Hunter × Hunter (ハンターハンター Hantā Hantā, stylized as HUNTER×HUNTER) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yoshihiro Togashi. It has been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine since March 3, 1998, although the manga has frequently gone on hiatus since 2006. As of December 2012, 340 chapters have been collected into 32 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. The story focuses on a young boy named Gon Freecss, who discovers that his father, whom he was told was dead, is actually alive and a world-renowned Hunter, a licensed profession for those who specialize in fantastic pursuits such as locating rare or unidentified animal species, treasure hunting, surveying unexplored enclaves, or hunting down lawless individuals. Despite being abandoned by him, Gon departs upon a journey to follow in his footsteps, pass the rigorous Hunter Examination, and eventually find his father. Along the way, Gon meets various other Hunters and also encounters the paranormal. The original inspiration for the manga came from Togashi’s own collecting hobby.
In 1999, Hunter × Hunter was adapted into a 62-episode anime television series produced by Nippon Animation and directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi. The show premiered on Japan’s Fuji TV and ran until 2001. Three separate original video animations (OVAs) totaling 30 episodes were subsequently produced by Nippon Animation and released in Japan from 2002 to 2004. A second anime television series by Madhouse aired on Nippon Television from October 2011 to September 2014, with two animated theatrical films released in 2013. There are also numerous audio albums,video games, musicals, and other media based on Hunter × Hunter. The manga has been translated into English and released in North America by Viz Media since April 2005. The first television series was also licensed by Viz, and it aired on the Funimation Channel starting in 2009.
Hunter × Hunter has been a huge financial success and has become one of Shueisha’s best-selling manga series, having sold over 65.8 million copies in Japan alone as of February 2013
Twelve years prior to the start of the story, Ging Freecss left his infant son, Gon Freecss, with, Gon’s aunt, Mito, on Whale Island (くじら島 Kujira Shima). Gon, who was told all his life that both his parents were dead, finds out from Ging’s apprentice, Kite, that his father is still alive and has since become an accomplished Hunter. Gon leaves his home to become a Hunter like his father by taking the Hunter Examination (ハンター試験 Hantā Shiken), a series of brutal tests involving skill, survival, and teamwork. During the exam, Gon meets and eventually befriends three of the other applicants: Kurapika, the last remaining member of the Kurta clan who wishes to become a Hunter in order to avenge his clan and recover their scarlet-glowing eyes, plucked from their corpses by a band of thieves known as the Phantom Troupe; Leorio, a prospective physician who, in order to pay for medical school, desires the financial benefits Hunters receive; and Killua Zoldyck, another twelve-year-old boy who has left his former life as a member of the world’s most notorious assassin family. Among many other examinees, Gon continuously encounters Hisoka, a mysterious and deadly transmuter who takes an interest in Gon. The final phase of the Hunter Exam sees Gon passing the exam in anticlimax and Killua failing after killing another applicant out of frustration. However, it is then revealed that one more secret task is required of the applicants for them to truly pass the Exam. The trio then travels to Killua’s home estate in order to retrieve the boy from his overbearing family.
After Killua returns to the group, Leorio and Kurapika depart in order to accomplish their own goals; the four promise to meet again in Yorknew City (ヨークシンシティ Yōkushin Shiti?) in September of that year. Gon and Killua decide to gain both combat experience and money at the Heavens Arena (天空闘技場 Tenkū Tōgijō), a skyscraper where thousands of martial artists compete daily in fighting tournaments. There they meet a kung fu master named Wing, who trains them in utilizing Nen, a Qi-like life energy utilized by Hunters to manifest parapsychological abilities—also considered to be the final requirement to pass the Hunter Exam. In the climax of the arc, Gon refaces Hisoka in the Heavens Arena in his final challenge of the Examination.
The next story arc reunites the main characters for the world’s largest auction in the sprawling metropolis of Yorknew City. Gon, Killua, and Leorio try different methods to make enough money to buy Greed Island, an extremely rare and expensive video game with Nen-like properties that may help Gon locate his father. Meanwhile, Kurapika starts working as a bodyguard for a mafia member’s daughter—a teenaged clairvoyant flesh collector who is interested in a pair of Kurta Clan eyeballs being auctioned off. While at the auction, Kurapika crosses paths with the Phantom Troupe, whom are in Yorknew City in order to steal all of the goods from the mafia’s underground auction. A gang war between the mafia and the Phantom Troupe rocks Yorknew City in the first week of September, eventually forcing the protagonists to all get involved and eventually cross paths. Kurapika struggles with his desires for revenge and his relationships, having to decide whether or not to sacrifice his friends as pawns in order to achieve his own vengeance. Hostages are taken and the climax of the arc results in an exchange between Kurapika and the leader of the Phantom Troupe, Chrollo Lucilfer.
In the final days of the auction, Gon and Killua are hired by a multibillionaire to play Greed Island, a billion-dollar video game created by Ging Freecss that takes place somewhere in the real world. The game, created with Nen, rewards one by allowing them the choice of taking three magical items from the game into the real world. Inside Greed Island, the Phantom Troupe starts to play the game for mysterious reasons, a player’s alliance becomes dangerously close to completing the game, and an unknown serial bomber has been murdering players in order to clear the game first. Gon and Killua, outclassed by the difficulty of the challenges in the game, are soon joined and trained by an experienced teacher of Nen and kung fu master: Biscuit Krueger. With her help, Gon and Killua begin to take on the challenges of Greed Island in an attempt to get closer to Gon’s father, with Killua taking a short leave from Greed Island to attend the Hunter exam once more and finally earn his license. In the climax of the arc, Gon faces the serial bomber one-on-one and eventually wins Greed Island. Using two of his rewarded cards, Gon and Killua travel to the location of a player whom they believe to be Ging. However, it ends up bringing them to Kite instead.
Alongside Kite, Gon and Killua briefly work as biological researchers. As they investigate a giant insect limb found on the country’s shores, the group discover it came from a man-sized Chimera Ant queen, an insect that devours other creatures and then gives birth to progeny that inherit the characteristics of the different species it has eaten. The queen washes up onto an island nation called the Neo-Green Life (N.G.L.) Autonomous Region, inhabited by a neo-luddite culture. She quickly develops a taste for humans and builds a colony in order to conceive both an army of offspring and a Chimera Ant king named Meruem. The Chimera Ants proceed to wipe most of the population out before Gon, Killua, and Kite arrive. The queen dies during labor, and the king and his Royal Guards flee N.G.L., secretly overthrowing the government of the nearby Republic of East Gorteau (東ゴルトー共和国?) soon thereafter. Meanwhile, having left N.G.L. for two months following an attack by the Chimera Ant Royal Guard Neferpitou, Gon learns that Kite is being manipulated by the ant and becomes enraged.
Under the guise of the former king of the Republic, Meruem initiates the process of forcibly awakening Nen in the civilians of East Gorteau in order to select soldiers to join his own personal army to conquer the world, and convert the remaining inhabitants to foodstock. As Ants formerly under the queen’s rule rejoin the king, the Hunter Association mobilizes quickly to stop the oncoming genocide by sending in an extermination team of Hunters. Looking for a way to restore Kite to his normal state, Gon and Killua join the extermination team in order to find Neferpitou. The confrontation reaches its peak during a battle between the Chimera Ant King and Netero, the chairman of the Hunters Association, and a second meeting between Neferpitou and Gon.
After the Chimera Ant incident has been resolved, the Hunter Association’s top echelons, the Zodiacs, immediately begin the process of choosing Netero’s replacement as Chairman, while the other Hunters try to have a new chairman elected by a voting system proposed by Gon’s father Ging, Killua returns home to ask for his younger sister Alluka to help Gon, who is hospitalized in critical condition after his battle with Neferpitou. However, his family is unwilling to risk losing Alluka or having her dangerous powers used against them, but after evading his older brother Illumi’s attempts to intercept him, Killua manages to bring Alluka to Gon’s side and have him fully recovered, before sealing her powers completely to ensure she can have a normal life. After having a brief reunion with his father, Gon meets Kite once more and becomes relieved that beside still living as an ant, he returned to his former self. With the burden of his guilt gone, Gon returns to the Hunter Association where he questions Ging about his goals and discovers the true nature of his father’s quest.
Some time later, Netero’s son, Beyond, assembles an expedition to the Dark Continent (暗黒大陸 Ankoku Tairiku), the forbidden, vast area outside of the known world, sponsored by the Kingdom of Kakin. Fearing that the expedition may bring disaster to the world, just like it occurred in previous attempts, the world’s five greatest powers accept that Kakin join their ranks in exchange for full authority over its findings. To accompany Beyond and prevent him from doing something unexpected, the Zodiacs decide to watch over him, inviting Kurapika and Leorio to join them, replacing Ging and the former Vice-Chairman Pariston, who assembled their own team by Beyond’s request. Kurapika doesn’t show any interest in joining Zodiacs at first but shortly after he is convinced by Mizaistom one of the zodiacs and joins.