sábado, 1 de abril de 2017

Which Hunter x Hunter version is better?

It will probably not take very long for people to realize that I like to watch anime. I grew up in the 1990's when public Mexican tv showed quite a lot of uncensored anime with great dubs and when computers weren't powerful enough and the internet fast enough to make it feasible to watch high definition anime on the internet.

I still remember my first few comic conventions where I spent lavish amounts of cash to get really awful quality Chinese bootlegs of the Sailor Moon movies that hadn't been dubbed to spanish yet. In those days, if you were sick to the stomach of the censorship or wanted to see a seinen anime, you had to rely on fansubs. And I am not talking crunchyroll type streaming services (remember that the internet speeds 20 years ago were gawdawful right?), I mean you had to go to the official website of a fansub group, send a check over the mail and a few years later when the service was launched, a much more convenient paypal invoice, and around 6-8 weeks later a 120 USD vhs tape arrived in the mail hopefully undamaged from the long trip and customs searches containing a whopping 90 minutes of fansubbed anime. Of course, just because a fansub cost you that sort of cash doesn't mean the sub was always good. There are many horror stories out there of subs that were hideously translated and no yelp websites to warn consumers about the ripoff.

Yes, kids these days have access to an endless encyclopedia of high def anime at their fingertips. Too bad I'm too busy with my current job to enjoy it.

Endless rant aside, it will come as little wonder I grew up watching a lot of shounen anime and added some battle elements to An Ominous Book. While Seiran is a strong female supporting character that appears in most of the novels at least for a brief scene or two, there aren't a lot of important female characters that get into battles. I guess it's just how I as the author imagined my story would be. I wanted to write my story however I felt like without adding token characters for the sake of it. Besides, if I ever start to hear the lack of super powerful female characters, just remember that Nelida who isn't even 13 years old pretty much destroys everything with her magic. A little girl left Lord Froylan trembling in fear for his life. And as for the Äimite Guard, we get to see Lord Eiram kick some butt in the final battle of the 5th novel.

Getting back to the topic of this rant, there is an anime that was shown on the defunct Locomotion station called Hunter x Hunter (also known by its spanish dubbed title Cazador X). The anime was dubbed in Chile and it took ages for it to be viewable in Mexico. Lest to say, I loved the first arc. There is action, an intruiging story, amazing power that is very subtle at the beginning and a huge tint of grimness of the plausibility of certain death that isn't seen in other anime.

The dub is great and with each passing episode, the show was getting better and better. The best episodes for me occur in the Genei Ryodan arc. Kurapika might hate their butt for good reason, but those characters are indeed awesome and have a strong sense of comaderie. I think I got a lot of inspiration of the brotherhood of the Äimite Guard from this anime.

And then... the show sort of sizzled.

What happened?

Well, the author Yoshihiro Togashi who initially began to write this manga for his son for some random reason would simply leave it on hiatus over and over again. Usually when a really successful manga becomes turned into an anime, they will eventually reach the end of the manga and end up in a conundrum about what to do next.

* Saint Seiya created fully isolated anime-only arcs such as the Asgard saga to fill episodes (and quite honestly, the Asgard saga kicks butt and has become cherished by die-hard SS fans for decades that it's practically canon).
* Other anime such as Inuyasha decided to "stop" the anime and wait a few years for the manga to finally pick up and release them. To this day, I haven't really finished Inuyasha. Even though the first 50 episodes were super awesome with a hint of horror added in, the endless super power of Naraku and repetitive Tetsusaiga sword powerups that were still insufficient to defeat the bad guy were getting old after a while. Sesshomaru's character seemed to get stuck in the mud halfway into the series. Sure, he is kind to Rin and tolerates his zombie frog friend, but he's still the same badass yet nasty character from the start of the story. I think I copied some personality traits of Lord Froylan from him.
* Naruto is famous for its endless filler episodes. To this day, I think I have only watched around 30 episodes of this anime because I simply got lost with the plot.
* Invent their own finale and then a few years later to please the purist manga fans and make more $$$, release a remake that is 100% true to the manga. Fullmetal Alchemist is the prime example of this.

Hunter x Hunter sort of falls into the second and fourth example. It sort of stopped at the end of the Greed Island arc with insanely plastic looking CGI animation and then they launched in 2011 a full remake of the anime from scratch.

In a way, I'm sort of iffy about the 2011 version. In some ways it's great with quality animation (can't expect less from Madhouse) and yet I liked the 1999 version because it's a bit darker.

While the 2011 Chrollo character design is closer to the manga, I sort of prefer how they drew him in the 1999 version. I kind of liked the Kurapika/Uvogin battle in the 1999 a bit more than the 2011 one. It's not like the 2011 one is bad or anything, it's just that the 1999 version kicked so much more butt.

I didn't like how anticlimatic Pakunoda's death became in the 2011 version. Oops, she's dead, boo hoo. In the 1999 version, they showed the soft side of her when she grew up in a slum and Chrollo decided to found the gang. I loved it when Kurapika faints in the 1999 version after he placed a curse on Chrollo. Leorio was taking care of him for days whereas they downplayed his illness from excessive Nen usage combined from emotional distress in the 2011 version.

I do prefer the 2011 Greed Island over the original OVAS. They explained the expanded reality game much better and the animation is suberb.

Now here comes the final test, the long awaited Chimera Ant arc. I have a sort of love/hate with it because the fans were waiting for this arc to be animated for so long that the expectations were very high. The animation director wanted to be as close to the manga as possible, but I think he went overboard.

What went wrong with the Chimera Arc?

My qualm with the arc is that the director was trying so hard to be 100% close to the manga that he filled it with a tireless tirade of narration. Okay, so Killua likes to play darts in his free time, cool. However, why waste 10 minutes explaining ad nauseum the rules of the game to the viewers? A manga can add narration, but in a fast paced medium like tv, you don't want to slow down the action.

This is the issue I have with the Chimera Ant arc. The animation is great, but the battles are hindered by the narration that alters the flow of the plot. Okay, so an ant remembers his past life as a human and experiences a guilt trip. Does the narrator have to yap a 15 minute sob story tirade during a battle?

Gon and Pitou have a long awaited battle and the buildup is awesome. However just like several battles in this arc, the narration gets in the way and instead of having DBZ battle action, we have angsty faces and narration about how sad the character feels.

Waa waaaaa special snowflake alert!!!

And yes, I do have angsty characters in An Ominous Book. Spaulding and Damantin in particular seem to show their softer side quite a lot during their battles. However, if my work ever becomes animated or turned into a movie, I don't need a narration fest for everything. Just make the visual medium flow and if the fan becomes curious to know some extra tidbit, they can either read the books or find a wikipedia page.

In the worst of cases, they could simply send me an tweet or ask me a question on goodreads and I could clarify their doubts.

Cheers everyone!

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