50 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Hunter X Hunter (2011) episode 1

For a new season, I write about the first episodes of most of the anime that air. That doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to blog them. I don’t decide what I’m going to blog until the second episodes air. It’s a way of covering my bases so I don’t end up with a stinker that only impressed during it’s first episode.

With that out of the way, onto the first impressions of generic shounen #523652 (the remake).

When they announced they were going to make another Hunter X Hunter anime, I assumed that it would be a sequel. I hadn’t seen the original, but I had heard it followed the manga pretty closely and only stopped airing because it ran out of material to adapt. The author had health problems, so the manga slowed to a crawl in updates. But after 10 years since the original series ended, I assumed there must finally be enough new material for a sequel. So I started watching the original in preperation…well, when I say started, I only got through the first episode. It wasn’t bad, but it also didn’t seem to have anything unique going for it that warranted further exploration. I probably would have watched more, but then the new season was announced to be a remake so I decided not to bother.

So what’s changed since my single episode excursion? The animation has been updated for the new age, but it doesn’t necessarily look any better. It just means the characters move about a bit more when they’re standing on the ship. The entire first episode of the original series focused on why Gon wanted to become a Hunter and his growing up and leaving home, but the remake condensed that entire scene into about 5 minutes, which isn’t really that much of an improvement either. The music has gotten a massive upgrade though. I haven’t a clue what the music sounded like in the original (aka it was forgettable dribble), but in the remake it sounds like a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean and Classical Marching Music. I really suits the adventure feel of the series, especially since they spent most of the episode on a boat. It sounded like the kind of music I want to hear from the Last Exile sequel. But my problem with the series, as was my problem with the original, is I can’t see anything that makes this special.

[Insert male lead’s name here] is a young boy with spiky hair, energetic and good-natured, who wants to become a [Insert Fighting Profession of the day here] just like [Insert Inspirational Figure here]. He bids a tearful farewell to [Insert motherly figure here] and goes off on a journey, meeting a rag-tag group of companions, including the joker and the angsty character seeking revenge.

There’s nothing here that you can sell Hunter X Hunter with. “It’s a shounen, but with ninjas/pirates/grim reapers/pokemon/bread etc“. What are Hunters? They are the generic fighting adventurers who fulfil the tasks a shounen lead needs to have. Every single other shounen has something you can sell it with. Something unique that’s immediately apparent in it’s first episode. One Piece has the unique goofy art style and mad world it inhabits. Bleach has the dead people coming back as monsters and you have to put them to rest with your giant sword. I mean sure, maybe I need to watch more to see what unique selling point this one has. And I will continue watching more for now, because it’s not like it’s bad. But it needs to have some interesting feature to it, or else it will just breeze past me in a wave of generic shounen tropes and stereotypes.

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48 Comments

  1. Posted October 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Then hear my 523652th generic response: I-It get’s better, I swear!

  2. Posted October 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    It has a plot that takes more than one episode to develop, I swear!

    • Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      I have a habit of believing whatever Baka said and I did enjoy the first episode so… I’ll make up my mind when the other shouta appeared.

  3. yorkshin
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    it gets better. i know of people who have almost dropped the original series but persisted anyway, and who are now the unbelievably loyal fans.

  4. Shiara
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    *insert it-gets-better line here*

    While I don’t know how this remake will turn out, I’d say that the first anime is one of those that is waaaaaay above ninjas and grim reapers and exorcists and at the same level as pirates and alchemists

  5. Posted October 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Maybe the second opening of the original series will do the trick for you:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6r1YHpMgkU&feature=related
    Stuff looks way better now, doesn’t it?

  6. Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Nostalgia. This show has plenty of it. I think it could be good to watch for people who complain about the newest shows because they’re not as ‘unique’ as those when we were young… A bit like with Dragon Ball Kai.

  7. Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    lol every comment is going to be “It gets better, I swear!”

    But I think Madhouse realizes that the beginning is VERY standard shonen — this takes one episode to do what the original did in three. You lose a bit of characterization, but I don’t think it’s such a big deal. If Madhouse can get through this initial meh part in like 3-5 and get straight into the meat of the Hunter Exam as quickly as possible, then things will pick up. I was very skeptical at first since the series didn’t really capture my attention even after 10 episodes, but it won me over eventually.

    • Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Well yeah, pretty much my thoughts.
      On the downside, they skipped Gon’s flashback regarding Kaito. I’m sure they’ll include it later on but it really fit into the first chapter to demonstrate why Gon’s so fond of becoming a hunter. It’s at least way better than “My dad’s a hunter so it must be kewl~.”. That way, his dad would have looked more amazing to the audience as well.
      Secondly, I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t include Gon’s relationship to his fluffy pet. It’s a saying in the manga that animals become attraced to good hunters and Gon proves this more than once. While I don’t think it’s necessary to be especially close to your source material and it’s not that much off a lost, it would have been a better characterization than “Gon helps everyone. Look, there’s poor Katsuo who’s in serious trouble but Gon nevertheless makes him shine.”.

      Oh, and CHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU~ was plain stupid.

      • Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        Oh, and CHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU~ was plain stupid.

        Ohohohoho. It’ll be brought back if the anime decides to push through adapting the latest arc. It’ll be very relevant later on. *disappears into the shadows*

      • Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, there are a few things Madhouse skips to get through these episodes in a hurry — Gon’s reasons for becoming a Hunter are more developed in the original, as is his affinity with nature. But I think there are plenty of opportunities to develop the latter, and the former isn’t THAT big a deal in the long run.

  8. hikaru
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm, since the ‘it gets better’ line doesn’t work on you how about ‘it gets more violent! I swear!’ instead?

    I’ve never found HunterxHunter to be a stereotypical shonen show. Maybe because I was fairly new to anime back when I watched the original but some of the directions it takes felt like they totally came outta left field.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      People said that about Blood C. Somehow that didn’t encourage me to watch that either

      • luffyluffy
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Blood-C got fantastic, and everyone who hated it was too hard on it.

        Then again, I ended up watching the last 3 or so episodes with a close friend of mine, and it actually got better. You know, watching stuff in groups makes it better and stuff?

        I can’t explain it, but I really really loved Blood-C

      • Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Well, it was a nice show to waste your popcorn on. Otherwise… eh… not so much…

      • Scamp
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        I saw this gif

        http://keikakudoori.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/blood-c-rabbits.gif

        and decided I wanted none of it

      • Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        I’d say it was a pretty satisfying end to the series. Many shows go out of character in order to integrate some silly silly drama when it comes to the last episodes, but BLOOD-C didn’t. It started as a bloody mess and left its stage as a bloody mess. I’ll give it as much credit as that.

      • fathomlessblue
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        The most frightening part of that gif isn’t the way the Elder Bairns make their special Shrovetide pancake mix, but the way they prance along the street to their victims! It’s still making me laugh!

  9. Arisu
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    It gets better. I swear!~

    The first arc is good, the second fantastic, the third very good, the most recent phenomenal, if they animate it. I’ll be in anime heaven. :3

  10. luffyluffy
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    sidebar guy looks like some sort of bastard mix of Lupin III and Vash the Stampede.

    • luffyluffy
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Oh god I just watched it

      Even if it’s complete shit I’ll end up watching just for Leorio.

  11. ~xxx
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Insert ‘I swear it gets better’ sidebar…

    It would be awesome if they made the show condense into 39-s2 episodes(wait, it’s still long!)

    And they made the clown it’s early appearance.

  12. fathomlessblue
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    On the plus side; “at least it’s not Kampfer, I swear!”

    • Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Now you make me feel like I set something really unpleasent in motion.:/

  13. fathomlessblue
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry, I can’t think of many more bad anime that rhymes with better… lets see Onegai Teacher… hmmm, Soul Taker… perhaps…

    • fathomlessblue
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Oooh, I know; “It’s not GetBackers, I swear!”

      Thank you, thank you; I’ll be here all night! ^ ^

      • Anna Ki
        Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        But Getbackers doesn’t rhyme with “better”…

      • fathomlessblue
        Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:26 am | Permalink

        Hey, I’m working with limited material here, gimme a break!

  14. Scamp
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I should have a pre-written “it gets better I swear” comment for people to use when they want to utter those forsaken words

  15. Red
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    It’s a felony comparing hunter x hunter to a typical shounen

    • Anna Ki
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      I would say that HxH is one of the least stereotypical shonens that’s running in Shonen Jump right now, honestly.

      • HK
        Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:09 am | Permalink

        How about series like Sket Dance and Gintama (especially)? Those series make a living out of breaking and making fun of stereotypes. Course, it’s done with a special kind of affection, but they nonetheless are very different from standard Shonen Jump series.

  16. Posted October 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I’d tell you that it gets better, but I have no guarantee of that, especially since I haven’t seen the first season, and it has been a long, long time since I read the manga.

    Having said that, I will point out that Hunter x Hunter is scary, really scary at times.
    Pretty much all of the important characters are batshit crazy, no kidding, they really are.
    Even Gon, the main character, he looks like a sweet innocent boy who would do no wrong, but truth be told, he lacks a sense of empathy and maybe even morality.
    If it came down to killing someone not close to him, Gon, really wouldn’t hesitate and this might not seem like a big deal, but this is a Shonen, so it really is a big deal.

    To be honest with you, I somewhat think that the manga is barely a Shonen, and it leans really close to that magical Seinen boundary.

    My personal advice would be that you watch the show, but don’t blog it.

    I say that because the moment you start blogging it, first season hipsters and manga hipsters (like me!) will come and complain about how the character development wasn’t up to par, or how they skipped something important, inserted something filler and in general desecrated the “masterpiece” that was the manga.

    • Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      It’s a Shounen as it’s published in a Shounen magazine. That’s how it goes. Death Note’s also a Shounen, same for K-ON!. Spot the similarities.

      There are also a lot of Seinen pandering to Otakus and that’s exactly why you just can’t give a shit regarding all those categories.

      • Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:16 am | Permalink

        I agree with you in that a Shounen is only a Shounen because it is published in a Shounen magazine, but in general, Shounen magazines have a specific demographic that they are targeted towards (male teenagers normally), and since they are targeted towards a common demographic, the manga running in these magazines tend to share certain traits, especially when you further break them down into things like fighting Shonen, romantic Shonen, etc..

        In general, Shonens that involve fighting often share stuff like a good willed main character, and definitive differences between good and bad. I was just saying that Hunter x Hunter doesn’t quite share as many of those traits.
        Of course, Death Note is also an exception, as for K-ON, well, it’s not really a battle Shonen, more of a slice of life or something (I haven’t read it!).
        So, yeah, maybe I should have said Battle Shounen, and I guess, my point is moot anyway, I was just saying that Hunter x Hunter is a bit too scary to be “gen­eric shounen #523652″. :P

        In fighting Shonen,

    • Anna Ki
      Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      And that point has really, really struck home in the latest arc. How Gon is really not all that different from the Complete Monster villains after all. Killua even explicitly pointed something similar regarding himself during the Greed Island Arc (can’t go into details without spoiling, but you know what I mean.) The morality of the characters in HxH is really intriguing. More interesting than the typical black-and-white morality featured in your stereotypical shonen flick.

  17. Marow
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m all excited for this show. Besides the fast pacing (and the parts they skipped, which I’m sure they will introduce later on), it wasn’t bad at all. When the exam starts it will become better. With this pacing, assuming they keep it, it will only take a couple of episodes before they get there.

    Cannot unhear Holland’s (Eureka Seven) voice though, so Leorio sounds a bit strange for me.

  18. Anna Ki
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    HunterXHunter: Generic Shonen

    -snerk-

    That’s like saying Arakawa Under the Bridge is just a generic harem comedy.

    Wait until the Hunter Exam hits.

    Also I hate that the unique* quality of Togashi’s art style refuses to transfer properly to the screen. It happened with Level E, and it’s happening here as well. The haunting quality of his monsters and the grotesquely semi-realistic renderings of some of his supporting characters/creatures (the ones that aren’t main characters and therefore don’t need to be conventionally attractive) just disappears when you color and animate it. (And that, Scamp, is one of the reasons why animation isn’t necessarily superior to manga. It’s like saying the printed word is superior to calligraphy: each has its own merits and disadvantages.)

    *Clarification: when I say unique I don’t mean “hahaha, let me turn in a name and pretend that it’s a full-blown properly-inked manuscript and have my publishers publish the chicken scratch anyway”-unique.

    What’s great about HunterXHunter is that it doesn’t use cheap gimmicks and simplistic premises to draw people in. (*cough*Toriko*cough*OnePiece*cough*Blearch*coughcoughcough*)

    Okay, Scamp, one last point to convince you to keep watching. You watched Level E, right? Do you really think the insane clump of neurons which churned out the pile of rainbow shit that’s Level E would really, really create a “stereotypical” shonen anime? Really?

    …well, okay, to be fair, there was Yuu Yuu Hakusho, but I’d say YYH has plain quality going for it. (And to be fair, what other manga begins with its shonen protagonist getting hit by a car and dying?) Though I would rate HxH > YYH for sure when it comes to originality.

    And then there’s the nen system which both deconstructs AND exploits the stereotypical “POWER OF HEART” or “POWER OF FRIENDSHIP” or “RANDOM EMOTION-BASED POWER-UP THAT’S IN THERE FOR PLOT CONVENIENCES” that so many shonen manga fall prey to. It’s a parsimonious, all-encompassing fantasy system/paradigm that can easily be used to explain (in a ‘scientific’ manner) virtually all the systems that other shonen manga run on (including cooking manga, medical manga, detective manga, sports manga, politcal manga, manga about economics, manga about card games or chess or lying… in addition to fantasy fighting manga or just manga about plain old martial arts.) The nen system is a system about LIFE. It’s a system with real world repercussions that include more than just combat-related effects. I’d say this is a work any fantasy fan needs to watch just for that system alone. In terms of world-building and having a fantasy system that’s organized, well-developed, and just plain makes sense, I’d rank HxH as amongst the highest in shonen manga world. (Negima would be up there as well, but its system feels more sprawling and mythology-based and less parsimonious and compact than the nen system – not necessarily a bad thing though.)

  19. HK
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    Well my experience with the first series is, it may be more or less standard shonen, but the way things are handled are cream of the crop and of high quality.
    I also really liked its fights and its “battle system”. It was more clever than just yelling out move names and blasting chi at one another, which is such a turn off.

    But that’s only up to what the first anime covered. I heard some funky stuff about the things that come afterwords, but I don’t really know. I’ll be seeing them for the first time through this series.

  20. Anna Ki
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Okay, so I just watched the first episode of this remake.

    Ahaha. It makes so much sense now. If people watch this and then think HunterXHunter is standard shonen, I really can’t blame them. -buries head in hands- Oh the characterization. Oh the mangled characterization. Oh the sparkly eyes and sappy hugs and melodramatic angsty gestures. Where did everybody’s intelligence disappear to. Where’s my smart, mature Gon, my calm, cold, non-melodramatic Kurapica. Where’s the dark, gritty HunterXHunter I know. Oh god.

    WHAT’S THE POINT OF DOING A REMAKE IF IT’S JUST GOING TO DESTROY EVERYTHING THE ORIGINAL STANDS FOR?! -doomgloommuttermuttercurse- Seriously, what is this? A children’s cartoon?

    And don’t talk to me about nostalgia filter, I just went and reread the first two chapters of the manga and they were as good as I remembered. I’m never trusting Madhouse again. Never. -sob-

    • HK
      Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      Sorry Anna, but I liked it. If I wanted the same thing from before, I’d go watch the first series again.

      The first episode of the original wasn’t that impressive either. I didn’t get into it until the exams actually started. I appreciate the all the little things in the beginning now, but when I first watched it was pretty boring stuff.

      And well…the target audience IS kids you know. Then and now. Jump titles are for kids. It’s a happy thing that other age groups enjoy it and they do cater to those groups as well, but the true target age group for Jump series will always be kids.

    • fon
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      I have to say you both have great points but I really wish they had improved even more on the character development in the 2011 one.Some of the action sequences are a bit slack,I think Naruto should be praised for their fight scene,my most memorable ones are during the Chuunin exams.
      I do wish that they had made the G.I OVA’s longer,some parts just were too fast paced at times.Overall, I say us Original fans just keep an open mind and see where it goes.Remeber,it’s only been 5 eps so far.Maybe it’ll be like FMA,I think the remake and original should both be watched to get the full experience though I really perfer the remakes ending.

  21. gaguri
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    How the ‘events’ are programmed is what makes the work so intriguing. Much like the Chounin exam in Naruto, there are contests, auctions, even ‘virtual video game’ events that occur in the manga, where it becomes a massive stage that attracts different factions with different agendas, creating unexpected and exciting outcomes. Interesting characters help, including throw-away characters (who die very soon after introduction…) with some interesting abilities and design. Gon is a simple but likable main character, Kurapika and Killua is bit more complex and interesting, and Hisoka is an absolutely fascinating villain. Art can be excellent when it wants to but is too inconsistent and often it looks quite sloppy. But it was a good run until the insect arc, where I just completely lost interest in the manga.

    • Anna Ki
      Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good assessment. Togashi is great at villain characters in general (the prince in Level E, Sensui in YYH, the Geneiryodan in HxH), I would say. Gon and Killua get rather… interesting, shall we say… character development in the insect arc though, in completely different ways. See, the thing with the Chimera Ant arc is that it’s full of brilliant moments and characters and plot developments… it’s just that it’s somewhat uneven and has pacing issues. Also it’s the longest freaking arc in the series, so arc fatigue can be a problem for some readers. The long hiatuses don’t help either. Apparently the whole arc reads much better when you marathon it, instead of having to wait months and years for the next chapter.

  22. Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    The standard response and my standard response for this show has always been to sit through a decent portion of the Hunter Exam to see for yourself. No shounen can be judged in the reasonable amount of time it takes for most other anime (3-5 eps), sometimes that has to be tripled or cubed. But at the pace this series may be going it may not be that long.

    I take no offense to people saying that they feel this, or Bleach, or Naruto or One Piece isn’t special. They either haven’t taken enough time to really judge it, or shounen generally isn’t their thing.

    • fon
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      I agree

  23. Posted October 16, 2011 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    As someone who watched the first and second, I really do advise you to watch the second before you write it off. I liked the first, but enjoyed the second so much more.

  24. fon
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    As a fan of the original,I also thought it was going to be a sequel.When they announced it was going to be a remake,I nearly had heart failureX_XBut I started watching the new one(the first 4 eps) and it’s not bad but there’s not enough material to compare yet.
    can understand what you mean by the original not being interesting enough for you,it takes a bit of time to pick up it’s pace but the storyline really is good and there’s character development that you really don’t see properly nowadays.
    I really recommend it to you,I’m 16 years old,I watched it when I was like,7 then re-watched it a year ago.The story really is a favorite of mine:)

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