Hunter × Hunter (ハンター×ハンター, Hantā Hantā), pronounced "Hunter Hunter", is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yoshihiro Togashi. The story focuses on a young boy named Gon, who discovers that his father, whom he was told was dead, is actually alive and well. He learns that his father, Ging, is a legendary Hunter, an individual who has proven themselves an elite member of humanity and who specializes in finding rare creatures, secret treasures, and other individuals. Despite Ging having left his son with his relatives in order to pursue his own dreams, Gon becomes determined to follow in his father's footsteps, pass the rigorous Hunter Examination, and eventually find his father to become a Hunter in his own right. The original inspiration for the manga came from Togashi's own collecting hobby.
Hunter × Hunter began its manga serialization on March 3, 1998 in the Shueisha magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump. As of November 2011, its 310 chapters have been published in 29 tankōbon (chapter collections) in Japan. However, the manga has frequently gone on hiatus since 2006. Hunter × Hunter was translated into English and released in North America by Viz Media beginning in April 2005. In 1999, the manga series was adapted into a 62-episode anime series produced by Nippon Animation and directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi. The anime premiered on Japan's Fuji TV and Animax. Three separate original video animations (OVAs) totaling 30 episodes were subsequently produced by Nippon Animation and released in Japan from 2002 to 2004. The television series has been licensed and released in North America by Viz, and it aired on the Funimation Channel starting in 2009. A second anime television series by Madhouse began airing on Nippon Television in October 2011. There are also numerous audio albums, video games, musicals, and other media based on Hunter × Hunter.
The Hunter × Hunter manga has been a financial success in Japan, having sold over 55 million copies there as of August 2011. Popularity and viewer recognition of the anime series have proven much more modest. Critics of both the manga and its television adaptation have praised it as having a complex plot, endearing characters, and superb art and animation. However, reviewers disagreed on the quality of the anime's music and sound.
- Main article: Story Arcs
Twelve years prior to the start of the story, Ging Freecss left his infant son, Gon Freecss, with Gon's aunt, Mito Freecss, on Whale Island. Gon, who was told all his life that both his parents were dead, finds out from Ging's apprentice, Kite, that his father is still alive and has since become an accomplished Hunter. Hunters are licensed, elite members of humanity who are capable of tracking down secret treasures, rare beasts, or even other individuals. Gon leaves his home to become a Hunter like his father by taking the Hunter Exam, a series of brutal tests involving skill, survival, and teamwork. Prior to and during the exam, Gon meets and befriends three of the other applicants: the last remaining member of the Kurta clan, Kurapika, who wishes to become a Hunter in order to avenge his slain people; Leorio Paradinight, a prospective physician who claims to desire to become rich; and Killua Zoldyck, who had left his life as a member of a notorious assassin family. Among many other examinees, Gon continuously encounters Hisoka, a deadly, sadistic magician.
After the exam and a brief excursion to Killua's home estate, the four protagonists split up, promising to meet up in Yorknew City months later. Kurapika departs to find work and Leorio leaves to attend medical school. Gon and Killua decide to gain both combat experience and money at the Heavens Arena, a skyscraper where thousands of combatants compete daily in fighting tournaments. There they meet a kung fu (original Japanese version is Kenpō) master named Wing, who trains them in utilizing Nen, a chi-like life energy that can be used to manifest superhuman powers.
The next story arc reunites the main characters for the world's largest auction in the sprawling metropolis of Yorknew City. Gon, Killua, and Leorio try different methods to make enough money to buy Greed Island, an extremely rare and expensive video game with Nen-like properties that may help Gon locate his father. Meanwhile, Kurapika, having mastered a form of Nen himself, takes a job as bodyguard for a rich client who is attempting to obtain a pair of Kurta eyes. While at the auction, Kurapika crosses paths with the Phantom Troupe, the group responsible for the slaughtering of his clan and who are attempting to steal valuable artifacts throughout the city's many auctions. With the help of his comrades Kurapika neutralizes the Nen of Chrollo Lucilfer, leader of the Phantom Troupe, halting the group's activity in Yorknew City.
Finally, Gon and Killua find Greed Island, the seemingly-magical video game that sucks players within. The goal of the game is to collect a number of set cards, although almost everything in the game, from food to money, can be turned into cards. Inside Greed Island Gon and Killua are joined by an experienced teacher of Nen, Biscuit Krueger, who trains them. With help, Gon and Killua clear the game. As part of their reward, they are allowed to take three cards to be used outside the game. Using one of the cards, Gon and Killua travel to the location of a player with the username "Nigg", who they believe to be Ging. However, it ends up bringing them to Kite instead.
Alongside Kite, Gon and Killua briefly work as biological researchers in the country of Kakin. As they investigate a giant insect limb found on the country's shores, the group discover it came from a man-sized Chimera Ant queen, an insect that devours other creatures and then gives birth to progeny that inherit the characteristics of the different species it has eaten. The queen washes up onto an island nation called the Neo-Green Life (N.G.L.) Autonomous Region, inhabited by a neo-luddite culture. She quickly develops a taste for humans and builds a colony in order to conceive both an army of offspring and a Chimera Ant king named Meruem. The Chimera Ants proceed to wipe most of the population out before Gon, Killua, and Kite arrive. The queen dies during labor, and the king and his Royal Guards flee the N.G.L., secretly overthrowing the government of the nearby Republic of East Gorteau soon thereafter.
Under the guise of the former king of The Republic of East Gorteau, Meruem initiates the process of forcibly awakening Nen in the civilians of East Gorteau in order to select soldiers to join his own personal army to conquer the world, and convert the remaining inhabitants to food-stock. As Ants formerly under the queen's rule rejoin the king, the Hunter Association mobilizes quickly to stop the oncoming genocide by sending in an extermination team of Hunters to East Gorteau. Distraught over the murder of Kite at the hands of the Royal Guards, Gon and Killua join the extermination team in order to take revenge for their friend. The confront reaches the climax during a battle between the king himself and Netero, the chairman of the hunter association, who sacrifices himself to defeat Meruem by detonating a weapon of mass destruction implanted into his body. The king manages to survive, but due to the powerful poison liberated by the weapon, he dies days later. Gon also manages to enact revenge for Kite's death, but is severely wounded and lies unconscious under intensive care.
With the matter of the Chimera Ants solved, the Hunter Association now focus on the process of choosing Netero's substitute as chairman, while the other Hunters try to have a new chairman elected by a voting system proposed by Gon's father Ging, Killua returns home to bring his brother/sister Alluka in order to save Gon's life. At the end of Hunter Association story arc Gon has recovered and the new chairman becomes Cheadle Yorkshire.
A new adventure is hinted as Beyond Netero, the son of the former 13th chairman has gathered a group of followers to explore the Dark Continent. Cheadle, however, announces that the Hunter Association's new task is to hunt Beyond, which is one of the last words from the late chairman.
Author Yoshihiro Togashi explained that one of his hobbies is collecting objects of all sorts, so he was inspired to create a manga involving collecting titled "Hunter" He came up with the final name Hunter × Hunter while watching the television variety show Downtown, in which the hosts often repeated what they said to make the audience laugh. The title of the manga is usually pronounced "Hunter Hunter" with the "×" being silent. As with his previous series, YuYu Hakusho, Togashi used drafting ink and Kabura pens for his illustrations but began using an eMac to color them.[Togashi uses few or no assistants in the manga's production; however, fellow manga artist and future wife Naoko Takeuchi assisted Togashi in adding screen-tone to single-color pages for the first volume. With the birth of their first son early in its publication, Togashi felt that this personal aspect of his life would be a great influence on his work, particularly the manga's theme of a young boy searching for his father.
There have been several instances in which Togashi has apologized to readers in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump for low quality artwork and promised to redraw portions of the chapters for their tankōbon (collected volume) releases. In addition, the publication history of the Hunter × Hunter manga has been plagued with hiatuses in more recent years, in which serialized chapters would be separated by extended periods of time. The longest of these breaks lasted one year and eight months from March 2006 to October 2007. They were often attributed to various rumors such as Togashi suffering from an unspecified illness and the birth of his second child. The latest hiatus began after the publication of Chapter 310 in May 2010. Hunter × Hunter resumed on Weekly Shōnen Jump in August 2011 and since then is being serialized regularly.
- Main article: List of Volumes and Chapters
On March 3, 1998, the Hunter × Hunter manga began its ongoing serialization in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine in Japan. Shueisha has compiled most of the manga's chapters into 29 tankōbon volumes thus far. In April 2005, Shaenon K. Garrity began translating the manga into English and publishing it through Viz Media. Viz marketed the manga as part of its "Shonen Jump Advanced" line for readers in their older teens and young adults.[ Twenty-seven volumes have been released in North America as of March 2011. The manga has also been licensed and translated into multiple languages throughout Europe and other parts of Asia. For instance, it was serialized between 2001 and 2005 in Banzai!, a German version of Weekly Shōnen Jump.
- Main article: List of Episodes (1999 series)
The first Hunter × Hunter anime adaptation was produced by Nippon Animation and directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, who had previously directed the Rurouni Kenshin television series. A total of 62 episodes of Hunter × Hunter were broadcast on the Japanese terrestrial television network Fuji Television from October 16, 1999 to March 31, 2001 during the same Saturday evening time-slot as the anime version of Togashi's previous series Yu Yu Hakusho. Additionally, Hunter × Hunter has aired on the satellite television station Animax. Although it closely follows the manga, the violence in the anime version is lessened for younger audiences. Marvelous Entertainment has released all episodes of the series in Japan on DVD in 13 separate volumes between September 20, 2000 and September 19, 2001.
Viz Media licensed the Hunter × Hunter anime for distribution in the Region 1 market, with English voice-work handled by The Ocean Group at Blue Water Studios in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.The series was released on four DVD boxed sets from December 9, 2008 to December 1, 2009. Starting with the second set, Viz partnered with Warner Home Video to distribute the DVDs. Hunter × Hunter began airing in the United States on the Funimation Channel in the spring of 2009.
- Main article: List of Episodes (2011 series)
A new Hunter × Hunter anime adaptation was announced in July 2011. Instead of continuing the story from the OVA series, it will restart the story from the beginning of the manga in an attempt to adapt it more accurately. The series is directed Hiroshi Kōjina, produced by Madhouse, scripted by Jun Maekawa, and character designs were created by Takahiro Yoshimatsu. The series began airing on Nippon Television starting October 2, 2011.
Original video animations
Prior to Nippon Animation's television adaptation of Hunter × Hunter, a stand-alone pilot OVA was shown as part of the "Jump Super Anime Tour" of 1998 alongside pilots for Seikimatsu Leader den Takeshi! and One Piece. Produced by Studio Pierrot and directed by Noriyuki Abe, it depicts the early events of the manga up to Gon's ocean voyage from Whale Island. When the Hunter × Hunter anime covered most of its source material by 2001, Nippon Animation made the decision to end the adaptation rather than continue it with filler. Due to fans' unsatisfied reactions to the conclusion of the television series, three subsequent OVAs were produced by Nippon Animation. These carried the plot from where the broadcast left off during the Yorknew City arc and covered the Greed Island arc. The first OVA was directed by Satoshi Saga and ran for eight episodes in four released volumes from January 17 to April 17, 2002. The second OVA season, Hunter × Hunter: Greed Island, was directed by Yukihiro Matsushita and ran for eight episodes in four released volumes from February 19 to May 21, 2003. The third OVA season, Hunter × Hunter: G.I. Final, was directed by Makoto Sato and ran for 14 episodes in seven released volumes from March 3 to August 18, 2004. After the original anime's initial run on Animax, the OVAs were aired successively. Viz has shown no intention of releasing English versions of the OVAs.[
The background music for the first Hunter × Hunter anime and three OVA series was composed by Toshihiko Sahashi. A large number of audio CDs for the franchise have been released by Marvelous Entertainment. The three-volume soundtrack for the anime television series contains 129 instrumental and vocal songs. The Original Video Animation Hunter × Hunter Soundtracks for the first OVA series contains 18 songs and the Original Video Animation Hunter × Hunter: Greed Island Original Sound Tracks for the second OVA series contains 30 songs. In addition, character-specific and story arc drama CDs and a 17-volume radio drama titled Hunter × Hunter R have been published throughout the anime adaptations' release period.
Musicals and a theatrical play
There have been two musicals based on Hunter × Hunter. The first, Musical Hunter × Hunter (ミュージカル ハンター×ハンター?) was originally performed during December 2000. It is an original story that appears to take place between the end of the Yorknew City story arc and the beginning of the Greed Island arc. The second, Musical Hunter × Hunter: The Nightmare of Zoldyck (ミュージカル ハンター×ハンター ナイトメア・オブ・ゾルディック?) was originally performed during August 2002. It is a retelling of when Kurapika, Leorio, and Gon go to fetch Killua back from his family estate after the end of the Hunter Exam arc. Both musicals have received separate DVD and audio CD releases, as well as a dual DVD release from Marvelous Entertainment. There is also a live-action play titled Real Stage Hunter × Hunter: "A Longing for Phalcnothdk ~ A Spider's Memory ~" (リアルステージ ハンター×ハンター｢A Longing for Phalcnothdk 〜蜘蛛の記憶〜｣?) which was performed 16 times at the Theater Sun-mall in Shinjuku, Tokyo during August 2004. The play is a retelling of the Phantom Troupe finale in the Yorknew City arc. It received a DVD release in Japan on December 10, 2004.
There are eleven Japan-exclusive video games based on Hunter × Hunter, many of which are either developed or published by Konami or Bandai. They range from role-playing and strategy games to adventure games. These include titles for the WonderSwan, WonderSwan Color, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation, and PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable. Characters from the franchise have appeared along with other Weekly Shōnen Jump properties in three fighting games for the Nintendo DS: Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars. and for the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita: J-Star Victory Vs.
A series of three film books based on the first anime series and authored by Nobuaki Kishikan has been released by Shueisha from December 3, 1999 to August 24, 2001. A guidebook to the anime titled Hunter × Hunter Characters Book: World × Character × Blessing (Hunter × Hunter キャラクターズブック World × Character × Blessing?) was published by Shueisha in January 2001. A guidebook to the manga titled Hunter × Hunter: Hunters Association Official World and Character Guide (Hunter × Hunter ハンター協会公式発行ハンターズ・ガイド?) was published by the company on June 4, 2004. There is also an extensive trading card game by Bandai, action and trading figures, and various other collectables.
The Hunter × Hunter manga has been largely commercially successful, having sold over 55 million copies in Japan as of August 2011. Volume 24 of the manga was the sixth best-selling manga of the year in Japan in 2007 Volume 25 was the second best-selling manga in the region during its release week. Volume 26 was the best-selling manga in the first two weeks of its release and has sold approximately 811,995 copies as of November 3, 2008. Volume 27 sold 488,446 copies in Japan in its first week and 941,550 copies by the middle of 2010. Volume 28 was also the best-selling manga in Japan during its week of release at 633,082 copies. Volume 29 was the third best-selling manga in Japan during its week of release at 693,458 copies. In North America, volumes 23 through 27 have ranked within the top 300 best-selling graphics novels list of sales estimates by Diamond Comic Distributors.
The Hunter × Hunter manga has received much praise for its plot and characters. Jason Thompson, author of Manga: The Complete Guide, described its storyline as "an almost random collection of psych-outs, battles, puzzles, and trickery" that works on both a chapter-by-chapter basis and a larger scale. Thompson elaborated that with all the goals and subplots of each of the main characters, the story could seemingly go on forever, despite being unpredictable enough to hold reader interest.Charles Solomon, a writer for The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, admired the moral seriousness of Gon, a quality that gives the protagonist "an appeal his relentlessly upbeat counterparts lack". Publishers Weekly gave a positive review to the first volume of the manga, stating that Togashi "shows a deft touch" with its standard story, calling his artwork "clear and graceful", and mentioning that his characters are "endearing and complex". While Rika Takahashi of EX.org and Claude J. Pelletier of Protoculture Addicts found the art style in Hunter × Hunter to be much simpler than Togashi's two previous serializations, Level E and Yu Yu Hakusho, both reviewers appreciated the intricate narrative and characters.
The first Hunter × Hunter anime series has enjoyed much more modest popularity than its manga source. Newtype listed it as having a Japanese television rating of 10.5 for the fourth quarter of 2000. The show's viewership was ranked number six among the top ten television anime series in Japan for February 2001. The series was voted as the 16th best anime of 2000 in the Animage Anime Grand Prix, but rose to fourth place the following year. In 2001, the staff of the magazine listed Hunter × Hunter as the 94th most important anime of all time. In a 2006 web poll conducted in Japan by the network TV Asahi, the Hunter × Hunter television series was voted 28th best anime of all time. In 2010, Mania.com's Briana Lawrence listed Hunter × Hunter at number nine of the website's "10 Anime Series That Need a Reboot".
Critical reception for the first Hunter × Hunter television adaptation has been generally favorable. Miyako Matsuda of Protoculture Addicts, Carl Kimlinger of the Anime News Network (ANN), and Derrick L. Tucker of THEM Anime Reviews all expressed positive views of the series' narrative and characters.Matsuda admired the adventure-filled world of Hunter × Hunter and the practical character qualities of friendship, effort, and victory inserted by Togashi. Beginning with the second Viz DVD volume, Kimlinger summarized, "Togashi's plotting is canny and occasionally insightful and Furuhashi's visuals inventive yet attuned to the measured pacing of the series. Together they create a shōnen action series that is both fun to watch and curiously respectful of its audience's intelligence. A strange combination indeed." Tucker admitted to being "bewitched" by the series mainly due to the remarkable and original characters, especially the interplay between the vastly different personalities of the Phantom Troupe members. Kimlinger gave particular praise to the characteristics of the complex villain Hisoka and the deep, emotional transformation of Kurapika in the latter half of the series. Theron Martin, also of ANN, contrastingly found the plot of the earliest episodes to be cliche, called the protagonist Gon "an obvious Son Goku derivative", and stated that many of the story's aspects have been covered by other shōnen series such as Dragon Ball Z. Martin was also displeased by an alleged lack of character development on the main protagonists' parts in the initial episodes.
The art and animation of the Hunter × Hunter anime have also been commended by the press. Kimlinger and Tucker were impressed by the art direction of Hunter × Hunter, the former of whom critiquing the adaptation of Togashi's work by Furuhashi as having "understated energy and flair, making the most of the era's (1999) mix of traditional and CG animation to bring Gon and friends' physical feats to fluid, exhilarating life." Martin faulted both the artwork and the subtle differences in character design. "The artistry not only shows its age but, in fact, looks older than it actually is," the reviewer commented, "hearkening back to a day when digital coloring and CG enhancements were not ubiquitous and allowances for a rougher look were greater." Opinions of the series' sound and music have been somewhat mixed. Martin positively noted the soundtrack as the strongest production point of Hunter × Hunter, and was satisfied with both the English translation of the script and Ocean's voice overs. Tucker found the music satisfactory and improved as the series progressed, but did not think it lived up to its potential. Kimlinger agreeably felt the musical score to be appropriate in most instances, but criticized the English dub as "a letdown since day one".
- From its debut (Issue 14, 1998) to present day (Issue 7, 2015), Hunter × Hunter has been absent from Weekly Shonen Jump 462 times.
- The Chimera Ant arc lasted 134 chapters over 402 issues of Jump; that averages out to one-third of a chapter per week.
- The longest hiatus remains 105 issues missed (2012- 2014). The second longest hiatus is 79 straight missed issues (2006- 2007).
- The series record for absences in a calendar year is 2009 when it missed 47 of 49 issues.
- There have been 813 issues of Weekly Shonen Jump since Hunter × Hunter began; Yoshihiro Togashi has missed 462 of them, 56.2%.
- Given 48 issues of Jump in one calendar year, that’s 9.20 publishing years missed.