This is the second of The Cart Driver’s 12 Days posts today. It is also the coolest so far, because it’s about Hunter x Hunter and not Future Diary.
For a long time, the remake of Hunter x Hunter was often good, but never great. Maybe there would be pacing issues, or the sound design would be inappropriate for what the show was trying to communicate, or the animation would be shoddy where it should not have been. I still enjoyed it, because Hunter x Hunter is an excellent shonen story, but the remake wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. For a few months now, however, Hunter x Hunter has been on an absolute tear, and the conclusion to the short Heavens Arena arc is where it started.
Hisoka is not the only antagonist in Hunter x Hunter (and in this arc we get the first glimpse of the Phantom Troupe to which Hisoka belongs), but up until this point, he is the bar by which Gon measures his progress. Gon is a strong kid, but Hisoka wipes the floor with him during the Hunter Exam. Hisoka humiliates Gon and takes a fat crap on Gon’s successful steal of Hisoka’s badge by beating the piss out of Gon and allowing Gon to keep the badge for the points he’ll earn. “I’ll take this badge back only when you can hit me,” Hisoka taunts.
Fast forward to Heavens Arena. Gon and Killua have to learn Nen in record time simply so that Hisoka will allow them to fight. Gon battles his way to the top until he actually wins enough for Hisoka to consider him an interesting diversion. When they finally meet in battle, Hisoka further belittles Gon by saying he will stand in one spot while fighting Gon and not step even an inch away. Hisoka respects Gon only enough to give him a token fight — he doesn’t believe anything will happen at all.
Then the fight happens, and it’s amazing. It’s not about beating Hisoka; Gon knows he has nowhere near the skill or power required to do that yet. But avenging the act of disrespect that has been burning inside him since the Hunter Exam? Yes, Gon can do that, and he does do that. Everything Gon does leads up to the moment where he gives Hisoka one good punch and defiantly returns the badge he’s been carrying with him since the Hunter Exam.
This is the moment where I unequivocally believed the Hunter x Hunter remake did something that surpassed the original anime. Without a doubt, this is a better fight than the older Hisoka/Gon battle: The weight of the moves, the fluidity of the animation, the fight cinematography and choreography, the sound design and the big punch at the end are all flat-out better here. The series has topped itself since then, but this is the moment where everything first came together to produce something truly special.