels to the east in search of a way to remove the curse. It is later hinted that he discovers Greed Island, which is indeed located to the east, and enlist Hisoka to help him find a Nen remover. Hisoka finds a Nen remover…and then things starts to get strange. Nor the anime nor the manga show what happens after that. Chrollo is thoroughly forgotten by both Hisoka and the spiders. In fact, some of the spiders make an appearance during the Ant arc later on, and they don’t seem to miss of care about their long-gone leader. Could the new movie shed light on Chrollo’s destiny? Will he be cured of his curse only to enroll in a battle to the death with Hisoka? Or will Kurapika pop up for a final confrontation with this darkly clad mass murderer?

Four possibilities, all of them worth exploring in this upcoming movie. What do you expect from the movie? Do you have your own original ideas about the movie’s plot? Do you have a preferred and yet unexplored character you’d like to see featured in it?

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