WARNING: Contains spoilers to Part 1.
The collections for Hunter x Hunter are starting to get bigger. This one spans 32 episodes (8 each on four discs). The reason for this becomes clear as this collection covers two arcs in their entirety.
The last collection ended with Gon Freecess, Kurapika, Leorio and Killua Zoldyck agreeing that they will all meet up in Yorknew City on 1st September, where a series of auctions takes place every year. While Kurapika and Leorio go their separate ways, Gon and Killua stick together and decide to take part in Heavens Arena, a fighting tournament taking place in a giant skyscraper. With their Hunter skills, both boys quickly make their way up the multiple floors. They become friends with another boy there too, a martial artist called Zushi. Zushi and his absent-minded master Wing tell them about “Nen”, the ability to control their energy and strengthen their own abilities.
Gon and Killua manage to reach the 200th floor of Heavens Arena, but they cannot make it to the reception area to sign up officially to further fights as they are blocked by a wave of Nen set by another participant: Hisoka. So Gon and Killua go back to Wing, who teaches them how to control their Nen and learn what kind of abilities they can use. After mastering the basics, they are able to pass Hisoka’s barrier and continue with fights in the tower, but Gon now only has one desire, which is to fight Hisoka.
Gon and Hisoka do indeed get to fight each other, and after this exchange, Gon and Killua leave the Arena and return to Gon’s home on Whale Island for a short while. There, Gon’s Aunt Mito gives Gon a box sealed with Nen. With his new skills, Gon is able to open it. Among the things in the box is a cassette tape from his father Ging giving hints on how they can meet. The boys learn from Ging about an incredibly rare and expensive video game called Greed Island. To find it, they have to make the journey to Yorknew City, where they discover copies of the game are being sold in one of the auctions, so the two boys try and think of ways to raise the gigantic amount of cash needed to get it.
There are others in the city too. The boys bump into Leorio who helps them in their money-making efforts, but Kurapika is also there on a different job. He and some other hunters have been tasked with looking after the daughter of a mafia boss who has connections with an underground auction in the city. The auction is also being targeted by the Phantom Troupe who killed members of Kurapika’s Kurta tribe. Kurapika is therefore out to get the Troupe, whose members appear to include Hisoka, but he is only there because he wants to fight the Troupe’s strongest members and is not a true part of the group. Kurapika has also been training to use Nen, going into battle with a special set of chains. Soon Kurapika begins his revenge on the Troupe, with Gon and the others finding themselves drawn into the fighting too.
While the main focus of attention in these episodes are the series of battles, first in the arena and then the battles against the Phantom Troupe, there is a stumbling block in this Hunter x Hunter collection, and one that seems to be a stumbling block for several shonen series of this type. It comes in the form of the mysterious power that all the characters come to use or train in their respective universes, which the lead has to learn and very slowly master.
In the case of Hunter x Hunter, this power is Nen. In the first arc of the series, much of it is about Wing having to teach his students the basics of Nen, what Nen is about, the four elements that go up to make Nen, the six types of Nen users and so on, which takes up so much time in the story. Do we really need to know about Nen, or at least this much about it? All of this detail is surely extraneous. Much of what is shown in the story doesn’t need that much explanation. It is things like this that drag down many shonen fighting series. It is for this reason that I’m not a big fan of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto for example, because of the different types of fighting in that story and the continuously dull explanation of it all just gets in the way of the actual martial arts you want to see in a series about ninjas. Kishimoto’s follow-up Samurai 8 is even worse for the same reason.
However, once we get through all this, we can get back to the fighting and battles that make Hunter x Hunter as popular as it is. The battles in Heavens Arena are good when they get going, and the battle between Gon and Hisoka is definitely worth the wait. The various sinister members of the Phantom Troupe also bring their own peculiar weapons to the table. These range from their leader Chrollo who can steal the abilities of other Nen users to Shizuku, a girl whose Nen ability is to summon a vacuum cleaner called Blinky that sucks up anything not alive.
There is not much in the way of extras in this collection. Apart from trailers for other shows, there is only the textless opening and closing, and given that the same opening is used throughout the entire series, that is not much of an extra. The ending track, “Hunting for Your Dream” by Galneryus, is not that great a track.
Once you get past all the Nen stuff, this second collection of episodes does offer some entertaining moments.