What They Say
In the Fourth Phase of the Hunter Exam the participants must steal ID badges from each other—and anyone without enough badges at the end of one week fails! It will take trickery, unexpected alliances, and careful negotiations for Gon and his friends to succeed. In the Final Phase, the remaining Hunter candidates are matched up for one-on-one battles—but the only way to win this fight is to lose! After the exam, Gon discovers that Hillua has gone back home, so he and his friends head to the Republic of Padokea to find him.
Viz Media is probably the best when it comes to the quality of their audio. The voices are all crisp and clear, easy to hear and understand regardless of any background noise. Sound effects are loud but not overpowering. This goes especially for battle sounds, which are loud when they need to be and softer when they aren’t.
1080p on Blu-ray is really something else. The quality was excellent, and because this is such a well-animated series with a strong art style, the overall visual aesthetic was extremely pleasing. The colors were strong and the line art was very crisp.
Hunter x Hunter comes with a sleeve. The front cover features Hisoka, who makes the strongest bid for antagonist in the series so far. His pose and appearance are both clownish, and his signature cards, which he uses as weapons, are created with the perspective of them falling toward you. Meanwhile, the title is above him and the background on the sleeve looks like a map. The back features the same map background, but Gon and Killua are on the left side along with the title, while the blurb is on the right. Below the blurb are six screenshots. The actual case has the same front and back covers, but Hisoka is haloed by light and there are two extra cards. One has Gon and Killua. The other has Killua’s older brother, Ilumi.
The menu features one of the characters from the series: Hisoka for disc one and Ilumi for disc 2. The map background has semi-translucent scenes from the anime being displayed on a sort of repeating demo reel. Through the menu, you can select the episode you want to watch, start at the beginning, choose your audio, subtitles, and language, or select the extras to see what goodies each disc contains.
There are a number of good extras on the Blu-ray. While there are the clean opening and endings, this series also features some artwork, including character designs, illustrations, and line art for specific places. The extras also feature several trailers for other series that Viz Media has or is releasing within the near future.
Content: (Please note that this portion of the review may contain spoilers):
Hunter x Hunter volume 2 starts off strong. The Hunter Exam began in the previous volume, and now Gon and his friends have found themselves facing their next test. The fourth phase has everyone on an island, where they will stay for an entire week. Each one of them has a badge with a number on it. Their goal is to acquire enough points so they can pass. If they get the badge that they’re tasked with finding, they can earn two points, but if they get a badge that isn’t their target’s, they only get one point. You need 3 to pass.
The fourth test is definitely the most trying one they’ve been in so far, but it was also the one with the most tension. A lot of the series thus far has been mostly comedy—the time Killua tore someone’s heart out aside—but this one only features a little comedy from Gon. Even then, the beginning is especially tense. Gon’s target is Hisoka. However, Hisoka is easily the strongest contender in the Hunter Exam, so stealing the badge from him won’t be easy.
Shonen anime have always defined themselves by specific conventions and tropes. For example, the Training Arc trope is a well-used one found within the shonen genre. Hunter x Hunter hasn’t had a “true” training arc, but during the fourth phase of the Hunter Exam, Gon does some training in order to steal the badge from Hisoka. The training even pays off, though Gon gets his badge stolen by another contestant. However, the other contestant is killed by Hisoka, who gives Gon the badges he needs to win. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with Gon, but he can do little against the much stronger Hisoka.
The characterization in Hunter x Hunter is strong. Hisoka is basically a self-serving murderer who does whatever he wants for the sake of having fun. He doesn’t kill Gon because he sees Gon’s potential and believes it would be better to let that potential blossom, and then kill Gon when he’s at his peak. If I placed him on a standard D&D good/evil scale, I would say he’s chaotic evil. Gon is Hisoka’s opposite in every way, which makes the antagonism between the two even more apparent. And it isn’t just Gon who has his own problems. Killua also faces a tough adversary in the form of his brother, though this doesn’t happen until the fifth and final phase of the Hunter Exam.
What I really appreciate about this series is how all of the characters have their own backstory. Even though he is a minor character, we still learn about Hanzo. It’s not much. However, just learning a little about the other characters is enough to make them seem more interesting. They have more depth than the standard anime character who only appears for a few episodes before disappearing. This also leaves room to further explore these characters if we ever see them again.
This volume features a lot more conflict than the previous one, not just with the Hunter Exam, but from a philosophical standpoint. The friendship between Gon and Killua is also a major plot point here, as well as a major conflict of interesting between Gon and the Zoldyck Household, of which Killua is a part of. I really appreciated how much thought went into creating these two and their friendship. Gon and Killua couldn’t be more different. Despite this, they became friends and are willing to stick up for each other. Gon even traveled all the way to the Zoldyck household merely to see Killua, which is where the second half of this volume takes place.
My overall standpoint is that this was an excellent volume that had a slightly more conclusive end. It marks a promising beginning for the rest of the series, which has some high standards being set down for it. If there’s one thing I didn’t like, it was that, like all long-running anime, this one does not have a conclusive ending. If you want to know how the story ends, you’ll have to buy the next volume of the series, and probably the next several volumes after that.
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Running Time: 299 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 16×9 Anamorphic
55″ Class AQUOS HD Series LED TV LC-55LE643U, GL Bluray Player