I almost had a heart attack when I saw that in the ANN news feed. XD
Anyway, here are some thoughts I've posted on other forums:
Now that I"ve had a night to allow my gleeful fanboy joy to settle, I"ll jot down a few thoughts on Viz acquiring Hunter x Hunter.
First of all, I have to give Viz Media major credit for being the company that finally stepped forward and picked the series up. At times, I legitimately feared Hunter x Hunter would forever languish on Crunchyroll, without a dub or disc release. Call me crazy, but I actually thought at one point that Discotek or Sentai were more likely to pick up the show than Viz. After all, the first Hunter x Hunter anime burned it pretty badly. But it would have been shortsighted of Viz to let this opportunity pass based on that prior experience, for a number of reasons.
Looking back, it"s hard to imagine how Viz could have made the 1999 Hunter x Hunter anime a success. The publisher released a decade-old show in the aftermath of the Great Recession, gave it a questionable Blue Water dub full of unconvincing performances and then dumped it on DVD with little ceremony. As an added bonus, the show itself wasn"t even that good. While I fully admit its animation occasionally outperforms the 2011 series during a selection of key scenes, the 1999 anime simply didn"t capture the best aspects of its source material. Director Kazuhiro Furuhashi painted the series with a layer of his signature gloomy, ostentatiously artsy style, and it dragged the show down. Add to that unappealing character designs, drab colors, wonky filler during the first arc, inconsistent censorship and a rather poor transfer of the cel elements, and it"s easy to see why Viz didn"t have an instant hit on its hands.
Though not a perfect show by any means, the 2011 anime version of Hunter x Hunter is different. Sure, it made a fair share of mistakes when animating Togashi"s manga, abridging occasional plot points and altering Gon"s meeting with a key character in a way that baffles me to this day. For the most part, however, the show is an example of exceptional workmanship from Madhouse. The character art is colorful, charming and full of energy. The animation is consistent and peaks regularly. And most important of all, Togashi"s style comes through wholly intact. It also already has a sizable fanbase in the West, thanks to its high ratings on Crunchyroll. Viz has a show with all the makings of a hit on its hands. With the Naruto anime heading towards an inevitable conclusion and the Bleach anime run finished on DVD, Hunter x Hunter could be Viz"s latest successful Shonen property. All it has to do is handle the release and marketing competently.
I do have my share of concerns. While I doubt Viz could mess up the show"s visuals, like what happened with Sailor Moon, I"m anxious about what decisions the company will make with the dub. Its quality will largely depend on how Viz casts Gon and Killua. The endearing friendship these two share is essentially the heart of the story. Their English voices could make or break the dub singlehandedly. Unfortunately, casting voices for young boys is not an easy task. Megumi Han and Mariya Ise absolutely nailed their personalities in the original Japanese version. They"re tough acts to follow, no doubt about it. But I"ll try to be optimistic. As long as they steer clear of casting adult men to voice Gon and Killua (Nicolas Roye as Shingo in the new Sailor Moon dub was a disastrous miscast) they should turn out alright.
Given its length and the need to justify dub costs, we can probably expect Hunter x Hunter to air on Toonami. That should give this underrated property much-needed exposure in the States.