On January 6th, 1999 a match made in manga matrimony heaven was signed, sealed and delivered. Naoko Takuechi, the legendary mangaka (author/artist) of Sailor Moon, married fellow mangaka Yoshiro Togashi. Togashi is best known for two works: Yu Yu Hakusho and the one I’m actually going to review: Hunter X Hunter. The first four season of Hunter X Hunter are available on Netflix.
And boy is this show bingeworthy.
The Somewhat Vague Non-Spoiler-ish Synopsis Of Hunter X Hunter
Gon Freecs isn’t mad at his dad Ging for abandoning him to become an elite Hunter. In Gon’s world, hunters are an elite class of men and women who have to pass a rigorous exam in order to get a hunter license. (They’re sort of like witches and wizards in Harry Potter, sorta.) Gon decides at the old age of twelve that he too will become a hunter in order to find his father.
Welcome to the incredible show that is Hunter X Hunter.
Honestly, I didn’t think I’d enjoy this show as much as I did when I watched the first episode. A twelve-year-old boy wanting to take a test to become a Hunter like his absentee father? Meh?
One hundred and forty-eight episodes later, I am proud to say my initial impression was completely and utterly wrong. I truly believe the strength of this show lies in its dynamic characters and the incredible arcs they experience as the show progresses. During Gon’s journey to pass the hunter exam he befriends several fellow wannabe hunters, who all want to pass the test for their own reasons.
First off, there’s the Ron Weasley to Gon’s Harry Potter: Killua Zoldyck.
Killua is also twelve, and hails from an elite family of assassins. Don’t let his cute face fool you. Killua’s been trained as an assassin since he was six. What’s great about Killua’s journey is the fact that he starts the show off not knowing what he wants. But he’s determined to find out.
And then there’s Kurapika.
Kurapika is definitely the most serious member of the Hunter X Hunter leads. His reason for becoming a hunter is tragic, and I don’t want to spoil it. Let’s just say blondie’s out for blood.
And finally we have Leorio, a medical student.
Leorio is the oldest of the group, but in terms of maturity he’s rather hot-headed and a major goofball. Although you don’t see his serious side too often Leorio is extremely protective of Gin, Killua and Kurapika.
While there are plenty of other supporting characters that make the story interesting, these four are at the heart of Hunter X Hunter. One thing I REALLY liked about each season is that the four friends don’t always remained glued at the hip. Just like in real life, each character has their own goals and motivations, and that doesn’t always line up with the others. For example, after the events of the hunter exam, Gon and Killua head to Heaven’s Arena (think like a huge fighting tournament arena), while Leorio decides to return home to study and Kurapika heads to Yorknew City. (Yes, you read that city name right.)
These characters can exist without each other, and that in itself is a mark of good writing. Their separations make it even more satisfying when they do reunite, just like that feeling of seeing an old friend again in real life.
Netflix currently has the Japanese subbed version and the English dub for the first four seasons, which are divided into story arcs: The first is the hunter exam arc, the second is the Zoldyck family arc, the third is the Yorknew city arc, and the fourth is the Greed Island arc. Don’t fret when you hit the end of the fourth season though. While there’s no word on whether Netflix will add the fifth and sixth seasons, I did a little internet investigation and found the final episodes on Crunchyroll. You can find them here.
Each story arc is completely different and there’s little to no dreaded filler episodes. My FAVORITE arc out of them all is the fifth arc: the Chimera Ant Arc.
Without spoiling a thing, the fifth season of Hunter X Hunter is a masterclass, in my humble opinion of great character storytelling. Many fans consider this season to be one of the greatest anime arcs of all time. It’s no hyperbole. But don’t give up on the season initially, it’s a bit of a slow burn but each episode helps build towards the epic finale.
And does Gon ever find his dad?
Well you’ll just have to watch to find out.