I am totally new to the whole Hunter × Hunter (read without the “×”) verse so I have to read the manga and catch-up with the anime too in a short-span of time to give justice on my movie review. I intentionally didn’t follow this manga for the sole reason that the mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi just came from a cult phenomenon YuYu Hakusho (localized as “Ghost Fighther”, and he also did “Level E”) so I was bit hesitant because I’m not sure if this can equal his previous works.
Shortly after reading the first 10 volumes of the manga, I found myself connected and invested with both the story and characters. More than Gon, Killua, Kurapika and Leorio‘s dreams, the story highlights the tight friendship between the four of them more specifically with Gon & Killua and Kurapika & Leorio. They have different stories to tell, different personalities, dreams and pains but the four of them came to understood each other.
Now, as for the movie, it focused heavily on Killua’s psychological struggle from his brother Illumi that’s been torturing him, that as an assassin, he can’t afford to have friends otherwise, he’ll end up killing them (this is a recurring theme from manga/anime). It is weird because the movie based on the synopsis, posters and trailers that were released was about Kurapika’s back story who wanted to take revenge from a notorious group known as the “Phantom Troupe” who massacred his entire clan, and yet in the film, it was largely all about Killua and Gon – one wanted to abandon the newly forged friendship while the other willing to fight for it at all costs. I didn’t expect that and it was a major letdown for me, for someone that is new, who is already attached to the story.
What separates this movie from Road to Ninja and One Piece Film Z is the story and that is the downside when the original creator of the manga is not involved or doesn’t have any creative inputs. Since this is the first movie for Hunter × Hunter, I understand that writer Shoji Yonemura wanted to show the “core” of the whole Hunter × Hunter journey which is about “friendship” but tha manga has been around since 1998 and it’s very disappointing that I didn’t see any major character development from any of the four protagonist and Leorio is totally forgettable in this film too. Hisoka, on the other hand, got his spotlight. H×H is also known for its enjoyable and inquisitive fights and yet, I didn’t see that either. We’ve only got mediocre and forgettable fights.
Overall, the movie was a letdown. It’s weird because we’re getting high hopes since the re-animation of Hunter × Hunter back in 2011 and the anime was finally on Chimera Ants arc.
Probably the weakest among Road to Ninja and One Piece so I’m giving this film a 7.5/10 rating! But hey, I’m sticking with the manga/anime!
Apparently, there was an extra scene after the credits (I stayed until credits and I didn’t see any) which hinted that the next movie could cover the Ants arc.
Part of SM Cinema and Movie Punch’s “Animation Domination” this summer, Hunter × Hunter: Phantom Rouge is now showing and exclusive to SM Cinemas nationwide. For the complete schedule and ticket price, click here!
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