Hunter x Hunter Detours: Introduction
Welcome to HxH Detours! Where I, an ardent fan of Yoshihiro Togashi’s ongoing masterful series, Hunter x Hunter, will embark on an ambitious queer reading of the 2011 anime.
Hunter x Hunter is 148 episodes long and spans over seven major arcs. The sheer depth of the stories told and the care given to character development makes HxH a deceptively dense series. Given how large-scale this project is going to be, I’ll be tackling it arc by arc, introducing the characters I’ll focus on the most for that portion, while illuminating threads we’ll see emerge throughout the show. Detours isn’t meant to be a read-along series — instead, I’ll be writing about the queerness of Hunter x Hunter on a holistic scale, digging into the minutiae of episodes and characterizations, and dropping rampant spoilers without warning along the way… I highly recommend watching the entire show before proceeding! Tread lightly.
Okay, did you finish watching the whole series? Yes? Awesome, let’s do this!
Hunter x Hunter tells the story of Gon, a 12 year-old-boy on a journey to follow in his estranged father’s footsteps and become a hunter, in order to reunite with him and learn why being a hunter was worth abandoning Gon as a child.
The end of the 148-episode show marks the close of the first, overarching “main” journey, and is also where we encounter the origin of the title of this series of posts. “Detours” comes from a speech given by Ging Freecss, father of our main protagonist, when he and Gon are reunited and have their first real conversation with one another:
「 道草を楽しめ。大いにな。ほしいものより大切なものがきっとそっちにころがってる。 」
“You should enjoy the little detours. To the fullest. Because that’s where you’ll find the things more important than what you want.”
While Hunter x Hunter is at its core about Gon becoming a hunter to find Ging, it’s the journey itself that introduces the most intriguing aspects of the show: an exploration of adolescence and discovering what lies beyond what we know. We meet some of Gon’s lifelong friends, mortal enemies, and sometimes-allies, and learn how all of the characters involved challenge our concept of the binary — good versus evil, darkness and light, hope and despair — found in most, if not all, shounen series. Yoshihiro Togashi uses his mastery of narrative to develop and humanize the characters by following through on the repercussions of every action and seemingly minor decision. HxH’s subversiveness lies in how little hand holding is involved in a coming-of-age story set in such a dark, violent world.
HxH Detours will focus on examining the implicit and explicit queerness embedded within the characters, relationships, and story arcs and how those motivations contribute to the expansive world of Hunter x Hunter. I’m most interested in addressing the queerness of the 2011 anime, which closely follows the manga (nearly 1:1), though I’ll also occasionally source from the manga itself to further support the observations and analysis I derive from the anime. And, as stated above, we’ll see how the development of and choices made by these characters — ranging in age from 11 to well into their 100s — result in the various effects of their actions in maturing, exploring, and settling into their queerness.
This series won’t be a place where I pull arbitrary moments from Hunter x Hunter to support a headcanon. It is about providing evidence, historical and otherwise, and examining moments and motivations in detail to contribute to a larger literary analysis of how I read the series as queer. So, without further ado, let’s dig into Hunter x Hunter!
NEXT TIME ON HxH DETOURS: we have character introductions for our first (two) arcs — The Hunter’s Exam & The Zoldyck Family — stay tuned for more coming soon!