Anime Greats: Hunter X Hunter

Welcome! This will be the fifth post in a series of posts I call “Anime Greats”. There’s a few anime that sit in a weird place in my life; while they’re popular, I’ve met very few fellow fans of the series or none at all. That being said, I’ll do my public duty and give it a bit of exposure.

Hunter X Hunter is an adventure series by the legendary mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi, author of YuYu Hakusho and the husband of Naoko Takeuchi, creator of the Sailor Moon series. I’m new to this series as a whole, to be honest, though I attempted to read the manga a few years back and didn’t get very far. It wasn’t until this May-June that I sat down and had time to go through the 2011 anime, and I was thoroughly impressed with virtually everything about it. I love the idea of pursuing what you love to the maximum reasonable extent which the series is based on of.

I’d like to get one thing out first before continuing any further; Yoshihiro Togashi is not putting the series on hiatus as a result of laziness. It is a result of back pain which is causing him to repeatedly slow his schedule down. Personally, it just makes me respect him more that he works through the pain when he’s able to (though of course, his health comes first). The man’s been creating manga since the early years of elementary school. I don’t think he’s taking breaks from Hunter X Hunter out of laziness of boredom.

Hunter X Hunter is focused on a boy named Gon who wants to become a “hunter” to find his father. A Hunter in this series is an individual who has been proven to be the best humanity has to offer in terms of physical or mental prowess. As of the latest arc, only 661 people have shown the capacity to be called a Hunter in the world. Gon’s position in the series is interesting to me in that he doesn’t always take the forefront of the story. He is often a major player in the events, but the climax doesn’t always begin with Gon facing off against the villain of the arc. Also, losses by the heroes are more common in this series, from what I’ve seen. Particularly in one of the later arcs at the time of writing, Gon must learn to cope with his lack of power in some situations. It helps to show that despite Gon’s prominence in the series, the world he lives in always has someone or something else which is higher on the food chain.

A trope of the shōnen manga is the inclusion of a force which allows the user to rise above the average human life. Ki, Haki, Chakra, etc. The concept of Nen in Hunter X Hunter fills the spot by allowing the user to use their own life energy. A unique trait of Nen is the ability to amplify it by making a vow with yourself. While the power achieved this way can be immense, breaking the vow can potentially forfeit your ability to use Nen. Also, Nen users have individual strengths and weaknesses, allowing the users to achieve specific powers which are common in many shounen anime such as manipulating lightning and strength enhancement.

The power of the average Hunter allows them to focus on whatever passion they wish to pursue. Gon wishes to find his father, who is also a hunter, while some want to become the best cook. In fact, one of the jobs of the Hunter Association is to not only discover new and lost knowledge, but to preserve it and occasionally enforce the peace.

Due to Togashi’s health, the series may not receive an ending, but the quality of what we do have remains untouched.  Togashi is one of the few mangaka that I’m aware of that has managed to surpass the success of one major series with that of another, in his case YuYu Hakusho. The story is intricate, the art style is perky with the occasional underlying dark theme, and the music of the anime series fills you with energy. Finish or not,this series will likely remain a top favorite in my book.

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