How Hunter x Hunter Keeps Combat Fresh

August 29, 2016 no comments Posted in Animation & Anime, Film

There are so many ways that anime can attract people. The story, Visuals, Music or the way draws me in the most, action. Action anime are consistently some of the best-selling out there. Most people think that action is boring and straightforward but fans know that creating fluid and dynamic action scenes is harder than it looks. One of the best examples of consistently great action is Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter x Hunter. Hunter x Hunter is 148 episodes long in it 2011 anime adaptation, 62 in its ‘99 anime and 360 manga chapters So needless to say that without careful consideration The fights will get stale fast. But thankfully Togashi’s found ways to keep it interesting time and time again. So today we’ll look at 6 different ways Hunter x Hunter keeps the fights fun, fresh and engaging,

One of the most obvious and apparent attractions to the fights is the visuals and music. Hunter x Hunter is consistently one of the best-looking actions series out there, at the very least In the early portions. One of the clearest example of this, and it’s fight I’ll come back to a couple of times is the fight between Gon and Hisoka.  This fight is beautifully animated. Using fluid movements and always positioning the characters in such a way that it is immediately clear where everyone is, what everyone is doing and how they feel, a point I will come back to later. If you look at the very start of the fight you when Gon is unleashing a barrage of attacks on Hisoka it is immediately clear that both this is Gon attacking and what every movement is.

The litmus paper test I typically give to fights is if you pause the video at any point where the two fighting characters are on screen, can you tell the state of the fight. And the clear answer is yes. If I pause here


You can clearly see that Gon is Hitting Hisoka, rapid fire with physical, close combat blows. He is clearly angry, frustrated, Determined to win, whereas conversely Hisoka is nonchalant About the whole fight and confident in his assured victory, having to use little effort to counter Gon.

Hunter x Hunter also uses sound to great effect. To go back to the Gon vs Hisoka fight at the very beginning there is virtually no music there is an eery backing track but nothing in the way of a soundtrack. And then later and Gon’s stone flip the music syncs up with the smashing of the rocks and rubble perfectly.

When it comes to the combat itself the fight typically isn’t about simply overpowering the opponent. Pure strength does play an important role in the fights but it’s not the defining feature. In  anime such as DBZ strength is almost always the deciding factor in a fight. But in Hunter x Hunter you can’t just rush into a fight without a carefully planned strategy.

I’m once again going to look at the the Gon vs Hisoka fight, this time, I’ll compare it to to One Piece’s Luffy vs. Don Krieg fight as they both appear at similar points in the story. Luffy runs head fist into Don Krieg’s onslaught. Running through his missiles getting impaled and then punching through Krieg’s needle cloak. Now this is bad-ass yet. But it’s just about strength. Where as in the Hunter x Hunter’s fight. Gon rushes in attacking Hisoka similar to how Luffy fought but soon after realizing that his attacks weren’t having much affect, son’s strategy shifts. He distracts Hisoka, retreats and flips a stone slab a Hisoka and breaks it forcing Hisoka to focus on the rubble flying towards him. Hisoka soon see’s through Gon’s ploy but not before Gon has enough time to act, swooping in clocking Hisoka in the face. In One Piece, fights are often straight forward and are decided based on strength. In Hunter x Hunter it’s a carefully planned out mental battle of strategy and creativity.

This all makes the fight a lot more unpredictable because we often don’t know much about the enemy meaning strategizing needs to happen on the fly during the heat of battle. So it’s often more of a question of how are they going to find a way of out of this rather than how’re they going to get through this. There’s a small, key difference that unlocks one of the key elements to Hunter x Hunter’s fights.

A more subtle factor to the combat is the expression of the characters in the fights. Many anime do this well One Piece being a great example but I feel Hunter x Hunter deserves to have it mentioned. The way the characters fight ties in with their characters for example Uvogin a huge hulking man who values strength over all else is just a berserker who attacks wildly, whereas he wouldn’t use a flute to attack with sound. It is also made apparent many times through the way they fight that Gon and Killua, the former especially are just kids. It is repeatedly stated by people that Gon and Killua are insanely strong enough to stack up against people twice there age but lack experience. You would be able to tell this anyway though as Gon simply fights by just unleashing blow after blow. He often strategies but thinks in the medium term rather than the long term. Which often leads to his downfall. And his most powerful nen attack is just all of his energy focused into his hand.

Hunter x Hunter’s system of “magic“ for lack of a better term is also a lot more consistent and fleshed out than in a lot of other series, ensuring a complex set of checks and balances to make sure that the combat and powers don’t get out of hand yet can still get crazy all the while have there be an explanation for them. Nen, Hunter x Hunter’s system is used similarly to how you would tell a computer something. Often having the user give commands to there nen. But at the same time it is explained how it all works during Gon and Killua’s lengthy training sessions which tend to be some of the most satisfying segments of the series. It is explained how the flow of nen works, how it generated and used. Along with the various principles of nen which makes it feel like it could be real. It gets to the point where there are actual mathematical formulas to calculate nen potential.  Where as in other series it’s just “Boy eats magic fruit, now he’s made from rubber“ or just the whole Ki situation in dragon ball which is a whole other story.

With how fleshed out Nen is it also lends itself to a creative and diverse pool of different techniques. We have Gon’s super strong punch, the Jajanken and Killua’s Electricity based attacks which are all good but nothing special but then we get: Magic Masseuses, Hair Weapons, Surfing Lions, Smoke Clones, Paper Spies, Pregnant Exorcism and that’s just what I could think of off the top of my head. In Naruto there are the 5 base chakra types, and we similarly have 6 different nen types, in Naruto they ran into the issue of this being limiting and had to invent new ones, that wasn’t the case in Hunter x Hunter, they seemed more like a framework for all the crazy ideas Togashi could come up with. This sheer wealth of diverse fighters and abilities means that even if it didn’t have all of the other factors that make it’s combat great, Hunter x Hunter’s combat would be engaging beyond the surface level.

Finally, the stakes of the fights in Hunter x Hunter are often not dire. Togashi is great at creating situations in which losing a fight won’t immediately cause a character to die or to be put out of the competition at hand.  This means adds another layer of uncertainty to the fights as it’s not immediately obvious who is going to win the fight especially since Togashi often uses the fact that the stakes of the fight aren’t dire to have the main characters lose so in later fights it seems even more likely that the characters will lose.

In summation Hunter x Hunter is a series that 9/10 out of will create masterfully crafted combat and action sequences that manage to engage on a variety of different levels making it intriguing to almost everyone is remotely interested in the series. The fights look beautiful, sound great, are well thought out, framed perfectly and are so wild that you can’t help but want to watch more.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my analysis of Hunter x Hunter and it’s fights and combat and I would like to recommend that you check out some more things we have on the Organised Nonsense Blog. We have a weekly podcast and our blog updates every Monday and Friday with articles and reviews from a variety of different writers.

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