Hunter X Hunter's Creative Routes Can Be Traced Right Back To H.R. Giger

There's no doubt that Togashi Yoshihiro crafted a masterpiece when he created "Hunter x Hunter," but he didn't start from scratch. The creator had some unexpected influences that can be found in the show's unique character design — the monsters in particular stand out, as their design strikes a balance between light-hearted and horrific. It turns out that the basis for their appearances can be traced back to one of Yoshihiro's favorite films, which is just as beloved as the series itself.

"Hunter x Hunter" was released in 2011 and ran until 2014. In its short time on-air it established itself as an undisputed staple of the "shonen" or adventure anime genre. Like other shonen, it centers around a young boy, Gon, the show's hero. Gon has a very distinct mission — to find his father, who left home to become a "hunter," or certified adventurer, when Gon was very young. The boy must become a hunter himself in order to track down his dad, and an epic journey with six distinct arcs ensues.

Especially in the Chimera Ants

One huge component of the series is the mutated monsters that Gon and his friends face in combat. This is particularly relevant to the "Chimera Ant" arc, the longest of the series by far, where a mutated ant queen breeds with other species in hopes of forming the ideal king for her colony. She works her way up from small mammals to humans, killing them in the process of mutating them into soldiers for her own species.

Since these monsters were bred with humans, they range from rather one-dimensionally antagonistic to exhibiting a full range of emotions and garnering the sympathy of both human characters in the series like Gon and the viewers like us. The ants, despite being bloodthirsty monsters set on dominating the human population, needed to be designed in a way that visually reminded the audience of their humanity while still distinguishing them as aliens and posing a threat to the protagonists.

In an interview with Shonen Jump, series creator Togashi Yoshihiro revealed that he was a huge fan of the 1979 sci-fi film "Alien" directed by Ridley Scott. He looked to this film in particular as a reference for designing the monsters in "Hunter x Hunter." When asked about his artistic influences, Yoshihiro responded that he "was introduced to H.R. Giger's work through the movie 'Alien,' and was greatly influenced by him."

An Alien influence

The artist Yoshihiro is referring to is responsible for designing the titular alien in the popular movie franchise. Giger is a Swedish artist known for his "biomechanical" works that blend the human body with machine à la "Tetsuo: The Iron Man." The monsters in "Hunter x Hunter" don't incorporate mechanical elements, but they do feature human mutation and have clear similarities with the monsters in "Alien" and Giger's other work. The anthropomorphic nature of both the aliens in "Alien" and the Chimera ants in "Hunter x Hunter" blends animal parts like scales and wings with tendons and rib cages reminiscent of the human body.

Yoshihiro's other work, like "YuYu Hakusho" and "Level E," is much darker in tone than "Hunter x Hunter" and therefore contains much scarier monsters that perhaps more closely resemble Giger's art. This tonal shift is only reflected in character design by accident, according to Yoshihiro, who claims that he only ever draws his monsters "on a whim, without thinking too deeply about it." His influences and intentions may not be entirely conscious, but they are easy to identify once pointed out. If we are ever lucky enough to get a seventh season of "Hunter x Hunter," perhaps the show will take a darker and more mature turn, allowing Yoshihiro's "Alien" influence to shine through even more.