Hunter X Hunter: Greed Island
After their brush with the Genei Ryodan, Gon and Killua return their attention to Gon's original quest of searching for his father. Their only clue is the mysterious Greed Island, a game playable only by powerful Nen users. Soon, the young pair will find themselves facing the greatest challenges of their life in a game that may more prove more deadly than reality.
The original Hunter X Hunter animation caught me completely off-guard. I am normally fairly ambivalent about shonen fighting shows, but found myself quickly engrossed and almost addicted to the original show. After consuming the sixty-two television episodes and the first OAV, I turned my attention to the Greed Island OAV. I had some concern, I must admit, about how this OAV would turn out given the general plot outline concerning a virtual reality game.
It turned out my fears were unfounded as this title did not simply end up as Hunter X Hunter meets .hack//SIGN. Like almost every other plot, character, or setting in the Hunter X Hunter setting, the Greed Island game ends up having more than a few hidden secrets and is more than it appears. At the same time though, the setting, allows a bit more fantastical framework for the Hunter X Hunter protagonists to pursue their adventure without straying from the general impressive but not unreasonably ridiculous power framework of the Hunter X Hunter series.
The detail spent on realizing the Greed Island game makes it seem much more than a mere plot device. Where as it would have been far too easy for the show to simply present it as an excuse to have a few fantastic creatures show up and give unusual powers to the characters, many of the limitations of this virtual reality game end up affecting the nature of the adventure and make for more than a few interesting scenes. While I've never been a big MMORPG player myself, I could still identify with many of the situations that poor Gon and company had to deal with.
As in the previous incarnations of Hunter X Hunter, characterization is fairly strong. I continue to find the synergistic interplay and interaction between Gon and Killua entertaining. The various other players and factions involved in playing the game do not end up seeming flat and some of Ryodan members not previously focused on get a bit more development. They take the time to develop and flesh out even some of incidentally encountered characters appearing only for an episode even if it would have been easier to simply have them appear for their necessary encounters without giving us any real insight into their personality. I was a bit dubious with the introduction of a new ally to Gon, though this new character, Biscuit, ends up being intriguing in her own right.
The animation, art, and color work are noticeably better than the television series and generally on par with the previous OAV series. Though Greed Island isn't exactly wall-to-wall action, there are more than enough good scenes of that nature. The very nature of the game, along with the Nen user player requirement, makes for several entertaining encounters and unexpected threats. Despite the availability of Nen powers and the Greed Island "spell cards," action encounters still tend toward interesting melees rather than uninteresting Ki-blast tournaments.
The OAV's music, while nothing spectacular, does serve its purpose well without being too intrusive. Greed Island does, however, continue the slow but steady trend of the musical quality of the overall Hunter X Hunter series improving as it has progressed. Several key scenes have vocal themes or orchestral work that was well done.
Though I rather enjoyed Greed Island, there was one slight flaw that nagged at me. While it effectively serves as a set of transition episodes, introduction to the Greed Island game, and provides Gon and Killua more chances to enhance their abilities in an interesting and reasonable way, it doesn't quite have the impact, overall, of the TV series or the previous OAV. The plot is immediately continued in the Greed Island Final OAV, so I'm not too upset, though I can't quite say that I consider the Greed Island OAV quite as excellent as the other installments of the Hunter X Hunter franchise that I've seen. Of course even if something is merely "very good" instead of "excellent," it still is very good.
An entertaining and engaging continuation of the Hunter X Hunter storyline that, while it doesn't reach quite the overall excellence of the previous OAV, is still rather good. Despite that, I still almost was going to give it five stars, and viewers less concerned with the overall dramatic impact of this particular chapter might want to give it another star. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: This show isn't exceptionally bloody but there is a lot of violence and more than a few people are killed. Overall, it is most appropriate for teens and above.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (8/8)
Hunter X Hunter: Greed Island © 2003 Togashi Yoshihiro / Shueisha / Nippon Animation
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