Hunter X Hunter – 351

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Well – that was unexpected…

Hunter X Hunter - 351 -2I 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.

Hunter X Hunter - 351 -3Well – 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.

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.

Hunter X Hunter - 351 -5Since 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?

Hunter X Hunter - 351 -7That 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…

 

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14 comments

  1. K

    Must… wait… for viz release

  2. I apologize for using a spoilery preview image, but it would literally have been impossible to pull a panel without it being a spoiler.

  3. K

    It’s no problem. Just the wait for Monday is even more killer :p

  4. “It seems that Chrollo has been at Heaven’s Arena for a time – long enough to become a floor master, anyway”

    Heh. Which for him probably amounts to, like, a couple of weeks tops, and even then just to account for the bureaucratic times XD. I’m pretty sure he had a non-stop winning streak, these guys are almost all small fries compared to him.

    As for the outcome of the battle… the only way I could see this ending fairly (without any interruptions or any other external device) and still having both escape out of it alive is if Chrollo loses. In that case it might always be that he has some last-ditch ability in that crazy book of his – something to create a fake body, or teleport the shit out of there at the last moment, or be reborn/reincarnate, or something. If I were him I’d definitely want one of those handy, you’re never too careful.
    Of course it’s also intriguing to imagine this could tie into the main story somehow. Perhaps the winner goes on to become a bodyguard for one of the princes? Or enter another one of the expeditions?

    The saddest possibility of course is it has nothing to do with anything and this is simply Togashi’s swan song – being uncertain of whether he’ll ever be able to wrap things up properly, he wanted to at least give the fans THIS one pivotal moment without further ado, continuity be damned :(.

  5. Yes, that last possibility certainly does present itself. But it’s not a fun one to think about.

  6. Oh damn… I hadn’t considered that lost possibility. I mean, I had considered a stalemate resulting in mutual death (which would also suck), but to have one of them win and just never revisit their characters would be awful.

    I’m really anxious about this fight in general, for a variety of reasons. It’s the mark of a great author that I can feel such suspense, but of course, part of the suspense is all of the ways this fight could be blundered.

    Oh well – in Togashi I trust.

  7. K

    I hope this will truly be a death match (no interruption like what happened to Chrollo vs Zoldyck patriarchs fight.) Anyway, the death of either Hisoka or Chrollo will be more seismic to the main storyline than the demise of the entire Kakin dynastic line.

  8. I think Chrollo has the advantage, we know so much about Hisoka by this point and Chrollo has had a lot of time to prepare. He reminds me of some weird voodoo man with his new abilities and those facial expressions. This fight happened suddenly, similar to the one between the Phantom Troupe and Chimera ants, Togashi sure is having fun arranging climaxes of the story after especially wordy segments.

  9. I agree, Chrollo has the advantage on paper. But Hisoka has an innate quality that seems to allow him to sense the right way to fuck someone up and how to do it. When push comes to shove I think the competitive urgency and sadistic genius of Hisoka is a half-step above Chrollo, and if one or the other of them is destined to win, my gut still says Hisoka.

  10. J

    If Hisoka does win and this fight is indeed to the death, I hope Hisoka at least suffers some kind of major, possibly debilitating injury or maybe some kind of Nen curse. Not because I dislike Hisoka, but I just feel it’d be doing Chrollo a disservice if it’s just a one-and-done Hisoka wins. Chrollo’s been hyped up to be one of the top fighters in the entire series; this is the guy not even Zeno felt confident about beating if he’s fighting seriously.

    But the ideal outcome for me, obviously is that neither of them die. Or if Togashi really wants to mess with us, he can kill both of them…

  11. A

    Indeed, Togashi’s comments are very grim. I think in this week’s issue he mentioned being only able to crawl like a baby when he went to hospital, but even then, there’s still a bunch of people shitting at his health problems ;(

  12. C

    I find it hilarious that Togashi did not even include a “MEANWHILE, ON HEAVEN’S ARENA…” or anything that might pass for a conjunctive adverb in Japanese.

    No lube at all… and yet it still felt great.

  13. LOL Nice Usagi on the front page.

  14. M

    There it is, Hunter x Hunter 315. This chapter is important for lots of different reasons. It sure sticks out, but even though it’s weird compared to anything Togashi-sense has done to HxH, I’ll explain why it’s no reason to panic. This chapter means a lot of things: It’s the second chapter since Togashi-sensei returned from his technically longest Hiatus, it differs from anything we’ve ever seen before (it’s, as Chrysostomus notes, raw and strident) and the artstyle is particularly sticking out (but I won’t draw conclusions early about assistants)… And most importantly, this character may just be fanservice from Togashi-sensei or escapism from his living conditions. I’ll explain this a little later.

    The reason it looks like a “swan song”, as Simone noted, is because Togashi-sensei has never tried this before with HxH. However, I have to note myself, this is not something that he hasn’t done before overall. Togashi-sensei is a bold author that always tries new things. From his interview with Oda: “I do not like stories that follow a predefined scheme. I always try to make things more interesting, more unexpected”. This chapter may seem a red flag, it may seem fanservice for readers because of hiatuses, but I don’t believe it’s a spointaineous decision. Rather, something that’ll fit in the larger narrative.

    This is because of two reasons. In all the 18 years Togashi-sensei has worked on HxH (14 without DC), he has reliably put out content that stays true to his essence and philosophy. New, interesting and unexpected. In fact, I’d say that his ambition to break expectations and rules has scaled up as time went on, as seen in Chimera Ant. I don’t consider that his physical condition has so drastically affected his writing style. This is consolidated by the fact that chapter 350 conforms to my theory, and doesn’t seem to set HxH on the course of wrapping up.

    The second reason is that we’ve already observed incidents like these in Level E’s Modus Operandi. This is a work you’ve analyzed and blogged half a decade ago, by the way. Level E is supposed to come off as showy and unpredictable, trolling the audience unconventionally, by doing the exact same thing Togashi is doing right now with HxH: changing perspectives to the seemingly unrrelated (something present in CA as well, but there it wasn’t as abrupt as here and Level E), away from the main characters and the current context, to purposefully add flavour overall. In other words, when he does this, he has a firm goal in mind which is usually explained later on.

    I’m not implying Togashi-sensei is not affected by his physical condition. He is probably so, and he might reflect or vent this frustration through his very own work, since he is a human after all. It may also be a chapter released specifically in case he does not manage to wrap up the story, albeit I find that unlikely. But I don’t think there are enough reasons to worry about it yet – he has proven times and times again that he can be very reliable and creative even under times of massive stress. As for what the future holds, we’ll have to see that in the next chapters – unfortunately, not the next week, since it’s Golden Week in Japan. Yes, Togashi always finds himself a way into more breaks. (laugh)

    I’m truly intrigued and interested in what he’ll do next.

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