New HUNTER x HUNTER Anime – Good Idea or Bad Idea?

2011 HxH Animation Art

I know this is old news that has been discussed in various blogs and forums already, but I want to go back and contemplate MADHOUSE’s decision to make a new anime adaptation of the series HUNTER x HUNTER  as well as the potentiality of the new seiyuu main cast that’s been announced recently.

Personally, I’m quite a fan of the old cast, with Takeuchi Junko as Gon, Mitsuhashi Kanako as Killua, Kaida Yuki as Kurapika, Gouda Hozumi as Leorio, and Takahashi Hiroki as the ever-creepy Hisoka. I was also satisfied with the old anime up until the Greed Island arc OVA, since it was for the most part, a good solid adaptation of the manga. There weren’t many fillers, the series was straightforward, and there weren’t too many long drag-out scenes.

So when I got the news that MADHOUSE was going to make a new anime adaptation of HUNTER x HUNTER, my first reaction was simply, “What…? Why?” And even though I might have a few theories why they would do this, I am still mostly boggled by their decision.  I mean, just because the manga is being started up again (Isn’t anyone getting tired of Togashi’s intermittent hiatus shenanigans?), and hopefully this time it stays up until it’s over, did they decide that they needed a  new makeover for the anime as well? Are they trying to ride the hype of the manga being started again? And what happens if Togashi decides to bail out once more? He’s been known to be unreliable in trying to finish this series. Why would MADHOUSE even take the risk? And I personally prefer the old animation in terms of art style over the new. MADHOUSE works tend to either be a hit or miss for me.

Another concern I have is the new cast they’ve announced. I don’t know about anyone else, but I for one have already created an branded image in my head of how Gon, Killua, Kurapika, Leorio, and Hisoka are supposed to be like based on the original voice cast. This cast was what made the characters come to life for me, and I think it would be difficult for the new cast to try to infuse new life in something that has already been done before. But I guess this new anime is intended for a new generation of fans who haven’t seen the old series. Still, it will be hard for them to match the expectations of older die-hard fans who are used to the original anime series.

Seiyuu Comparison:

Old Cast:
Gon Freecss: Takeuchi Junko
Killua Zoldyck: Mitsuhashi Kanako
Kurapika: Kaida Yuki
Leorio: Gouda Hozumi
Hisoka: Takahashi Hiroki

Previous HxH Anime Seiyuu Cast: (From right to left) Takahashi Hiroki, Kaida Yuki, Mitsuhashi Kanako, Takeuchi Junko, Gouda Hozumi


New Cast:

Gon Freecss: Han Megumi (debut)
Killua Zoldyck: Ise Mariya
Kurapika: Sawashiro Miyuki
Leorio: Fujiwara Keiji
Hisoka: Namikawa Daisuke

New HxH Seiyuu Cast: (From right to left) Fujiwara Keiji, Ise Mariya, Han Megumi, Sawashiro Miyuki, Namikawa Daisuke

 

Looking at the new list, there are a healthy mix of veteran and new seiyuu. I have an utmost respect for the veteran seiyuu and believe they have more than enough skill to portray the character to their best capability.

Sawashiro Miyuki has been in the voice-acting industry since she was 13 and she has an uncanny ability to change her voice masterfully according to character. Her voice range and repertoire are truly astonishing, so I am not worried about her being able to voice a good or even great Kurapika. Although she is still young, she truly has a talent and experience that puts many other seiyuu to shame. I’m really glad she has the opportunity to explore all her voice range possibilities. She’s done so many type of characters that I don’t think she’ll ever be typecasted, a good thing when the industry is so challenging. She can just always switch her voice around easily to fit.

The thing about Fujiwara Keiji is that I love this man to death. His voice can range from comical to serious to cool in a split second which I believe are great assets that the character of Leorio definitely have. I believe he unquestionably has what it takes to voice an awesome Leorio. However, I also believe that his extremely distinguishable voice may also potentially be a double-edged sword. The thing about Leorio the character is his lack of shine; he has a tendency to be outshone by his more colorful allies and even villains. Well, one thing I can be sure of– I definitely know that Fujiwara Keiji may bring out a new side of Leorio that people just won’t be able to ignore.

Namikawa Daisuke is a veteran seiyuu who’s also been in the industry for a long time. He is a truly talented individual, able to voice high and low characters alike. I know he has the skill to voice Hisoka, but I am still curious what he has up his sleeves. Takahashi Hiroki’s Hisoka is extremely hard to match up to, in my opinion, and I’m not sure if Namikawa can live up to the that high expectation. Maybe he’ll use his Eustass Kidd voice from One Piece? If so… no. Just no.

On the other hand, Takahashi Hiroki’s Hisoka is probably the character I most enjoyed, just because Hiropon truly does a fabulous creepy voice. His Hisoka is mischievous, sinister, mysterious, perverted, and creepy all at the same time, and that is such a hard thing to pull off.

Gouda Hozumi’s Leorio was also good. His voice is very balanced, and when I see Leorio, I completely picture Gouda-san’s voice coming out from him. But I have to admit that in person, Fujiwara Keiji gives off a cooler vibe.

Kaida Yuki’s Kurapika was awesome. I think she truly has a talent voicing bishounen characters, haha. The voice she uses for Kurapika is a nice balance of friendly and boyish and serious and mature. From what I remember, the fans loved her Kurapika a lot. And when I mean a lot, it’s A LOT. However talented Sawashiro is, I don’t know if she’ll be accepted in the eyes of the die-hard Kaida Yuki Kurapika fans.

Killua, I believe is a little hard to portray. His character is quite complex– he can be extremely obnoxious and bratty or serious and devious, or hey, he can just be a kid from a messed up family. I believe Mitsuhashi Kanako did a great job portraying all the the different facets of Killua’s character and personality, and I’m not really sure if Ise Mariya is able to do that. Granted, I am not familiar with Ise Mariya’s skills or the characters she’s voiced in her career, so I’m not able to fairly judge how she’ll do. I seriously think that this role will either be a hit or a miss for her, no in between’s.

Takeuchi Junko’s Gon is legendary. Everytime I hear Junko-chan, I hear Gon. I’m sure some people will say that they hear Naruto, but Gon came before Naruto, so I beg to differ. The thing about Takeuchi Junko— her voice is extremely unique. I can pinpoint her voice from miles away or even when she’s talking normally. This also makes Gon’s original voice extremely unique, entirely distinguishable and easy to remember. It’s a voice I remember even now  after 7 years of watching the HXH OVA. In other words, her voice is Gon or the embodiment of Gon, and it’ll be extremely hard for a new debut voice actress like Han Megumi, even if she turns out to be very talented, to match up. However, Gon is also a straightforward and gullible character who, in contrast to Killua, expresses himself a lot more through emotion. It’s an easy role to unintentionally go overboard, and I think it will be difficult to keep Gon’s character in check and balanced, something Takeuchi Junko was able to pull of due to her experience as a stage actress and 3 years of voice acting experience before she voiced Gon.

In the end, I’m not really sure what to think, so I’ll probably just end up trying the new anime out and see where that goes. Either way, I’m still doubtful about Togashi’s ability to even finish the series.


1999 HxH Animation Art