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Hunter x Hunter- Volume 1, Early Look/Review
By Marc | November 16th, 2008

Old by the standard of most modern anime fans and companies, Hunter x Hunter is getting a release from the only company with a Shonen Jump stamp to use as they please.

Far easier to write than my review last week (what shonen adventure show ISN’T easy to lay down and watch?), let’s see if this dog can hunt.

Starting with the packaging, Hunter x Hunter is a digipak.  Slide the digipak out of it’s cardboard sleeve and unfold it and you 3 disks.  I’m not a fan of digipaks because they tend to wear down quicker than plastic.  This is a pretty standard digipak that most of us have in our collection for something.  The cardboard sleeve that holds the digipak is a bit different though.  On the front of the digipak, an X has been cut out.  Not the entire X though, there is yellow ‘warning tape’ made out of the remaining cardboard with the shows name on it, and on the inside of the sleeve theres thin clear plastic to cover the X design.  It’s interesting and neat, but I wonder if this didn’t add to the cost of the set, and wonder how well the thing yellow cardboard ‘tape’ design will last, along with the plastic.  Some of the art on the digipak appears to be taken from the show, while others appear to be high quality promotional art.

Menu is clean and basic, does it’s job with no flash, but the artwork and the animated symbols in the background add a nice touch.  Always happy to see a menu that is basically impossible to misunderstand or get turned around (after the Death Note movie extra’s menu, I was a bit scared Viz might start doing stuff like that more often).

Hunter x Hunter is another in the long line of traditional shonen adventure shows.  Stop me if you haven’t heard this before.  Gon is a boy who lives with his aunt after both of his parents were killed years ago.  Someone comes along and Gon finds out that his father isn’t dead, but is actually the world’s greatest hunter.  Gon decides he’s gonna go off and find his dad, AND be a hunter.  Along the way he has adventures, makes friends and has battles.  But let’s be honest, we keep seeing this type of show because we all love them, and we love the characters that inhibit the world.  Coming from the creator of Yu Yu Hakusho (a personal favorite of mine), I’ve been looking forward to an English release of the Hunter x Hunter anime for a long time, and frankly, never thought it would come out.  I’m still a bit confused WHY we are getting the show.  Ending in early 2001, the show is ancient by modern standards.  It doesn’t seem to have any sort of TV deal, and isn’t nearly long enough to be a long time money maker even if it did.  Assuming Viz finishes the show and releases every bit of Hunter animation that exists in similar boxsets, we will ge 3 more TV boxes, and 3 OVA boxes.  I’m not complaining mind you, just a bit confused at the reasoning for the show coming out at this time.

Video quality is about what you’d expect for a shonen show pre digital animation.  Unfortunately the masters don’t seem to be in the best shape.  Colors seem to have faded, there are visible rips and tears in the video on occasion.  Yet despite all this the show is still very watchable and older animation like this gives you (or at least me, maybe not you) a bit of a warm feeling and lets you look past the flaws knowing that at the very least, there haven’t been any haphazard attempts to fix the video.  There are a few random issues caused either by interlacing errors, or just bad encoding (one of the better examples is the first episodes eyecatch, both it and the second episodes eyecatch, without the error, are in the gallery at the bottom as an example).  Also, without having seen the original Japanese airring/disks, I can’t be 100% sure, but some titling appears to have been changed for the dub, along with the episode titles and such as is expected (examples in gallery again).

Audio is a bit better but still about what you’d expect.  Nothing special here, just classic late 90s audio (this review is beginning to make me feel old, calling the late 90s classic…).  Both English and Japanes audio get 256k Dolby tracks.  No sign only sub track for dub watchers as is the norm for Viz.  Subtitles are yellow subs with a black border, and I noticed for internal character narration the font is slightly italicized.

The dub is done by Ocean through Blue Water.  The dub sticks to the Japanese well, but often rewrites lines to make them sound more clear in English, but the overall dub quality isn’t quite as good as some of the better quality ‘average’ dubs of recent memory, but it isn’t that bad (although I’ll be sticking with the Japanese for Hunter thank you very much).

Bonus materials are..meh.  15 storyboards.  That’s all…

It’s a decent set for an older show that the majority of people who wanted it probably figured would never get a release, so I can’t be to hard on it, especially since it’s well priced for 15 episodes (list price is $50).  Hopefully Viz releases all of it, and the OVAs, but I guess it’ll be up to sales, still hoping though.

Show: B+ (A very good shonen show that has decent quality animation, a good story, and enjoyable characters)
Packaging: B- (A standard digipak with the slipcover customized.  Not my favorite type of packaging, but more than enough for the show.  Only issue may be if the packaging can last though)
Video Quality: C+ (Decent video quality, watchable, but definately showing it’s age.  Picture is a bit shakey also.)
Audio Quality: B- (Nothing special, but not bad.)
English Dub: C (The dub is average, maybe a bit below, in every meaning of the term.  Nothing wrong with the dub mind you, just nothing inherently good.)
Extras: D (A few storyboards and a few trailers thrown in for Viz shows and manga)

Overall (not an average): B+ (I’m a sucker for adventure shows, what can I say.  Relatively well priced, and a good quality show more than makes up for any flaws in audio or video).

It’s to bad that likely quite a few people will avoid this for fear Viz will cancel/stop releases like they have for some other shows, thereby possibly causing the cancellation due to lack of sales.  I’d hope people will support it so we keep getting more.  At the very least I’m very hopefully we will get the 4 boxes making up the TV show.

Gallery under ad. All caps are lossless PNGs taken in VLC, feel free to request more. (Caps are sized 640×480 so as to display properly on computer monitors, as encoded the disks are 720×480, but having the caps be 640×480 emulates how they will appear on your television screen).

Categories: Anime Review, Early Looks
  • chongbian

    Can you post in youtube just a short clip so that we will hear the eng dubs. Thanks

  • chongbian

    Can someone upload the the r2 video clip to compare the quality from r1?

  • http://astronerdboy.blogspot.com AstroNerdBoy

    I figure I already know the answer to this, but did you notice if the Japanese honorifics survive in the subtitles? Just curious (and that is all).