Classic Anime Binge: Hunter x Hunter Season 2

Season Two was a lot shorter than Season One and yet it felt the same length. This is probably because these next twelve episodes acted as a continuous training montage. God, I really want someone to sum it all up in a montage. That would make this recap soooo much easier.

The Heavens Arena Arc consist mainly of Killua and Gon learning there are more powerful people in the world besides them and here’s a quick way of getting on their level. On one hand I like fighting episodes so I can’t complain too much, but this Arc is also where Hunter x Hunter explains the mechanics of how fighting works in their world. Wait, there are mechanics?

I mean, this is a Shounen – of course there are. DragonballZ has Ki. Yuyu Hakusho has Spirit Energy. Naruto has Chakara, and apparently Hunter x Hunter has a thing called Nen. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our boys, Killua and Gon, arrive at Heavens Arena- also known as the Battle Tower for Pokemon Fans. They have no money in their pockets, but it’s all good, Killua’s been here before and he explains with utmost smugness how the whole thing works. It has nearly 300 levels and the higher you climb the more money per match you make. The tower also provides apartments for the more experienced fighters.

Of course now they’ll have to start from the bottom. Killua tells Gon to go easy on the first floor newbies because they are poor adults who just don’t know any better. Taking the advice to heart Gon beats his first opponent with ease by just shoving him out of the arena. Not surprising, Killua wins his first match as well. It’s all very anti climatic. They are allowed to advance to the 50th floor because of reasons!

But ho- what’s this? They notice another little boy winning matches with the same ease. We’re introduced to Zushi, who may be a few years younger than Gon and Killua, but look at his little gi! He’s adorable! And he’s also going to the 50th floor. Is this a new rival? A new friend? Judging by his wide childlike eyes I’m going to say that gang is getting a new bro!

The kids introduce themselves and we meet Zushi’s mentor Wing. I don’t know what’s up with Wing or Zushi, is he manipulating the little boy? Is he really his mentor? Why did he bring a child to the battle arena? It seems really irresponsible.

On the 50th level we hope the boys will get some actual opponents and… nope. The adults are all pushovers, literally. Honestly watching little boys beat up grown men is kind of boring. I was hoping for a little more of a challenge, oh well time to cue up that montage music that’s been on standby.

High Five?

Very quickly Gon and Killua climb to 200th floor. They’re making tons of money and get fancy apartments but people don’t mess around in the 200’s. As soon as they arrive they run face to face with Hisoka.

Dun Dun DUN!!! Well, I honestly wasn’t expecting that!

And while I’m positive Hisoka is thrilled to see them, this puts a bit of a wrench in Gon’s idea of training to beat our psychopathic clown. I mean, so far he’s just been pushing people. There has been no training whatsoever.

That all changes NOW because Hisoka can smell weakness like a freaking blood hound. He knows Gon and Killua haven’t really changed much since their last meeting during the Hunter Exam. He pretty much tells them that the 200th floor isn’t for babies and then starts using the same spooky aura we saw with Illumi. This aura is called Nen and if they don’t know how to use it or counter it they really have no place in the 200s.

Luckily, Wing appears from nowhere and offers to help. I think it must be a Shounen-Mentor ability to just appear when heroes are in danger. Yep, I’m positive about this.

And so begins the long explanation of what Nen is and how people use it. Really, Nen isn’t any different from other energy sources in Shounen. Nen comes in a variety of forms that allows people to see it or not see it. For example, Spooky Aura.

Wing gives the boys a quick 101 on Nen, the literal basics, and then he sets them off to take on Heavens Arena again. Which is, again, really irresponsible Wing.

Hisoka backs off but not without telling Gon that if he wants to fight he just needs to beat one opponent on the 200th floor and like bees to honey the opponents come. There are three bullies who like to hit up new arrivals before they really understand how Nen works, like Gon and Killua.

One of the bullies, Gido- or as I like to call him “Beyblade”, you’ll see in a second- is scheduled to fight Gon first. And it goes… really bad. Wing’s Nen 101 didn’t prepare Gon for Gido’s school of hard knocks. Gido uses Nen to control spinning tops and for an entire episode this anime became Beyblade.

Gon loses his first match and we next see him in bed with Killua being a mother hen. Wing stops by and admits that he was impressed by Gon’s fight and promises to teach him more about Nen if he takes two months to recover.

Killua’s new nickname is Kittylua

Cue montage music round two as time passes and continue to play that music as Wing accepts Kil and Gon as his students with Zushi. He goes over the four main principals of Nen, and the different types of Nen users, and it is really a lot of explaining that can be summed up as, “Blah blah blah Nen blah blah blah energy.”

The entire concept of Nen is way more complex than it needs to be. There are certain types of Nen users, and they can do any variety of Nen attacks. Depending on the creativity of the fighter Nen can turn into anything, and as of right now the limits of it are foggy. I’m almost tempted to just call it “magic” because that’s what it adds up to in my head.

In the end, our two prodigies learn Nen at an alarming rate. Poor Zushi, he’s been training for months, if only he had been the protagonist in this Shounen. But there is a surprise when we near the end of our montage Wing reveals that Gon has passed the final phase of the Hunter’s Test.

Right, remember that little bit of information from Season One. It seems like Wing works for the Hunter association and the last part of the exam is simply for the applicant to learn Nen. There’s a couple things strange about this. For example, Is that really the last “test” to becoming a hunter? Can some people not pick up Nen? Because if that wasn’t the case why keep this part of the exam a secret?

I’m probably asking too many questions. So now Gon’s a real Hunter. Like, for real real.

Now time for a little revenge. Killua manages to scare one of the bullies away but they still have two more to face. First is Beyblade, who Gon beats pretty easily now that he has a better idea of Nen. Then the last bully, Riehlvelt, Killua fights him first and- have I mentioned yet again how much I love Killua’s fight scenes? I love them. There is still so much I don’t know about Killua and we haven’t really seen him struggle in anything so I’m always intrigued to see if Kil is overestimating himself or underestimating his enemies.

This time it’s another easy win for our favorite assassin but he seemed to have fun- and that’s what’s important. Of course this is where Hisoka decides he’s ready to fight Gon. Time for round 2 of the Hisoka vs Gon Saga.

But before we go to that let’s cut to Kurapika! Yes, Kurapika is still alive and trying to hunt down some leads on the Phantom Troupe. He goes looking for some underground work and is pretty much told no because he doesn’t know how Nen works.

Luckily, like Gon, he finds a mentor who is willing to teach him the basics. Kurapika quickly learns Nen and has an idea of how he plans to use it to hunt down the Phantom Troupe. Kurapika, your blood thirst is showing.

Speaking of the Phantom Troupe, it’s also revealed that Hisoka is one of them! There are a series of shower scenes that show off a incredibly fit bod and a incredibly intimidating spider tattoo. While I’m processing this information, it’s revealed Hisoka’s tattoo is a fake and he has infiltrated the Troupe for unknown reasons. Innnnnteresting. (Also I don’t appreciate this anime giving the pyscho such a nice body.)

“I woke up like this.”

Now let’s talk about the two amazing (and unnerving) episodes of the Hisoka vs Gon fight. Over the course of this season Gon has improved a lot as a fighter- we had three fighting / training montages guys! Still, I fear he isn’t strong enough to fight Hisoka and my fears were justified.

He puts up a good fight though and even manages to land a solid punch across Hisoka’s clown painted face! Finally getting revenge for the punch in Phase Four of the Hunter Exam, and it is glorious.

There’s a brief pause in the match as Gon returns Hisoka’s number badge from the Exam. It’s an inside joke no one watching the fight understands but that’s okay. I’m so proud of Gon, now if only he can land a couple more punches. Hisoka decides to amp up his game and unleashes his Nen technique. He’s able to turn his Nen into a bubble gum substance that will stick to any surface and he’s attached it to Gon (because, magic!)

I know Creepers often use candy to lure children in but I think Hisoka is going about this all wrong.

“Kids like candy, right?”

Or maybe this is just how Hisoka likes to Creep. With the bubblegum in place and Gon making a desperate attempt to beat his opponent into submission we get the most disturbing Hisoka moment of them all. I can’t even describe it so instead- witness Hisoka having a literal joygasm from fighting Gon.

Pedophile Hisoka started of as uncomfortable jokes and have slowly started to become more serious as the show goes on but this scene takes the cake. Total Creep, I should start calling him Creepsoka. Nah, that will never catch on.

Luckily I’m not the only one creeped out. The Ref knows what up and he makes a couple faulty calls in order to end the match quickly. Gon isn’t too badly injured before Hisoka racks up the 10 points needs to win. In the end the fight wasn’t a total loss, Gon managed to land more than a few punches and give back the badge! Meanwhile, I finally got to see a great fight scene.

After the match Gon and Killua decide they’re bored with Heaven’s Arena and it’s time for the next adventure. They give a warm hearted farewell to Wing and Zushi with the promise that they’ll meet again soon. There’s still two more episodes for this season though, so what do our heroes decide to do?

Well Gon is going to show Killua where he lives and introduce him to his family. Because they’re boyfriends – I mean best friends- I mean bros.These couple episodes were not much more than fun times for the besties and I loved every second of it.

There’s a lot here to enjoy; the utter glee on Gon’s face as he shares his island with Killua, the childish antics you just know Kil has been starving for, and seeing sweet family time on Whale Island. There is also a lot of conversation about family and while we have an idea about Gon’s father Ging, we know nothing about his mother.

A strong plot point appears in the midst of all this fun when Gon’s Aunt Mito gives him a gift from his father. The two boys open it and find a few items. One is a cassette tape, and even Killua is like, “they still make these?” (but this manga did start in the late 90’s so… yes?) Another is a memory stick for a playstation knockoff console, and a ring.

They play the tape first and Gon hears his father’s voice for the first time. Ideally the recording will give them an idea of why Ging left, where he went, and if he’s on some dangerous journey or not. Instead, all Gon gets from it is his father telling him, “I know you want to look for me, but don’t.”

Yep, that’s right. Ging doesn’t want to be found by his son. The reason? Because the guilt of seeing each other would be too much. Absent fathers are definitely a troupe in shounen anime but this the first one where the father openly admits that he’s being an absent asshole.

Often times these fathers are built up as heroes with a greater cause who have to make a decision between family and responsibility. Absent parents in general are a troupe I hate, but there doesn’t seem to be that conflict with Ging. His tone on the recording is totally flippant towards his son and he ends it with, “don’t find me.” Which to Gon translates as, “come find me.”

I already have low opinions of Ging but then some Nen magic happens where the tape gets erased after they listened to it. So he wasn’t joking. He really doesn’t want to be found.

Worst. Father. Ever.

As for the memory stick, it belongs to a game called Greed Island. With a little research (and help from the internet!) we discover the game is one used by Hunters. There are limited copies of it and an average copy ranges about 8 billion dollars on the black market. Gon is positive the game has a clue about his dad’s whereabouts. Luckily, we know when and where the next black market auction is happening. In Yorknew City (I see what you did there) where the gang plans on meeting up again.

With the next adventure just around the corner the bros leave Whale Island and thus ends Season Two.

 

 

Overall:

This Season was all about Killua and Gon, which I thoroughly enjoyed however it also worked as an over extended training montage in an effort to establish how fighting works in this world. These exposition episodes are some of my least favorite but we have to get through them.

The season didn’t offer anything as far as interesting characters either. Wing had little as far as personality and there’s no explanation about why he’s training Zushi. Where I had hoped the bros would get a new friend, Zushi just couldn’t keep up with their fast pace progression in both Nen and Heavens Arena fighting.

Something great that this season highlighted is Gon’s character. I’m beginning to realize he isn’t as stupid as I had originally thought. In fact, he is a very considerate character. Yes, I still believe he’s naive, but naivety isn’t the same as stupidity. In this case it ensures that he’s thinking of options others might not.

Despite all the Nen mumbo-jumbo being thrown our way in these episodes it was interesting to learn Hisoka’s theory about how personality traits go with different Nen users. Gon, an enhancer like his mentor Wing, is strong minded and overly emotional. A classification both Killua and Zushi agree with.

We also learn Hisoka is a Transmuter, the same type as Killua, a personality he describes as being sneaky and a liar. Another assumption that both Gon and Killua believe to be true. Hisoka was a great addition to liven things up this season and without him I fear Heavens Arena would have been a long, boring experience.

Now that it’s over though, it’s time to head to Yorknew City for the auction and to get the band back together again!

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