12 Days of Anime #4 – Surprise X Surprise

Hunter X Hunter 4

I’ve never been a fan of long running shonen series. Even as my fellow nerdy, socially maladjusted middle schoolers were all drooling over Dragonball Z, it didn’t do a thing for me. I’ve sampled a few other series since then, but none of them ever impressed. The genre that is so many people’s entry point into anime and manga always left me cold. It wasn’t that I hated them; I just couldn’t seem to care.

I tried Hunter X Hunter on a whim. I was curious to try something new, the right people were saying great things about it, and I had the some time on my hands. If I’m being honest, I planned to give it maybe 12 episodes, at most. Instead, I ended up watching nearly 150 episodes as quickly as I could consume them. I was addicted. And the show only kept getting better, growing from a fun adventure story with a likable cast to a surprisingly mature, sometimes quite bleak exploration of complex moral and existential issues faced by increasingly nuanced characters, while still never losing track of its action roots. Stories like this that go “dark” often mistake slathering on violence and death as all a story needs to be “mature,” without ever growing in any of the ways that demonstrate actual maturity. Hunter X Hunter‘s “Yorknew City” and “Chimera Ant” arcs bucked that trend spectacularly, balancing out harrowing levels of violence and despair with a surprising amount of insight into an ever-growing cast and empathetic portrayals of even the most monstrous of its characters.

I started watching Hunter X Hunter in June or July of this year. By the time the last arc started, I was all caught up and watched it as it came out. When the final episode aired, it was probably the show this year I was least ready to let go. Not bad for a show that I never expected to care about.

Hunter_Exam_Arc

But seriously, we better get a continuation series.

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