When young Gon discovers his father was a licensed Hunter, he sets down the path to become one himself.
What They Say:
Hunters are a special breed, dedicated to tracking down treasure, magical beasts, and even humans. But such pursuits require a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam.
Gon might be a country boy, but he has high aspirations. Despite his aunt's protest, Gon decides to follow in his father's footsteps and become a legendary Hunter. The journey begins on the long, arduous road to the Exam Hall, where he meets Leorio and Kurapika, two applicants with the same determination. Gon and his two companions must now prove their worth and earn the right to call themselves Hunters!
Contains episodes 1-15.
What We Say:
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.
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 5/5/5 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.
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 green background works well here, much better than the bright green 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 silkscreening itself. It’s a very nicely put together piece that overall outshines the slipcover.
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.
The only included extras in this release are on the third volume and it’s a simple set of fifteen 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)
Based on the manga by Yoshihiro Togashi, which is still actively running, Hunter X Hunter is a sixty-two episode series that fits in perfectly with the Shonen Jump world. Togashi’s work on Yu Yu Hakusho before this certainly gave him the polish he needed when starting this one as it’s a very smooth, if somewhat predictable at times, show. The series revolves around a bit of a tournament mentality, though substituting it for the Hunter Exam at the beginning, but like Naruto and others of its ilk, it’s the characters and the way they interact that sells it. Having read a chunk of the manga, this was a series I was looking forward to for that reason.
The central premise to Hunter X Hunter is pretty straightforward, though it’s one that will definitely take quite a bit of time to get through. The series introduces us to Gon, a kid of about nine or two who sees the world just a little bit differently, even for a child. He has that kind of innocence about him and he sees good in everyone, but he’s also very agile and keen about how certain things work in the world. A lot of this comes in the form of his interactions with animals and nature, a place where he’s very at home. He’s spent a lot of time there as he’s been living with his aunt for years, since the death of his mother and father. Or so he thought until a Hunter who was passing through informed him otherwise.
As it turns out, Gon’s father is a world class Hunter, possibly one of the best out there. The revelation that he’s alive has Gon deciding that he’s going to be a Hunter so he can find him and meet him at long last. And so begins his journey to where the exam will be held. Hunters are interesting people in the world, often very gifted and they tend to see things a little differently, which is why Gon will fit in perfectly. But the title of Hunter is very broad, as there are all different kinds. Some are your basic Hunters where they seek out things while others are Gourmet Hunters who deal in the world of food. Add in Blacklist Hunters that are practically bounty hunters and a lot more and you’ve got a very diverse set of career possibilities if you earn your license. And earning a license opens up a lot of financial freedom as well, though that doesn’t mean much to Gon.
The journey to take the Hunters Exam itself is a part of the exam since it involves a fair bit of travel and there are plenty of things in the way. As it goes on, Gon finds himself making friends with a slightly older gentleman named Leorio. The two end up meeting at a port town where events have them spending time together as they realize they’re journeying to the same place. That has them on the ship together which is where they learn that the ship is the first stage of the exam. It’s here that the pair meets up with Kurapika who becomes the next member of the informal group that starts to grow around the simple and innocent Gon. As the show progresses into the next stage, a fourth is introduced in the form of Killua. The bonds that slowly tie the group together as they work through the challenges of the Exam make up this set, and it extends into the next one as well.
Enjoyment of the show will come down to how well you deal with this cast of characters. The world that Hunter X Hunter inhabits is similar to that of Naruto in that there’s an old feel to it but it’s mixed with technology and “modern” things as well. The characters operate in much the same way. Gon has a boy scout feel to him and is very low tech. When you look at Leorio, he has the look of a businessman who is simply out too late and caught up in things. Kurapika has the whole calm and relaxed acolyte feel to him as he exudes a certain aura that helps the others while Killua has that pure controlled menace to him. What may be the most problematic at times for people to adjust to is that the cast is made up of mostly very young characters and it stretches the bounds of believability. When Leorio declares that he’s in his late teens, the others look at him like he’s ancient. This kind of setup is pretty much a norm for shounen shows, but it still feels awkward in a lot of ways.
While the show is very much focused on the exam phases once the journey gets started, the cast of characters is rather well fleshed out. And this is rather surprising considering the overall size of the cast. When the exam really gets underway, there are a couple hundred characters running around. The focus is obviously smaller, but between the proctors, the secondary exam takers and those that are causing trouble, it’s pretty well packed. In fact, with the amount of things going on and the background material that is touched on for the main cast of characters, Hunter X Hunter covers an impressive amount of ground for fifteen episodes as it moves the story along, provides a good bit of fun and still works through a fair amount of background. What’s good is that we get plenty of teases about the characters like Killua and Kurapika without everything being laid out plainly.
Having enjoyed the manga, I’m somewhat predisposed to enjoy this series. Hunter X Hunter has long been requested by fans and with the manga out there and the general continued popularity of this kind of show it is little surprise to finally see it come out. Hunter X Hunter doesn’t offer any surprises – yet – but the foundations being laid here are very strong and it’s an expansive setup that offers a lot of possibilities. But like every series, it comes down to whether you like the cast. With Gon as the central character, he’s not one that everyone will be able to deal with simply because of his innocence and age. But he’s a great counterpoint to the various personalities that gravitate around him and that’s what the show is about. It’s very much an ensemble cast overall and one that has some interesting stories to tell, at least from what I remember of the manga. Shonen Jump fans know what to expect here, and others can infer from its origins, but this is a show that appeals for its animation style, characters and setting. It’s one that I wish there was more of than just the sixty two episodes that were done.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Production Storyboards
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.