Hunter X Hunter
Genre: Action/adventure, Competition
Episodes: 62, plus 3 sets of OVAs
Notes: by same creator as Yu Yu Hakusho
The animation appears to be a slightly older style. It's clean and not overly bright. The colors are sometimes muted, and the animation is sometimes rather flat and not detailed. Character designs are generally simple done in a typical anime style. The opening and ending themes are quite good and up lifting but the overall musical score is rather weak and not dramatic enough for the action scenes. Voices are appropriate, none are particularly annoying. Hisoka, a deadly friend or foe has an interesting voice and Gon's voice has a good balance of being right for a child his age but with maturity. Gon's voice is done by the same voice actress as for Naruto but it's less annoying here.
The series is fairly episodic in that each trial or fight can be enjoyed out of order but should be seen in order for the progression of the Hunter exam. The first arc (half the episodes) is the Hunter exams. Then the search to find Killua, followed by the Sky Tower competition, then the York Shin auction/Kurapica's revenge. The first OVA continues the York Shin (aka New York) auction/Kurapica's revenge. The second and third OVAs have Gon and Killua entering Greed Island, a game created by Gon's father.
Gon is basically the perfect child. He is mature, sensible, loving, determined, usually obedient, has great natural talent and potential. Gon has the ability to communicate with animals. His tool/weapon of choice is his father's old fishing pole. As an orphan he lives with his aunt Mito. He never knew his father and was told he died before he was born. His mother died when he was very young. The story starts in Whale Island where he is saved from a bear by a "Hunter" who chases mysteries and rare items. When he learns who Gon is he realizes that Gon is the son of Hunter Jin Freaks, the greatest Hunter in the world. He tells Gon about his father and encourages him to become a Hunter. Three years later Gon defies his aunt and passes her test to catch a large monstrous fish.
On his way to the Hunter exam he meets Leorio, guy in a suit who carries around a suitcase, who wants to be a doctor. By becoming a Hunter, medical school tuition is free. His motivation is apparently money. They meet Kurapica, a sensible intelligent cool blond kid and sole survivor of the Kuruta tribe. He wants to be a black list hunter (bounty hunter) to avenge his clan's massacre by the Spider gang. At the exam he also befriends Killua, a child his age but who has lived his life as an assassin.
There are a number of tests, both official and unofficial and some more interesting than others, but overall the tests are quite creative and the search for the place of the Hunter exam is like a quest. Themes of friendship and working together prevail. Despite all the action and deaths, you never feel that any of the main characters are in any real danger. There's a gentleness rather than drama to everything. The main character Gon is too perfect and his lack of flaws makes the show a bit boring as everyone is always commenting on how exceptional and likeable he is. His friends Killua and Kurapica are more flawed and more interesting. Leorio is just there for some comic relief. Gon's friend/foe Hisoka is another good character, but the Spiders could use more character development.
Rated PG, for the first half of the series. The violence gets worse after the hunter exams. The York Shin arc and Greed Island OVAs are rated PG-13. Best arcs are the hunter exams and Greed Island. Recommended for action fans who like a bit of story, explanation, and character development. Super hardcore action fans might be disappointment. This anime is often compared to Naruto. It's not as good but still worth a watch.