In need of a way to become stronger and earn cash on the side, Gon and Killua head to Heavens Arena to test their skills following the events of the Hunter Exam. While advancing through the many floors of the arena, the two meet a young fighter named Zushi and his mentor Wing, who teach Gon and Killua about a powerful technique known as Nen which they must master if they are to survive their matches on the higher floors. Meanwhile, Kurapika begin his search for the Phantom Troupe, seeking vengeance against the group who murdered his clan. His search takes him to Yorknew City, where Kurapika, Gon, Killua, and Leorio’s paths cross once more as the deadly Phantom Troupe prepare for their next big job.
Following my review of Hunter X Hunter Part 1, I was keen to get back into the Hunter X Hunter series, as I enjoyed the show’s abundance of interesting puzzle-solving scenarios and really gripping sense of danger. Having watched Hunter X Hunter Part 2, I’m pleased to say that I’ve enjoyed my second foray into the series even more, with Part 2 containing a bunch of well-worn shonen tropes that the series makes its own and some incredible story arcs that raise the stakes for all the characters involved.
Having completed the Hunter Exam Arc in Part 1, Hunter X Hunter Part 2 is where the series feels like it is in its element. The Heavens Arena Arc is a classic Shounen tournament arc straight out of Dragon Ball Z, with Gon and Killua facing a range of opponents with different abilities to test their strength against in order to earn cash and prepare for a rematch between Gon and Hisoka. The series also uses these episodes to establish new concepts and techniques for characters to learn and overcome by introducing “Nen” to the Hunter X Hunter world. Nen is a technique that allows people to manipulate their aura and use it in multiple different ways depending on the type of aura they possess, including powers related to transmutation and enhancement of physical ability. Honestly, the introduction of Nen leaves a bit to be desired at first – Wing lectures Gon and Killua about the technique several times during the first arc and these lectures are often too lengthy and too detailed to be interesting. Fortunately, Hunter X Hunter Part 2 has multiple scenes that involve characters utilising their mysterious Nen abilities in battle and then explaining the technique in the aftermath, which was a much more effective and interesting method of explaining the technique than the aforementioned lectures. Thankfully, this method happens more often as the series progresses, and while the introduction to the particulars of Nen is rocky at first the technique ultimately adds a really interesting element to the Hunter X Hunter series which overhauls how character can approach and solve problems in the series going forward.
Following Gon and Killua’s stint in Heavens Arena, Hunter X Hunter Part 2 goes all out in the Phantom Troupe Arc. This arc does a lot for Kurapika and very quickly elevated him as one of my favourite characters in the series as this arc, while not exclusively about Kurapika, focuses a lot on his journey to avenge his clan by mastering his Nen abilities and infiltrating the mafia to hunt down the Phantom Troupe. While Gon, Killua, and Leorio also feature in this arc as they seek pursue a clue to Gon’s father’s whereabouts, it genuinely feels like a subplot at times because Kurapika’s struggles and the obstacles he faces in order to realise his vengeance on his clan’s killers steals the show each and every time.
I praised Hisoka as an antagonist in my previous review because he brought a genuine sense of tension to the series since he felt like a dangerous threat with the power to eliminate whoever he desired. The Phantom Troupe brings the same energy to the series. Their efficiency, capability and bloodlust makes it feel as if Hunter X Hunter Part 2 introduced 13 Hisokas in the span of a couple of episodes and it leaves you with the impression that no one is safe – which the series proves multiple times throughout the Phantom Troupe Arc. Part 2 of the series is noticeably bloodier than its predecessor, pitting the mafia against the Phantom Troupe multiple times to grisly effect, often through the creative application of Nen abilities. The sense of danger in this arc is really effective as a result, and the series balances this really fun portrayal of the Phantom Troupe as a team of villains to fear alongside the fact that they are a complex team with their own rules, backstories and interpersonal relationships.
Hunter X Hunter Part 2 is a strong follow-up to an already excellent first set of episodes. It feels like a really solid step forward in the series as it introduces new concepts and characters like Nen and the Phantom Troupe, signalling a big shift in how the series and its protagonists will achieve their goals going forward. Hunter X Hunter Part 2 builds upon the world created in the series’ first 26 episodes, but irrevocably changes everything for the better through an excellent revenge story packed with new challenges and puzzles brought about by the existence of Nen and the powerful threats that wield it. With Part 2 feeling like it has rocked the foundations of what is possible in the Hunter X Hunter series, I can’t wait to see where the story takes Gon, Killua, Kurapika and Leorio in Part 3.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.
POT (Yoshihiro Togashi) 1998-2011 ©VAP・NTV・Madhouse