merritt k

merritt k is a writer and podcaster. She hosts the shows Woodland Secrets and dadfeelings and is currently working on a novel about YouTube, competitive eating, and plastic surgery.

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Expectations Vs. Reality: Hunter x Hunter

In a world where anime is bigger than ever… one woman hasn’t actually seen much of it.

Can she successfully piece together the premise of a popular series based on knowledge she’s absorbed from being online? Or will she endure the shame of believing that there is a talking dog which merely turns out to be an extremely hairy man?

Placing a poll on Twitter dot com, she puts her fate in the hands of the many. Whatever show they choose, she is honor-bound to describe what she thinks she knows, watch several episodes, and compare her knowledge to the cold truth.

This is… Expectations Vs. Reality. (Previously known as “What Do I Know About…”)

And this time, she’s faced with her greatest challenge yet: the titanic force known only as Hunter x Hunter.

What I Think I Know

Here is an exhaustive list of everything I know about Hunter x Hunter:

Not a lot to work with, so I’m going to have to go full Mind Palace on this one.

Hunter… Hunter x Hunter… to me, that implies multiple hunters engaged in direct competition with one another. Are they fighting? Or are they competing to literally hunt some other entities?

Regardless, I assume we’re dealing with a boys’ adventure story, in which the characters go on a journey through a series of challenges to accomplish their goals or realize something about themselves. I expect this involves a lot of training, fighting, and dramatic plot arcs.

Looking at the characters on the cover art, I like the tall guy in the suit—partly because he reminds me of Lupin and partly because I like any character who wears a suit regardless of practicality. I bet he’s kind of a dick, too, because he’s the only character who isn’t smiling and facing forward.

Lastly, a number of my friends were excited when Hunter x Hunter won the poll, and given that my friends are mainly degenerates and shippers, I’m assuming there’s some intense emotional moments, unusual characters, and romantic tension. A few of them have mentioned a smirking, sexual clown. Unsure how he fits into all this.

And the Truth Is…

Gon, a plucky little boy and our protagonist, lives in a world populated by magical creatures, filled with lost treasures, and suffused in mystery. Who investigates these mysteries? The titular hunters, of course! Living on the sleepy Whale Island, Gon dreams of following in his fathers’ footsteps and becoming one of these hunters.

It’s clear that the woman who raised him, Mito-san, didn’t want him running off to live this dangerous life. But when Gon catches a huge sea creature in a thrilling fishing sequence, fulfilling their bargain, she decides that she doesn’t understand his lifestyle but supports it. And so Gon heads off on a ship to take the Hunter’s exam.

I have to stop here to say that the score for the first episode alone is incredible—it’s all dramatic swells and cheery tunes that feel distinct from the heavy rock or pop fares I’ve come across in a lot of anime, and it perfectly sets the mood for a boyish adventure story.

Anyway, aboard the S.S. Sailor Tropes, Gon meets two people who could not be more different—Kurapika, a quiet, incisive boy, and Leorio, a brash, aggressive man. Leorio wears a suit and wants to become a hunter for the money. I love him.

They get into some oceanic trouble but the three of them persevere, coming out as the only hopefuls who will be allowed to proceed to the testing area. From there on, they face a number of obstacles on their journey, most of which they solve not with direct confrontation but in unexpectedly creative ways. For example, when they’re confronted with shapeshifting, razor-clawed creatures, Gon is able to tell two of them apart. This shocks the beasts—who turn out to be husband and wife—because humans can rarely distinguish between individuals of their kind. I love Gon! My sweet son!

There are a Lot of episodes of this show, which cover a series of arcs that you might expect from the genre—training, challenges, and confrontations with evil forces. But it’s so creative and charming that despite the daunting backlog, I’m tempted to keep watching. There’s so much I love here: the simple but appealing character designs, Gon’s fishing rod tricks, and the fact that he seems like a sensitive kid who isn’t at all fazed by the fact that his father abandoned him to run off and be a hunter. I can’t help but wonder if he’s hiding his pain behind a facade of cheeriness. If the show gets into that, oof, hachi machi, that’s gonna be a tearjerker.

There are 148 episodes of Hunter x Hunter available now on Crunchyroll. If you jumped on the My Hero Academia! train, I hope you’ll give this show a shot—I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy. Also, come on. We gotta know what the deal with that sensual murderclown is.

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My Brother, My Brother, and My Original Character, Do Not Steal: MBMBaM’s Top Ten OCs

My Brother, My Brother and Me (MBMBaM for short) is an “advice show for the modern era.” But that doesn’t quite get across the charm, hilarity, and heart of the podcast run by the three McElroy brothers, Justin, Travis, and Griffin—or its television counterpart, which is available in its entirety right here!

Of all the gags and goofs MBMBaM has generated over its long run, my favorites are the characters the McElroys happen to develop in totally unexpected ways. Some of them are recurring, while most are one-offs. There are too many to count, so in a celebration of comic creativity, I give you my highly scientific top ten McElroy original characters.

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Hope, Change, and Monsters: The Legacy of Digimon Adventure

I’ll be honest—when I first encountered Digimon Adventure during its original US broadcast, I had the same response as a lot of kids: “what a ripoff!” While the animation was eye-catching, it seemed like a much slower-paced story than I was used to, you had to follow it closely to know what was happening, and the monster designs weren’t always cute—sometimes they were downright scary. But I gave it a chance, because back then we didn’t have Crunchyroll or Cartoon Hangover. We didn’t have much choice—we just hunkered down in front of the TV every Saturday morning, scarfing down a bowl of sugary cereal and dutifully watched whatever cartoons happened to be on the air.

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Freakazoid! A Lesson in Internet History

Way way back in the 1990s, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini created a cartoon about a superhero. No, not that one. In contrast to the Caped Crusader’s brooding pathos, this was to be an off-the-wall comedy. While Timm and Dini wanted a straight superhero show, Steven Spielberg—coming off the success of Warner Brothers’ Animaniacs—wanted another comedy. Thus was born Freakazoid!


My Anime Dad Can Beat Up Your Anime Dad!

This Sunday is Fathers’ Day, and in the great tradition of the schoolyard Badass Boast, I asked a few of my friends to tell me their favorite anime dads. Anime has no shortage of fathers and father figures to draw upon, and their picks run the gamut from the classic to the modern.

But before we get to them, a few clarifications. First, I have a very expansive definition of “dad.” You don’t have to be a literal parent to be one, or a dude. Ladies is dads too. Second, this isn’t a literal contest in the vein of “who would win in a fight, Goku or Superman?” It’s more a sampling of the favorite father figures of a few of my friends. No blood drawn, just an intellectual conversation between anime lovers.

So, without further ado, I present a selection of the Best Anime Dads.


Dracula Cage Match!

Start unpacking the decorations and stocking up on candy—because folks, there are less than five months to Halloween.

As we approach the spook season, one’s thoughts turn naturally to the creatures of the night. The mind ruminates on Frankensteins, goblins, killer tomatoes, and so on. But on what does it linger? Only the most sinister, mysterious, and alluring of monsters: Count Dracula.

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Second Look, Second Chances: Repo! The Genetic Opera

Did you know that over a dozen films come out every year? That means that even if you saw a movie a month, you wouldn’t see them all. And it only gets worse when you consider that movies have been around for exactly fifty years, which means there’s another 600 movies to catch up on! Now that’s a lotta movies, film buffs!

With that many motion pictures, some are bound to fall through the cracks and fail to achieve the kinds of success their creators dreamed of. Today I’d like to revisit one of those movies. So come with me on a journey through time to a land I call 2008.

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What Do I Know About… Lupin the 3rd?

Well friends, it’s that special time of the month again—the time when I take a look at an anime I’ve never seen before, try to guess what it’s about, and then write about it.

Just like last time, I gave Twitter three choices. And while in the first installment of this feature I easily guessed what the outcome was going to be in advance, this time I was pretty surprised! Sorry, DARLING in the FRANXX, maybe next time.