There is a world beyond the “Big Three” (Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece) in the realm of shonen anime, and there exist many amazing, but underrated stories that never amount to the popularity of the Big Three. Hunter x Hunter, created by manga author Yoshihiro Togashi of Yu Yu Hakusho fame, was one of those unlucky anime back in the late 1990’s, but now it has the chance to make a comeback; Hunter x Hunter has a brand new anime adaptation airing on Crunchyroll, and it follows the original manga much more closely than the first anime. It follows twelve-year-old Gon Freecss, who desires to be a Hunter to find out why his father, also a Hunter, abandoned him. With friends Kurapika and Leorio, Gon journeys to take the Hunter Exam and to the life that awaits him beyond it. Viewers both new and already acquainted now have the chance to re-experience Hunter x Hunter, an anime with a distinct uniqueness, a compelling cast, and a nostalgic taste of classic anime.
It’s blatant from the start that Hunter x Hunter is, in comparison to today’s shonen anime, quite unique. Unlike currently popular titles, Hunter x Hunter doesn’t run on a battle formula. There are indeed some fights and violence, but it doesn’t rely on flashy fights to attract an audience. The brawls that are in Hunter x Hunter are quick and to the point, but also distinct in the way the characters employ psychological warfare. Many of Gon’s enemies have similar goals to Gon and his friends, but are simply following a different path to reach them. There is no longer a clear cut line between good and evil, and this becomes the catalyst for such psychological attacks.
Hunter x Hunter doesn’t rely on its distinctness, but also has complex characters that prove its worth as an art form. The protagonist, Gon, seems childish and almost moronic on the surface, but in actuality has a deep maturity within him. Instead of hating his father for abandoning him, Gon wants to be a Hunter like his father to discover why he was cast aside. For a young boy to think that is exceptionally wise, yet Gon’s positivity and brightness reveal his youth. Gon isn’t the only intriguing character either; Kurapika garners interest quickly because his entire clan was massacred, leaving only him behind. It feels like Kurapika may become brooding and annoying, but over time he reveals himself and his past to his friends and proves that he cares about others. Even so, he remains an enigma, and that keeps him interesting. Kurapika also has a vastly comedic relationship with Leorio, a seemingly greedy fool. Although Leorio confesses that all he wants is money, he isn’t so shallow as to not have a reason why. Everything stems to his background and kindness, and he becomes more likable and heartwarming as the series goes on. Leorio, Gon, Kurapika are only three of the main characters, and yet each one is dynamic rather than following stereotypical paths.
One of the most captivating elements of Hunter x Hunter is the classic shonen appeal it retains from the 1998 manga. The artwork has many details that just scream 1990’s such as Gon’s strangly spiky hair and the simplistic, yet shojo-like eyes. As well, unlike contemporary anime that create handsome adversaries to attract female viewers, Hunter x Hunter has downright creepy antagonists. One of the earliest enemies, Hisoka, looks like a psychopathic clown with an unhealthily skinny waist; he is far from the typical pretty boy. However, what gives Hunter x Hunter its real charm is Gon’s essence. Gon is only twelve-years-old, and in combination with the art style and vibrant color scheme, Hunter x Hunter draws from the literal meaning of shonen — pure boy. There are few genuinely good shonen anime that have the essence of a boy’s purity, and Gon’s innocence is evident throughout Hunter x Hunter. Gon’s eyes are filled with his dreams, and the bright, beautiful settings only serve to enhance that positivity and give Hunter x Hunter a classic, charming atmosphere.
Being a second anime adaptation is definitely not a drawback for Hunter x Hunter. To those who have seen the first anime, the 2011 version of Hunter x Hunter has a completely different atmosphere from the 1999 anime. It is extremely distinct in its monsters and fights, but it also has a great cast of dynamic characters. Best of all, the nostalgic, classic feel Hunter x Hunter has is so appealing to both those who miss older anime and those who want something different from today’s anime. Especially for those who have never heard of or have never taken the time to watch the 1999 version, there has never been a better time than now to immerse oneself in the world of Hunter x Hunter.
We article lackeys always get a choice about which series we want to write an article for, courtesy of our overlord, so that way we're always hyped about what we end up pouring our soul into. When this season's selection was given to us, something just presented itself as the obvious “must write about” anime: Fate Zero. It was my initial selection as well but then I paused and thought: “What's the point? Everyone knows they have to watch Fate Zero, it's like telling a FPS fan he needs to get the next Call of Duty or Battlefield game (opinions expressed in this article might not reflect those of the writer, but you get the point).” So I raised my second choice to first pick since I thought it was definitely deserving of the recognition it may not get, and that pick was Wagnaria!!.
The plot is rather simple and is mostly a means to an end: Wagnaria, a family restaurant, needs to find a new employee, fast. Sent to recruit is waitress Popura Taneshima, a 17-year-old with a complex about her small size which has people frequently mistake her for an elementary school student. Luckily for her, she stumbles upon Sota Takanashi, a 16-year-old student who happens to have a fetish for all things cute and small. Charmed by her overwhelming cuteness, he can't help but accept the proposal and starts working part-time at the restaurant. He quickly learns that the employees there aren't exactly your run-of-the-mill workers and must adapt to his new surroundings.
Wagnaria!! takes place almost exclusively at the restaurant, so in addition to being a fresh diversion from the overly crowded school life genre, it allows for a lot of original situations to happen. And here lies Wagnaria!!'s true strength: It's strong characters and their complex interpersonal relationships lead to a particularly healthy potential for running gags that are always approached in new ways and deepen as the anime progresses. As Wagnaria!! is based off of a four-panel comic strip manga, you can be sure the pace never lets up as one gag doesn't wait for the next.
Let's take a look at a few characters to illustrate my point. Our main character, Sota, passes off as a pedophile on his first day due to his affection to cute things ( that includes little girls, but also puppies, hamsters and... water fleas ), but a much darker side pops up whenever it comes to older women. Since he grew up with three older sisters that made his life hell ( and still do ), he grew to lose all respect toward any girl older than himself, even if that woman is his boss. His sudden mood swings from nice to incredibly rude always make me bust out laughing.
Mahiru Inami is the most unlikely candidate for a waitress you'll ever see. You see, she has androphobia and is thus terrified of men, hitting them by reflex whenever they come too close. How she was hired in the first place is a mystery. Her fear was caused by her father wanting to keep her all to himself by telling her all men are ready to attack her at any time, so she started to hit them first whenever she came in contact with them. She feels horrible about this, and soon Sota becomes her personal trainer / punching bag in the hopes of one day curing her, even though he is rather reluctant about it. She secretly develops a crush for him, but Sota is far too concentrated on the fact that a girl hitting him daily isn't cute at all to notice.
Hiroomi Soma is one of the two chefs of Wagnaria. Kind, relaxed and jovial on the surface, he is actually a blackmailing fiend using his information gathering talents to extort favors from the other workers of the restaurant, proof once again that you should never trust characters that always keep their eyes closed. He is however terrified of Inami since his blackmailing can't really get started if he can't get close enough to talk to her without getting punched. He is very glad that Sota has become the usual target of her violent fits. His only means of communication with her is through her cellphone, even though they work under the same roof!
Add to this the cool, emotionless chef secretly in love with a waitress that always carries a katana on her, the good-for-nothing manager that spends her time eating the restaurant's supplies, the mysterious girl living in the attic who was one day brought back by the restaurant's head honcho who seldom visits since he's too busy looking for his wife that someday got lost on her way back home and has since been wandering around Japan aimlessly and you've got a slightly better idea of the sort of the nonsensical gang we're dealing with here.
Saying that You and Me is “Lucky Star with dudes” is doing it a disservice. You see, the J.C. Staff-animated adaptation of Kiichi Hotta’s best-selling manga is one of the most accurate, realistically toned-down portrayals of male friendship I’ve seen in anime and manga.
When something can make you wistfully sigh and say “man, this really brings me back--I loved growing up and going to high school in Japan” despite the fact that you did not grow up and go to high school in Japan, it’s doing something right.
Not needing any crazy buildup, the quiet series (with excellent opening and ending tracks) follows a group of childhood friends: twins Yuta and Yuki, standoffish glasses guy Kaname, and girly guy Shun--that’s not meant as an insult, as Shun is level-headed and polite, but with his flowing locks, gentle demeanor and soft voice, it’s easy to be fooled. Later on the series introduces playful, hot-headed goofball Chizuru, throwing a wrench into the calm mechanics the group has developed, as the not-so-fearsome foursome (or are they a fivesome?) have been together since kindergarten.
Everybody is out for a jog when they run into Goro. He takes this opportunity to spend time with Chizuru while Takeru and Eiko show Squid Girl around the city. Sanae has become a bodyguard to Squid Girl. Is this a new ruse to get closer? What trouble will Mini-Squid Girl get into now?