Hunter X Hunter
An interesting, although currently slow paced, opportunity to experience a different type of fantasy world with a rather different sort of group. No sign of spells, dragons or demons, but fun none the less.
It must be mentioned that not only have I not seen too much, but also that the discovery of the world, and how it works, forms a fairly major part of the plot. After all, our hero is a ten year old boy who's spent all of his life in a village deep in the wilderness. And even given this he appears to prefer the wilderness to the village. He's got pretty good skills at wilderness survival, but his knowledge of the wider world and the people and forces that fill it is marginal at best.
Things change somewhat when he's rescued by a hunter. Hunters are highly trained, and fairly deadly, individuals who are capable of dealing with the dangers found within the wilderness. And given that human law, order and civilization seems to be spread fairly thinly on this world many of the dangers that can be found are human. This hunter informs our hero that, against what his aunt had always told him, his dad is not only alive, somewhere, but considered to be one of the greatest of the hunters. Propelled by this information, the need to ask 10 years worth of questions, and a sizable interest in the hunter professions he decides to become a hunter. This requires a sizable number of tests in the various locales this fantasy world has to offer. Fortunately he find some good, albeit fairly exotic, companions to travel the path with him.
It's interesting to contemplate how this one came into being. The concept of a boy who becomes a licensed hunter of beasts, even if this land sports some pretty exotic creatures, doesn't seem to compete with hunting dragons or demons. Likewise the fact that the hero's main starting talent is fishing, rather than combat, feels weird. It's made fairly clear that he, and his companions, have immense hunter potential, but things like weather sense or some nice physical moves are rather undramatic when anime is full of ninja and warriors.
But strangely enough it is quite addictive...for those with some patience. The characters, and the mysteries they contain, are interesting when considered as individuals and there's some nice interaction between them. At the same time, through the lead's eyes, we get to experience this strange alternate world and learn about the hunters, and their place in it. And then there's the question of where the show is going to go. Although the characters have their own agenda's, in addition to becoming hunters, it's quite possible a `larger' plot could derail those plans.
I've mentioned a couple of times that the world is strange, so i'd better try and explain that. Mind you, this is something that is clearly going to be revealed as the show progresses. Still, the first obvious thing is that this society is quite primitive. Sea transport is by sailing ship, hand to hand weapons are popular and cities have low population, low tech and fairly simple construction. However there are some items that stand out as being more advanced, including some firearms, some items manufactured with superior technology and even (perhaps) some electronics. The most dramatic example though is that one of the characters is clad in a historical outfit known as a three piece suit. Either the designers have been rather careless, or the history of this world is a bit more complex than it seems. In addition there are some natural creatures that are very normal, and then some that are strange.
The production is quite good. The backgrounds and environments have a lovely complexity and sense of personality about them. This applies both to the human and the natural world. The characters are a little bit freakish, and stand out from their surroundings, but they're interestingly drawn and fun to watch, their movements and actions beings well linked to their personalities. There's also some nice, but subtle, actions scenes. The plot is patient and the dialogue and voices good. The music was quite nice and moody, especially the closing.
Some web searching provided the information that this is by the same author as Yu-Yu Hakusho and Flame of Recca, thus the prospect of it devolving into an endless series of fights cannot be ignored. It also helps explain the rather unusual character styles and the large number of episodes. It also means that any mysteries are not likely to be unraveled in a hurry.
I think this is fairly new. Certainly none of my regular sources have a review for it yet.