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By Afternoon Nap
Just like to make a poll for fun. I like Naruto Shippuden more, because the characters are less prone to (chronic) depression.
By Nero D. Ace
TLDR; I started my anime spree with shounen anime - Dragon Ball Z and moved up to Bleach and Naruto, as well as types of Seinen and Shoujo. A few years ago, I started getting bored of the Shounen mentality.
Sure, One Piece had still kept me interested but I'd attributed it to the fact that I had become a fanboy of it's author Eiichiro Oda.
And on my 21st birthday, I became highly convinced that I was -
"growing too old for this shit now."
Blah, maybe I was. Shounen Jump had been making really cliche stuff for a while now and Naruto/Bleach were in an all time slump for me. The only reason I was still reading them (because watching was too painful) was to discuss it's shitty-ness with fellow readers.
But then, the day before yesterday, I was tired after finishing a major design document and wanted to watch something to take a break. I was in the mood for anime but had seen all the good shows that came out this year. Also, I'm reaching my bandwidth limit so I needed mini MKV's to download. I went to some mini MKV site and found that the new Hunter X Hunter series was up to 80 episodes. Reasoning that this was as good a time as any to marathon it, considering everyone had been telling me how awesome it is, and given that each episode was 50 MB a pop, I started the torrent.
Within 2 hours, I was deep into the show and had just blown my "too old for this" theory to smithereens.
Granted, I'm a god damn fanboy for One Piece. Then why is it that I can enjoy a show that's based on something 13 friggin years old that was made for my older self?
Could it be that the shounen action genre itself isn't dead? But it's just the quality that has severely dropped? (Apart from One Piece, of course.)
I'm 30 episodes into this show and I gotta say, this show brings back the feeling that I had when I first got into Naruto/DBZ/Bleach/One Piece. That boy-ish charm combined with the moments of human disparity, which is overcome through hard work and willpower!
Granted, HXH got generic at times, there's a whole bunch of cliches here that would've flied 13 years ago, but are now a bit hard-pressed against the new Shounen. But ... compared to new Shounen, there haven't been any hair-pulling moments for me yet in HXH.
So, here's where the ANAL-ASS-IS happens!
I'm gonna take parts of Hunter X Hunter and compare it with other Shounen stuff, citing the reasons why I think that part is better than it's counterpart in other shows. I'm gonna try and include as many counter-parts as possible based on the shows I've already seen.
I really wanna deconstruct this really carefully, so I'm gonna make one point at a time and only after I've thought over it carefully.
So, here's point number ONE -
-I'm a lover, not a fighter
I like my main characters to be pacifists sometimes. And this matters a lot in Shounen anime. Most of these characters are in their teens and mighty inexperienced, as well as prone to violent acts of anger at times. Learning when to not be angry is a critical part of their character development and an important phase in their journey.
However, sometimes pacifism is exaggerated to the point of "hair-pulling", a term which I will use to illustrate the point at which the viewer will start insulting the character for being a Gandhi prick. This point is usually reached when the character is -
A) Really really adamant about not fighting.
The character is unbelievably dumb.
In most cases, B is the result of "hair-pulling". Take the following cases, for example -
(Warning- I'm not gonna put spoiler tags around every event. For your safety, if you haven't reached the following episodes for the following shows, leave or risk being spoiled -
DBZ - Ain't nothing I can spoil that the internet hasn't already
Naruto Shippuden - 220
Bleach - 316
One PIece - 408
Hunter X Hunter (2011) - 23)
Let's start off with the first one I remember -
1. GOHAN - DRAGON BALL Z
This kid ... This f*@!ing kid! Son Gohan, child of Son Goku, main protagonist of Dragon Ball Z holds distinction for having simultaneously - the most bad-ass moment of the show as well as the most "hair-pulling" moment.
After being beaten all around by Perfect Cell, an android whose sole purpose is to become the strongest and eliminate those who aren't, Gohan finally becomes the most powerful character in the show at the time after Android # 16 is mercilessly destroyed by Cell.
After gaining that immense strength, Gohan proceeds to return the favor 10 times over and beats the ever loving shit outta Cell. Seriously, look at the guy's face after being punched in the guy -
So the heroes are cheering now that they're finally winning. Gohan's ready to chalk up a win for the Z fighters and what does he do ... he let's the bug-man live, refusing to kill him.
That's right, Gohan went Gandhi. At the worst possible time. He didn't have to kill him, but god dammit kid! Put him in some kind of phantom zone! At the very least, take out the obligatory bomb he has inside him!
And sure enough, that last part comes back to bite him in the ass. Cell starts a self destruct sequence, Goku pulls an obligatory savior trope, Cell resurrects stronger than before and now they are right back where they started.
I'm not particularly mad about this one partly because it leads into one of my favorite anime moments in history -
and partly because, hey, THIS is what Gohan is and always has been - the Pacifist. While his dad has always been eager to fight and become the best, Gohan has always, from DAY ONE shown that he will fight only and only to protect his loved ones, and never for glory or self-worth.
As a result, the hair-pulling-ness fades away after a while and the score for this comes down to ...
2. NARUTO - NARUTO
... I'm not gonna include an image of the guy. If you know him good. If not, I'll describe him - ORANGE clothes, BLONDE hair, WHISKERS, simpleton.
Now, in the early stages, Naruto would solve problems in one simple way - standing up to the guy who's causing problems. Didn't matter how strong he was. Just stand up to him and hit as hard as possible. It was standard, it was classic and it was fun to watch at times when the little tyke would start improvising mid-fight.
He was basically a god damn fighter.
Then some shit happened, his sensei died and he ended up training to face the guy who killed him not just for revenge/justice but for protecting the village. He goes through some deep meditation shit and emerges as something of a Buddha -
So this results in a major fight between that guy, called Pain and Naruto, which ends in a rather unique way - they both accept each other.
Naruto can never forgive Pain for killing his sensei but he knows that killing Pain will just cause an endless cycle of death all over again, just as had happened so many times. It's a rather interesting moment. For a change, a fight ends so anti-climatically. Not with the hero standing victorious over the villain, but with the hero and villain reminiscing about all that they've lost.
This moment wasn't hair-pulling to me at all although other's reactions were different. No, the hair-pull for me came at this moment -
For me, this ... THIS ... is the lowest point in Naruto history. After an intense fight with Pain and achieving a sense of enlightenment, Naruto decides that the best way to make peace in the world is by letting anyone with pent-up-anger beat the ever loving shit out of him.
The whole section was a giant hair-pull for me, enhanced by the fact that the girl beating him up wasn't that endearing of a character at the moment she's introduced. There's no particular reason for her to beat him up. She's beating him up because he's asking her to beat him up. All the while that she should be doing what she came to do.
The initial pacifism was handled well, but this moment was probably THE point where I started thinking -
"Well, Naruto's shit now. What else can I read?"
TO BE CONTINUED ...
What do you think about this analysis? What moments/points do you agree/disagree on?
Lemme know! I really wanna gauge the shounen meter from different sources.