Bleach’s brute force battles have its perks too. There isn’t a need to stress your mind, you can just sit back and enjoy what is basically "My daddy is bigger than you." And those are some powerful daddies with cool Japanese names.
Damn It’s Another 1 v 1!
Think of battles like a dance, they need to be choreographed by the mangaka/anime staff. And hence it’s mostly 1 v 1s as any number above that will result in exponantial difficulty in planning. You’ll just get the ol’ big powerful guy beats down small guys that attack one at a time scene if done incorrectly. Tag team battles have synergy between teammates and this adds a lot of dimensions to the battle making it a lot more interesting.
Why Hunter x Hunter has the Best Combat Mechanics
I shall just explain why Hunter x Hunter has the greatest fighting sequences in the history of manga. All the following paras are points of their own. I could probably come up with more if I tried.
They have to practise, rehearse their group attacks. Killua and Gon actually spend weeks drilling themselves on the plan of action before an attack on a stronger enemy. When they attack, they don’t do the Naruto Rush, but everything is set with a gameplan.
Everyone’s power has a fixed set of rules to prevent the irritating wildcard system. A battle in Hunter x Hunter is like a game of chess. Each character thinks up several possibilities and analyses them to find out the best course of action. And these are all very logical choices.
The very rigid terms of using Nen means there is a lot of room for strategic exploitation. And all this will leave you nodding with agreement at the sheer faultless logic involved. A concrete example. A cheetah beast fights a guy with a big pipe and smoke attack. The cheetah is inexperienced and rash but he can run at light speed. He trains up a power, "Those he tags will be transported along with him to another dimension the size of a baseball field. In 8 hours, the tagged guy has to touch the cheetah." The cheetah with its pure pace thinks it can’t lose. But the guy knows that with 8 hours, the key to defeating him isn’t about speed but rather patience. So he just sits back and sleeps for 5 hours while the cheetah nervously paces around. What happens next is basically classic Shikamaru style entrapment – doing a long flank with a smoke rope and binding the cheetah’s legs. Not the best fight but I remember it clearly as I just read it.
Nen is a concept that is very richly developed. WIth six different main types of Nen, each has its strengths and weaknesses. Every Nen user belongs to one type,and can then develop his own special skill from the base set of skills. There’s stuff like a guy throws a punch with 50% of his Nen focused on his fist, and the other 50% used for defence all over his body. The receiver then has to judge exactly how much Nen the puncher is using and deflect it with the equal amount. Any more would be wastage that could be used for counters, and any less = damage suffered.
Fleeing is often done. There’s no nonsense like "I can’t lose!! I’ll fight to the death" These guys all know that death = Game over so they try to prevent that at all costs.
The process of developing special skills is shown. Entire chapters are devoted to showing how they train. It’s not like "Oh 3 years have passed and our heroes have gained new skills". Killua gradually gains his electric ability and he can use it for so many purposes. Seniors also point out the flaws and mistakes in the less experienced ones’ moves. I’m sure someone in HxH would point out that Rasengan is pretty obvious and can be dodged by a blind man on high heels.
Finally a related picture eh.
Nobody shouts out move names except Gon. They all sneakily do it. Even Gon does it as a distraction so the enemy cannot guess which move he is going to do. As that big guy in Nadesico points out when he sees the Gekiganger 3 pilots shouting their moves, "Are their moves voice-operated? Why are they shouting?"
Mercy is not given. People die and they drop like flies. Just because a girl is cute doesn’t mean she doesn’t die. Likewise for cool guys. This makes battles all the more thrilling. You never know who’s dying next.
The strongest guys aren’t the main characters. They are in the middle range.
The power are all amazingly creative and are multi-layered. A power is like a tool. It can be used for as many situations as the imagination allows.
Information collecting and experience plays a big part. The fighters all seek to maximise their knowledge of the opponent without giving away their own abilities. This facilitates strategising on their part. The dumb ones who just rush are slaughtered. None of the main characters are dumb. Actually, no character except grunts are dumb.
A lot of tag team battles are involved. The players on each side actively work together to maximise their strengths and eliminate weaknesses. There are X number of combat possibilities with just a 1 v 1. When there’s a 2 v 2, there’s X square (or something I have forgotten my permutation) number of possibilities. HxH takes all these into account. Most mediocre battle royale sequences just look like BR on the surface, but is actually simultaneous multiple 1 v 1s occuring. Not HxH. This is tag team at its finest.
The elements of surprise, stealth and preparation are heavily emphasised. This is in accordance with all realistic strategy books.
The first few arcs of HxH focuses less on fighting, but a lot on puzzle solving. Then as the Chimera ant arc comes into play, it’s all hard core fighting. I’m really very impressed with the perfect execution of the fights. This is only possible if the mangaka, Yoshihiro Togashi, is a genius of logic. Please read this.
The win rate of the main characters isn’t high. Gon loses A LOT of times and there’s never the usual "friend jumps out and saves" thing happening. He gets bashed hard. He only survives because the enemy finds him very cute and interesting.
Having plowed through all that, I have listed down the generic types of battles a lesser anime/manga has. Seeing how bad the competition is really makes HxH shine.,
One of the characters has a hidden beast or talent. He will unleash it when he is about to lose and own the previously unstoppable opponent. The fight generally is the guy with the hidden talent being pummeled till there isn’t enough space to draw more bruises. This is very common in Shounen series.
- It is very easy to plan and draw since it’s so one dimensional.
- Kids get really excited over it as well.
- The trick is to not set any fixed rules before the fight, the good guy has an unknown factor that can turn the tide at an exciting moment.
- More mature viewers are turned off by the predictability.
The battlers just toss stuff out of their inventories until one guy runs out or is overwhelmed by the sheer force of one item. It’s like playing cards, essentially a pretend battle. The items in the inventory may not be a physical one but a move. Read Samurai Deeper Kyo for the perfect examples. Kyo launches an attack with a fancy name, opponent counters with another fancy name and repeat till the names get too fancy and Kyo wins. MAR is another one and it doesn’t even bother to hide this. The guy with the best arm wins. And all the good guys keep getting new ones.
- This is again, very simple to plan, so less skilled/creative mangaka find it easy to execute.
- Sells Products
- What’s of difficulty is coming up with new moves that are interesting. As long as the moves are cool, the audience will not mind.
- Repetitive and retarded
This is quite similar to the Wildcare type battle but there is a big difference. The character need not have a hidden power but he wins through pure will and a lot of shouting. "I WILL NEVER LOSE!! I MUST PROTECT!!"
- The easiest to plan. Just add a textbox where you feel like ending the fight.
- Even 2 year old kids understand.
- Leaves readers feeling short-changed. Like "Wtf was that, how can he just win like that?"
One Trick Pony
Everyone here has only 1 or 2 attacks. And they are super cool ones with rich visuals. The attacks will always kill in one hit. The enemy has similar attacks but theirs always miss or deal pitiful damage. Sounds lame? But somehow its sheer predictability is its beauty. The whole episode hinges on just that one moment when the attack is launched and the enemy dies. Think Akazukin Cha Cha and her magic arrow, Sailor Moon and her Tiara, all those old robot shows etc.
- Easy to execute
- Viewers like a staple diet. Everyday at a certain time they tune in and see a different monster owned by the same attack.
- Saves on animation
- Repetitive and simplistic nature do not appeal to some.
- Battles are short.
- If enemy powers up, a new move must be introduced and this one better be as good as the old favourite or else…
GATEKEEPERS!!! Shinkuu Missile and Ultra Senpu Giri have such cool names and animation, I still imagine myself doing it.
All the retarded Magical Girl shit out there. I’m no young girl and I think these suck.
All is not lost! We still have the following two types of good battles.
This is where there’s tonnes of dodging, parrying, attacking normally, with a couple of super skills thrown in. The skills are not overpowered and are counterable. There are also Ougis, or Final Skills. Any mangaka capable of achieving this level of combat sequences will be popular.
- Very interesting and exciting
- Fast paced and heart-thumping
- Makes viewers squeal in delight
- Combines the positive attributes of other battle types well
- Difficult to achieve.
- A lot of effort is needed.
- A lot of time and space too.
No one can fly, a hit draws blood and people actually sweat. Due to lack of super effects, it does not appeal to kids. Probably includes a lot of gore.
- May need some sense of martial arts by the author
- Different from most fights
- Feels real
- Readers feel involved in the fights more.
- No supers.
Vagabond. These guys take a whole chapter to attack once. The fight goes on in their heads. Shura no Toki is possibly another one. The overhead slam plus kick in the neck is still the coolest melee move I’ve seen.