It's been quite some time since I watched Hunter x Hunter, but I still have that same excitement within me about the series as I did when I first completed it. It's one of my favorite anime series and I highly recommend it to anyone who has yet to give it a shot.
Even with six seasons, Hunter x Hunter managed to maintain my attention with its strong character development, interesting personalities, and some of the best arcs in all of anime. Each arc feels fresh and are unique in their own ways, so I truly believe it has something for everyone.
I personally enjoyed every arc for different reasons, but I found myself emotionally invested more in certain ones. With that said, here is my ranking of the Hunter x Hunter (2011) arcs from least to most favorite.
Hunter x Hunter Arcs Episode List and Watch Order
- Hunter Exam Arc - Episodes 1-21
- Zoldyck Family Arc - Episodes 22-26
- Heavens Arena Arc - Episodes 27-36
- Yorknew City Arc - Episodes 37-58
- Greed Island Arc - Episodes 59-75
- Chimera Ant Arc - Episodes 76-136
- 13th Hunter Chairman Election Arc - Episodes 137-148
7. Zoldyck Family Arc
In the Zoldyck Family Arc, Gon, Kurapika, and Leorio head to Killua's home in the Republic of Padokea to retrieve him following the events that happened in the Hunter Exam. But as expected from a family of assassins, they are met with resistance and have to overcome a series of tests and trials, like the Testing Gate and one of my personal favorites, the coin toss game with Gotoh, before they can reach Killua. These obstacles do serve a purpose, because they show how much they are willing to endure to help their friend.
The Zoldyck Family Arc had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it paled in comparison to the rest of the arcs in Hunter x Hunter. Not all that much happened in this arc, and while Killua's upbringing and family of assassins are interesting, a lot of the time in the episodes is spent on those that work for them; However, this does give introduction to characters, like Canary and Gotoh, who are interesting and likable.
The time that is focused on the Zoldyck family is somewhat short-lived, and while you get a glimpse into Killua's life, you get much more in the arcs to come when you are first introduced to Killua's sister Alluka. While the action somewhat stalled in this arc and is centered more on Gon, Kurapika, and Leorio proving their worthy enough to meet the Zoldycks, the arc also sees Killua choosing his own path. It's not as interesting of an arc as the others and it is my least favorite of them all, but it still has its highlights and is worth the watch. Plus, it's really hard to compare, because the Zoldyck Family Arc contains way, and I mean way, less episodes than the rest.
6. 13th Hunter Chairman Election Arc
Some exciting things happen in the 13th Hunter Chairman Election Arc, but its first half seemed to struggle. This arc follows my favorite arc in the entire series, so it was bound to have an uphill battle, but while it's low on this list, I still enjoyed the episodes.
For me, the elements that lacked the most in this arc were the introduction of the Zodiacs and the whole election that occurs in the beginning. While entertaining at times, it followed a lot of action and intensity, so it got a slow start for me. I will say, however, that Leorio provides some much needed comic relief in these episodes, and because of his involvement alone, it grew on me.
I think the character I was struggling with most in this arc was Pariston Hill, who is a highly unlikable guy; However, I found that most of the Zodiacs struggled to capture my attention aside from Ging Freecss. With politics being added to the mix, I found myself less involved in the story, but luckily, this arc takes a turn when Killua heads home to retrieve his sister, Alluka, for reasons you will later discover. It also goes into his sister's backstory, which is chilling and involves some of my favorite moments in the 13th Hunter Chairman Election Arc. Hisoka and Illumi as well as Killua's butlers get involved as well, which adds a cat and mouse chase element to this arc; In addition to some fights that are enjoyable to watch.
I don't want to go into great detail about this arc, but the second half is much better than the first half, and since it's the conclusion of the series, it ties up some lose ends and wraps things up in a way that is much-needed following the Chimera Ant Arc. There are some heartbreaking as well as touching episodes in this arc, so for that reason, it does have a special place in my heart, but I personally felt connected to others a bit more.
5. Hunter Exam Arc
The Hunter Exam Arc got somewhat of a slow start for me. Being that it is the first arc, it is bound to have some slower moments as characters are introduced. With any shounen, you usually have an exam phase that the characters go through that allow them to develop as individuals, but also as a unit.
This arc introduced me to some of my favorite anime characters of all time, including Gon, Killua, and Hisoka, so for that reason, I will always cherish it, and while there were a lot of insignificant characters included in the Hunter Exam, many of them served as stepping stones that allowed the main characters, including Kurapika and Leorio, to grow stronger.
If I'm right, I believe their were five phases of the Hunter Exam, and some were more interesting than others. The first phase comes to mind, because it felt like the tunnel they were running down would never end. I remember thinking if I had to watch Satotz, the first examiner, run the way he does any longer I was going to lose my mind. But, it picks up shortly after because Hisoka unleashes in the episodes to come.
While the first two phases left something to be desired, the ones that follow are amazing. One of my favorites happens to be the third phase, and this is thanks to one fight alone. In this phase, the applicants have to reach the bottom of a tower within 72 hours. They meet some bloodthirsty and villainous enemies within and have to fight for their lives. Killua's fight with Johness the Dissector is one of my favorite moments in all of Hunter x Hunter. Killua who's a pro assassin thinks murderers like Johness are amateurs. You'll see Killua's dark side in this episode and their fight will vividly stick in your mind long after you watch it.
The fourth and final phases are also entertaining, because they amp up the competitive nature between the applicants even more. And as more and more applicants are disqualified, the pack becomes stronger and the fights become more intense. In the fourth phase, applicants have to capture the badge of the individual's number they've drawn. Gon happens to draw Hisoka and it is the interaction and challenge between the two that make this phase of the Hunter Exam Arc one of my favorites. The final test that follows is also thrilling, and showcases some brutal fights as well as surprising reveals.
As I'm writing this, I'm starting to realize I loved the Hunter Exam Arc much more than I once thought, but even so, I'm sticking with its placement. It's a great arc, but as expected for the first arc, it served more as a setup for the events to come. But, the biggest reason I placed it in the middle of the pack, is because, like with most shounen, some of the testing phases could have been less drawn out.
4. Heavens Arena Arc
The Heavens Arena Arc introduces the power of Nen, and sees both Gon and Killua grow sronger as they climb the ranks and fight battles of their own in the tower's combat arena.
There's a lot of training that goes on here with Wing and Zushi, who are two new characters Gon and Killua meet in the tower. I really enjoy these moments of the arc, because you see the two further hone their abilities and power, but more so, because you see the companionship between them bloom even more.
The part I enjoyed most about the Heavens Arena Arc is that it involves exciting battles, and there's one in particular between Gon and Hisoka that, while not my favorite fight in Hunter x Hunter, is up there on the list. It is also in this arc that some things are revealed in regards to the Phantom Troupe and it is here that you are also introduced first to one of their members Machi, so this is something to look forward to as well.
All in all, I enjoyed this arc more so than others, because it is here that everything starts coming together and begins to make sense. Amongst all the reveals, are exciting fights, so this is just another added bonus of this arc. Plus, Hisoka is in it a lot, and an arc can never have too much Hisoka.
3. Greed Island Arc
The Greed Island Arc is one of my favorites, because while it is very much Hunter x Hunter, it also made me feel like I was watching an entirely different anime. In these episodes, you are transported into the world of Greed Island, a video game that physically transports player's bodies into its world and the only way to get out of it is to either die, which also kills you in the real world, or win the game.
Hunter x Hunter always felt fresh to me, because it takes inspiration from all kinds of genres in anime, and the Greed Island Arc takes it to the next level with its isekai spin. And while it might seem like this would take a step away from the main storyline, it doesn't by any means, because it is yet another puzzle piece in the story. Being that it is the arc before the Chimera Ant Arc, it offers an offbeat yet fun adventure, and gives Gon and Killua a chance to grow stronger before the trials that are to come.
In addition, it features one of my favorite fights that sees Gon reaching into the depths of and exceeding his limits. Due to the nature of this game and the various ways of which the players play it--both honorable and dirty--there is a lot of conflict and fights that occur. You also are introduced to new character Biscuit Krueger aka Bisky, and the moments with her are some of the best in the arc.
The best moment within this arc, however, is the dodgeball game with Razor. It wouldn't seem like a dodgeball game would be all that exciting, but trust me, this showdown is one of my favorites and it is thrilling to watch. If anything, who doesn't want to see characters, like Gon, Killua, and Hisoka playing dodgeball. All in all, Greed Island stands out because it is unique and sees Gon and Killua grow as individuals as they overcome obstacles together in the dangerous world of Greed Island.
2. Yorknew City Arc
If you asked me on a different day, the Yorknew City Arc would be my favorite arc in Hunter x Hunter. But if you ask me on most days, I would say it's the Chimera Ant Arc. I tend to go back and forth with these two, because both are amazing for completely different reasons. Yorknew City involves the entrance of one of my favorite groups of villains, the Phantom Troupe, and it has some of the best fights and storylines in the entire series.
There is also a focus on Kurapika, who goes on the hunt to avenge his clan. You see him really come into his own and he's an absolute badass in this arc. The fights that feature him are some of the best, but it's that fight that sees Chrollo battling it out against Silva and Zeno Zoldyck that sticks in my mind most. The scenes featuring Chrollo, in particular, are some of my favorites since he is one of the most interesting characters in Hunter x Hunter.
Emotionally, I felt myself connected to characters on both the hunter and troupe side, which I appreciated. Usually, I find the bad guys in anime to be utterly despicable and unlikable, but not with Hunter x Hunter. The Phantom Troupe are comparable, in my opinion, to the Akatsuki in Naruto Shippuden and the League of Villains in My Hero Academia. Yeah, what they are doing is wrong, but you still like them anyway. They are sophisticated and terrifyingly strong, and it is for these reasons and much more that the Phantom Troupe are one of my favorite villain groups of all-time.
The storytelling and events that occur in the Yorknew City Arc are some of the most memorable in Hunter x Hunter. There's a lot of action, but there's a lot of substance and stirring moments in this arc as well.
1. Chimera Ant Arc
I want to start off by saying that the Chimera Ant Arc is a long watch, and I must admit that the first part of the arc didn't do much for me. Even so, the events that come later on allowed me to ignore its faults completely and with ease. Because it has the most episodes by far, it does occasionally feel slow, but for me, the number of episodes I enjoyed within this arc far surpassed the others.
There's a narrative in the Chimera Ant Arc that felt more profound than the rest, and there are some scenes involved in these episodes that hit me hard. It's stirring, powerful, and while it's not a flawless arc as a whole, the way it tackles humanitarian issues is better than any anime I've ever seen before.
This arc sees the entrance of the Chimera Ants, a massive threat to society, and introduces new characters that I absolutely love, like Kite, Knuckle, and Komugi. While there are characters you'll love, there are also others you will absolutely hate, and for good reason. But, if there's one thing I will say, it's that this arc really messes with your emotions and judgements over the course of the episodes. With some of the most moving and devastating scenes in all of Hunter x Hunter, the Chimera Ant Arc will definitely have you questioning everything by its end.
It is in the Chimera Ant Arc you'll also see Gon and Killua, along with all their companions, reach new heights and show off new abilities. You'll have to overlook an annoying narrator, but trust me, this arc is well worth the watch and then some by its end. Yes, it's slow at the start, and yes it can drag on, but the story-telling, dark themes, and high stakes of this arc make it my all-time favorite in Hunter x Hunter.
The manga includes events that weren't in the 2011 anime adaptation/reboot, so there's still more to be told and arcs that weren't included in this post. As a whole, Hunter x Hunter is one of the best anime to ever be released, and even though I rated some of these arcs low, I still enjoyed every single one.
Where to Watch Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Hunter x Hunter (2011) is currently streaming on Netflix (Complete series), Hulu (2 seasons only), Funimation (Season 1 only), and Crunchyroll (Complete series).