What do you mean, some people think I’m a girl?

To call the experience of writing this post anything but surreal would be a lie.

To say this has been a long time coming would be a massive understatement.  After all, there hasn’t been a new Hunter X Hunter chapter since 2014.  But even more, this is actually the first episodic (chapterific?) manga post I’ve ever done for H x H – series, movies, editorials, retrospectives – all of those I’ve written.  But never a chapter post for the manga.  But times change, and here we are.

For obvious reasons, even blogging a new Hunter X Hunter chapter is something of a leap of faith.  We don’t need to rehash all that old business but we do need to be realistic and acknowledge it, because neither I nor any of you (or, I suspect, Sasaki-san at Shounen Jump or Togashi-sensei) knows for how long it will last.  But there’s no real reason for me to hold back now.  There’s no anime to spoil and won’t be for a very long time, and whatever new material we get should be appreciated on its own merits.  Today, we have a new chapter of Hunter X Hunter and I’m going to write about it.

One thing I think can be said for certain – in reading the “Dark Continent” arc, one can find no signs that Togashi is a writer who’s thinking in terms of wrapping up a story (and the art is pretty spectacular).  This arc has been bigger than big from the beginning, a seemingly massive premise full of potential sub-plots and mini-arcs.  And the new chapter is a veritable mountain of exposition – a dialogue bomb like only Togashi-sensei can deliver.  I re-read the last few chapters first just to refresh my memory on what was happening, and I’m still trying to digest all of the new one.

Not Bisky’s new form

The headline here is certainly going to be the return of some audience favorites (no, not those two) as part of Kurapika’s plan to get close to the Fourth Prince.  We have familiar faces like Hanzo and Bassho, a semi-regular in Melody, and the rarely-seen Izunabi – who, truth be told, I had to Google to recall was Kurapika’s Nen instructor.  Best of all is Biscuit Krueger, who’s introduced somewhat puzzlingly as “requested by Killua” – I wonder if that should have been “recommended by Killua”?  In any event all of them are filling the slots of bodyguards for six of the princes who are participating in what amounts to a “last man (or boy, or girl) standing” battle to the death to be the King’s successor.

One can only assume that we’re following Togashi’s original outline here, because to not even include Beyond after a break of 18 months and launch more or less into a fresh subplot is pretty audacious.  It’s audacious enough to undertake a massive arc that seems to hold no place for Gon and Killua  – I’m struggling with that, to be honest, because it’s those two and their incredibly complicated relationship that’s the apex of Hunter X Hunter’s divine brilliance for me.  In that light characters like Bisky are a nice security blanket, a link to the past – and in an arc that can use every drop of humor it can find, Bisky may be all the more welcome.  That whole bit with Kil advising Kurapika on how to win Biscuit over was hilarious and a real highlight.

There’s so much dialogue and so much of it really new in this chapter that I’d probably have a better grasp on it if I was less tired from traveling or had time for multiple readings.  As is, it all feels very preliminary – the sense is we’re in the early stages of a prolonged setup phase.  What’s going to be the true epicenter of “Dark Continent” – is it Kurapika’s quest for closure?  Is it the Dark Continent itself, and Ging’s quest to discover its secrets?  The ongoing power struggle inside the Hunter’s Association and Beyond Netero’s role in it?  And will there be space for Gon’s struggle to rediscover his Nen and his fractured brotherhood with Killua?  I believe we’re a long way from getting any answers – and with Hunter X Hunter, that’s a scary prospect.   But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to enjoy every panel that comes our way – it’s truly great to have it back.

20 Comments

  1. The author of Umineko once wrote that between reader and author there has to exist a mutual trust for the reader to become engaged in the story. He wrote this in the context of a detective novel, I know, but I guess this applies to other stories as well.
    If I start to take several threads into my hand, promise the reader to weave a beautiful pullover and tell him to please invest his time into watching the work in progress… Only to throw everything away after one arm is done and say: “Screw you, I don’t want to do it anymore”, then this is breaking the trust that Ryukishi mentioned.

    The author has betrayed the reader not only once but several times. I won’t read HxH anymore.

    Iunderstandthemnow
    1. Except the plot threads aren’t being thrown away, are they? It would be more reasonable to say they have been locked or shelved away, with Togashi now bringing them back for us.

      It may take many, many years, but perhaps it would be better if you waited until the series was over or had a substantial amount of chapters so you could appreciate the story in one continuous read?

      Samu
    2. Everyone’s choice to continue to follow or not follow is their own – some people are more sympathetic to an author’s health problems than others. Where I have a problem is people trying to ruin the enjoyment of those that stick with it by constantly complaining and mocking the author.

    3. It’s very likely that Togashi takes hiatuses when he’s figuring out what to do next. Because he’s a bit of a compulsive perfectionist, my guess is that if he isn’t satisfied enough with what he’s got planned, he shreds it all up and go back to the drawing board.

      He seemed to have stopped right before the Kakin Battle Royale is about to begin – meaning he spent all his time off planning how shit is about go down on that whale ship.

      At least this means he isn’t making it up as he goes along. Great things are in store. Yes, it’s annoying as hell to have 9 chapters then a 2-year hiatus. But hey, George RR Martin has taken nearly 5 years with Winds of Winter. Sometimes for there to be masterful quality, one must be patient.

      EamonX
    4. That’s funny, considering Ryukishi didn’t answer a single thing in Umineko: IT’S ALL MAGIC!
      Not a lot of trust and faith in Ryukishi’s work with Umineko, which is a shame considering how good Higurashi was.

      Say what you will about Togashi’s hiatuses, but his writing speaks for itself. I can’t say he’s ever betrayed me in that regard.

      Mormegil
      1. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “betrayal,” but Yu Yu Hakusho’s ending still sticks in my craw. And I’d be willing to put virtually everything else aside if only I got my Yusuke vs Hiei rematch. It was built up over the course of virtually the entire series and we got nothing, damn it. Curse you, Togashi!! *Anger Fist*

        Ryan Ashfyre
    5. This is bullshit, Umineko was completely explained, only implicitly so.

      You didn’t paid enough attention to the plot (the foreshadowing and answers are all there since Episode 1, and the reveal is on Episode 7). Try reading the explicit version if you still can’t figure out on your own (Episode 7 and 8 of the manga version), though this ruin the whole point of the game of trust between the reader and the author.

      Ryukishi never said “screw this I’m out”, these were fans like you that couldn’t interpret the story properly (I don’t blame anyone for it however, Umineko is on my list of most complexes works of fiction ever after all).

      danpmss
  2. I’m so happy it’s back! I had to read some older chapters to remember everything again, but it was worth it. We even got to see a little bit of Killua. Just hoping for at least a couple of volumes this time.

    Sfalcin
  3. I believe Gon’s story is over. We may or may not see Killua but I think only for information regarding his brother/sister Alluka. It’s likely that Alluka’s specialist ability is related to the Dark Continent. Perhaps Killua’s great-great-blah-grandfather Zigg Zoldyck got infected with something that passed down the genes and activated in Alluka? Who knows.

    But this story is starring Ging and Kurapika now. Hunter x Hunter was always about two things; Gon searching for his father, and encountering the paranormal. The former is now complete. The latter is now the focus. The source of Nen and the magical beasts and every other oddity is the Dark Continent.

    I just hope Chrollo and Hisoka fit into this. If Kakin will be a battle royale between the princes’ assassins and bodyguards, then Nen users will be at the core of this. Hisoka can’t ignore a good fight, and Chrollo needs to get to Kurapika to remove the judgement chain curse. And not to mention, with the chain gone, Hisoka gets to fight Chrollo. This has all the makings of them showing up. Do it Togashi!

    EamonX
    1. >] “I believe Gon’s story is over.

      Wut?

      Gon’s story isn’t even close to being over. What about his mother? We still don’t know anything about her or what she might have to do with that unholy transformation of Gon’s. What about this still young boy who’s been through hell and back and, through an admitted deus ex machina, has come back to ‘life’ and been given another chance? That’s it? He’s finished his journey and he’s going to live out his life as a normal person? No, there’s no way.

      Ryan Ashfyre
  4. I’m really excited for Kurapika’s inevitable confrontation with the 4th Prince. At the same time, it’s crazy how much Kurapika has changed. While catching up with the recent chapters, he sure has become even scarier and intimidating than how he was in the Phantom Troupe arc.

    There’s been a lot of set-up, but like with most Hunter x Hunter arcs, Dark Continent seems to be an incredibly dense and complex arc. It’s going to be something.

    Mormegil
  5. I stopped reading HxH waaaaay back when Togashi took that hiatus right after completing the Zodiac arc(there were, like 2 chapters of the DC arc I think before he actually stopped). I thought Gon finally getting to meet his father, and Killua having the brother he loved so mcuh in-tow with him was enough of an ending I could be satisfied with stopping. But if they’re going back into Kurapica, I’m gonna have to catch back up. Certainly don’t want to miss the ride, esp if GE’s gonna cover it(loved the coverage on HxH 2011).

    frubam

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