Classic Anime Binge: Hunter x Hunter Season 1 Part 1

Season One Part One

Read here for an introduction post the HunterxHunter Binge.

The series starts off by explaining to poor, unknowing me that this world apparently has lots of monsters and people called Hunters. We quickly meet our hero Gon, who manages to rangle a massive monster of a fish using just his pole and super human strength. Damn, his clothes are already bothering me, but don’t worry, by the end of Season One I should be use to them… right? (Wrong.)

Gon is twelve years old and about to go off on his journey to take the Hunter exam. Apparently his father was a Hunter and he wants to be one as well to finally get some answers about his life. Like, why did his father leave him in the first place?

Within the first episode we see Gon sailing off with about hundred dangerous looking guys, all wanting to take the Hunter exam. Seconds later a storm hits that makes everyone on the ship sick and unable to continue on. All there is left are Gon, a guy with a brief case named Leorio, and a girl named Kurapika. Wait… is that a girl? Please be a girl, I need a girl in this series and… nope, definitely a boy.

And thus we had more than half of our main cast put together. Wow, the first episode sure covered a lot of ground. The group is asked why they want to be Hunters. I just really want to know what a Hunter is.

Gon is the first to happily explain that he wants to be like his dad. Kurapika tells us that he is the last of the Kurta Clan and he wants to become a Hunter so he can get his revenge. It’s all very mysterious but apparently being a Hunter means you can just track people down and kill them, so there’s something. Leorio… just wants to make a lot of money.

Leorio and Kurapika have creative differences about what it means to be a Hunter and are clearly frenemies at first sight.

Our group reaches port and find out they need to reach Zaban Town. There are buses that head straight there, but Gon reveals that he wants to take the long road and hike a mountain. It turns out this is the right thing to do when Leorio hears a couple of guys discussing how the “buses never make it to Zaban Town” and they are a ploy to effectively weedle out the n00bs.

Geez, what kind of exam is this?

Apparently the worst kind. On the way to town Gon and the group have to get through a series of trails that involve wacky monsters and proving themselves worthy to take the Hunter Exam. This is where reading these adventures is better then watching them. By episode five our heroes arrive in the secret location of the Hunter Exam. After narrowing down thousands of applicants there are still 405 people trying out to be a Hunter.

Okay but seriously, what is a Hunter!?!?

By this time I’m growing fond of my rag-tag team. Gon is shamelessly twelve about everything, and by this I mean… very naive. Leorio proves that he isn’t as strong or fast as Gon and Kurapika but he has smarts… kind of… actually no, Kurapika is the smart one. Leorio, what do you provide to the team again?

As our team waits for the exam to begin we get a glimpse of some of the people taking the exam with us. I assume these will be our main cast of characters throughout Season 1, already I recognize a few faces from the opening theme. There’s this guy, Hisoka, who is definitely our bad guy. Just look at him. I mean a clown-magician-thing… really? Oh and he turns a guy’s arms into flower petals just for bumping into him. When I explained this to my husband he responded, “Well that doesn’t sound very threatening.”

It was. It really was.

Finally we meet Killua! Aw, he’s pretty adorable and… pretty deadly? I’m intrigued.

Also of note is a guy named Tonpa who befriends Gon and the others. He’s taken the exam 35 times and keeps coming back for more! Why? Unbeknownst to our heroes Tonpa is known as the Rookie Crusher, as he tries to get people taking their first hack at the exam to quit. Wow, what a douche bag.

We then meet the our first Hunter, Satotz, and begin the first phase of the Hunter exam. Satotz says he is to escort the applicants to phase two. They start to run, with no indicator of how long they’ll be running for or even where they are going. Kurapika is a hundred percent right when he realizes it will not only test their psychical abilities but their mental fortitude as well.

While running, Killua realizes there is another kid his age taking the exam and introduces himself. A bromance is born and I can’t stop saying, “Awwww!!” Now the gang’s all together!

An accurate portrayal of what happened.

Little happens during the run. Killua and Gon bond over twelve year old tings like skatesboard and fishing rods. But we do get a bit of character back story on both Kurapika and Leorio. Apparently a gang known as the Phantom Troupe are the ones who killed Kurapika’s clan. All because his family has a strange genetic trait that makes their eyes flash red when they are emotional. The color red is deemed one of the most beautiful colors in the world, so what does the Phantom Troupe do? Kill everyone and takes their eyes. Wow, Kurapika… just… wow.

Kurapika also calls BS on Leorio’s explanation about wanting money. Good guys are suppose to be selfless and want to help others for the greater good! But Leorio is adament that money is his motivation. Money makes the world go ’round and maybe if he had enough of it his child hood friend wouldn’t have died from a very simple and cureable disease. Wait, really?

Yes. Leorio realized at a young age just how a broken health system works. He wanted to become a doctor but that took money (and lots of it) so now he’s trying to become a Hunter. So Kurapika was right, you ARE a good guy. Welp, I’m starting to really like these goofs. Now where is my Killua background story, I want to know what’s up with this kid!

Oh, we also find out Leorio is apparently a teenager! Which I’m still trying to process. It came as a bit of a surprise and not just for me.

“I’m a teenager!”

Unfortunately there’s no time for that! The remaining participants of the exam reach the end of the dreary tunnel they’ve been running through. Since Gon and Killua are kids with endless energy, they race to see who’ll finish first and end up beating everyone else, but that’s just one part of the run. Now they have to make it through a misty forest known as Swindler’s Swamp. The Hunter leading the exam warns everyone that the swamp is full of monsters who will do any number of trickery in order to eat them and if they lose sight of him then they are as good as dead. On that note, more running!

It doesn’t take long for people to lose sight of one another- and Kurapika and Leorio are among them! They manage to not get eaten by monsters and try to find their way back to the group. While meandering they stumble upon a small group who has decided to take advantage of the mist and take on Hisoka. There are five of them and one of him, plus no one can stop them so… why not?

Kurapika and Leorio watch from the shadows as Hisoka murders all of his attackers without batting an eye or turning their limbs into flower petals. Nope, he’s leveled up to straight murder. And after he takes care of those peons, don’t think he’s done because he totes noticed our heroes watching him get attack and do nothing about it.

Kurapika knows there is no way they can take Hisoka on in a fight, he decides to use his street smarts and make a run for it, but Leorio doesn’t like this plan. His pride won’t let him run away and if Hisoka wants to murder people and fight him, then FIGHT ON! At this point I’m biting my nails nervously. I mean, Leorio, you’re a sweet guy but we’ve already established you’re neither the brains nor brawns of this group. Just STAHP.

Hisoka admires his guts and decides not to murder him, just one-shot K.O. Leorio into unconsciousness. He might have taken a few more cheap punches but then Gon shows up! Yay!

Apparently Gon’s spidey-senses told him his friends were in trouble and he decided to double back to help them. That’s not the only surprising thing, he even manages to hit Hisoka in the face with his fishing rod.

Hisoka seems impressed and get’s a hella creepy look on his face that I think will be a standard thing for him. Clowns are already kind of creepy and the fact that Hisoka seems to be getting his fighting jollies from a twelve year old makes me really uncomfortable. Seriously, I could make an entire photo album of creepy Hisoka faces for each season. I might have to do this to accurately portray the dread I feel when it comes to this character. It’s all giving me flashbacks to another creepy character.

Be afraid Gon, be very afraid.

Onto Phase 2! Here our new Hunter examiners describe themselves as being Gourmet Hunters. So there seems to be types of Hunters? Their part of the exam is focused on food because why not?

First the group is asked to hunt down killer pigs and cook them just right but that becomes too easy so they change things up and ask them to jump off a cliff and to gather Eagle Spider Eggs. These two examiners seem new, and the Chairman of the exam steps in to give them some guidance on how to really challenge the applicants.

Still ,Phase 2 was pretty easy over all and only a few people dropped out. Well, more precisely they dropped to their deaths when they couldn’t get the eggs. Whoops.

The Chairman decides to be a nice guy and give the group a ride to the location of Phase 3. Which makes me wonder how the group would have gotten there had he not intervened but whatever. They hang out in his airship for a episode of relaxation, filler, and character fun! We see Tonpa is still up to no good trying to get rookies to drop out. He tries to freak Kurapika and Leorio out, telling them “Maybe this is all part of the test. Don’t let your guard down!” In hopes that they won’t get a wink of sleep.

It doesn’t work.

Killua and Gon are busy being bros. Gon tells him why he’s taking the Hunter exam and asks Kil why he’s taking it. The answer, Killua was bored and he wanted to leave home. He goes on to explain that he is the youngest son in a family of world re-known assassins. He is also a prodigy and his family plans every aspect of his life. So he decided to stab his mother and brother and escaped the house.

Woah, I knew there were some dark things lurking under Killua’s cute exterior- but the casualness he uses when he says he stabbed his family is really odd. Gon doesn’t seem to know what to say either except, “Still bros?” Yep!

On to Phase 3! Wait, how many Phases are there? They never really said. About this time some character conveniently wonders the same thing and it is explained that the number of phases changes, but usual goes to about six phases. Seriously, the challenges are fun and all to watch but this is almost as tiring as watching a tournament saga.

Oh well, Phase 3 starts and the applicants are dropped on the top of a tower in the middle of nowhere. They are told they have 78 hours to make it to the bottom. When someone tries to simply climb down (because that makes sense) a group of flying monsters gobble him up. So that won’t work. The gang looks for another way down. Gon finds about five loose stones that are secret passages, he watched as someone used one to disappear and also realized that once a person uses the passage the door won’t work again.

Luckily the five stones means everyone will be able to enter the tower. They do so and find themselves in a room with instructions. Each maze through the tower is different for every applicant: our heroes will go through the trial of Majority Rules. Which means they’ll answer simple questions as a group to navigate to the bottom, but in order for Majority Rules to work they need a fifth member.

Enter Tonpa.

Yep, Tonpa’s still around and he’s still trying to foil our heroes. He purposefully picks the opposite of whatever decision the group makes just to spite them but because of Majority Rules his plan isn’t as devious as he thought. They pick things like going down the left path instead of the right, or if they should even open a door at all. This Majority Rules thing is turning out to be a piece of cake.

Until they come to a small arena. Turns out this tower is really a jail for some of the worst criminals in the world and now our boys are expected to fight. Finally, this Shounen had been lacking in the fighting-department. So far the only thing we’ve gotten is the quick scuffle between Hisoka and Gon. Now Majority Rules are in the mix and they’ll have to win 3 out of 5 fights to continue on.

This should be pretty easy for Gon, Kurpika, and Killua… I’m not so sure about Tonpa and Leorio.

Of course that means Tonpa fights first and promptly gives up before the match can really begin. Next is Gon, who miraculously outsmarts his opponent. The score is tied 1-1. Kurapika goes up next against a zombie like creature named Majitani. He claims he’s killed 19 people and has the power of looking really menacing. This guy relies on his tough exterior to get his opponents to give up. Kurapika won’t be easy fooled, he can totally tell this guy is talking out of his ass and it looks like its going to be another blow out when…

Majitani turns around, revealing a large spider tattoo on his back. Everyone knows the tattoo marks members of the Phantom Troupe, the same group who killed Kurapika’s family. In reality, the tattoo is a fake. Another one of Majitani’s attempts to scare people into not fighting him. And… oh no, Kurapika has suddenly gotten all quiet. I have to give mad props to the voice actor here because you can hear the trembling in his voice as the camera zooms in, revealing the Kurta Clan red eyes.

Majitani isn’t even done explaining how fearsome a member of the Phantom Troupe is before Kurapika totally shuts him down!

Kurapika knows the tattoo is a fake. He’s seen the real deal and knows that a true Troupe member would never brag about the number of people they’ve killed. Plus, only 19? Pft, bro get on his level. Still, even seeing the fake makes him punch Majitani so hard he almost kills the guy. He even reveals that just seeing a normal spider is enough to send him into a rage. Dully noted.

Alright the score is Good Guys 2- Bad Guys 1. Now seems like a good time to throw Killua into the ring so we can end this thing quickly but noooo, Leorio wants a shot at winning.

Dude, we’ve been over this. You’re not very good at anything really. That may be mean, but I struggle to pinpoint what exactly Leorio brings to the team. My husband stopped to watch a few episodes with me and started asking about each character. When we got to Leorio I couldn’t think of anything to say except, “He wants to be a doctor? I guess.”

No surprise that Leorio loses his match. It’s not even a real fight, instead he goes against a girl who is in prison for gambling. The entire thing is a test of gambling skills. If they lose, they’ll lose a majority point AND time. Remember, they have 78 hours to get to the bottom of the tower. When Leorio loses he also takes 50 hours off their time. Grrrreat, you guys should have gone with Killua.

Speaking of which, it’s his turn. Yay! And there’s one more person left on the prisoner team. Geez, I feel bad for him because Kil is going to wreck this guy. The prisoners don’t agree. In fact they feel bad for the poor kid who is unfortunate enough to go against Johness. A big hulking guy who use to be a serial killer. He can break walls with his bare fists and is overall a terrible person. Even Leorio has heard of him and he warns Killua not to fight.

Guys, Killua is an assassin. He’s got this.

And I’m not just saying that. The fight lasts two seconds. Two seconds and Killua does one of the most shocking things I’ve seen in the show thus far.

Eyes of a stone cold killer

He literally rips Johness’ heart out and bags it up. Everyone looks on in surprise as the serial killer dies in front of them. Yay? The team won but damn Killua… damn. Good news is Gon still wants to be bros. Bad news is they have to wait 50 hours before they can continue to the bottom, which doesn’t leave them much time.

There is an entire episode of them waiting. In the meantime, Hisoka reached the bottom in 13 hours and other applicants arrive after him.

When the gang is finally free to move on they miraculously make it to the finish in time. And thus concludes the first half of Season 1.

Onto Part Two

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