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The Fantasy Martial Arts Anime That Everyone's Watching On Netflix

There are some anime series that are so well-loved that they become part of the anime "canon," shows that every self-respecting anime fan just needs to see, and "Hunter X Hunter" is arguably one of those shows.

As most animes seem to be, "Hunter X Hunter" is based on a manga series, this time by Yoshihiro Togashi, who wrote and illustrated the first volume in 1998 and continues to create new entries to this day. In 1999, it got its first anime adaptation, and in 2011, animation studio Madhouse created a reboot of the series with up-to-date visuals and incorporation of Togashi's new storylines that hadn't been released before the original adaptation. Although the original is worth watching in its own right, we'll be focusing on the new-and-improved version.

As all permutations of "Hunter X Hunter" start out, a young boy named Gon Freecss (Megumi Han and Erica Mendez) sets out to become a "Hunter," an elite member of society with all sorts of abilities from martial arts to being able to play a "Ready Player One"-style video game, in order to find his father, Ging (Rikiya Koyama and Marc Diraison), who left him in order to become a Hunter. Along the way, he must pass the perilous and difficult Hunter Exam, then traveling to different locations as he meets all sorts of new friends and foes.

Hunter X Hunter is a shōnen anime in the best possible ways

Literally translating as "boy" in Japanese, shōnen is a genre of anime with a few defining characteristics: a boy protagonist, over-the-top action, and adventure. "Hunter X Hunter" has all these traits and more in spades, with tons of humor and drama, huge battle scenes, as well as an unfolding mystery surrounding Gon's father and the Hunter organization.

Unlike a show such as "Naruto," however, martial arts are only one of the many abilities the titular Hunters can possess. Some can summon infinite vacuum cleaners, while others can write haikus that change the world around them. This gives the series a sense of whimsy and humor while also keeping things fresh, creating a sense of excitement around what the next special ability might be.

The first four seasons of "Hunter X Hunter" are currently available on Netflix and Hulu, while you can find all six seasons on Crunchyroll, HBO Max, Tubi, and Vudu.