Season two of ‘Hunter x Hunter’ Solidifies Manga Series as Classic


Photo By Madhouse Inc.

An iconic shot of the main protagonist , Gon Freecss, stands the test of time. It may actually be one of the most memorable shots in the whole series because of its dynamic posing, facial expression, and composition. Photo courtesy of Madhouse Inc.

By Reagan Babbitt, Reporter

Hunter x Hunter Mega Review Part Two: Season Two 

A little over a year after the 1998 Hunter x Hunter manga commenced, author Yoshihiro Togashi started writing The Heavens Arena Arc. The story follows Gon and Killua, who after departing from Leorio and Kurapika, make their way through the 991-meter tall, 251-floor tower known as the Heavens Arena where they fight a series of matches demonstrating all kinds of crazy techniques in an attempt to reach the top. Along the way they make new friends, come across their old enemy, Hisoka, and are introduced to the fighting system of Nen, which completely changes the series from here on out. The 2011 anime adaptation of this story aired on April 15th, 2012 in Japan, and ran for 10 episodes. 

The Heavens Arena Arc – Episodes 27-36

The Heavens Arena Arc, despite its placement in the series, is surprisingly brilliant. This story is incredibly short compared to both of the previous arcs, effectively marking a turning point in the series, as it doesn’t follow what I consider to be the definitively mature, and slightly darker tone established in season three that Hunter x Hunter normally possesses. The Heavens Arena Arc is still one of my favorites of the series, or at least it should be. With a high-quality series such as the likes of Hunter x Hunter, there are far better storylines to come, however, after finishing the series, I still found that I didn’t have any problems with this arc, it just falters when compared to what’s to come. It’s a common trope in manga, especially Shōnen manga, to have storylines where the main character(s) compete in one on one tournaments, which is depicted in this season.

While The Heavens Arena Arc isn’t exactly a tournament, it still follows the formula of one on one fights that demonstrate how much the main characters have developed. Seeing our main characters grow and overcome obstacles that they couldn’t in the prior arcs is always a treat, but what’s also a treat in this is pretty simple, almost too simple – you just get to see a lot of action. The moment I realized how this story was flowing, I was fully onboard, but what I wasn’t expecting was the introduction into the system of Nen. Nen is a system used by the main characters and villains that enables them to use supernatural abilities such as conjuring lightning or giving you extremely powerful punches. 

Nen is one of the defining traits of Hunter x Hunter, and what I found when revisiting the series is that the entire concept of Nen is extremely complicated, especially so for characters like Kurapika who have absolutely insane abilities that are difficult to wrap your head around. Simply put, Nen is just a power that the characters draw from and use to perform superhuman feats, like The Force from Star Wars, or Chi from Dragon Ball. The story goes through a lot of trouble to explain how Nen works, and despite how complicated it is, it still managed to be iconic in its own way, and change Hunter x Hunter so it would never be the same. Nen abilities are present throughout the rest of the series, and it seems that as Hunter x Hunter marched on, the abilities kept getting even more interesting and unique. I think it’s interesting that Nen is explained in a way as if the viewer was Gon or Killua. They both know as little about Nen as the audience does, so it makes sense that their teacher would explain Nen in a very in-depth way. I still adore watching Gon and Killua make their way through the tower, which proves easy at first, but as Nen is introduced, their trials start to get more and more complex. I can’t help but feel as though the placement of this arc in the series is a bit odd. It makes sense, and I can’t imagine it being in any other place in the series, but at this point , it doesn’t alter the tone Hunter x Hunter would be known for even though it introduces something as series-defining as Nen. 

It’s not a complaint, but when revisiting the series I found it strange that the characters were using Nen, but in a way that wasn’t as mature as the rest of the series. Overall, I love this arc, and I find it hard to believe that The Heavens Arena Arc is so low on my list, despite the fact that I didn’t have any major gripes with it. At the same time, the following arcs are either really enjoyable, or literal masterpieces. The Heavens Arena Arc is a great story that shifts the series in a natural way that really only falls short when compared to seasons three, five, and six.

Ging x And x Gon and Reply x From x Dad – Episodes 37 and 38

While season two is mostly focused on Gon and Killua exploring the system of Nen, there were two more episodes that were included in season two. They follow Gon and Killua where they attempt to uncover the mystery of where Gon’s dad, Ging, is. After searching through Ging’s last gift to Gon, they realize Ging doesn’t even want to see his son at all, as he even wipes the recording he left for Gon. The boys come to the conclusion that they have to play a video game called “Greed Island” to search for clues of Ging’s whereabouts. Gon and Killua will have to make a fortune just to buy the game, and that’s just one of many motivations the cast will have to fulfill in the next season. There’s not much I can say about these two episodes, but they are sure to get anyone excited for the next story our characters will find themselves in.

Season two outclasses season one in almost every regard, but they’re both very similar when it comes to reevaluating the stories. They are both fun to view in retrospect, especially watching the characters develop from season one to the end of the anime, and it’s fun to see Nen used in a very broad and simple manner in this season as opposed to the absolutely wild uses it has later down the line. While I still hold true to my belief that Hunter x Hunter would never be the same after The Heavens Arena Arc, I realized that when writing, at this point in the show, this was not the Hunter x Hunter everyone knows and loves yet. I loved season two, and it seems that Hunter x Hunter continually got better and better.

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