Hunter X Hunter Volume 2 concludes the Hunter Exam with two more trials, at the end of which Gon, Kurapika, and Leorio have passed, and Killua not only has failed, but becomes his Hunter friends’ first quarry when he leaves without saying goodbye to return to his fortress-like family estate. They pursue him to Kukuroo Mountain, where they discover the assassins of the Zoldyck Family to be cold, clannish, sadomasochistic, snobs, and Gon and his friends must pass a gauntlet of trials in order to be rejoined with Killua. In addition to the audience making the acquaintance of the Shady Bunch that is the Zoldyck family, vol 2 introduces Canary, apprentice butler, inspirer of some awesome cosplay, and the first character in this series that I like as much as Gon.

Suffering, whether for a win or a loss, is a big part of both story arcs in Hunter X Hunter Volume 2. Gon and Killua take turns being willingly tortured to prove their repsective points; the former at the hands of Hanzo, in the final round of the Hunter Exam, in order to demonstrate that while Gon may lose physical contests, he will never lose a battle of wills; and Killua, at the hands of his own mother and brother, who look like they’re taking fashion cues from Cinderella’s Stepmother and Tweedledee, and whip Killua with little effect, to their consternation and his amusement. The strongest scene in Volume 2, however, is neither of these riveting moments, but when Canary, ordered not to let Gon and his friends pass, must bludgeon Gon, the only person that loves Killua as much as she does.

While I enjoyed Volume 1 of Hunter X Hunter, volume 2 is such a marked improvement in terms of fleshing out what once seemed stock characters to me, and in terms of filling out the bizarre setting of Gon’s world with its hodge-podge of fantastic beasts, shonen manga of the battle and school elimination genres, and a catch-all science fiction fairy tale casserole that conflates bows and arrows, honeybee hats, laptops, airships, and assassins with more pixie dust than Tinkerbell. Most importantly, while Volume 1 had me laughing at a few points, and more or less interested in the outrageous trials of the Hunter Exam, Volume 2 was extremely gripping, and by the end of it, I was invested in the world of Hunter X Hunter and looking for ways to continue watching the series.

The Hunter X Hunter Volume 2 Blu-Ray collection includes 13 episodes (14-26) on two discs in the 16×9 1080p format; 3 more art cards, this time of Kukuroo Mountain, The Testing Gate, and the Hemotropic Butterfly, in an envelope lettered in the style of the episode titles; and, a $5 off Shonen Jump Weekly coupon. Disc 2 includes several video features: an art gallery; clean intro and outro songs and the English language end credits; and, several trailers for other Viz Media anime. The episodes can be watched either with English or Japanese audio, and with the additional option of running a more direct translation of the Japanese in English subtitles. One piece of good news for those that dislike clip shows is that Episode 26 is the second and last recap episode for this lengthy anime. From here, if you forget what happened, there’s always Wikia or wikipedia.

Hunter X Hunter Volume 2 arrived in stores on February 28th, 2017, but if you find it sold out, you can order it through Viz Media.

Viz Media sent the review copy.

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