Hunter x Hunter – Episode 1 Review

Anime


Hunter x Hunter
Episode 1 – “Departure x And x Friends”

There has been a lot of hype building up to the first episode of the Hunter x Hunter reboot. If you had been following the hype-train you’d have caught that while this adaptation will be much closer to the manga than the previous series, it will have some pivotal differences. One of which is the relocation of Gon’s back-story with Kite. For those who watched this episode and were disappointed that Kite did not make an appearance. It appears that Madhouse are chucking a One Piece and showing the protagonist’s back story later on, to lessen the gap between his first appearance and his reappearance.

But enough of that, how did the episode stack up? Well, we begin with Gon at Whale Island capturing the Lord of the Lake, whom might I add is given a nice blue recolour here. Things happen at a much brisk pace from there. Gon is given the blessing of his dear Aunt Mito to take the Hunter Exam and from there we move straight to the ship to the exam. It al happens at a much faster pace than the previous anime series, but I believe it is for the better. A lot of the older series’ fat has been cut here, making a much more cohesive story.

What I liked about the bit’s on Whale Island was the way they portayed Gon’s relationship to Aunt Mito. I was surprised that their connection was so well established despite the lack of the back story with Kite that heavily featured Mito. I’ve got to say, the pinky promise, followed by the thumb-kiss was adorable and really solidfied that mother and son dynamic they have. However, I’m still not 100% sold on Mito’s voice actress, as she sounded a little older than I’d have picked for her character. But she conveyed her love for Gon perfectly, and that is what counts most.

Once the story progressed to the boat to the Hunter Exam’s location, things heated up. Not only did we get the introduction of Kurapika and Leorio, but we had the expansion of a manga character who is now given more to do than he did in the manga. Of course of am speaking about Katsuo. In the manga, Katsuo simply falls overboard and is saved by Gon, Kurapika and Leorio. However,, in a great move by Madhouse, they have expanded upon his character, ultimately giving the moment of his falling more urgency and heart than even the original manga had. Which really I consider a change for the better.

Kurapika and Leorio are introduced as they both bicker and argue over pety things, Leorio being angry at being spoken to with disrespect (being called simply “Leorio” instead of “Leorio-san”) and Kurapika angry that Leorio mocked his clan. Leorio challenges Kurapika to step outside to settle the dispute. The ship’s Captain attempts to stop them, but Gon provides some word’s of wisdom to hush him. “If you wan’t to understand someone, make an effort to know why they are angry.”

There were many great character moment on display here, which is really what is the heart of Hunter x Hunter. I am simply bursting at the seams as I await the slow-burning over-arching theme of Gon’s loss of innocence. This episode begins with Gon, a 12 year old boy, the face of innocence by all definitions. For those who follow the manga, you’ll know that one of the greatest experiences of Hunter x Hunter is watching as Gon loses his innocence bit by bit as he grows to learn of the true nature of the world. That it is a dark and unforgiving place, that despite being civilised is still at it’s core about survival. It’s hunt or be hunted, it is the way of the world and Gon learns that truth the hard way. We see him at his most pure here, I guarantee that by the time the Yorknew City arc comes around, he won’t be the same innocent Gon we see here. Not at all.

As for the music and animation, well let’s start with the music. Put simply, it fit perfectly with the series. I loved the OP theme, “Departure”, it was both exciting and exactly what I expected and hoped for. The ED theme, “Just Awake” is the perfect opposite side of the coin to “Departure”, while “Departure” is very lively and hopeful, “Just Awake” is heavy, dark and brutal, giving a perfect sign of things to come from the series.

The animation was top notch, and definitely retained the Madhouse style, while capturing the spirit of the manga perfectly. There was a few highlight bits of animation, such as the wave that crashes between Leorio and Kurapika during their stand-off and Gon scaling the ship’s mast. I can’t wait for the action scenes to start, that is when the series is really going to kick it into gear. But for now we play the waiting game.

What else can I say? This episode left me satisfied for things to come as well as pleased with the introduction the episode gives the series. We got great introductions for 3 of the 4 main characters and the pacing was well done. It was over all a solid first episode for a series that has nothing but bright futures ahead of it, no matter how dark thing’s are going to get.

9-0-capsules-out-of-10

Senior Editor & Anime Specialist
  • jestertill

    I agree with most of what you said here (except with your liking the new opening, which I hate with a passion), and it’s great to feel so much love for these old characters.
    While I actually enjoyed the slow burn of the original series, I won’t dispute that “cutting the fat” is the right approach here.
    Like you said, this series has so many awesome character moments coming up, it’s hard to decide what to look forward to most.

  • Eturnus Frost

    I have a feeling this can still turn out to be rather decent, and I can defiantly see the benefit of cutting off the ”fat” represented in the first Anime adaption, but I felt that was really good filler to the point that I considered it part of Hunter x Hunter as whole. The character development in the first adaptation was flawless in my opinion..but if they’re truly following as close as possible to the Manga, the character development should wind up being rather superb.

    I’m still not much of a fan with how they’re going to be censoring things, though as of now it’s still FAR too early to say, but I still just don’t like the ”brighter” approach of drawing in characters they seem to be going for. The way Killua was drawn previously captured him perfectly for me, and I felt it did the way he was drawn in the Manga complete justice. I will give credit for the overall background drawing though, they seemed to of kept the old gritty style of it at least to some extent.

    As far as the OST/BGM and the opening and closing theme goes:

    It’s still too early to give a sense able opinion on the OST/BGM, but I do hope they at least know the magic the first adaption’s OST/BGM had..I believe I’ve already said this before, but in my opinion, the soundtrack of the first was splendid and beyond perfect with the aesthetic it created for the show. Perhaps they’re starting the BGM off as subtle and deepening it as the series advances..never know, but that’s one issue I still have worries about.

    The opening theme I was personally ”ok” with. Wasn’t bad and wasn’t amazingly awesome for me. Still much preferred the opening for the first adaption.

    The ending theme, at first seemed pretty cool with how it was drawn out and represented, but the music just killed it for me. I’m all for everyone listening to music they enjoy and prefer, and am not one to hate on any specific genres, but with the ”Hardcore” approach and all, just did more harm than good to Hunter x Hunter overall in my opinion. I really think the abstract and ambiance of the first adaption left sort of an open void for viewers to experience. They were more subtle and didn’t seem to be trying at all to cater to a modern approach, which overall left it open for many different interpretations while still maintaining the mysterious atmosphere that Hunter x Hunter represented.

    Sloppy post, I know, but I just feel somewhat alone in the passion I had for the first adaption..not bragging or claiming to have a better appreciation than any other Hunter x Hunter fan, it’s just I don’t have a strong passion like this for any other Anime/Manga/Series, Togashi set the bar FAR above other shounens enough for it to be in a league of its own, so the end resulted in a much higher expectation than normal..at least for me.

    • nekroturkey

      You aren’t alone. I’m not a huge anime fan as I can’t stand anime for the most part. There are only a handful that I enjoy watching and the old HxH adaptation was one of them. I had also never read or purchased any manga in my life until I had seen the old adaptation, but I actually ended purchasing all 27 volumes after watching it because I enjoyed it so much. The mangas ended up being even better, too.

      Anyway, I had high expectations for this new show and I was expecting great things. I also tried to go in with an open mind when I watched this first episode and told myself that I wasn’t going to compare it to the old adaptation. I wanted to judge it by its own merits. Unfortunately, even when you don’t compare it to the old adaptation, it still isn’t very good.

      They messed up quite a few things in just the first episode alone. One of the problems with this episode is that they rushed it way too much. I mean really, how could this review say the pacing was well done? They completely skipped the part with Kite and they never even established the fact that Mito was Gon’s aunt. This adaptation has been claiming to be the definitive adaptation for HxH, but so far the older one is more definitive than this since it more accurately portrayed the events of the story and characters and included more details.

      As far as the music goes, the OST during the show was pretty mediocre/generic sounding. It didn’t really stand out at all. The opening/ending songs were terrible though, especially the ending. I found it to be pretty unbearable to watch and listen to.

      I was supremely excited to hear that they were giving HxH a from-the-ground-up reboot. I had spent a lot of time following the reboot ever since it was announced, and I was even more excited to hear that CR would be doing an English simulcast of the show. When I saw the episode though, I was just so incredibly disappointed. I thought that they could’ve done a lot better than what they had. However, I’ll continue to watch the episodes as they’re released every week in the hopes that they’ll be an improvement over this first one.

      • Luke Halliday

        If you read my review you would see that, it has been announced that Kite’s story will be told after the Hunter Exam to lessen the gap between his first appearance and reapperance. As for Mito, Gon calls her Aunt Mito several times, I’m sure that is enough indication she is his Aunt. Let’s not forget she says to Gon that his Father abandoned him and left him to her care. Perhaps you should rewatch the first episode. From what you have said it seems you missed a few things. 🙂

        • nekroturkey

          I don’t know Japanese and I’m not sure if “-san” means aunt, but throughout the episode he called her nothing but “Mito-san.” I’ve also seen the episode twice, and the second time I looked carefully for this. Leorio was also upset with Kurapika because he wouldn’t refer to him as Leorio-san. So unless he was upset because Kurapika wouldn’t refer to him as aunt Leorio, I’m pretty sure that’s not what -san means.

          Telling him that his father abandoned him doesn’t imply she is his aunt either. She could very well be his mother as far as the show is portraying her as.

          Also, like I said, I’ve been following this reboot extensively up until its release. So I’m already aware that they will be introducing Kite at a later point and why they’re doing it. It still doesn’t excuse them from portraying the story out of pace, especially if they’re going to claim this as being the definitive adaptation of HxH. Like I said, the older show more accurately portrayed the story and the characters and included more details, and as such makes it more definitive than this.

          • Luke Halliday

            He refers to her several times as Aunt Mito. I am going by the Crunchyroll streaming, which is of course is the legal way to view this show. Perhaps you watched a poorly subtitled version?

            “-san” is a Japanese honorific, usually used for when speaking of someone older then you. Oba-san often is used to refer to an aunt or grandmother. Check this link for more information regarding honorifics. 🙂

            I mean no offense but I honestly do not see how the Gon-Mito relationship was not established.

          • nekroturkey

            I have been watching the CR stream in 720p (I got a free trial membership to CR just for this), and every single time someone refers to Mito, they refer to her as “Mito-san.” I also just got done doing another quick view of the episode and I took these pictures straight from the CR video…

            http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx31/bevorkeng/mito-1.jpg

            So I don’t know what version of the show you were watching, but it wasn’t this one. Mito was never referenced to as Gon’s aunt at any point by anyone. Her name was also only mentioned five times, not several.

          • Luke Halliday

            I assure you I watched the same version as you. I won’t go to the trouble of searching through the episode for screen shots confirming the use of the word Aunt, but I am certain it was mentioned clearly. You are the only person I have seen online claiming they did not do this relationship correctly. But let’s leave this here. At the end of the day, you know who she is, so whether they use the word “Aunt” or not. Did it really effect your enjoyment that much?

  • nekroturkey

    @Luke Halliday

    My friend saw the same video that I did and noticed that they never referred to her as his aunt either. I’ve also seen other people saying the same thing as well. In fact, after the first time I watched the episode I didn’t even notice it since it wasn’t something that I was looking for. I actually read about it from someones post on another forum, at which point I went back and re-watched the episode and noticed it was lacking as well.

    Besides, I have provided proof straight from the CR video to back up my claim. You’ve made the claim that she has been referred to as his aunt but are refusing to provide anything prove it. You don’t need to create a montage like I have, just a single picture with the words “aunt Mito.” It would take less than two minutes.

    Like you said though, I know who she is, but newcomers won’t. My complaint is with the fact that they rushed this episode so much that they aren’t even establishing a relationship between the characters, along with actually leaving out an incredibly important event that set in motion the entire motivations behind the main character wanting to become a hunter. I mean, they had enough screentime to flesh out that Katsuo sailor’s character, but not enough to do the same for Mito or Kite? Their priorities are in the wrong place.

    This episode was the equivalent of two chapters from the manga and three episodes from the old series. The problem though is that it doesn’t exactly account for much when they leave out half of what happened in those two chapters or three episodes. The pacing ends up being completely messed up and the story and character development ends up lacking.

    Anyway, I hope I’m not coming off as rude or argumentative, as that’s not my goal. I’m just trying to show how much of a poor job they did with this episode.

    • Luke Halliday

      No it is fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Well, I do think it is worth noting that she is clearly not his mother. Whether they say Aunt or not, he never calls her Mother or Kaasan. He only calls her Mito-san. That is enough of a give a way that she is not his biological mother, but a close relative of some kind. Once they get around to the Kite story, we will get more of the past with Mito. Just give it time to grow. I assure you, it will live up to expectations. It is too soon to write it off after one episode.

      • nekroturkey

        I agree that it’s too soon to judge the entire series, and like I mentioned I’ll definitely be checking out the episodes as they’re released every week and hope that they improve over this first one. But first impressions mean a lot, and I really wish they would’ve put more effort into this episode.

        • Eturnus Frost

          Can’t say I can relate to the ”first impression” thing, but that’s irrelevant 🙂

          Only problem I have is with how some characters are drawn, and the only concerns I have is the censoring/change of characters..not to mention the ”45 episode” rumor..can’t predict how that’s going to play out for sure..

          I really just want to see the Chimera Ant ark in animated form, but it is a treat to ride through a different take on HxH during the long wait 🙂

          • Luke Halliday

            It has been confirmed for 45+ episodes. In other words, it will have at the very least 45 episodes. It has also been announced that this series will go beyond Chimera Ants. You can expect this series to be around for a long long time.

  • Anime watcher

    I am jus curious why would they make a whole new anime that is the same wouldn’t making sequel be better.
    it’s like watching sometime u already know wats gonna happen and it does not give me the mindset to wanna find out more I mean people watch to know more read to know the ending so I am really curious why are this animes made for(sry if there are any mistakes)

  • x

    nobody thinks the bgm sucks?

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