Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge is the first movie based off the said series that I’ve reviewing for so long, it goes back to my old blog which sadly no longer exists thanks to bots. In any case, the cover art is deceptive. The idea you get from it (and certainly that I got from it) was that this movie would be a story about Kurapika. And it was. The only problem? Kurapika spent much of the movie as the so-called “damsel in distress.” Killua, instead, got much of the movie’s focus.
The movie starts out with the news that Kurapika’s Scarlet Eyes have been stolen. He met a boy named Pairo, whom he thought was a friend from his childhood. But Pairo stole his eyes right out of him, and now Kurapika has no eyes. Gon, Killua, and Leorio all try to figure out what to do next. Getting some tips from Kurapika, they have an idea of where to go to start their hunt, so Gon and Killua take off looking for Pairo while Leorio stays back to watch over Kurapika. Leorio and Kurapika are now shunted aside for most of the remainder of the movie while Gon and Killua get all the action.
Gon meets a puppeteer named Retsu who first is thought to be a boy, then turns out to be a girl. Retsu comes along on Gon and Killua’s mission to find Kurapika’s eyes. Things get hairy once Gon and Killua run into an enemy who you’ll be sure to remember but won’t be sure how he got here. That’s where the fun starts.
From here on out, I will not give away any plot spoilers, because there are many, and any that you find out will ruin it for you. Instead, I’ll talk about some of the various things I liked or disliked. I enjoyed the overall plot, and the story as a whole. I liked the backstory for Kurapika and Pairo. I didn’t like some of the Killua angsting, especially not the big turning moment in the film which is utter nonsense and you’ll know when you see it. The ending also screams “filler”; instead of getting some sort of satisfying conclusion, you’re left with the sense that you ought to get back to watching the TV series to find out more. Only that the TV series doesn’t give you that extra that you’re hoping for, so in essence it feels sort of empty.
Overall, I thought this was a solid movie, if unspectacular. My biggest disappointment is that Kurapika was essentially made a damsel in distress, while another character who suffered the same fate as him ends up fighting just as if he had never lost his eyes. Kurapika does get a little bit of action at the very end, but even that is cut short by another character. Ultimately, Phantom Rouge will satisfy Hunter x Hunter fans for the most part, but it’ll also leave you wanting more… which sadly the TV series will not provide you with.
Overall rating (out of four stars): ***