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Over the last 2 or 3 months, I've been immersing myself in the world of Yoshihiro Togashi's Hunter X Hunter. I've watched the entirety of the 2011 anime and 1 of its companion movies, I'm slowly making my way through 1999 anime with my mom and sis, and I've read a couple chapters of the manga. This stuff is addictive, and very, very compelling, though I do have issue with a few things here and there.

The first couple episodes of the 2011 anime were your typical boys-go-adventuring story. Very much like Pokémon, only with less girls. (There aren't a whole lot of girls in the 2011 version, and there's even less in the 1999 version. I didn't even notice until my mom pointed it out, since I was the only girl for 12 years in my family. It's weird when you start counting how many stories have x boys + 1 girl, and I don't like counting.)

credit yachibot

This is Gon Freecs. (Yikes, what a last name. Poor kid.) He fits the earnest, cheery, often dense, ridiculously stubborn, and unpredictable anime hero trope well. Don't know why anime heroes lean towards this, but they do. He's so blithely cheerful, you don't know whether to pat him on the head or punch him. I started calling him the child of sunshine and rainbows. His dad Ging abandons him as a baby to pursue his vocation as Hunter, and never so much as calls. What does Gon think? ZOMG, being a Hunter must be so awesome, if he's willing to leave me behind. Kid, your logic is messed up. If Ging did his thing, but tried his best to keep in touch with his kid, I wouldn't mind. Adults have careers, after all. But acting like your kid doesn't exist? Forget it!

So Gon's life purpose is to follow his dad's footsteps and become the greatest Hunter of them all. This is partly because Gon wants to be the very best that no one ever was (darn it, I've got the Pokémon intro stuck in my head). And partly because only the greatest Hunter will be able to hunt down his dad for a first father-son talk.

This is Leorio Paladknight. He's like an older version of Gon with how emotional, headstrong, and occasionally dense he can be. He's also the one who takes on the role of flirt when girls are around, because in anime, there always has to be at least one die-hard skirt-chaser. Meh. On first impression, he's very much like Han Solo in a suit--only about what's in it for him. He ends up as a pseudo-father figure for the younger two boys, Gon especially. Also, his theme song, All I Need Is MONEY!, perfectly suits him, AND gives off a film noir jazz night club vibe to boot. The entire soundtrack for this show is incredible, but Leorio's theme is the most memorable.

Leorio's self-attested life purpose is to get money for booze and cars (and popularity with teh ladies, though that's always implied). Since a Hunter license gives you access to lots of money, a Hunter Leorio will be.

credit h-achiko

This is my precious baby boy Killua Zoldyck. He is the foil for Gon, the literal yin to his yang. 99% of anime characters can be classed as either mostly yin or mostly yang, and so it's fun to watch how story tellers pair or group them to balance or upset the masculine/feminine, fire/water, sun/moon traits. He fits the trope of the cool, sophisticated, calculating, well-groomed wild card. Yes, I said wild card. You never know when this kid is going to do something crazy, but pull it off with aplomb, like he was sipping tea.

Killua's goal is hard to read. He just seems to be going with the flow when Gon runs into him, cruising along like he wouldn't mind becoming a Hunter, but doesn't really have any strong desire for the title.

This is Kurpika, of the Kurata clan. His personality, like Killua's, is a bit reserved and mysterious and definitely yin. But he is also ambitious, a wee bit snooty, and very knowledgeable. Gon, Leorio, and Killua rely on Kurapika, in the same way Ron and Harry rely on Hermione in Harry Potter. Kurapika is my unabashed favorite here, and one of my top anime crushes. (He's been my phone background for months.) Characters that impact me the most are either level-head and kind-hearted, like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Mr. Knightley, or dark, crafty, tormented and ambitious, like Loki or Scar or Maleficent. Kurapika is BOTH, and it's glorious. He also somehow, someway ends up being like a mother hen to Gon and Killua.

Kurapika's goal is to avenge his dead clan. (This is also a trope among anime characters, the most famous example probably being Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto, who I'm 99% sure was inspired by Kurapika and Killua, since Naruto's creator is a huge fan of Hunter X Hunter. I could talk all day about the parallels, but I'll save that for another post.) Kurapika's best bet on vengeance is becoming a Blacklist Hunter, cleared and trained to hunt criminals. Eventually Kurapika will work his way up to hunting down the Phantom Troupe, AKA the most badass thieves ever, who were responsible for killing his people.

For the first few episodes, H X H remains pretty much as benign as Pokémon, for the most part. Even with Kurapika's dark past. (Sadly missing is Pokémon's Team Rocket, who are so fabulously lame, it's awesome). I was glad I found something my sister could watch with me, because she's always excluded when mom and I watchHannibal or Supernatural.

Then my dad decided to watch along with us and judge us for our taste in entertainment. And suddenly everything becomes way, way more gruesome when some candy-munching kid takes out a serial killer.

Yeah, that actually happens. And people even make a meme out of it.

Then everything goes downhill from there.

Dark secrets, angst upon angst upon angst, and wishes come to light for every character, even Gon. I'll elaborate on that, and fangirl and angst and rant by turns in my next post, because this one is way too long already.


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