On January 7, YouTube channel RE:ANIME posted a four-minute trailer for its live-action adaption of one of the greatest shonen fights: Gon vs. Hisoka from Hunter x Hunter. You can feel the passion and love that's gone into recreating one of the series' most beloved fights, and despite how exaggerated Hunter x Hunter can be, it translates surprisingly well to live-action.
RE:ANIME, the studio behind this trailer, is dedicated to recreating anime and manga in live-action. The team was originally founded by Nik Shaw in 2017 and the YouTube channel has earned over 50 million views so far. Live-action remakes of popular anime have generally been poor-quality in both Japan and Hollywood. However, teams like RE:ANIME prove remakes can be done well. Not only does the team lean into what makes these anime so beloved in the first place, but it also offers opportunities to Asian Americans who have been underrepresented in Hollywood adaptions of anime.
RE:ANIME has previously done live-action remakes for Avatar: The Last Airbender, Batman Beyond, One-Punch Man and even Assassination Classroom. A lot of time and care has clearly gone into these action-heavy performances and direction, and its latest project, offering a new spin on Hunter X Hunter, looks like it's going to be no different.
Lifting directly from the manga and anime, the trailer for this fan film recreates Gon and Hisoka's battle from the series' second major story arc, Heaven's Arena. As this is a rematch between the protagonist Gon and the major antagonist Hisoka, it's a pivotal moment in the series. Gon wishes both to get back at Hisoka for going easy on him in the Hunter Exam but also to master his Nen training as quickly as he can to catch up to the trickster magician.
The performances in the trailer look solid from both actors. Yoshi Sudaro accurately captures Hisoka Marrow's ominous composure and sinister attraction to Gon with both his posture and vocal performance. While Jackie Tran as Gon Freeces isn't given as many lines in this trailer as his adversary, the determined focus contrasted with young naivety he presents is captured in his body language and rock-solid fight choreography.
What's especially impressive is how well this trailer perfectly recreates the complex motions and techniques of the 2011 anime. Gon's air kick to Hisoka's shoulder, Hisoka elbowing Gon and then force palming him before he hits the ground... even the magician's utilizing of his nen ability, Bungee Gum, are all fully adapted in this 90-second trailer.
When discussing the complex fight choreography, CEO Nik Shaw said, "This scene was chosen because we wanted to see if we could replicate the very detailed and intricate shots that the animation team had come up with.” He further stated, "We did a shot for shot recreation of the anime so there is not much that is different but seeing it in real life. There is just something different about it."
Trying to apply these movements and techniques to characters meant for comics and animation to real-life actors is no easy feat, but RE:ANIME has successfully done so. It'll be exciting to see what the finished final fight will look like when it premieres on YouTube on January 21.