Hunter X Hunter, Vol. 1
1 journaler for this copy...
Turns out the first volume is pretty faithful to the anime, though the book includes a few tidbits that I didn't notice on screen - hints as to just how close Gon's long-thought-dead father might actually be to him, among other things. But, as is traditional for this kind of "youth sets out on quest to find himself/become a star/track down his missing father" story, Gon looks to be taking the long way around! He is remarkably upbeat and self-confident, and tends not to brood over things he can't help - while having a rather unnerving degree of focus and persistence about achieving his goals. He also seems able to pick up companions; this volume's barely started before he's befriended two fellow would-be hunters, and by the end of the book they've acquired a fourth.
The whole "hunter exam" concept drives the series, at least as far as I got in the anime: people who are accredited as hunters have loads of prestige, access to places and resources not open to others, and major bragging rights. The annual exam is rigorous and unforgiving, with hundreds of applicants dropping out along the way - and some of them won't survive...
The tests are many and unexpected, from a surprise early inspection by the captain of the boat taking them to what they thought was the starting point, to lots of mistaken-identity/shapeshifting fake-outs (by examiners and by some of the more devious contestants). Seeing how each of the main characters responds to the challenges, whether mental, emotional, or physical, tells us a lot about who they are.
[There's a TV Tropes page on the manga and its adaptations.]
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
*** Released for the 2017 TV Series release challenge. ***