Hunter x Hunter Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Monday, June 20, 2005
Release Date: Sunday, May 15, 2005



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yoshihiro Togashi
Translated by:Lillian Olsen
Adapted by:

What They Say
Gon and his friends Leorio and Kurapika have more to worry about than just the Hunter Exam-their fellow applicants are deadly serious. Hisoka, the mad magician, nearly kills them in a mock test and Killua reveals that appearances can be deceiving.

Then there are the tests, which prove to be as varied as they are difficult. The picky proctors of the second exam demand the applicants perform culinary feats of wonder, and it takes the intervention of the President of the Hunter Association Review Board to convince them to let anyone pass at all. The third exam tests the would-be Hunters' speed and smarts as they race through a tower maze. Will an unexpected encounter end the exam for Gon and his friends?

The Review
Packaging:
The cover features the same artwork as the Japanese release, with Leorio, Kurapika, and Gon with his fishing pole. The logo is the same as the Japanese release, only it is pink and located at the top of the cover. Volume number and creator name are located at the bottom like the other SJA releases. The cover has a lot of white space and the colors are pretty bland, especially since it features a lot of gray tones.

Inside there are a couple words from Togashi, character profiles and the story thus far, along with volume and chapter headers. At the end of most chapters are character sketches as well. There are no extras at the back of the book. The print job looks fine, which is probably an easy task with this title since there aren’t really any tones used at all.

Art:
Togashi’s artwork and line work is very simple, and it’s the simplicity that I think works against him. The character designs are fun, the monsters and animals are creative. However, if the characters or monsters are not the main ones in the panel, the designs are incredibly rudimentary. They even become more basic when they are in the background, many times resembling blobs or rough sketch work. There is not any tone work except for the solid black, which is used sparingly. It is an interesting effect, but with the rough line work I get the overall feeling of incompleteness. This overly simplistic approach hinders me from getting absorbed by the rich world that is presented.


Text/SFX:
The SFX are translated and retouched. The retouch is okay and most of them feature a lot of the white boxing around the text. The translation reads quite clearly and there were no apparent issues. The dialogue feels quite appropriate for the characters, especially the intelligent and proper speaking Kurapika.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The Hunter qualification exam continues as Gon, Leorio, and Kurapika do their best to get through the first phase. However, standing in their way is the mysterious Hisoka the magician, who ruthlessly kills each and every Hunter that gets in his way. Hisoka lets them live as he seems to have other intentions. There is no doubt Hisoka will be back in some capacity. The rest of the volume has our three Hunters completing the second and beginning the third phases. The second phase is different in that it becomes a cook off, as the Hunters are tested for their abilities to track down exotic animals, a needed skill for hunting as well as stopping poachers. In the third phase, the stakes are raised as the group has 72 hours to descend a tower and they must learn how to cooperate as a team to get through. Waiting for them in the tower are prisoners who are looking to cut down their sentence time, as they get 1 year off for each hour they stall the hunters. The group must also deal with Tonpa, who gets off on terrorizing rookie Hunters and seeing them fail.

So far I am having a hard time getting into the story and am finding it only mildly interesting at this point. The only aspect that is offering any excitement is the unusual exams, but that can only go so far. It is hard to root for Gon to pass the exams because you know he is going to win in the end and the exams never really push Gon to his limit yet. If Gon were to struggle a bit, I might be able to feel like rooting for him. The characters are all pretty two-dimensional also, with only Killua getting any sort of development time. Killua comes from a family of assassins and ends up coming across as quite the scary character, so it will be interesting to see what he offers to the story. I like the personalities of the characters and how they fit together, but I’m still left with the feeling of wanting more.

I also feel as though I am missing a lot of details about the setting of this world we are in. The story is so focused on rushing through the exams that there aren’t a lot of the little details to help flush out this interesting fantasy setup. I want to know more about the Hunters organization and how the rest of the world operates. In the end, I think I am just tired of the exams already and I am ready to move onto something else.

Comments
The Hunter exams continue and they are already starting to feel a bit stale. It is interesting to see what exam will come next, but after it is revealed there’s nothing really hooking me and the excitement wears off quickly. The characters seem to have fun personalities and they fit well together, but there is something lacking. Even the artwork, which looks like napkin scribbles at times, leaves me with the impression of wanting more. Overall, things so far just feel incomplete. I am really hoping we get off this exam story arc and on to something new very soon.



Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-59116-785-X
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left