Welcome to Anime Re-watch, a new column where we take a look at some of the best anime from the late 90’s and early 2000’s to discover if they have withstood the test of time.
In todays world, the anime realm is over populated with great material and fresh content. This consistent wave of robust anime makes it hard for fans to counjure up free time to re-watch some of their old favorites.
The goal for this segment is to decide whether or not some of these shows are as good as we remember them to be, and to conduct a review which will determine the final verdict on if a re-watch is even worth your time.
Most of these reviews will be spoiler free and geared on two key aspects:
- Basic Plot: which will include the type of audience the show is aimed towards, as well as any interesting development
- Technical Attributes: animation, voice-over, and other media related items.
So sit back and take a nostalgia trip as we relive some of the anime that made us into the fans we are today!
This month’s subject anime is Hunter x Hunter. Originally released in 1999 and remade in 2011, we will focus on the original series, which followed a popular 90’s manga where a young boy decides to become a “hunter,” or a person who is an elite individual in areas such as tracking, hunting criminals, or discovering new species of wild animals.
In the case of Gon Freecss, he decides to follow in the footsteps of his famous father, a hunter who disappeared when Gon was just a baby. On his adventures, he takes the hunter exam, which is a rigorous physical and mental exam where hundreds of prospective hunters face challenges that they could never imagine – in order to gain their hunter license; a certificate that grants them the privileges afforded to an official hunter. He also befriends several other hunter candidates as they travel together seeking to achieve their various goals. The plot follows several typical shonen stereotypes, and the first arc of the story is strikingly similar to Goku’s adventures in the original Dragon Ball series. As the plot progresses, it does differentiate, and this is where the series shines.
After the generic opening arc, character development becomes the main focus. Each member of the main group, Gon, Kurapika, Killua, and Leorio all have different backstories and motivations which are explored in thorough fashion. This development time is necessary in making Hunter x Hunter something more than a cookie cutter action anime. By the time the final arc rolls around, the watcher feels as though they have a connection with each characters motivations and actions. When it comes to plot, Hunter x Hunter’s has endured, giving it a passing grade in the first stage of our examination.
In the second phase, the technical merits of the series are put to the test. As with many older series, Hunter x Hunter is not available in a widescreen format, so watching on any current monitor or TV will result in black bars around the action. I do not personally feel that this detracts from the experience, but some purists may beg to differ. When it comes to the animation itself, it holds up surprisingly well for an anime going on 17 years old. The colors are bright, and the characters travel to several different climates and locations, with each one being distinctly animated. I honestly think it would compare favorably to several modern animations that tend to reuse color palettes and environments. The sound design is average, which in itself is a good thing. The voice acting is done well, and the English dub is surprisingly well done too.
A final consideration to make about the anime is in its pacing. In the original version, the anime caught up to the manga, and was forced to go on a break. This resulted in the remainder of the story being released after the TV run only as three OVA’s which have no English dub and can be quite difficult to find in any watchable format. If you are able to find them and watch the complete original series all the way through, that is by far my preferred method over the 2011 reboot. The reboot does cover the entire manga, but tends to rush through several important character events from the original, and feels less developed in that area. It is unfortunate that the original is so fragmented, but it still does enough to maintain a passing mark in the technical review.
For a final verdict, we also have to take into account the length of the anime. Clocking in at 92 episodes for the original series, this is not a weekend watch. However, I think that this anime definitely has a place for those who want to appreciate an older anime and how it has lent itself to the more modern storylines that we see today. In the case of Hunter x Hunter, my recommendation for the series would be to someone who is new to anime.
It is an action adventure at heart, and does not have any overcomplicated plot devices, making it easy to keep up with. The dubbed version is useful for someone who has never watched a subbed anime of this length before, and is a perfectly fine way to watch the series. In the end, I think that Hunter x Hunter is still different enough from any one modern anime that there is value to watching it all these years later.
FINAL VERDICT: RE-WATCH