Hunter x Hunter (Episodes 27-52) Print
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Thursday, 31 January 2013 00:00
Another 26 episodes of the surprisingly-enjoyable Hunter x Hunter brings us another 2 arcs of story goodness. First, the battle arena of Heaven's Arena; before Kurapika gets some time in the spotlight when he faces off against the Spiders of the Phantom Troupe...

Gon and Killua have arrived at Heaven's Arena, which they plan to use as an opportunity to train and make money. The Arena is the world's greatest fighting spectacle - starting at the ground floor, combatants work their way up the tower by winning, facing stronger and stronger opponents as they go. The higher you are in the tower, the better the living accommodation and the greater the rewards - so it's just the thing for a pair of new Hunters to use to hone their skills. It's also the first place the boys encounter te mysterious power known as Nen, which when skilfully applied allows its users to greatly enhance their abilities. Fortunately, friendly Nen master Wing is on hand to teach Gon and Killua the ropes.

Kurapika, meanwhile, has also mastered Nen - although in a way that's rather more focussed on his personal aim of destroying the Phantom Troupe. With such focus comes even greater power - but with an associated cost. Not the Kurapika's worried about that when his revenge is at hand. But the Phantom Troupe are still no pushovers...

As I mentioned, last time around, perhaps the greatest surprise for me with Hunter x Hunter is that I like it at all. It's such a by-the-numbers shounen trope-fest in a lot of ways that I was fairly certain it would fall flat on me, as pretty much every Shounen Jump show before it has. But the likeable cast and the general sense of fun around most of it quickly won me over. This time around, some of that sense of fun is swapped for a liberal dose of gore and some darker aspects to the storyline - especially when dealing with the Phantom Troupe. Decapitations? We have them. But despite the change in tone, there's still plenty of enjoyment to be had here.

Heaven's Arena is that thing which most shounen shows screw up royally with: a training arc. With Nen having been pulled out of nowhere, it's encumbent on the boys to learn it - everyone else fighting in the Arena makes liberal use of it, after all - and so we get into a little routine of battle / training / battle as they power up. Wing and the training sessions I could probably do without - they go into the minutae of the detail of Nen, its various subtypes, and how it all works - things that you really don't need to know, to be honest - and stay with Gon and Killua as they work out how to apply what they've learnt. Exciting it isn't. But then events move to the arena floor, and the boys get the chance to show what they've learnt - and this is exciting stuff. Add in the the arc also follows Hisoka's progress through the Arena, eventually setting up a head-to-head with Gon (and we know just how much Hisoka loves Gon), and there's plenty to enjoy.

Likewise with Kurapika vs the Spiders. Along with a noticeable darkening in tone, this arc introduces a number of new characters on the 'evil' side of the show (some who stay with the series even after this arc completes) and sets a well-powered-up Kurapika against them. There a plenty of twists and turns, doublecrossing and kidnapping, and revelations about just why Kurapika's son determined to take revenge on the Spiders, and it never ceases to be entertaining. Doubly so when Gon, Killua and Hisoka return from Heaven's Arena to join the fun.

Part of me seems to be permanently convinced that Hunter x Hunter can't possibly be consistently good - look at the likes of Naruto or Bleach, the other shonen powerhouses, and see how often their anime adaptations gor mired in the irrelevant. Hunter x Hunter, though, is adapting manga chapters that were released many years ago - there's no need for the series to worry about pacing, or catching up with the manga (for a while, anyway) - it's free to do things right, and to do it without filler. And what a difference that makes. The Phantom Troupe arc in particular could easily be marathoned without any worries of boredom setting in. For this sort of series, that's a breath of fresh air, and makes these episodes easy to recommend.

Rating - ****

27 - Arrival x at the x Arena
Gon and Killua have arrived at Heavens Arena, where opponents get stronger as they ascend the tower, to train and make money. Both of them are immediately advanced to the 50th floor after their initial battles on the 1st floor. There, they meat Zushi - and when Killua faces off against him, Killua has no difficulty at all, until Zushi uses a strange technique reminiscent of what Illumi had used back in the Hunter Exam...


28 - Nen x And x Nen
As Wing explains the tenants of Nen to the boys, Killua believes that they aren't being told the whole story. After a meteoric rise from the 1st floor to the 190's, they finally get their chance to register for a fight on the 200th floor. But just stepping off the elevator, the murderous intent they sense there is unlike anything they have experienced - an aura coming from someone who they're all too familiar with...


29 - Awakening x And x Potential
After reaching the 200th floor, Gon and Killua run into Hisoka's barrier of Nen - a barrier that Hisoka has challenged Gon to pass, but as yet he finds he simply can't do it, and so he and Killua ask Wing to use the more drastic, violent method for awakening their Nen potential. As the deadline for registration draws near, they begin training in Ten, one of the four major principles of Nen. With entrance to the 200s gained, Hisoka has a new challange in mind for them...


30 - Fierce x and x Ferocious
Gon faces the Nen user Gido in his first 200s Heavens Arena match. Gon uses Ten to protect himself, but he soon finds himself on the defense against Gido's Dancing Tops - Gido, it seems, is using another form of Nen to help him control the tops with ease, and with Gon not having completed his training with Wing, he's got no apparent comback against his opponen. As Gon desperately tries to find a way to fight back, he makes a bold decision. Meanwhile, Kurapika makes an unexpected discovery when he tries to use his Hunter license to get some work...


31 - Destiny x And x Tenacity
A month has passed since Gon was seriously injured, and Hisoka and Kastro are about to fight in Heavens Arena in one of the most anticipated fights in a while. Kastro was able to knock Hisoka down in the past and sounds very confident in his pre-match interview - enough so that Killua decides to pay him a visit, expecting to find him suffering from overconfidence but instead finding the opposite. Hisoka, meanwhile, appears thoroughly unperturbed by the upcoming fight...


32 - A x Surprising x Win
Kastro has used his ability to create a clone of himself with Nen to sever Hisoka's arm and take an advantage in the fight. However, despite losing both arms, Hisoka appears to be perfectly calm, causing Kastro to lose his cool and attack Hisoka - which is just what Hisoka was waiting for...


33 - An x Empty x Threat
After two months, Gon and Killua are finally allowed to practice Nen again. That's when Gido, Sadaso, and Riehlvelt appear before them and tell them to fight them in the arena. Gon and Killua refuse, but Killua finds Sadaso's behavior to be very suspicious...


34 - Power x To x Avenge
Killua may have dealt with Sadaso (he's taken Killua's advice and left the Tower, permanently), but Gon still has fights against Gido and Riehlvelt coming up, and he's still mad about what they did to Zushi. While Killua has also paid the pair a little visit and made sure the two fights will at least be fair, they're still formidable opponents. First up is Gon's rematch against Gido, and this time around Gon is able to withstand Gido's attacks and overwhelm him in battle - a development that seems to please Hisoka...


35 - The x True x Pass
Gon and Killua begin training in Hatsu, the culmination of everything they've learned about Nen - and the final stage in training before Gon finally meets Hisoka in the arena. Gon fully remembers their encounter during the Hunter Exam, his attempt to steal Hisoka's tag - and his promise to return Hisoka's "favour" from then: "I'm going to give the tag back to Hisoka while punching him in the face!" Now's his chance to keep that promise - but will he be able to..?


36 - A Big Debt x and x a Small Kick
After punching Hisoka in the face, Gon returns the number plate Hisoka gave to him during the Hunter Exam which allowed Gon to pass the test. The battle contiunes, Hisoka dominating the battle clearly. The referee begins to give Hisoka points for every punch, thus easing Hisoka's victory and ending the fight prematurely. Later is revealed that he did this to avoid Gon suffering. After this battle, Gon and Killua leave Fight Arena heading for Whale Island, Gon's home...


37 - Ging x and x Gon
After learning Nen and becoming a true Hunter, Gon returns to Whale Island with Killua. When he arrives, Mito has a box for him. She was told by Ging to give this box to Gon once he became a Hunter. However, it appears that the box cannot be opened...


38 - Reply x From x Dad
The box left by Ging for Gon contained a cassette tape with a recording of Ging's voice. However, once the tape had stopped, the message was erased. The only remaining leads that Gon has to trace his father from are the ring and game memory card left in the box...


39 - Wish x And x Promise
While Killua and Gon begin the long journey to Yorknew City, we shift our attention to Kurapika for a while. Having been warned that he needs to master Nen if he's to have any chance of making it as a Hunter, a chance encounter with an older man proves to him that he's nowhere near as strong as he'd though he was. Fortunately, the man he encounters is willing to teach him...



40 - Nen x Users x Unite
Kurapika and the other job seekers arrive at the home of a human trophy collector and are attacked by a unknown force. As they fight off the assailants, Kurapika is able to identify that one of the group members is behaving suspiciously. Meanwhile, Gon and Killua head for York New City to search for information on Greed Island, the game that may lead them to Ging...


41 - Gathering x of x Heroes
The biggest auction in the world is about to take place in York New City. The Phantom Troupe leader, Chrollo, has instructed the members to gather in the city. For what purpose? The band of murdering thieves is about to make its move...


42 - Defend x and x Attack
The Yorknew City Dream Auction is finally about to begin. Gon, Killua, and Leorio are working hard to amass enough money to buy the Greed Island gmae, while Kurapika has been assigned to monitor the auction house. Meanwhile, the Phantom Troupe draws close, with the plan to clear out the auction ready to put into action...


43 - A x Shocking x Tragedy
The Phantom Troupe attacks the underground auction held by the Mafia. Afterwards, there is no sign of the merchandise or guests. The Mafia place a reward on their heads and begin pursuit. Kurapika and the other bodyguards on patrol join the pursuit. Kurapika is drawing closer to the Phantom Troupe...


44 - Build-up x to a x Fierce Battle
After Uvogin slaughters the Mafia's pursuit, the Mafia dispatches their secret weapon, the Shadow Beasts. However, Uvogin is able to defeat them by himself. During the battle, the spider tattoo on Uvogin's back is revealed, and Kurapika springs to action...


45 - Restraint x and x Vow
Kurapika was able to capture Uvogin, a member of the Phantom Troupe - but he struggles to control his rage as Uvogin makes demands as though he isn't a captive. That is when Kurapika receives an e-mail from Hisoka...


46 - Chasing x and x Waiting
Uvogin was able to escape with some help from his fellow bandits. However, after the blow to his pride, he is determined to track down and Kurapika and defeat him. Kurapika realizes that the Phantom Troupe has identified their location and moves the boss to a safe place while awaiting the Phantom Troupe's arrival by himself...


47 - Condition x And x Condition
Kurapika finds himself face to face with Uvogin, a member of the Phantom Troupe that destroyed his Kurta clan. Uvogin says that he doesn't remember the Kurta, which infuriates Kurapika. Their one-on-one battle is about to begin...


48 - Very x Sharp x Eye
Gon, Killua, and Leorio are trying to get their hands on enough money to buy Greed Island. As they pass through the market, Gon stumbles across a way to identify valuable items. The plan is to buy cheap and sell low, but someone else is bidding on all their items...


49 - Pursuit x And x Analysis
Gon and his friends are hoping to win the reward that's been placed on the Phantom Troupe. At the same time, Machi and Nobunaga have been dispatched to search for the "chain user" after Uvogin fails to returned. Gon and Killua receive a tip and begin shadowing the two Troupe members...


50 - Ally X And X Sword
Gon and Killua have been captured by the Phantom Troupe. They're questioned about the chain user that the Troupe is searching for, but the two of them deny knowing who it is, unaware that the chain user is Kurapika. As they're about to be released, Nobunaga decides to keep them around as potential recruits for the Troupe. Will Gon and Killua be able to escape..?


51 - A x Brutal x Battlefield
The auction has been rescheduled. The Mafia expects the Phantom Troupe to attack again, and so the Ten Dons have hired multiple assassins to deal with them. Light Nostrade sends Kurapika to join the assassins in dispatching the Troupe. Meanwhile, Neon's determined to atend the auction, even if it's against her father's wishes, and gives her escorts the slip...


52 - Assault x And x Impact
The Troupe launches a full-scale attack on the auction, and the Ten Dons' hired assassins are no match for them, except for Zeno and Silva. Kurapika, ordered to watch over NEon by her father, is missing out on the fight - something which annoys him more than a little - while Gon and Killua are stuck on a train after the battle causes the lines to be shut down. Not that Killua would let them help, anyway...



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