Hunter x Hunter Box Set 4 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, December 21, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gon finds the path for his objective while Kurapika's goal of taking down the Spiders is closer than ever before.

What They Say

Mito gives Gon an iron box that Gon's father, Ging, left to him. But instead of providing clues to his father's whereabouts, what's inside only leads to more mysteries. While Gon and Killua head to Yorknew City, Kurapika gets a job with the mafia that soon brings him into conflict with the powerful Phantom Troupe at the underground auction. When Gon and Killua witness the members' overwhelming strength, they decide to shadow them to find out more, but the Phantom Troupe is one step ahead.

Contains episodes 47-62.

The Review!
Audio:
Hunter X Hunter is given a pretty solid pair of stereo mixes, both of which are encoded at 256kbps. The series is a fairly standard show in that it’s a very center channel based mix, but it has a good strong sound to it and it plays out well. Dialogue is very clean and clear through the presentation and it works well with the material. The show doesn’t play much for depth or placement for the most part so the mix comes across as a good one since it’s keeping things where they need to be. There’s nothing exceptional here, but it’s a good problem free mix that gets the job done well.

Video:
Originally beginning its airing back in 1999, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This release is spread across three discs in a 5/5/6 format with no real additional extras that would impact space. The layout of the show is straightforward for Viz with each disc running just under two hours as a single title with proper chapter marks and breaks. The show has replaced title cards and logos as well as the logos in the eye-catches. Visually, the series is what you’d expect for a shounen show from this time in that it has a very earthy feel to it with a fair bit of grain along the way. The dark scenes are the most impact where it has a bit of blocking to it and is less than solid. This wasn’t going to be a standout show in general, but the transfer overall is pretty good for what it is and it’s rather representative of the source material. With just a bit of line noise here and no cross coloration, we came away fairly pleased by it.

Packaging:
Hunter X Hunter is a fairly standard package design from Viz Media in that it’s a three disc foldout digipak. The slipcover piece is a little different as it has a cut into it where the X showcases the character artwork underneath. The main slipcover is free of character artwork on the front side otherwise, as it is primarily the logo and the X cut with a band across it in bright yellow. The greens and yellows really feel gaudy here but it certainly does get your attention. The back of the slipcover is a little better as there are several shots from the show and a nice chunk of black text that describes what the premise is. The middle portion is the shots from the show while the bottom has the production credits for both the Japanese production and the DVD release and adaptation. They do a nice job of plugging the episode and disc count here as well.

The interior part of the package is a solid three disc pullout piece that has a good selection of bright, vibrant character artwork across it on the outside. The dark olive green background works well here, much better than the bright green and yellow in the logo. The disc side of the package features a listing of the episode numbers and titles under the disc as well as a small headshot mirroring what’s on the disc silk-screening itself. It’s a very nicely put together piece that overall outshines the slipcover.

Menu:
The menu design for Hunter X Hunter is a straightforward piece with no animation to it, nor any interstitials as well which is a big positive. The menus use the same gray, green and yellow color design in the cross cut fashion where each disc has a different piece of character artwork, which is also seen on the interior of the box itself. Each disc has little to it for navigation with just language selection, episode selection and a play all feature but it’s very quick and easy to navigate. Submenus load quickly but the disc doesn’t read our players’ language defaults and runs with English language with no subtitles. These aren’t flashy menus, and they’re a big gaudy, but they’re functional and quick and they don’t have the English language blip of animation that usually plays when you start the feature that other Viz discs do.

Extras:
The only included extras in this release are on the third volume and it’s a simple set of storyboards from the show. They’re also scrunched down to just half the screen and framed so they aren’t exactly all that visible, even on larger setups.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Hunter x Hunter’s TV run comes to a close with these final sixteen episodes that take us through roughly the eleventh volume of the manga series. Gon and company have come a long way since we first met them and achieved a lot when you consider how few actually pass the Hunter exam and then the subsequent ones that involve the learning of Nen and everything associated with that much larger world. At its core, the cast of Hunter x Hunter continues to grow and the focus on them is just right with the kind of shounen action series that makes you smile and wonder what odd tricks will be pulled out for the viewer to take in.

With this set, the show does feel like it’s fairly relaxed at first and then comes across as a bit too rushed to bring a particular storyline to a conclusion. The opening arc, which sets Gon more fully on his overall path, is definitely one that I liked as it deals with Gon and Killua being back at Gon’s home and spending time with his aunt Mito. There’s a very relaxed feeling there and you can see Killua really enjoying this kind of family life, at least for a short time before he realizes just how lax it’ll make him. The two of them are still intent on making the meeting with everyone in Yorknew City soon, but there’s an interesting twist that has to come first as Gon is given some hints about his father.

Mito relates her past with him and it fleshes out why she feels as she does toward him, with a mix of love and distance because of how he ended up with her sister. Gon’s coming into Mito’s hands is also explained in full and there are some really nice moments where Ging comes across as a much more interesting character. When Mito gives Gon an item from Ging that is due to him should he ever become a hunter, Gon now finds what he’s always wanted; his father’s voice and the encouragement to seek him out and find him. Ging is clear that he doesn’t want to be found, and he layers the path to him through a Hunters video game that’s worth nearly ten billion jenny, but that’s all just the details of what Gon has set about as his task for this part of his life. There’s a great moment included in this with his mother, a woman he’s never seen or heard, that speaks volumes about his relationship with Mito.

The bulk of this set does revolve around Kurapika though, which after all the time spent with Gon and Killua in the previous set is a very welcome change of pace. Kurapika is still on his own quest to find the Spiders and eliminate them so he can acquire all the Scarlet Eyes of his people. That mission has taken him to Yorknew City early where he’s managed to get himself work as a bodyguard for an up and coming mafia boss. The city is preparing for the big mafia underground auction that happens once a year and the boss wants his teenage daughter Neon protected when she goes there as she’s a very talented fortuneteller that has helped fund his ascent. There’s an immense amount of wealth being auctioned off at this event and Neon is there to shop and provide a few more fortunes for some of the other dons.

Much of this set takes places in Yorknew where Kurapika ends up working with other bodyguards to deal against all threats. The unexpected threat is when the Phantom Troupe shows up and there’s additional chaos as all the items for auction are lifted before the Troupe can do that themselves. The Troupe introduces a lot of power to the show with some varied abilities as well as bringing Hisoka back into the picture. Kurapika really shines here as he eventually takes over the situation for the boss he’s working for and starts to take on the Spiders one by one, allowing the conditions he has to meet to come to fruition so he can use his chain in a way we don’t get to see often. Separating the cast up can always be iffy but the way it’s worked here has been spot on as Kurapika gets to stand out really nice while Gon and Killua cement their cute friendship even further. Only Leorio makes out badly here, showing up towards the end a bit and coming across mostly as a master of hustling.

Everything builds towards a good battle here and unlike the past scenarios it’s more involved because of the Phantom Troupe, the various members of the mafia that float in and out and because it takes place in a big city. Almost everything before this had been in remote locations or with the Hunter license exam so it was really good to see the show move away from that to more public locations that adds a bit more pizzazz to things. Getting to see the Phantom Troupe in action as well as seeing the big guys from the Zoldyck’s show up really added to the level of importance placed on the action as it was like having the big guns really jump into it, causing everyone else to realize how much further they have to go. Well, outside of Kurapika who is simply very focused on what he has to get done.

In Summary:
Just before where this series concludes is where I fell out of the manga (and manga in general at that point) so I'm left uncertain of how that arc actually ended. They do wrap things up fairly nicely here in the end while making sure it's open ended enough that they can continue to adapt more of it. Of course, that was quite a few years ago and simply isn't going to happen, which is a shame because Hunter x Hunter is the kind of shounen series that I like when it comes to ones with kids as lead characters. It falls into a lot of the cliches of the genre but there's something about the characters right from the start that won me over, something a lot of other series have to expend quite a few episodes to accomplish. Though it's ultimately cut short, what we do get from Hunter x Hunter is a lot of fun and it left me smiling and wanting to see more. You know what you're going to get and it does it well. Now I can only hope that the OVA releases make their way over here.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Production Artwork

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: C+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: C-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 49.95
Running time: 350
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hunter X Hunter