Nope, no spoilers here.

Well – that was unexpected.

I guess at this point we should probably give up on trying to predict the future of Hunter X Hunter, because Togashi Yoshihiro is unpredictable even at the best of times. Here we are two weeks into his return from his longest hiatus ever (and that’s a stiff competition) and he completely bails from the “Dark Continent” storyline and gives us arguably the most anticipated moment possible in Hunter X Hunter for many fans.

The natural place for the mind to jump when Togashi jumps to Heaven’s Arena and Hisoka vs. Chrollo (yes, I said it) is back to “Chimera Ant”. Specifically, when he left the main arc to detour to Meteor City, where the Phantom Troupe (some of it, anyway) was doing battle with some second-tier chimera ants in colonization mode. But there’s a very clear difference, in that the sidebar Togashi switched to back then was tangentially related to the main plot. So far at least, there’s no detectable connection between what happened this week and what’s going on in the Dark Continent storyline. And what’s especially striking is that Togashi-sensei made this jump without a word of explanation or a panel of transition – it was as if he’d flipped a switch. Talk about jarring.

Well – this is Togashi. He plays by his own rules because he can do things no other mangaka can do. And of course it’s entirely possible one or both of these magnificent bastards will end up on the Dark Continent – though in theory, only one of them should walk out of the ring alive. One can speculate all day on what’s happening here – it occurs to me that this could be some sort of flashback rather than something that’s happening in real time. But what’s clear is that this is the fight H x H fans have been clamoring for since “York Shin”. Countless fantasies have played out, thousands of times the eternal questions asked – which one would you root for? Who do you think will win? Leave it to Togashi to dump it on us without an ounce of setup or prologue.

Do I look like Tuxedo Kamen to you?

It seems that Chrollo has been at Heaven’s Arena for a time – long enough to become a floor master, anyway. And that he led Hisoka a merry chase for a while – acquiring more stolen abilities (including Shalnark’s, though one wonders if that one was voluntary) and honing his own skills at manipulating them. It’s no surprise that these two psycho killers agree beforehand to make this a match to the death. And they make a head start on it with the referee, thanks to Chrollo. It’s Chrollo generally who seems to have the upper hand in the early stages of this match, as Hisoka struggles in trying to figure out exactly what he’s up against.

Since this is Togashi I think it’s best to assume normal rules never apply. He could go right back to Kurapika next week and leave us hanging on this battle. He could kill off either of these beloved supporting characters, even Hisoka. Though truth be told, if I were a betting man and you told me one of the two would indeed die during this fight, my money would be on Hisoka killing Chrollo. Conventional wisdom says Togashi will stay with this storyline for at least one more chapter, and that somehow both Chrollo and Hisoka will survive. But how often does the conventional happen in Hunter X Hunter?

While obviously overshadowed by one of the biggest splash chapters in Hunter X Hunter’s long history, Togashi did make some other news this week. On a “comments” page in last week’s WSJ, Togashi listed as his great happiness “The joy of being able to sit on the toilet or in a chair. The interesting thing about the body is that it won’t poop when you’re bedridden.” Did this effective confirmation that Togashi’s back has been so bad he’s been unable to even take a shit silence the Dragon Quest hyenas? Well, some of them – what can they say now, really, that won’t make them sound like even bigger douchebags?

That sort of debilitating back problem doesn’t just go away, so it would be wise to temper our expectations when it comes to Togashi’s ability to consistently produce new chapters over an extended period. But interestingly there are rumors that a certain mahou shoujo mangaka may in fact be pitching in on the artwork for Hunter X Hunter – which has sent many fans scouring this week’s panels in minute detail looking for clues that her hand was at work in drawing them. I have no evidence to suggest this rumor is true, but it’s a lot of fun to think about…

21 Comments

    1. Glad im not the only person who felt that way. and i heard the art style/artists have been swapped in the past due to reasons, but the characters look very different…especially chrollo

      BROOKLYN otaku
      1. This usually happens when a mangaka draws a series for too long. This becomes evident in long running examples like “Jojo”, whose art changes with each arc, or in “Ah My Goddess!!”, a series that ran for over 25 years and the art style diverged a lot between the first chapters and the last ones.

        Exukvera
    2. I don’t care if it came from the depths of hell, I’m just glad this moment finally came. I was starting to think this’ll never happen since I figured the series might go into a permanent hiatus before the author got to this or that Kurapika would be the one to kill Chrollo. Well, chances are they might both survive but with this pairing, I prefer if Hisoka won since 1) I just like his character better 2) I wanna see him have a serious fight with Gon or Killua (their interactions are funny too) and 3) I wanna see him fight Ging just to see who’s the bigger troll of the two (my money is on Ging).

      kilow
  1. My predicted routes for this:

    1. Hisoka kills Chrollo and somehow joins the Dark Continent expedition. Some members of the Phantom Troupe (especially Machi, as her conversation with Hisoka in Greed Island might be a foreshadow) follow for revenge. Potential clash with Kurapika.

    2. Chrollo wins and steals Hisoka’s abilities. Hisoka is in the same situation as Gon. They relearn Nen together.

    3. Inconclusive fight, Togashi-style.

    Levinas
  2. Alright, I’m just lost… I simply do not remember why this fight makes sense, even if the chapter itself came out of nowhere and is completely discontinuous from the current arc. It wasn’t until I read Enzo’s review that I properly remembered who Chrollo even is. I’m probably going to have to reread the whole series to refresh my memory since it’s been so long, but I can’t say I’m particularly in a hurry to do so when the odds favor Togashi’s body literally falling to pieces over HxH staying in circulation for any consistent amount of time.

    PurpleBomber
    1. Anyone notice that Chrollo’s long jacket is closed? That’s the first time I’ve seen him with a closed jacket. He always has it open. I’m guessing he has that weird Nen exorcism creature attached to his chest.

      The Nen exorcist from Greed island didn’t “remove” nen as easily as that. He had conditions to remove Nen namely that he had to have this weird creature stuck to him to nullify the Nen, then has to find the original Nen user and figure out a way to nullify it. In Greed Island, Genthru had said that the conditions of making his Countdown really powerful were to explain to his victims how it worked and how to nullify it. Therefore it was an easy matter for the exorcist.

      But with Kurapika it’s much more difficult. Possibly the only way to remove the judgement chain is for Kurapika himself to remove it. That would mean Chrollo putting him in a situation that forces Kurapika to remove it. In the meantime, Chrollo can use his Nen as well as communicate with Troupe members but has that creature stuck to him.

      There’s a reason Togashi decided to throw this fight on us. Hisoka or Chrollo or both will be a part of this arc and most likely be employed as bodyguards.

      EamonX
      1. Given how the Nen exorcist in Greed Island was surprised at how big the creature was when he tried to remove the bomb stuck to him, I’m guessing that the one he used for Chrollo was even bigger than that. So I doubt he has that creature stuck on him. Or maybe he stashed the creature in his book? Either way, I agree that this may be a chance for both Hisoka and Chrollo to go to the boat and find Kurapika so they can truly remove the chain.

        belatkuro
  3. I don’t know what this has to do with the Dark Continent arc, but I’ll take it! Knowing Togashi, it’ll all make sense in the end.

    Nice to see Heaven’s Arena again, in any case.

    Mormegil
  4. [spoiler]
    Hmm the chain of Kurapika isn’t removed, instead it gets sealed by a Nen sealer, thus allowing Chrollo to use Nen again without worrying about the impact of Kurapika’s chain. They still can’t kill Kurapika however since it could still kill Chrollo even sealed, hence Chrollo need Hisoka’s abilities bungee gum which in effect can safely move Kurapika’s sealed chain without complications to another person. [/spoiler]

    Puzzle answer
    1. Extremely unlikely. The judgement chain isn’t a real chain. It’s a nen chain. You can’t just surgically yank it out without harming the heart. The chain works on conditions so it’s an ability that is both metaphorical and physical.

      Of course, Chrollo might still be very interested in stealing Hisoka’s bungee gum. It’s a very useful and powerful Nen ability.

      EamonX

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