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What’s Going on with Hunter x Hunter?

Dylan Pearl / 17’ Emertainment Monthly Comics Editor

image1Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter x Hunter is one of the quintessential Shonen Manga. It has, in the least fantastical way possible, shaped the way fans think about the medium. And for good reason; it encompasses everything that is great about the genre. The incredible characters, the bad ass powers, the awesome fights, the fantastical worlds, and perhaps most importantly, the romance of adventure.

But, Hunter x Hunter is also notoriously frustrating. Known causally as “HiatusXHiatus”, the series has taken multiple multi-year breaks, in which no new content has been released.012 The reasons for this are, in large part, irrelevant. The breaks do not impact the story and more to the point, the demands placed on Manga authors are beyond unreasonable — Eiichiro Oda, author of One Piece, sleeps only three hours a night — and it is to be expected that people need time off to recover.

What matters is that Hunter x Hunter came back again recently, after over a year of silence. And, although fans are delighted, something seems a bit off. The story, at least in the opinion of this writer, seems to have lost its way, and more tragically, fallen victim to that most terrible plague; sticking around too long.

Hunter x Hunter follows the story of Gon Freeccs (pronounced Freeks), a young boy who aspires to become a Hunter — essentially a professional adventurer — in order to find his father, Ging, who abandoned him when he was a child. The story, from there, is fantastic. Gon has many adventures, image2from passing the rigorous Hunter exam, to fighting an army of super powered mutant ants, to defeating a gang of murderous thieves. He makes friends, enemies, and scours the world looking for his father —always seemingly one step behind the elusive Ging.

In late 2012, it seemed the story was nearing completion. Gon finally found his father (albeit in a random, unearned manner, stumbling into him by accident at a Hunter meeting), and was instructed by Ging to meet him on top of the World Tree, the tallest point in the world. Gon climbs the tree, and sure enough, Ging sits at the top. The two discuss life, share stories of their adventures, and contemplate the vast, unknown world waiting to be explored. Ging tells Gon he’s proud of the man he’s become, the theme music plays, we pan out over the World Tree to see the vast horizon, and the scene fades to black. The end.

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Except it wasn’t. The series went on a nearly two year hiatus after that, but eventually did return. Only, something was different. The story no longer followed Gon. Instead, the focus has shifted to a variety of characters, including Ging, the Hunter Association council, and a group of princes fighting a Machiavellian death battle for the throne of their country. All this set on the backdrop of an expedition to the “Dark Continent”— a landmass beyond the ocean from which no one has returned.  This in itself isn’t problematic; that sounds like the set up for a great Hunter story. The problem is that it feels forced and random. The last issue of 2012, while not perfect, has a sense of finality. The story feels complete. Gon has accomplished the thing he has set out to do from the very outset of the series. He’s literally on top of the world. Everything that follows, while interesting, feels ancillary. Each new plot point is seemingly pulled out of thin air with no set up or prior development. It seems, at least to this writer, that Togashi intended for the series to end in 2012. But, perhaps due to pressures from Shonen executives, he decided to continue writing. Only now, the story has nowhere to go. In fact, Gon has only appear in a few pages of one chapter since 2012. The story now feels like a jumble of ideas that Togashi had, but could never fully implement. 02For example, the last couple issues have featured a fight between Hisoka, the murderous magician, and Chrollo Lucilfer, the leader of a powerful gang of thieves. And, while this is decidedly awesome, it came out of nowhere and has virtually nothing to do with the story that was being presented — that is, the expedition to the Dark Continent.

It would be nice to believe that Togashi has a master plan, a way to tie everything together, but it seems far more likely that he simply wrote himself into a corner and is now scrambling to hold a story together. That being said, Hunter x Hunter is still worth checking out, if for no other reason than the first part—everything up to 2012 is incredible. And maybe, the story will come together masterfully, and this article will look foolish. We can only hope that’s the case. Hunter x Hunter is simply too incredible to be left with anything other than an impeccable legacy.

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5 Comments

  1. So you’d have been happy with Hunter X Hunter ending, despite the fact that many key storylines NOT involving Gon, would never have been wrapped up?

  2. Well, I don’t know if anyone noticed, but Hunter x Hunter do not follow any patterns. In fact, its like a deconstruction of its own genre. Okay, Togashi can’t put Gon away from the highlights and make him absent for a whole arc, but can he make him absent for ~~almost~~ an entire arc like he did at the Elections Arc or make him a supporting character like he did at Yorknew City Arc? It’s the same thing, he’s just getting Gon away from the action a bit, both the fans and the character need this. Gon and Killua need to be left out from the history a little, I mean, like you said, Gon did all he had to do, and can’t even use Nen anymore. Just because he’s the main character, this doesn’t mean that he can be absent during a whole arc. The fact is that people are attached to the standards of shounen that implies that the main character must always be the history’s protagonist (yes, main character and protagonist are different things).

    Also, I don’t see any problem in Dark Continent Arc be focused on Kurapika and Leorio, Yorknew was all about Kurapika’s revenge and is acclaimed by many fans as one of the series best history arcs, only losing to Chimera Ants Arc on this aspect.

    I also don’t know if you noticed, but at the end of the last chaper (357) Chrollo mentioned with Shalnark about going to the Dark Continent because of the princes fight during the expedition, and Kurapika happens to be one of the princes bodyguard. So, I wouldn’t bother myself waiting for Togashi to link those plot points, because he already did.

    And just to note, Hisoka’s fight with Chrollo was already planned since Yorknew City Arc, they just couldn’t fight because Kurapika used his Judgement Chain on Chrollo to prevent him from using Nen for the rest of his life, but got it removed by an exorcist at the end of Greed Island Arc.

    1. You’re right, Hunter×Hunter is highly deconstructive; we’re shown a Yuyu Hakusho-inspired band of four in the beginning, only for them to part ways immediately, for example. The entire ending of the Chimera Ant arc is anticlimactic, a kind of inverted Dragon Ball. And it’s true that Gon’s discovery of Gin is a Game of Thrones-esque inversion of tropes.

      But the author of this essay clearly isn’t paying attention to the plot, if he thinks the World Tree scene would be a good ending. For example, a fight with Chrollo Lucifer had been Hisoka’s main goal for TWO ENTIRE ARCS (Yorknew and Greed Island), which is like, what, a decade in real time? What’s more, Chrollo had promised to fight him if he could find a Nen cleanser, which was exactly what he did in GI. And then Chrollo was shown buying time and acquiring new abilities specifically to fight Hisoka. And the OP says that their fight came out of nowhere? A major plot point of the Chimera Ants arc was Gyro; are we supposed to just forget that he’s become an ant and is out there in the most dangerous possible place (Meteor City) plotting some catastrophe? What about Killua and Kalluto’s unresolved issues with Illumi? What about Kurapika’s showdown with the Spiders? It would be exceptionally unsatisfying if the story was cut off at this point.

      1. Yeah, it would feel as if the author had dropped the manga. Even if the “main story” ends, doesn’t mean that the side ones did.

  3. I think the writer’s opinion is right. But that’s because the manga still use the same name after gon found his father. If togashi changes the name of the manga to something like “hunter x hunter shipudden”, giving it new identity to justify the plot changes, then the writer of this post would have no reason to judge anything.

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