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Hunter X Hunter, Vol. 3

VIZ // Unrated // August 11, 2009
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted August 8, 2009 | E-mail the Author
The Series:
The third set of Hunter X Hunter episodes brings the show up to the three quarters mark.  It's hard to believe that there's only one more set of TV shows left, the show is so much fun I'm surprised it didn't last longer.  (As it is, the TV show adapts only the first 11 volumes of the manga.  In Japan 26 volumes of the on going series have been released.  The other volumes are going to be released as OVAs, of which three have been made so far in Japan.)  This set has Gon and his pals at a bit of a cross roads.  They've reached their goal of becoming licensed Hunters, but what to they do now?
Series Background:
Gon is a young 10-year-old orphan living with his aunt.  He's always been a bit of a loner and spends most of his time exploring the wilderness around his house.  One afternoon Gon gets into some trouble and is rescued by a "Humter" named Kite.  They start talking, and Gon discovers to his amazement that not only is his father still alive, but he's one of the greatest hunters ever, Ging Freecss.  Kite also tells Gon about the yearly test that has to be passed in order to become a hunter (a vague title that is never defined very well...) and the young boy decides that he's going to become one of these licensed adventurers and find his missing father.
Armed only with his father's fishing pole (an object that he employs to snag treasures, tie up baddies and even to catch fish) and his innate ability to talk with animals, the kid leaves home to become a hunter. 
Gon soon meets a few friends.  Among them are Leorio, a well-dressed man wanna-be Hunter with some medical background and, Kurapika, a young boy who is very driven to become a Hunter.   They're soon joined by Killua, a quite boy who comes from a family of assassins.  Together they all start to take the Hunter test.
This set:
The Hunter Exam is over, and Leorio, Kurapika, and Gon have made it.  Unfortunately, Gon's friend Killua dropped out of the last competition under mysterious circumstances and immediately returned to his home. 
Even though they are Hunters now, the trio what to put their plans on hold for a bit and find out what happened to Killua.  They know he's from an internationally famous family of assassins, the Zoldyck family, who live on Kukuroo Mountain.  Getting to the mountain is easy, Hunters get free 1st class travel anywhere in the world, but getting into the Zoldyck estate is something else entirely.  The Zoldyck family naturally has made a lot of enemies and they've secured their home quite adequately.  Surrounded by a huge fence with an impossibly large gate, the estate is filled with monsters and traps designed to keep everyone out.  Something like certain death isn't about to stop Gon however.
Inspired by his will and the fact that he's a friend of Killua, someone who has never had a friend, the gatekeeper agrees to take the trio in and trains them for 20 days, making them strong enough to get past the first test:  opening the gate.  After that there are many obstacles to overcome however.  The last person to get in the gate was a Black-ops Hunter with an army of 100 other Hunters.  They didn't get half way to the Zoldyck's main house before all 100 were wiped out.
After the saga with Killua, Gon splits from most of his friends though they agree to meet in York New City in 6 months.  Needing some money and wanting to train further, Gon travels to Heaven's Arena, a 250 story tower with fighting on each floor.  The higher the floor the stronger the opponent, but the bigger the cash prize too.  After easily winning his ground floor match, Gon gets to go up to the 50th floor, where he discovers just how little he actually knows about fighting.
I'm really enjoying this series.  It's a typical Shonen Jump storyline, with the main plot centering on "friendship, struggle, and victory," but it's still a lot of fun.  One of the main things that I enjoy about the show is that the battles are very short, often lasting less than one episode.  That keeps the plot moving at a fairly good clip and doesn't give the show the chance to get boring.
A lot happens in the 16 episodes included in this set.  They wrap up the Hunter exam, start and finish the quest to find Killua, tell the whole Heaven's Arena story, and then send Gon back home for a visit.  I really like that the story moves along.
These episodes also introduce the concept of "Nen", which I could have lived without.  They spend too much time going over the philosophy of Nen, the aura that surrounds your body, and the various shades of Nen (all of which have different names,) how to focus Nen, determining what type of Nen user each fighter is, what the different Nen-users can do, etc. etc. etc.  It got a bit complicated and involved multiple charts, none of which were translated.  The thing is, it all boils down to the fact that Nen is just like The Force.  Oh well, it's a minor complaint to an otherwise fun set.  
The DVD:


These next 16 episodes are presented on three discs that come in a fold out book housed in a nice attractive slipcase. 
This show comes with the original Japanese audio track or an English dub, both in stereo.  I alternated tracks as I often do for the first few episodes and found both languages to be very good.  The actors on both sides of the Pacific did a good job bringing the characters to life and making the show fun.  There wasn't any distortion or other common defects.
The full frame image looked good but not outstanding.  The lines were tight and the detail fine, but the colors were a bit muted in parts and there were a couple of spots on the print.  There was a slight amount of digital noise in some scenes but it was never distracting.  Overall a nice looking image, just not reference quality.
There isn't much in the way of extras.  The set also comes with a few trailers and some manga pages.  
Final Thoughts:
While this is still aimed at younger audiences, I found the show a lot of fun.  Gon's positive attitude is infectious and the wide assortment of characters is fun and enjoyable.  No, it's not deep or meaningful, but if you want some fun, mindless entertainment this is just what the doctor ordered.  It earns a high recommendation.
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