Wednesday, March 7, 2018

REVIEW: Hunter X Hunter: Phantom Rouge

Since many anime series run for hundreds of episodes and there are manga out there that have so many volumes they require a dedicated bookshelf, I have come to limit my regular manga collecting to just 1 series: Hunter X Hunter. It helps that there is a hiatus going on all the time, so there’s only a new volume maybe once a year. Needless to say, I was very excited for the first ever Hunter X Hunter anime movie! Check out my full review of Phantom Rouge after the jump.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Hunter X Hunter: Phantom Rouge courtesy of VIZ Media.
Opinions are my own.

Someone has stolen Kurapika's eyes—and according to him, it was another survivor from his clan who were massacred for their Scarlet Eyes! Gon and Killua begin investigating on his behalf, but shortly after they've begun, the Phantom Troupe appears! Will Kurapika finally get his revenge? Will Hisoka finally get his long-awaited battle with Chrollo? Will Leorio finally do something?

Phantom Rouge is an anime movie in the best - and worst - ways. It fits nowhere in the timeline. It’s full of character drama for the members of the cast we spend less time with. And there is a big, long fight scene in the middle of a kinda boring looking area. What makes this anime movie better than the others? Well, for one thing, it’s based on the greatest anime & manga series ever made!

This ain’t no Battle of the Gods. Phantom Rouge is Hunter X Hunter’s first and only movie, which by default makes it it’s best and worst movie. There are a lot of common tropes you see in every anime movie, such as the girl who is obviously a girl but dresses like a boy and tricks the cast into thinking she’s a boy for like 5 minutes. What's more disappointing was the romantic undertones - I’ve always appreciated that Hunter X Hunter has never had a major romantic subplot. We also get to see most of the Phantom Troupe in action, but they don’t do a whole lot. Kurapika and Hisoka are the only main characters who use their main special abilities, although it’s possible the others haven’t mastered theirs yet. Did I mention this fits nowhere in the timeline?

The big draw to the film is the story of Kurapika’s clan and their famous scarlet eyes. Their eyes were all stolen in a massacre by the Phantom Troupe. The film’s synopsis promises all of this - including Kurapika’s eyes being stolen from his head while his heart still beats by another survivor of his own clan. Ultimately? The whole eyes thing has to deal with the villain, a former member of the Troupe, who needs eyes to make puppets. Kurapika’s former clansmen? A puppet. The Phantom Troupe? Also puppets. Okay some of them do show up at the end for real. Otherwise, all of the reasons fans want to see this movie are welcome mats pulled out from other them to make room for a brand new character we have no attachment too.

There is some good stuff here. Killua especially had a lot of development which was a big surprise going in. The film explores his issues with trust and the idea that no one wants to be his friend. This idea was put in his head by his older brother Illumi. Luckily, after countless teases, Killua finally gets to fight Illumi head to head, brother against brother, assassin against assassin and… Yeah, it’s just a puppet.

I also really liked seeing Kurapika’s previously unexplored origin story. We’ve known since the beginning that he was out for revenge on the people who stole his clan’s eyes. Here we finally get to see the Kurta clan, cut off from society to hide their scarlet eyes. “The Last of the Kurtas” was always just a cool title, but now it actually means something.

Phantom Rouge is not a great movie, but there is greatness in it. It would’ve been nice to see more Nen abilities shown off. I would’ve also preferred the actual Phantom Troupe being the villains, but I do understand that you can’t have a bit encounter like that happen in a side-cannon movie. There is always hope, though. No anime’s first movie is going to be it’s greatest. Battle of the Gods was the eighteenth Dragon Ball movie after all. So while this wasn’t a spectacularly amazing Hunter epic, I’d still watch another one.

What did you think of Hunter X Hunter: Phantom Rouge? Let me know in the comments below! Haven’t seen it yet? Click here to order your copy today.