Tag Archives: Hunter x Hunter

Ktulu’s 5th Annual Awards & Shaming Ceremony

All right, Everybody. It’s this time of year again. Time to go over the best and worst of the works I’ve reviewed from February 15th of 2017 right up to last week’s review of Trinity Blood. Now, last year I didn’t do anything based off of the bonus reviews since those only became a thing starting in December. So, there weren’t may to choose from. This year, we’re going to have two simple awards for those based on the best and worst things I’ve done bonus reviews of.

I’ll start with the best and worst in show for the bonus reviews and our list of contestants is as follows: Blackest Night, Civil War, DC vs Marvel, Doctor Who- The First Doctor, Dragon Quest VII, Frosty the Snowman, Gravity Falls, Jem and the Holograms volume one, Justice League- Crisis on Two Earths, Miitopia, Mortal Kombat- Defenders of the Realm, Muppet Fairy Tales, Ohimesama no Himitsu, Secret Wars, Spider-man Unlimited, Tiny Toons- Night Ghoulery

The Worst In Bonus:

Honestly, there were two big contenders for this one. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm & Civil War. But only one can be the worst and this year that one is Civil War.

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There are two big reasons that Civil War takes the title. The first is that it, ultimately, had a greater impact. Defenders is barely remembered and the franchise certainly isn’t going to try and make anything from it canon. Civil War, in contrast, led directly to a lot of other horrendous things. The One More Day event, the second Ultimate Alliance game being a load of wank, a sequel that was almost certainly also shit and factored into several other bad Marvel decisions. The second is that Civil War is bad in more egregious ways. Defenders is bad in the manner of a lazy cartoon where the premise wasn’t going to work and no one gave a shit. Civil War had a premise with potential but did everything wrong. And some of it in ways that say really bad things about the creative team.

The Best in Bonus:

This one was a lot harder to pick. I’ve reviewed some phenomenal works as part of the bonus reviews this year. Dragon Quest VII. Gravity Falls, Jem, Secret Wars & Ohimesama no Himitsu are all superb works and I have a lot of affection for every single one of them. But, ultimately, the award goes to Ohimesama no Himitsu. Because out of all the minor problems I had with all of these, it had the most minor. It’s damn close to being the perfect romance work.

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Onto the anime awards. The potential contestants are: AD Police, Arion, Ayakashi, Azumanga Daioh, Bakemono no Ko, Bishoujo Yuugekitai Battle Skipper, Chocolate Underground, Dennou Sentai Voogie’s Angel, Devil May Cry, Dragonball- Legend of Shenron, Drifters, Elfen Lied, Final Fantasy Unlimited, Futari wa Precure- Max Heart film 1, Futari wa Precure- Max Heart film 2, Futari wa Precure- Splash Star, gdgd Faeries, Girls und Panzer der film, Green Legend Ran, Gyo, Harmonie, Hunter x Hunter 2011, Idol Project, Iria- Zeiram, Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken- Diamond Wa Kudakenai, Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken- Stardust Crusaders 2, Karas, Kaze Tachinu, Kemono Friends, Kill me Baby, Koe no Katachi, Kowabon, Love Stage, Mob Psycho 100, Mobile Suit Gundam- Iron-Blooded Orphans, Mononoke, Nanbaka, Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, Osomatsu-san, Palme no Ki, Phantasy Star Online II, Rose of Versailles, Rurouni Kenshin, Sakamichi no Apollon, Shuumatsu no Izetta, Stranger- Mukou Hadan, Street Fighter Alpha, Tales of Eternia, Tales of Zestiria the X, Trinity Blood, Tsuritama, Twilight Q, Vivid Strike, Warau Salesman New, Windaria, Wizardry, Wolf Guy, Youjo Senki

So, there’s our stable of contestants. Let’s move on to the awards.

The Moffat Award for most horrendous writing in a supposedly serious series or OVA. Our previous hall of shamers include such piles of rubbish as Dansi Bunri no Crime Edge, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Madhouse’s X-men & Brain Powerd. This year the big stand outs were Wolf Guy & Elfen Lied. Either one of which deserves recognition but there can be only one “winner” and this year that’s Elfen Lied.

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Not only is there more of Elfen Lied to hate, with about twice the content, but there’s also what the series were going for. Wolf Guy was a dumb action work that was trying to be a dumb action work. Elfen Lied was trying to be psychological, mature & filled with horror. None of which worked because the writing was roughly equivalent to a twelve year old who’s trying way too hard to show how mature they are.

The Simone Award for excellent writing in a mostly serious series or OVA. Our prior winners were Psycho Pass, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS & El Cazador de La Bruja. This year’s tough. I gave out a lot of 8s, but not much above that. The two big contenders end up being Mononoke & Vivid Strike. Ultimately, the Simone Award is going to Mononoke.

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So, why Mononoke? While both these series are very much worthy, I ultimately feel that Mononoke is a little bit more solid. Because setting up new characters with interesting facets to them and a compelling new scenario for every arc is a little more challenging than telling a really good story about two friends reconnecting over martial arts.

The Abrams Award for worst writing in a film. Our previous hall of shame consists of End of Evangelion, Metropolis, Hetalia: Paint it White & Hanare Toride no Yonna. This year I reviewed quite a few films and the worst, by a good margin, was Arion.

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Who would’ve thought that a film ostensibly about mythology that doesn’t understand said mythology, has a confused aesthetic and that thinks a rousing speech is the protagonist complaining that he just killed his father and wants to bone his sister, would turn out to be such an absolute mess? Besides Everybody.

The Miyazaki Award for film writing excellence. Our prior winners were Nausicaa, Kara no Kyoukai 4, Spirited Away & Mononoke Hime. This one was harder to choose. I saw some very solid films this year. But the award ultimately goes to Koe no Katachi.

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This one touches on some very real challenges and actually tells a really strong redemption all while keeping things largely realistic.

The Macfarlane Award for shittiest comedy. Our previous winners were OreImo, Kill la Kill, Sunabouzu & Kashimashi. Now that’s company you want to stand upwind from. This year there was a clear winner and that’s Idol Project.

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Yes, the comedy where random nonsense is used as a substitute for actual jokes and where the under-developed characters aren’t even used for comedic possibilities. All in all, a failure.

The Pratchett Award for best comedic elements. Our prior winners are Bottle Fairy, Doki Doki PreCure, Yuru Yuri San Hai & Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka 2. This year the bell of fortune tolls for Azumanga Daioh.

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This was a tough one because I’ve seen a good number of enjoyable, consistently funny comedies. But, ultimately, Azumanga Daioh is the one that stands above the others.

The Meyer Award for worst romantic elements. Our prior anal leakings of amore were OreImo, Mawaru Penguindrum, Love Hina Again & Dance in the Vampire Bund. This year the series that showcases the worst idea of what love is is Wolf Guy.

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Yeah, the series where our “romance” consists of our protagonist not letting the woman he supposedly loves abort her rapist’s baby even though giving birth is going to kill her because she’s had her mind destroyed and can’t make that decision. This also takes place in a fucked up world where, apparently, this piece of shit is the best one to make the decision for her.

The Kanemaki Award for strongest romance. Our previous winners were Btooom (for Himiko/ Ryouta), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanha StrikerS (both for NanoFate) & El Cazador de la Bruja (Ellis/ Nadie). This year was actually really difficult to pick a winner. On one hand, we have the Finé/ Izetta romance from Shuumatsu no Izetta and it’s beautiful. On the other hand, we have the Fuuka/ Rinne relationship from Vivid Strike. Which is also lovely. These two dynamics are kind of similar too, both being about old friends reconnecting as their love blossoms. The big difference is that Finé/ Izetta work together and have to overcome outside obstacles while Fuuka/ Rinne have to overcome those elements which caused a falling out betwixt them. Ultimately, I think one of those does lead to a slightly stronger romantic dynamic and that’s why the award goes to Shuumatsu no Izetta.

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In the end, we just see more moments of these two as a couple while Vivid Strike is more about the hesitation brought on by past events that’s getting in the way of them coming together. Which gives us more time to spend with Finé & Izetta as a pair and more really sweet moments betwixt the two. And that’s why they edge out the competition and emerge as the better couple.

The Anno Award for the shittiest cast of characters. Our former winners were End of Evangelion, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Love Hina Again & Kashimashi. All terribly obnoxious groups of characters with no complexity to be found. This year they’re joined by a series that fits right in, Elfen Lied.

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Yes, a series with annoying, trope characters. Some of whom have tragic back stories that end up contributing nothing.

The Moore Award for strongest cast of characters. Our prior winners have been Sailor Moon, Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin, Death Parade & Sailor Moon S. As a general rule, I prefer to give this one to a series that has well written characters and a good sized cast of them. This year the series that best fits those criteria is Hunter x Hunter 2011.

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This series has a large cast of compelling characters, all of whom possess verisimilitude. In terms of personality, at least. Not so much with their super powers. It also has some of the best written antagonists I’ve ever seen in a shounen action series.

The Bendis Award for the worst major conflict in a series. Our previous piss stains of poor plotting were From Up On Poppy Hill, Sword Art Online, Ice & Sword Art Online II. This was a tough choice because there were several series that legitimately deserved this. But, ultimately, I’m giving the award to AD Police.

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Yes, the series wherein we learn that all major conflicts are caused by over-sexed women. And we can’t bring ourselves to remotely care about any of it because the writing is shite.

The Claremont Award for the greatest major conflict. Our preceding powerhouses of plotting were Psycho Pass, Shingeki no Kyojin, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha As & Haibane Renmei. This year Vivid Strike will be joining their ranks.

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Vivid Strike’s poignant conflict of a pair of old friends trying to reconnect while also delving into the mistakes that were made on both sides is really engrossing and the added romantic tension between the girls just gives their falling out all the more punch.

The Liefeld Award for worst visuals. Our former ocular atrocities in the series category were Aku no Hana, Amada Anime Series: Super Mario Brothers, Corpse Party: Tortured Souls & Byston Well Monogatari: Garzey no Tsubasa. The film category awards have gone to DBZ: Fusion Reborn & Hanare Toride no Yonna. This year our vomit inducing visuals were found in Elfen Lied & Arion.

Arion should come as no surprise but you might be wondering how Elfen Lied won over series like gdgd Faeries where the artwork looks generally like bad cg. Well, the ultimate reason is that gdgd Faeries has bad artwork, but it’s artwork that doesn’t detract from anything the series is doing. Elfen Lied, in contrast, is trying to incorporate subtle, psychological elements. It fails completely, but it’s trying to. And when you’re trying to incorporate subtle psychological elements, having overblown, ridiculous violence and nudity undermines that aspect. Even if the series hadn’t been really terribly written the visuals would hurt it. And that’s why it’s the worst.

The Urbino Award for vivacious visuals. Our prior comely chieftains were (series) Mushishi & Stand Alone Complex 2nd gig and (film) Nausicaa, Tokyo Godfathers, Spirited Away & Mononoke Hime. This year they’re joined by Kaze Tachinu & Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.

A film that was just okay but with the lovely visual elements of most Ghibli films and a series where the art was stellar.

The Spencer Award for scrub-tier acting. Our previous grade school theatre productions were the English dub of Sailor Moon, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ice & Kashimashi. This year it goes to Wolf Guy.

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Like most of the winners, this one had some good actors. It just had good actors who sounded terrible due to writing and direction that demanded dreadful performances.

The Sir Stewart Award for amazing acting. Our preceding pinnacle performances came from Black Rock Shooter (OVA), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Glass no Kamen & Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. This was really tough to choose since a lot of the more average series I’ve reviewed have still managed to have good acting. But this year they’re being joined by Hunter x Hunter 2011.

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This series has a lot of excellent performances and it, ultimately, deserves to be recognised for it.

The Perry Award for malodorous music. Our former ear beatings were the English dub of Sailor Moon, Street Fighter II, Mars of Destruction & Kagewani. This year it goes to Arion.

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Yes, the film where the lousy sound mixing damages music that actually did come from a good composer. Even if it is probably was his worst composition work even without the balancing problems.

The Kloss Award for magnificent melodies. Our previous cherished compositions came from Slayers Perfect, K-on the film, Love Live series 2 & Love Live the School Idol film. This year they’re joined by Michiru’s prominent OST work on Shuumatsu no Izetta.

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There were some other strong candidates but none as consistently good, musically, as this. It’s a superb soundtrack, period.

That’s it for this year’s awards. Thank you all for reading my snark-laden reviews another year. I’ve enjoyed all of your comments. You’re a fantastic bunch of readers. Tomorrow I’ll post the Junjou Romantica review. So, there’s that to look forward to.

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Hunter x Hunter 2011: Chimera Ants & Nen

Hunter x Hunter is a long running shounen series written by Togashi Yoshihiro. You may know him as the author of Yu Yu Hakusho and the husband of Takeuchi Naoko, the writer of Sailor Moon. The still ongoing manga has gotten several anime adaptations. One from ’99- ’01, a thirty episode OVA from ’02-’04 and a Madhouse series that started airing in 2011 and ran until 2014. The Madhouse series is the one we’ll be looking at today. I did like Yu Yu Hakusho well enough, so let’s see how this one compares.

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Story:

Our narrative is set in a world where an elite group of hunters has a lot of fame, prestige and performs dangerous tasks. Each year there’s an exam to determine what young blood will be allowed to join the Hunter’s organisation. We follow twelve year old Gon Freecss, son of a famous hunter, who’s preparing to take the exam and follow in his father’s footsteps. And, since this is a long shounen action series, after that arc ends we have a good half dozen more.

Let’s begin, as I usually do, with the negatives about the story. The biggest flaw is the “romance” element. No, it’s not actual romance but that’s the quickest way to succinctly describe it before going into the details. Gon and his equally young friend, Killua, attract a lot of attention from older characters. There are multiple guys who seem to get sexually aroused from battle who develop something of a fixation on the two of them and there’s a woman in her twenties who forces Gon to go on a date with her. Now, to the series’ credit these blatant paedophiles are shown as, at best, having dark personalities even if they’re technically allied with the heroic group. So, at least there’s some acknowledgement that what they’re doing is not all right. But it’s still pretty bloody creepy to have that level of sexual fixation directed at twelve year olds. Especially since no one in the series seems to ever acknowledge the issue with it. The series also does, like every other long shounen action anime I’ve seen, have its share of filler. Although it’s probably the least egregious offender I’ve seen in that regard. At least in terms of 100+ episode action anime.

Let’s move on to the praise. There are a lot of good things about this series. First off, it does subvert a lot of the traditional shounen tropes. Gon isn’t the ultimate, most powerful person of all who comes in after his friends get their anuses torn open and just cleans up. We see a lot of stronger characters and some who are easily on the same level with him. He frequently isn’t even the one who will finish a battle. He’ll make definite contributions, but he won’t be the key to everything working. Which gives the other characters a reason to be there beyond acting as fodder. The series is also good about setting up scenarios that, in any other action series, would end in a very particular way and then ending them in a different way that works better with the narrative. There’s a clear Dragonball inspiration which the series uses well by taking certain concepts and putting its own unique spin on them. Remember Goku’s Janken attack? Well, Gon has his own Janken inspired attack but his is different and stays relevant. Killua also gets a technique that’s visually similar to a super saiyajin and the main antagonist of the chimera ant arc absorbs people to grow stronger, rather like Cell but, aside from that, the two villains aren’t very alike. Our heroes find a teacher who looks at dirty magazines, like Roshi, but never harasses anyone and is just a far stronger character. I actually like her a lot. I’ve seen enough series that are blatant rip-offs (The Law of Ueki) and series that just verbatim follow cliches, that it’s impressive when you find one like this that wears its inspiration clearly but also is its own unique entity.

In terms of the strength of the arcs, they range from decent to excellent. The chimera ant arc is definitely the strongest, with a lot of development for the antagonists, a story that really builds on the prior events of the series, it has the most tragic, heart-wrenching scene I’ve seen in a while & it opens up quite a few possibilities for future events. The Greed Island arc, in contrast, is the weakest. It’s the only arc that’s just decent. It has its strong suits like Biscuit Kreuger, some very inventive action sequences, allowing us to see certain characters in a new light and Biscuit Kreuger. It also drags more than anything else in the series, features the least interesting antagonists and it’s the arc that plays a lot of shounen tropes the safe and predictable way. Which gets a bit dull.

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Characters:

In general, I really like the cast in this series. I don’t know why we need paedophile characters. They seem completely unnecessary. I also find Leorio a bit insufferable. The dude basically only succeeds at anything because the people around him prop him up and he’s just a total swine. Although, I can’t really fault the series for his writing since he does have verisimilitude. I’ve known people who were very much like that and I couldn’t stand them either. The antagonist writing is largely well done. All of the antagonists in this have some redeeming qualities. Even the Greed Island antagonists have this sense of camaraderie among them. Which might not be much but it’s something. There isn’t a single character in this series who’s devoid of verisimilitude.

I can’t go over every single character in great detail, so I’ll just mention some of the major ones. Gon and Killua are our main boys, playing a major role in everything. In some ways, Gon seems like the dumb but good-natured shounen protagonist but it becomes clear, very quickly, that he’s not stupid. He’s naïve because he’s twelve and has spent most of his life on a small island. He’s also highly observant and can be very cunning when he has a strong grasp of a situation. Killua initially seems like the character who has a dark past and that’s going to be the excuse for everything they do. However, he quickly distinguishes himself from that character type by being quite cheerful instead of dark and brooding. He also distinguishes himself through his strong friendship and loyalty towards Gon. Usually that character is established as a rival for the main hero who really wants to be stronger than them and will never admit to liking them. As the series progresses, he also starts to get a lot more of a conscience. He’s still pragmatic about killing when the situation calls for it, but he focuses a lot more on protecting others. Especially Gon and his little sister who shows up towards the end.

Another character I want to talk about is Komugi. She is the character who really solidifies the chimera ant arc as the best. Before she shows up, the antagonists are under-developed and they’ve shown basically nothing redeemable besides hints of the same type of camaraderie that were displayed in the Greed Island arc. That changes with the introduction of Komugi, a blind little lass who gets brought in to entertain the king. By playing a game, get your minds out of the gutter. She quickly starts to form a genuine bond with him that he doesn’t really understand and that his loyal guards don’t know how to react to. This bond becomes central to the character development of the antagonists in the arc and involves some of the best written scenes in the entire series. And she’s an interesting character too. She doesn’t want to bother anyone due to her physical limitations but she’s not weak. She has a lot of mental fortitude and once she’s resolved she doesn’t change her mind. It’s fascinating to watch her even when a lot of what happens in her scenes revolves around playing a game with ill-defined rules.

Art:

For starters, I have to address the character designs. Some of them are kind of typical; bright-eyed lad with crazy hair and such. But a lot of them are quite unique. The chimera ants have fascinating designs. Even the ones largely based off of one animal have an insect-like influence that makes them more than your typical furry fodder. I also appreciate that the female characters have a lot of diversity. In a lot of these shounen series you’ll get the attractive ladies in major roles and, maybe, some unattractive ones who get thrown in for a scene or two as a jape. In this one, one of the major female characters looks like she’d fit in with the muscular machismo of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. There’s another, Senritsu, who looks kind of like a Friar Tuck cosplayer. There are also ones like Komugi, who looks rather plain aside from her gigantic eyebrows. The action sequences in this are really stellar. The Nen element allows for a wide variety of different techniques and styles without going overboard to the extent where anything could happen and it would make sense. The animation is very fluid and the world just looks really good.

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Sound:

The acting is really damn good. Like with the characters, I can’t talk about every single actor but I’ll bring up a few who stand out. Our main heroes are voiced by Han Megumi & Ise Mariya, both of whom deliver superb performances. Tominaga Miina, the voice of Senritsu, also stands out. She sounds very melodic and she’s just a joy to listen to. Endou Aya, Yokoyama Chisa & Uchiyama Kouki also stand out for their superb work as Komugi, Biscuit Kreuger & Meruem. Paku Romi is also in this and her character is named Paku. We have Hirano Yoshihisa to thank for the awesome soundtrack. You may also know him from his work on Death Note & Strawberry Panic.

Ho-yay:

There’s a bit. I already mentioned the men who seem to be aroused off of the idea of fighting twelve year old boys. There are also times where Killua’s devotion to Gon and his response come across as being more than friendship. Honestly, they’re the same age so I have no problem with that.

Final Thoughts:

That’s Hunter x Hunter. When all is said and done, I do like it more than Yu Yu Hakusho. It has stronger arcs, character writing and is just generally superior. It’s still not perfect and there are definitely things that could have been better handled but I can still heartily recommend it for action fans. My final rating is going to be an enthusiastic 8.5/10. Next week I’ll look at Girls und Panzer der film.