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HUNTER X HUNTER DVD Box Set Volume 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

November 20, 2008 by  



“A fun anime adventure series that features a lot of action and a lot of heart!  For those who enjoy adventure based series such as ‘Blue Dragon’ and ‘One Piece’ will find satisfaction with ‘HUNTER X HUNTER’.”

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Cover Image: HUNTER X HUNTER is a copyright of (C) POT (Yoshihiro Togashi) 1998 – 2008
(C) NIPPON ANIMATION / SHUEISHA

DVD TITLE:  HUNTER X HUNTER DVD Box Set Volume 1

DURATION: 300 minutes (3 DVDs)

DVD INFORMATION: NTSC, Region 1

COMPANY: Shonen Jump Home Video, VIZ Media

Released on December 9, 2008

GENERAL DIRECTOR: Kazuhiro Furhashi

DIRECTORS: Shinpei Miyashita, Shunji Yoshida

SCRIPT: Nobuaki Kishima, Yoshiyuki Suga, Masashi Sogo, Ryota Yamaguchi

CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takayuki Goto

ART DIRECTOR: Nobuhito Sakamoto

BACKGROUND ART DIRECTOR: Goichi Kudo

COLOR DESIGN: Mari Miyashita

MUSIC: Toshihiko Sahashi

SOUND DIRECTOR: Takuya Hiramitsu

ORIGINAL COMICS: Yoshihiro Togashi

PUBLISHED BY SHUEISHA INC.

PRODUCED BY NIPPON ANIMATION CO. LTD.

Based on the popular HUNTER X HUNTER manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi (also published by VIZ Media), this new fantasy action series introduces audiences to Hunters, a special breed of adventurers dedicated to tracking down treasure, magical beasts, and even humans. But such pursuit requires a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam. Gon might be a country boy, but he has high aspirations. Despite his aunt’s protest, Gon decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a legendary Hunter.

The journey begins on the long, arduous road to the Exam Hall, where he meets Leorio and Kurapika, two applicants with the same determination. Gon and his two companions must now prove their worth and earn the right to call themselves Hunters!

The HUNTER X HUNTER DVD Box Set Volume 1 contains the series’ first 15 episodes on 3 discs.

The ‘HUNTER X HUNTER’ series is one of the most popular and long-running manga series in Japan.  Written and designed by Yoshihiro Togashi (creator of ‘Yu Yu Hakusho’), the manga series began in 1998 and is still ongoing to this day.

As for the animated series, the 62-episode TV series which was shown on FUJI TV began in October 1999 and ended in March 2001.

As the series is celebrating its 10th Year Anniversary, it’s fitting that finally one of Japan’s beloved anime series makes its way to the US with a 15-episode vol. 1 box set courtesy of Shonen Jump Home Video.

The first volume focuses on a young boy named Gon who is rescued by a hunter, Kite.

Kite is looking for another fellow Hunter named Ging Freecss.  A man that Kite served as an apprentice for who has a gift of being able to communicate with animals but also a reputation of being one of the greatest hunters ever.

Kite learns that Gon has the same abilities as Ging and wants to learn more about this young boy and discovering that Gon, may be the son of the well-known hunter.

Gon was told his father died long ago but learns that he is still alive and immediately wants to follow his father’s footsteps by becoming a hunter and also hoping he can find and meet his father.

A hunter is a person who is granted special privileges in the world. They can roam in areas that the public is not allowed to visit, they can go to establishments without having to pay for it, they have a license to hunt and do other jobs that are only specific to those who have a hunter’s license.

But not everyone can become a hunter.  Only a few become hunters and in this case, only one hunter can be chosen.   Also, to make it more challenging, only a few make it past certain tests.  But for Gon, he is determined to follow his father’s footsteps and will do what it takes to become a hunter.

Gon is different from other hunters since he was raised by a loving relative and lived in a village where there has not been much strife or conflict, so he is a bit naive about the world around him.  In fact, his motivation in becoming a hunter is so opposite of what other hunters are wanting it for.  But Gon’s pure and positive attitude seems to have an effect on the people that he meets.

As for Gon, he has the ability to communicate with animals like his father and carries a fishing pole that acts like a weapon and helps him swing to different areas.  He is also learning more and more about his abilities as he continues on in his hunter training with his friends.

Along the way, he meets three others who will be taking the hunter exam and the four form a friendship and become a circle of friends helping each other out.  Gon befriends:

Leorio – Gon meets Leorio, a man who wears a business suit and sunglasses who has a hot temper but has a good heart.  He seems to want to be a hunter because of money but why he wants the money is explained in this first volume. Leorio is a great fighter and if his hunger is full, he exhibits tremendous strength.

Kurapika – Gon meets Kurapika while traveling on ship to another island.  Kurapika tends to get at odds with Leorio in the beginning because both have different reasons for wanting a Hunter license.  For Kurapika, his motivation to get a hunter’s license is for revenge and it is explained during his storyline on volume 1.  Kurapika is intelligent, a balanced fighter and also is a conjurer and specialist with the ability to materialize objects with his imagination.

Killua Zoldyck – The fourth member of the team is Killua, a mysterious boy that finds Gon’s purity interesting and thus immediately, because of how Gon is, Killua immediately becomes friends with the three.  Killua comes from an upbringing of an assassin and is a trained killer.  He somewhat has a split personality.  He can be seen as a happy, young person intrigued by people but when in battle, he can turn and become a deadly individual who enjoys the thrill of killing.  Killua is learning to control himself and his weaknesses as shown in this first volume.

The first volume is literally an introduction to the four friends who want to become hunters and during their adventures of traveling to a variety of islands and areas, are faced with immediate and deadly challenges that they must be prepared for.  You learn of their motivations of becoming a hunter but how they learn to help each other in achieving success during their long training.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

The animation of “HUNTER X HUNTER” has similarities to Togashi’s other popular work “Yu Yu Hakusho” in terms of character designs.  Also, with the series created back in 1999, you expect to see quality of a TV anime series created in the 90s completely different to the digital colorful quality of anime TV series of today. So, you do get noise on the video as would be expected from an older animated TV series.

But for an anime TV series created in the late 90s,  you get a lot of shading through the backgrounds and dungeon areas.  You get to see the luscious backgrounds painted.  The cool aspect of “HUNTER X HUNTER” animation-wise is that the main characters are continually on the  move, so you get something different with each episode in terms of scenery and backgrounds.

I watched the series in both Japanese (with English subtitles) and via English dub.  Both voice acting tracks are well done and as for the English dub, I’ve always felt that VIZ media are typically on top of their selections for voice actors with series like “Naruto”, “Bleach” and “Death Note”.  The same can be said for “HUNTER X HUNTER”, the voice actors for Gon and friends are well done.

I typically dislike children or teenagers who sound too much older than they are in anime series but I’m happy that the voice acting was well done for Gon and the others.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There really isn’t much in terms of extras.  You get a trailer for Shonen Jump Manga, Shonen Jump Home Video but fortunately you can find the production storyboards (a total of 15).

I suppose that the theme of a young boy and his friends trying to get a license can be compared to a series like “Pokemon” but with “HUNTER X HUNTER”, there are no monsters being caught and although Gon is a young guy, pure-at-heart, his friends are trying to overcome their own personal issues from their past.

But what makes “HUNTER X HUNTER” a fun series is the fact that you have four individuals who are so different from each other, they learn about themselves and about others through their friendship.  Having to work as a team during their training and their adventures and knowing that not many people make it far in their training.

The first volume focuses more on the character development on each character and their team dynamics.  But with so many episodes still left in the series, you can only expect that the adventures will become more difficult, challenging and that the storyline will continue to get even more wilder and interesting as it progresses.

With the odds against them, instead of working as individuals, the four work as a team despite their differences and with a storyline that features a good balance of humor, action but also some seriousness, “HUNTER X HUNTER” is an enjoyable adventure-based anime series thus far.

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