Where to start? This episode pretty much nailed it. While it still has a long way to go to match up to the standards of the first anime, Hunter x Hunter 2011 is proving itself to be a great adaptation.
Leorio’s match is a bit different from the others, it requires him to analyze the situation and make his choice bets. It’s a bit of a mind game, and it’s a segment that allows Leorio’s strengths to shine. He’s sharp and always tries to achieve the best possible outcome for his team. This guy was hugely underrated in the 99 series and the series made him look more useless than he actually is. Yes, he’s a loudmouth and rather short tempered but he’s an awesome guy nonetheless. I think this adaptation is doing his character justice, and Keiji Fujiwara is doing an excellent job so far.
Another thing most battle and action based titles tend don’t put into account is the character’s personality and motives. In this episode, we see Kurapika refuse to kill Majitani. In Leorio’s defense, it was Majitani who proposed a fight to the death and if it meant Kurapika had to go back and kill him then, that would be the best and quickest way for everyone to advance. While it is unnervingly coldhearted, Leorio is playing by the rules and everyone has already considered the possibility of dying in this game to begin with.
That being said, Kurapika is someone who puts an emphasis to fighting with pride and honor and I think it was Killua who saw through the other’s stubbornness, being the character who is the most experienced in killing. To me, it was more like Kurapika was the sort of person who didn’t want to do any unnecessary killing (of an weak and unconscious man at that) even if it meant ruining his chances of becoming a Hunter. If he came back to the ring, he’d be reminded of the Genei Ryodan and probably kill Majitani out of blind rage. He didn’t want that.
I also liked how menacing Leroute seemed. It gives her character an edge over the other prisoners. This is a smart move on this remake’s part because we’ve already seen physically strong characters who could easily survive a one-on-one battle, but Hunter x Hunter has never always been about a character’s physical strength. In this episode we’re reminded that there are several other people in this fictional universe that have their own strengths they can use against other people. In Leroute’s case, it’s her ability to get things set to her advantage (she’s a big gambler after all) subtly without the other characters noticing her maneuvers.
The visuals in this episode were amazing. I loved the color palette in Hisoka’s fight with the scarred examiner and remember when I said this show was slowly introducing distortion to the show’s aesthetic? Now we’re getting to see it intrude the frames even more, and there’s an unsettling vibe that continues to set itself. Shounen Jump anime aren’t necessarily known for consistent aesthetics and superb visuals, but I think Madhouse is trying to set itself apart by trying to be more and more creative. At first, it felt like they were simply doing a 1:1 adaptation of the manga but I’m liking the liberties they’re taking every once in a while. Admittedly, I’m still conflicted with how this version is handling the violence– it seems shocking enough but then you hear that happy music out of nowhere and I don’t even know if they’re purposely playing a joke on me or not. Some dude’s head flies off and then BAM! IT’S HUNTER VOCABULARY TIME KIDS! Let’s not forget Leorio making everyone vote to kill Majitani. Oh boy. This series is a sneaky bastard, it has the visuals of shounen fluff but a heart as black as seinen at times. Like I said, it’s a cruel series.
So– why did I title this post, FABULOUS MAX? Because of that Hisoka match. That was beyond fabulous and showed the staff flexing their animation muscles. That’s just great animation without going overboard. And to make it clear, Hisoka in this version was having trouble juussssst a bit with dodging the knives. But, he’s someone who has the ability to think of a countermeasure on the spot. The moment he catches the examiner’s knives you realize what a dumb technique it actually is. The way this scene played with the colors and the shadows was especially noteworthy.
I really wish people would stop complaining about this remake. Whenever it successfully captures the manga’s content, people find ways to bitch about the pacing or the censorship. While I’m very worried what will happen next episode, I don’t think this remake is destroying the series and it only serves to provide another version of the same story and it’s quite enjoyable.
To finish off this post, let me share with you an example of why bored people aren’t allowed to get ideas. This is a a 40 second version of the Penguindrum parody I’m making featuring the Hunter x Hunter characters. I WENT THERE. Altered the audio just in case hurrdurr.