Beat the Heat, Soak in the Stream: Seven Shows to Marathon This Summer (Day Seven)

Alas, dear readers, we’ve come to the end of the week! Dry those tears, though, because I’m capping off the Seven Days of Summer with an absolute monster of a series, perfect for all you hardcore marathon watchers out there. And, as with Rose of Versailles, I’m encouraging you to watch this one with me, as I’m “only” 60 episodes in and rushing to catch up.

And so, ladies and gents, I leave you with the sprawling tale of…

Hunter x Hunter (2011)

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Note: There’s a 1999 adaptation of this series as well, but it doesn’t cover nearly as much of the story, so I’m recommending the 2011 version instead.

The Wind-Up…

Studio: Madhouse
Based On: The manga by Togashi Yoshihiro (Yu Yu Hakusho)
Available On: Crunchyroll (subs only)
Episode Count: 135 (ongoing)

In a Sentence: 11-year-old Gon Freecs leaves home to become a professional Hunter like his missing father before him, and if you think I can describe 100+ episodes in a single sentence then you got another thing comin’, bub.

Here There Be: Competitions, quests, friendships, grudges, assassins, spiders!, tournaments, video games, mob wars, moral ambiguity… and this magnificent bastard.

…And the Pitch!

Perfectly paced, with action sequences both thrilling to watch and relevant to the story, and filled with an ever-expanding cast of sympathetic (or at least damn interesting) characters, Hunter x Hunter is the long-running shounen that other long-running shounen aspire to be. About the only series I can even think to compare it to might be Rurouni Kenshin (the manga, not the anime), although that comparison is mostly in terms of quality instead of tone.

…Well, maybe in tone, too. Just as RuroKen became progressively more serious, HxH begins as a seemingly lighthearted adventure tale and grows darker and more complicated with each passing episode. This isn’t to say it’s a dismal series by any means – in fact I’d say the overall tone is an optimistic one – just that it’s a lot more complex and morally gray than the artwork and the early episodes might have you believe.

Plus, miracle of miracles, the series’ length actually makes SENSE. Every episode reveals some element of character, plot, or world, and every story arc relates to the ones both before and after it. Unlike so many long-running anime that pad their schedules with filler episodes, HxH is 100+ episodes because that’s the only way it can tell its story to the fullest.

And what a twisty, surprising story it is. HxH revels in subverting expectations, taking the story in directions you’d never expect but which seem so obvious after the fact (the Yorkshin Arc is especially good at this), and revealing new facets of its characters every step of the way. It’s a testament to great, long-form storytelling, and an excellent series to add to your summer watch list.

Why This Summer?

The Hunter x Hunter manga recently came back from a two-year hiatus, and if we all brush our teeth and say our prayers each night, Togashi-sensei just might stick around long enough to actually finish the series this time. Either way, if we all play catch-up NOW, we can be ready to gobble up the manga when the anime comes to an end. Join me in the marathon, friends!

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