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36 hours wasn’t enough? Yet another Hunter x Hunter

Why base your new show, video game, or movie on an innovative new idea when you can instead re-release a 10 year old one? That is the logic behind making endless sequels. It’s the thinking that brought us Call of Duty 8, Super Mario 10 and now a reboot of Hunter x Hunter.

The original Hunter x Hunter wasn’t awful. Overall, it was a bland action show (note: you can read bateszi’s more positive impression here) that surprised me at times. It had a number of dark and edgy scenes, like when out of nowhere a ten-year-old ripped out his enemy’s heart. The show’s blandness is understandable given that it came out in the late 90s. What is surprising is why Madhouse would decide, ten years later, to reboot a show that already ran 92 mediocre episodes.

I am as confused as the main characters about why this show is airing

For those who haven’t seen the original Hunter x Hunter, the story centers around a young boy named Gon who is searching for his father. Gon’s father is a Hunter, a person with a certification that provides money, access to restricted areas, and a license to kill. The first arc of the story follows Gon as he takes the Hunter exam himself. This is easily the best part of the series and unfortunately the rest of the show isn’t as compelling.

I don’t have a good explanation, other than economic concerns, for Madhouse’s decision to recreate a show that was better left dead. What is clear is that they are trying to improve upon the original. They have done so by maintaining the visual style of the original while adding bright and vivid colors. Perhaps the biggest improvement is in the pacing of the show. The original took about 32 episodes to finish the hunter-exam arc, the new version is on pace to finish twice as fast.

The original series

The new series

These changes improve the show but still don’t make redoing the series worthwhile. The new version also comes with some disappointments. One of my favorite parts of the first version, the edgy scenes, are missing in action. The show still has violent portions, and minor characters die at a rapid pace, but none of the deaths are jarring. It looks like the shocking and gruesome bits from the original were sacrificed on the alter of mainstream appeal.

This is my second time watching what is essentially the same show, so it is possible my review is colored by my prior viewing experience. But I have found that I tend to like a show better the second time around. That was the case when I re-watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. During my first viewing of that movie I felt distracted by the pacing, but when I watched a second time I knew the plot and it helped me enjoy the movie more. Here, I don’t think my familiarity with the material poisoned my view. At most it made it very clear that just recreating Hunter x Hunter has led to an unremarkable product.

Easily the most interesting character in the series

The new show is only at episode 7, so it certainly has time to surprise me, like Blood-C, and get better. So far it isn’t must see TV. Like many sequels, it may succeed financially, but I don’t think that it will be worth remembering.

Comments

Maik says:

No idea why they didn’t just make the ant’s arc and be done with it. It would’ve brought up the dvd of the previous seasons up, and it’s easily the best arc so far.

dengar says:

Any thoughts on the new version?

Mira says:

As a fan of the manga , I can think of a few of legitimate reasons why Hunter x Hunter should have been remade aside from Madhouse needing money. Yeah, it’s a shock!

1) The 99 series’ pacing is very slow and tampered with the characterizations A LOT. I enjoyed the first series very much and find it to be very underrated. However, when it comes down to it had HxH continued from the Chimera Ant arc onwards, I think certain decisions and actions taken by the characters wouldn’t make a lot of sense if you only watched the 99 anime.

2) Inconsistent artstyle and aesthetic. The first series branched off to four more OVAs. Two effectively completing the York Shin arc and two covering the Greed Island arc. The GI OVAs were cheaply animated and looked VERY different from the 99 series. I’d like Madhouse to do that arc justice as it was easily one of the most creative arcs in the series.

3) Clearly, 36 hours wasn’t enough. As of writing, there’s 324 chapters of HxH available and the old anime and OVAs only covered half of that. The recently concluded Ant arc is possibly one of the darkest and most intense arcs in the manga and it would be a shame for it not to be animated. This Madhouse version shows the silhouettes of three major players of the Ant arc so I have high hopes we’ll finally see it animated. In this arc, death does matter and it changes the way the characters will react to their situation. It really elevated HxH to a whole new level.

4) Filler that contradicts the manga. While I think the filler parts in HxH really did a great job of fleshing out characters, the 99 series added things like Killua subconsciously using nen during Heaven’s Arena. This just doesn’t make a lot of sense considering how most people who do must fall into ‘specialization’, the series makes it very clear that Killua is manipulation and there have been no hints that his family taught him nen.

So yeah, there’s actually a few good reasons why it should’ve been revamped that have little to do with money. Of course, marketing wise I don’t see why it shouldn’t be remade either. Rereleasing the DVDs will only make HxH accessible to older fans, they’re reintroducing it to a generation that probably has no idea what HxH is (mostly because of how often it takes a hiatus) despite it being one of the best selling manga in Japan.

I have to disagree about the Hunter Exams being the better arc in the 99 series though, I thought the YorkShin arc was easily one of the best arcs. Ahh, but different strokes, different folks. Anyway, with only 7 episodes behind it, this show still has a lot to prove. I found that it did certain things better than the 99 series but I thought the older one had great art direction and captured a somber tone fitting of the manga. Apologies for the wall of text, it’s just that I can see why this remake had to be done and most of the people I’ve heard say otherwise have only been exposed to the first adaptation. That’s why I’m reluctant to call it the ‘original’ series because the manga should be considered the original source material and hence these two are mere adaptations. As of now the 2011 one is more loyal to the pacing and overall characterization (minus watering down Hisoka a bit) while the 1999 one is a great standalone series with great characters and storytelling but hampered by slow pacing.

dengar says:

I agree that the first anime wasn’t perfect, but I don’t know if that’s a good reason to re-do the original. I think the better question is whether the base material, in this case the manga, is so good that it deserves a whole new version, as opposed to animating something that hasn’t received an anime adaptation yet.

That question aside, once Madhouse made up its mind to remake the show, it should have focused on making its version truly compelling. The bar should be higher for the remake of a show. Can you say that at this point the new anime is compelling? Mildly better, yes, but compelling, no.

Mira says:

I think the better question is whether the base material, in this case the manga, is so good that it deserves a whole new version, as opposed to animating something that hasn’t received an anime adaptation yet.

To decide whether something is ‘good’ is subjective. If you sat through 92 episodes feeling it’s mediocre, I have no idea why you’d want to watch a remake of the same thing. As a fan, I would say, yes. It is that good. If considering the usual factors like ‘popularity’ and ‘stable fanbase’, yes. There’s little risk involved in remaking it. A lot of fans have been waiting for it, and to be honest I’d take a remake over nothing. HxH has a very loyal fanbase, 8 years of hiatus (and bad artwork due to the author’s illness) and people are still reading it. Take any ordinary relatively ‘popular’ manga and try to do the same thing and people would drop it like nothing. This thing sells very well, and why do you think Shounen Jump is so willing to keep it in their magazine eventhough Togashi is a lazy bastard? Because it makes that much money for them. The pros outweigh the cons.

it should have focused on making its version truly compelling. The bar should be higher for the remake of a show. Can you say that at this point the new anime is compelling? Mildly better, yes, but compelling, no.
I think you’re asking for too much from too little. It’s only been seven episodes. You’ve seen it already, how do you expect it to be ‘compelling’ so quickly especially after having seen it before? Believe me, the only time it will start to deviate is when it reaches the Chimera Ant arc which will happen probably next year and yes, most people watching are waiting for that. We’re silly little dweebs in that sense. XD

dengar says:

If you sat through 92 episodes feeling it’s mediocre, I have no idea why you’d want to watch a remake of the same thing.

I’m re-watching it for a number of reasons. 1) Nostalgia. As I mentioned, I did watch 36 hours of this and so I do have an emotional investment in the show on some level. 2) When I started I hoped that the show would be a compelling show. Plus, I’m not always prescient about how a show will turn out (just look at my Blood-C review) and so I’m willing to wait (up to a point) to see if the show will get better. Although if I have to wait until the Chimera Ant arc I may need to take a break at some point. 3) I have a crunchyroll subscription anyways, so the cost is pretty low :)

Brack says:

In addition to everything Mira just said – Dragonball Kai and Yatterman 2008’s ratings. Both showed there’s a bigger audience to be gained with tried and tested material than something new. Toriko’s doing fine, but it’s not getting the ratings DBK got.

The Hunter X Hunter is a HUGE comic. Even with the long hiatuses, it outsells Bleach. There’s a sizable built-in audience for an anime. Moreover, an anime may also boost sales for the back volumes.

Finally, the well of Shonen Jump properties capable of being decent TV hits is running dry. Kuroko’s Basket is doing OK, but I doubt it can catch fire like Slam Dunk or even Prince of Tennis. Everything else currently running that’s left to be adapted seems to occupy the same uninspired furrow that Sket Dance occupies. The more I think about, the more certain I am that SJ is doomed once One Piece is done.

dengar says:

I don’t know enough about Shonen Jump to speak to the commercial potential of the other manga in it, but surely there is some, even if non-Shonen Jump, manga title out there that could be made into a compelling show.

I’d agree that money-wise Hunter x Hunter is a safe bet. But so is Modern Warfare 3, which made $400 million in one day of sales. But I don’t think Modern Warfare/Call of Duty is that different than last year’s version of the same game. And so far the new Hunter x Hunter isn’t dramatically different either, so it’s difficult to get excited about it, especially if you’ve sat through 36 hours of the show already.

Brack says:

I’m going to go ahead and say that there are not any other current manga that would do as well as Hunter x Hunter in Hunter x Hunter’s current timeslot.

Blue Exorcist could probably have been better exploited, but does that really fit a Sunday morning timeslot? There’s some other manga bubbling around the 400k/vol mark, but they are even less fitting for that timeslot than Blue Exorcist.

Igor says:

What are you talking about? The initial Hunter X Hunter show was phenomenal, classic shounen.

dengar says:

Phenomenal is a pretty strong word. I’d say that the ending (or lack thereof) of the first Hunter x Hunter anime would be enough to show that the show wasn’t phenomenal.

KT Kore says:

You are one of the few that I’ve seen call the show “bland.” As well as one of the few that thinks the first part is the best. But to each their own. In reality, Hunter x Hunter is still a popular manga. It sells among the best with series like Naruto, and higher than Bleach when a volume is released. The reason the old series ended is because the manga’s author often takes frequent and long (usually a year or longer) hiatuses. The last arc in the manga literally took 8 years before it was completed because of this. The old anime simply caught up and had nothing else to animate. Now that that arc is finally finished and the author is continuing on, it makes sense to bring the series back and reboot it after 12 years.

dengar says:

Looking back over the entire first anime series I can’t call it anything but bland. The story makes little to no progress, an entire arc (Greed Island) seems pointless and while the violence has some shock value, it doesn’t make the show compelling.

As I mentioned in the article, I understand that Hunter x Hunter was made in a different era. I can understand why it has so many deficiencies. But I wouldn’t recommend that people watch it. Would you recommend it to your friends, all 36 hours of it, if they hadn’t seen any of it before?

KT Kore says:

I think HxH is more unique than a lot other shounen series of the sort. It’s not all about fighting and muscles and power (or at least wasn’t). The first part which is about the actual Hunter Exam of course has many different aspects to it. The second part that explores Kurapica’s story was more “dark” and story-oriented than much of the stuff from the time. I do think that after that it began to tread into more “bland” territory, where power and fighting did become more important (Greed Island and Chimera Ant), but that’s much later into the series. I think that’s the worse thing about the series. Like you, I’m not sure what Greed Island or Chimera Ant had to do with anything. But before then there was plenty of progression and I do hear the manga is getting back on track recently bringing back some characters we haven’t seen in a while, so hopefully some loose ends from the past can be closed.

As for whether I would recommend the series to anyone, I would and I have many times. It usually receives great feedback. The series is rated fairly high in most places so I’m not surprised that most people (that actually like shounen anime) would really enjoy it. I think you are just one of the minority that are pretty down on it. =P

dengar says:

Just in case there is any confusion, my opinions above are only about the anime, not the manga. My understanding (and correct me if I’m wrong) is that the first anime ended after the Greed Island arc. So I’m not evaluating Chimera Ant and anything else after Greed Island, nor am I passing judgment on the manga itself. The manga may very well be amazing, something that is worth recommending. But not the first anime series. The second anime series may some day be compelling enough for me to recommend it, but right now it isn’t.

Dan says:

I’ve been enjoying the HxH remake quite a bit. I remember the older series quite fondly, and the new one brings crisp, vivid animation quality and a breezier take on a lot of the introductions. I’m excited to get into the more meatier sections of the story.

My main concern with the blandness criticism is that the conventional action series genre is not an embarrassment of riches. If anything, the genre itself has problems with escaping repetitive plotting, flat characters, recycled themes, etc.. Yes, HxH may suffer from a lot of these weaknesses to some degree, but I don’t find it a sticking point if I compare it to other action series.

On the other hand, I enjoy HxH for for many of the same reasons I like Hajime no Ippo. That is, it elaborates on conflict in a very interesting and engaging way. We’re not simply assessing power levels or ‘heart.’ It opens up the battle as a chess match, where the participants have strengths and weaknesses, and their decisions have some consequence.

dengar says:

As someone who has seen the show already, do you see the new version as being a huge improvement? Apart from the improved pacing and better visuals I don’t. I agree that Hunter x Hunter is better than a number of other current shows and that’s probably one reason that I’m watching as well. I just wish that Madhouse had used this opportunity to make something great.

Dan says:

I guess it just depends on your appreciation of the source material. Did we really need a FMA reboot so soon? Probably not, but I appreciate the effort of trying to tell the story “right.” It’s been a full decade since the first run. I think it’s removed enough from people’s minds to try this again.

Glossa Bingo says:

One of the reasons is that the OVAs didn’t sell well and few people watched them. The OVAs never aired on TV. So if Madhouse were to make a new TV series, it wouldn’t have made sense to start at the Chimera Ant arc. Also, it’s been seven years (seven and a half, actually) since anything related to the HxH anime had been released. The show’s been off television for a decade in Japan. Also, there are some significant problems in the characterization and plot that couldn’t be salvaged just by continuing the show–it makes sense to start over.

dengar says:

I’d agree that continuing on from the last series (ala Inuyasha – The Final Act) would have been ill advised. What I was questioning was the decision to re-make it at all. Financially it is likely a good move, at least in the short term, to focus on remaking popular properties. But if a company just focuses on publishing remakes and sequels they are unlikely to be successful in the long term, financially or otherwise.

I would have preferred that Madhouse take the chance on developing something new, or barring that turn Hunter x Hunter into something really compelling.

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