Hunter x Hunter Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, March 18, 2005
Release Date: Friday, April 15, 2005
What They Say
Hunters are a special breed, dedicated to tracking down treasures, magical beasts, and even other men. But such pursuits require a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam. Those who do pass gain access to restricted areas, amazing stores of information, and the right to call themselves...Hunters.
Gon might be a country boy, but he has high aspirations. Despite of his Aunt Mito's protests, Gon decides to follow in his father's footsteps and become a legendary Hunter. Gon and the other Hunter hopefuls begin their journey by storm-tossed ship, where he meets Leorio and Kurapika, the only other applicants who aren't devastated by bouts of seasickness.
Having survived the terrors of the high seas, Gon and his companions now have to prove their worth in a variety of tests in order to find the elusive Exam Hall. And once they get there, will they ever leave alive...?
This is an uncorrected galley proof, so there is no way to evaluate the packaging.
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, and there are a few large panels that have nice depictions of this fantasy-like world. 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. The tones are also very simple, either black or white with not a lot of varying shades. This overly simplistic approach hinders me from getting absorbed by the rich world that is presented.
The SFX are translated and retouched. There aren’t a lot of SFX to retouch, and Togashi’s artwork is really not all that strong, so I found this decision to be a valid one. The world has it’s own written language that is sort of symbolic, and the signs and other places where this text is present is left intact and translated in the appropriate text blocks.
So far I do like the translation and adaptation and I hope this continues for other SJ Advanced titles. There is a little bit of slang peppered throughout, but it’s nothing invasive and actually does a good job with bringing out certain characters’ personalities. For example, the crew and captain on the exam ship all speak with a mild slang that makes their seafaring personalities stand out. The dialogue was also handled well and helps brings the characters to life. Kurapika speaks very eloquently while Leorio has a more brash tone, both are very fitting.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The first chapter introduces us to our main protagonist, Gon. He is a simple character with a simple quest, to become a Hunter so that he can find his father, a world renowned Hunter, who has been absent for most of Gon’s life. I was actually pretty amazed with how quickly I became interested in Gon’s character and plight in only the first chapter. It helps that Gon’s goal is a simple one, but the setup is done in a way that hooked me, even with the quick pace.
The Hunter is a much coveted position where only the elite are able to get their professional license. The Hunters get to explore the whole land and have resources opened up to them that are off limits to other civilians. It is a privileged position that offers much wealth but also has a lot of responsibility. Most of the details about the Hunter are not explained in this volume, but we do get many pieces along the way during the Hunter qualification exam.
The Hunter exam weeds out the top applicants out of a pool off hundreds of thousands by putting each applicant through a series of riddles, quests, and strange encounters. At the beginning of the quest Gon meets two characters which he befriends. Leorio is a well-dressed city slicker, that has a lot of similarities to Lupin, whose goal is the money and wealth that come with being a Hunter. However, later we find that Leorio’s reasons are not as superficial as he puts on. Leorio provides most of the humor during this exam and his presence is much appreciated. Kurapika is a dark and well-spoken character who is the last of his clan and wants to become a Hunter to get revenge on the troupe that has wiped out his entire family. Right away Leorio and Kurapika clash, which provide a few good laughs, but soon learn to get along and along with Gon become quite the team. The three of them have separate reasons but ultimately one goal, to become a Hunter.
After the introduction of Gon’s new found friends, they try to find their way to Exam Hall all while having to go through bizarre little quests and riddles that are given to them by strange examiners. The exam is filled with a lot of bizarre oddities and quirks that make it for the most part enjoyable. The pace stays pretty quick which makes this clichéd storyline work. I never really felt the events to drag or become tedious. The team of Gon, Kurapika, and Leorio are fun to watch interact and there are a few others characters in the exam that offer some amusement as well.
The first volume of Hunter X Hunter presents an entertaining read despite its extremely unoriginal shounen quest storyline. The fantasy world adds a certain magical feel and allows Togashi to get pretty creative with characters, monsters, and settings. The artwork is a little too simple at times and I would prefer something a bit more lush, especially with this great fantasy world that is presented. I also had an easy time liking the main character, Gon, right from the beginning. His big-eyed, happy-go-lucky face mixed with his idiot savant attitude and love for his missing father had me hooked after the first chapter. I can care about Gon and his quest, which makes the clichéd storyline easy to digest. Gon’s friends also have fun personalities that will make this exam storyline a fun one to read. The exam storyline is a tired and overused one, but the fun characters keep it from falling flat.
Hunter X Hunter is one of three highly anticipated debut titles in Viz’s re-launch of their new imprint Shonen Jump Advanced. After the mishandling of the debut title Ultimate Muscle awhile back, all eyes are on these first volumes to see how Viz will treat its new lineup. Hunter X Hunter is also a fan favorite that many have been expecting. Based on this first volume alone, I’d have to say the outlook looks positive.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left