It’s Shueshia’s world – they just let us use it.
I didn’t go to Jump Festa last year – I was still pretty new to Japan, and Chiba seemed a lot farther away than it really is (about an hour with one transfer to Makuhari Messe, ¥480). In truth I’m also not a big fan of most of the series in WSJ – historically I’ve been more in-tune with Shounen Sunday – but of course they do run Hunter X Hunter, and I have other die-hard WSJ favorites like Rurouni Kenshin. So this year I decided to check it out.
What struck me first is just how many true commercial powerhouses the Shounen Jump empire has going for it. One Piece is the most obvious – and it’s most obvious at Jump Festa – but there are so many others, too. Hunter X Hunter gets a little lost in the shuffle, especially when it’s on hiatus, but I think it’s fair to say it isn’t forgotten. I was pleased (though I know it doesn’t mean much) that H x H is still listed as “1998 – Present” on their timeline mural, and on all the group artwork Gon is centrally positioned with the commercial titans like Luffy and Kuroko. And H x H got one of the 10 slots at the giant stage at the rear of the hall, immediately between Haikyuu! and One Piece. Hunter X Hunter is not a priority for SJ, but I don’t think it’s a complete afterthought.
As usual, here are some photos from the day, including the swag I brought back and the banner ad at JR Kaihin Makuhari station. Kingdom had a booth, complete with cosplayers (I saw more of Diao today that I have all season) – very nice to see. The H x H booth was decent-sized, with a very nice merchandise assortment – Gon and Killua were on-hand posing for photos, and they had a couple of seiyuu events at the booth which were ticket-only (including Mamoru Miyano and Namikawa Daisuke, which I’d have loved to see). The main stage event allowed standing-room walk-ups though, so I got there early and sat through the Haikyuu! event first. That was interesting in itself – clearly SJ has another fujoshi hit on their hands here. Murase Ayumu hosted (in-person he really is a little bozu) and the others (especially Hino Satoshi) had a good time trolling him. The biggest applause (and screams) came when they announced the rest of the anime cast, and the one character who’s apparently a huge fujoshi darling was announced to be played by Ohsaka Ryouta.
Then came H x H (sorry – strictly no photos/video allowed). It was absolutely inescapable how much older the crowd for that one was than the Haikyuu! event – almost all adults, and a lot more males. The big four were all present – Megumi Han (hosting), Ise Mariya, Sawashiro Miyuki and Fujiwara Keiji. Han-kun and Mariya-kun were dressed in very cute Harajuku-girl clothes with short skirts, and Sawashiro-san was ultra-classy and conservative. Fujiwara was exactly as you’d expect – a cool dude, complete with shades. There was a very funny moment when he referred to himself as a “famous idol”, and when Han-san made one of her idol moves on the way off-stage, Fujiwara-san imitated her.
In terms of content, it was striking that almost the entire presentation was focused on “The Last Mission”. It was also striking that when Han-san – who’s absurdly adorable, by the way, and has a lot of Gon in her natural voice – was wrapping up by talking about how much she loves H x H, she started crying. Not just damp eyes, but real crying (how damn sweet is that?). I know I’m probably reading too much into it but it left me a bit melancholy, and I’ve noticed that Syoboi (which I know isn’t a perfect source) still has no schedule for new H x H episodes in January past #111. Does all that mean anything? Who knows – but the TV anime is clearly winding down at the very least, and even if Han’s tears and the lack of a schedule aren’t ill omens for the fate of H x H in the upcoming season, that’s a bit sad.