Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hunter X Hunter – Phantom Rouge

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Update: Phantom Rouge opens with ¥457 million ($5 million) on 257 screens.  That's an outstanding opening - well below One Piece, of course, but trouncing the likes of Bleach and Naruto theatrical releases.  It definitely beats projections, and provides a real boost for the H x H franchise.  Not that we'll get any H x H product in the Jump Shop, mind you.



This much is clear – Hisoka is even more of a creeper when he’s twelve feet tall and staring down at you.

It’s been a huge week for Hunter x Hunter – and a huge day for Madhouse and Han Megumi, who had the Phantom Rouge and Chihayafuru premières within a few hours of each other.  That Han-san can play both Gon and Sumire is an amazing thing. In fact, the giant Tatsuya bookshop across the street from the theatre had a big endcap that was half H x H, half Chihayafuru.  Talk about one-stop shopping.

In addition to the movie premiere today, I finally found some H x H swag (and my attire for the premiere) at Tokyo Station’s Character Street – though heaven forbid it should have been at the Shounen Jump Shop, where they can’t afford to give up ONE FUCKING INCH of the One Piece and KuroBas shelf space.  No, it was at the NTV Shop, where they had a few H x H T-shatsu, as well as notebooks and the like.  7-11 is also doing a major cross-promotion with the movie (that’s where I got my ticket) with a product line that includes this Jell-O cup (I had no interest in the Jell-o, but I liked the ceramic mug), a Kurapika “muffler towel”, various food products and even Texture Surprise and Bungee Gum.

All the screenings at Shibuya Toho Cinemas sold out by this morning, which I was certainly pleased to see (as I already had a ticket).  I certainly hope the movie does well – it’s not going to do One Piece or Eva numbers, obviously, but it seems H x H has a big fan base among many age groups (I didn’t see anyone who looked less than early 20s at my screening tonight).  They were handing out free copies of “Volume 0”, the special edition manga with Togashi’s Phantom Rouge prequel story.

On to the film itself.  I’m very reluctant to try and do a detailed review of a movie I watched raw, so I’ll just give some highlights.  Having read the prequel chapters definitely helped, and I’m able to follow enough of the language now to have a general idea – but there are certain elements I’m not sure of, even so.  This review, such as it is, is not spoiler-free.  In fact, it’s full of major spoilers because the major stuff is all I’m really sure of.  So if you’d rather go in fresh when you see the movie, please stop reading here!




Headlines:

  • Kurapika loses his eyes (sort of)
  • Gon gets a girlfriend (sort of)
  • Killua gets jealous of the girlfriend (sort of, but pretty obviously)
  • Leorio uses Nen (sort of)
  • Gon and Killa get their butts saved by both Nobunaga and Hisoka (not sort of at all)
  • Killua has a final battle with Illumi (not really)
  • Hisoka and Chrollo fight (not really)

Generally speaking, I thought the film was very strong.  Because of the pacing – basically 4 episodes rather than Togashi’s usual 20-episode arcs – some of the details are lost, inevitably.  But in general it’s exciting, energetic, dark and very much in-character.  It looks great too.

The basic premise surrounds a man named Omokage (Fujiki Naohito), who’s a sort of puppet master – he has the ability to make perfect copies of anyone (including dead people, crucially) including their Nen abilities.  Where it gets a bit dodgy is the timeline, since this is a story that’s not in the manga’s canon.  Omokage appears to be Spider #4 – he certainly has the tattoo, and the rest certainly know him – which might place this before York Shin, at the time Hisoka takes over the #4 spot himself.  But it’s very clear that Uvogin is dead (though he appears as one of Omokage’s puppets), which would place it after York Shin.  I’m guessing this is probably a language issue and I would know the answer if I’d seen it subbed, but I’m honestly not sure. 

There are two other major new characters.  First is Pairo (Kawashima Umika), the Kurta boy from the manga prequel.  His story is one of the saddest in the Hunter x Hunter annals (as you know if you read it) and he’s involved in some of the movie’s best scenes.  The other new character is Retzu (Hirano Aya) who seems to be Omokage’s sister – though Gon doesn’t know this when he befriends her.  The dynamic between Gon, Killua and Retzu is very interesting – it’s really the first time we’ve seen them interact with a girl their own age.

To be honest I was expecting the movie to be extremely Kurapika-centric, based on the trailer and the promo art.  But while his story is certainly the catalyst, it’s very much Gon and Killua who are the main characters.  In fact it’s actually Killua who has the most and longest dramatic scenes, and his psychological trauma surrounding Illumi is at least as important thematically as Kurapika’s tragic back-story.  Gon and Killua’s friendship is at the center of the film, just as it is for most of the TV arcs – in a way, you could look at this as stylistically a cross between York Shin and the Hunter Exam. We also see the Phantom Troupe in a somewhat different light than we’re used to – at the very least, they fulfill a different role than they do in the anime canon.  That’s most especially true of Nobunaga – it’s more clear than ever that he’s the most “sympathetic” of all the Spiders, and that he has a liking for Gon and Killua just as Hisoka does.  As for Hisoka, his awesomeness really needs to be seen – I couldn’t really do it justice with mere words.  He’s not a friend, he’s not an enemy – he’s a Hisoka, and there’s no one like him.  And he sure isn’t someone you’d want to piss off.

As for the big announcement that was promised after the credits, we got good news – though I suspect many were hoping it would be different news.  It wasn’t an announcement of the manga re-starting, but rather of a second Hunter X Hunter film.  The only character who appears in the very brief scene is Netero (looking rather smug, in fact) and there are no details beyond that.  Is Togashi writing it?  Is it based on another “lost” manga story?  At this point your guess is as good as mine.  Meanwhile we wait for Togashi-sensei to restart the manga – which I hope he does soon, as the anime will be at risk of catching up otherwise.  But I guess anything less than a year doesn’t really count as a hiatus when it’s Togashi-sensei.

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32 comments:

  1. rock that hxh shirt man! lol but I cant wait to see the movie and if gon sort of gets a gf then IM DEFINITELY IN!!!!!!

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  2. Damn, that announcement was a letdown...Let the manga continue please...

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    1. Why did people think they would announce the manga returning at a Movie? If anything Shonen jump would do that

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    2. Does anyone know if the movie is dubbed or subbed or dubbed in english?

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    3. Not yet - it's still playing in theatres here. I expect the Blu-ray will be out in the Fall.

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    4. Okay. Thank you anyways. If you have anymore information about it coming out here in America you can post it on my Youtube channel. My user name is KisaGCNVKPTFBanime.

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  3. Retzu is a girl? Well then.

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  4. How were the production values?

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    1. Considering how good they are on the TV, you might not be shocked by how much better they are - but they're definitely better. Several pretty intense fight scenes and a lot more detail in the backgrounds.

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    2. hmmm... just curious... are the fight scenes here as good as the first half of Gon vs Hisoka fight episode 35?

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    3. TBH, I'm not sure I've seen anything as good as that since Moribito episode 2 - movies included. There are a couple of amazing fight scene in Phantom Rouge, and technically as good, sure, but the choreography and music made that scene almost unparalleled for me.

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    4. thanks for your reply, Enzo! and yeah, I do think it's kinda hard to top ep35's fight scene. though I'm still waiting for HxH's new episodes to bring again that kind of awesome fight choreo or even on some new animes. But I will still be awaiting for the HxH movie. I believe it's gonna be an epic experience for me. :)

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  5. And here I decided to have my vacation in a much warmer climate. Curse it ...

    So, reading what you wrote, this is pretty much a typical shonen movie then? Of course, with Togashi behind it, it's set to be better than the rest automatically, but from the bullet points you listed it sounds like there is a lot of bait-and-switch and fan service (the Chrollo/Hisoka not-fight) and in general the film sounds like a collection of what if scenarios that many manga readers (and anime viewers) wish that had unfolded, but never really commits to showing everything in full.

    About the upcoming Netero based movie, I think I have an idea about what it is going to be about, and I can guess it is meant to something of a scare to the manga readers lol. But I'm guessing another alternate universe film.

    And do you have any comment about the prequel chapter? (And didn't I say don't read the manga lol)

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    1. I loved the prequel chapter - heartbreaking. And very relevant to the movie.

      I wouldn't say this is "typical shounen" but I would say it's "typical Huntah Huntah". The scenarios you describe don't play as fanfiction - they make perfect sense in the context of the story, which feels very much canon even if it doesn't fit the timeline. I think it's just a concession to the format that a movie is going to be more "to the point" and built around headline moments than a 20-episode arc has the leisure to be.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Get out of here man.

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    2. Since that shouldn't be here outside spoiler tags, deleted.

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  7. Not sure if it's true but I heard Heaven's Arena is seen along with Netero for the movie 2 teaser.

    Since he's the strongest man in the world maybe it's a story about how he became a Floor master (or THE #1 floor master).

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    1. Actually, that'd be kinda interesting. We never knew his true rivalry/friendship with Zeno.

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    2. I like Netero, but an entire H x H theatrical without Gon and Killua would be a mistake IMO. Give the people what they want when they're paying to watch your anime.

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  8. Nice review. Keep 'em coming!

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    1. Anon: I deleted that as it isn't possible to spoiler tag comments on Blogger. I don't think I could really answer it any more than I did in the post, anyway - it's sort of yes and no (mostly no).

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  10. It made me laugh a bit (kinda) after I read that you didn't see anyone there below age 20. I can't believe that it was that long since it first aired..haha! Anyway, any news on the manga's next chapter?

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  11. The theatrical was up in my country yesterday. Clearly, my countrymen didn't quite know of HunterxHunter as a series from my observation, since in almost every anime conference, it has close to zero publicity of the series. Shounen are dominated by the other more obvious series, but that would be a story for another day.

    The timing of the release was quite odd, on a Thursday and only Thursday. Needless to say coupled with it's low popularity, the crowd is almost non-existent, and I was watching over closely at the online-booking over the internet. The theatre only at about 30% booked at it's highest.

    Plot-wise, I would say it was just as I would expect like a normal TV episode. Touched my heart towards the end as well. If only there were more like-minded viewers catching it.

    Thought I would share this small autograph giveaway for buying a single ticket. http://imgur.com/I3yrYOc

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  12. Can I know one thing? Will he get his eyes back? ;3; After reading your summary I'm so dissapointd >: C I thought the main action will be about Kurapika, not Gond and Killua again, ech ; n ;

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    1. I't is about Kurapika, and Gon is the main character, what do you fucking expect? Superman???

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  13. One does not simply use the word *swag* with Hunter x Hunter.

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  14. Is it okay to watch this even if you haven't started with the series?
    I've finished the anime, OVAs and all but I'm taking my friends to watch with me and they don't watch HxH. They're familiar with it, but they haven't really watched it.

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    1. Well, they might enjoy it, but not having any knowledge of the York Shin Arc (or the Phantom Troupe at least) or Kurapika's past will rob the story of a lot of its context. Do they at least have some understanding of the Gon-Killua relationship dynamic?

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  15. I've been waiting for this movie for a long time so I anticipated it to be very good. Unfortunately, high expectations inevitably result in disappointment.

    The movie didn't offer anything new at all when it comes to Gon and Killua's friendship. We go back again at Killua's internal dilemma and all- and you're right about his screen time, he could very well be the protagonist (which would be totally fine if there was a fresh insight about him or something).

    Anyway, THERE WAS A POST CREDIT SCENE?! HAHAHAHA I should have read reviews before watching it so as not to miss anything.

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