Manga Reviews

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hunter X Hunter

Hunter X Hunter
Licensed by Viz

Topic: Fighting, Shounen, Supernatural

Gon Freaks is a young boy living with his aunt Mito because he believes his mother and father are dead. On day he encounters a strange man named Kato, who is searching for Gon's father. Kato tells Gon that his father is one of the world's greatest "Hunters" -- a group of special people who specialize in finding different sorts of things, from criminals and ancient artifacts down to exotic recipies. Kato's final test to become a hunter is to find Gon's father. At that moment, Gon makes it his goal to go find his father as well.

Three years later Gon has aged to the point where he can go take the hunter exam, a test run by current hunters to determine who has the qualifications to be a hunter. This exam is held once a year and although thousands attempt it each year, only a handful make it. To become a hunter he'll have to survive a series of inhuman tests and defeat incredibly strong opponents. Along the way he becomes friends with Killua Zoladick (a former assassin), Leorio (a student who wants to become a doctor, and Kurapika (the last survivor of his clan). Together they forge through the tests to try and become hunters.

Yet even though Gon becomes a hunter, his journey to find his father is just beginning. By stepping into the world of the hunters Gon has stepped into a much larger world where spiritual powers play roles in every day life. To survive in this world, against the new evils that he'll encounter, he must learn to tap his vast potential, and just maybe, that will bring his a few steps closer to finding his father.

Once again we are dealing with a prototypical fighting manga, where the protagonists face ever stronger opponents, interspersed around periods of intense training. The major difference between many of those and Hunter X Hunter is that here, the opponents are quite often stronger than the protagonists, which leads to plenty of situations where Gon and his friends must use their minds rather than their strength.

The character development is above average with backstory arcs for both Gon and Killua (who are the two primary characters). The author also makes sure the opponents have motivations for their actions, although sometimes those motivations are slapped together in a couple chapters, almost as an after thought. That said, most other mangas forgo this simple step and merely make opponents appear and disappear on a whim.

The art for the series goes from sloppy to decent and back to sloppy. This is because at the beginning, the author was still getting a feel for the characters, and as of late the author has been physically ill. However, if you're looking for something with more beautiful art, you might want to look elsewhere because parts of Hunter X Hunter will disappoint. Overall it's an enjoyable, if a bit mindless, fighting series that focuses on perserverence and faith over pure strength.

Rating: 7.0/10.0


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