Poor Hisoka looks like he could really use a hand…
I’ve seen some sentiment that this fight is starting to drag, and I sort of get that. Heck, knowing Togashi-sensei this is probably the point where he flips back to the “Dark Continent” arc without a word of explanation. This is what he does – he handles narrative in an intentionally vexing and even obstinate way. If you want a big fight, he’s going to give you 15 pages of explanation. But I think this was the chapter where it really started to gel together.
It strikes me that Chrollo vs. Hisoka is in many ways almost a perfect battle of contrasts. Let’s set aside who the most “powerful” Nen users are, because that’s inherently subjective. But I don’t think there’s any question that Chrollo’s ability is the most complex of any human we’ve met. It’s fitting that a book is central to his arsenal, because it takes a book to explain it. Hisoka’s power, by contrast, is almost alarmingly simple. He has essentially just two abilities – Bungee Gum and Texture Surprise – that he’s absolutely maximized, and pairs them with a seemingly limitless cunning and competitive drive. One tends to think of Hisoka as wildly complex because of his deceitful nature and the contrast he presents with Gon, but compared to Chrollo he’s very direct indeed.
I found it very amusing that Togashi has Hisoka note how surprising it was that the audience was remaining so clam, given that it’s something the readers have been on about in droves. I guess they’re Togashi fans too, and really want to see this play out – but damn, does it carry a price. Once Chrollo cleverly uses the PA system to broadcast “Break Hisoka” to his copies en masse, Hisoka employs the defensive strategy of using Bungee Gum to create a kind of human hammer (the track event kind) which he uses to create a swathe of gore in a wide circle around him. But the copies just keep coming, oblivious to the ring announcer’s entreaties to stay calm (HA!) and wait for help to arrive.
I worry a bit for Hisoka here, because Togashi is doing a good job of selling the narrative that he’s in big trouble. And that’s certainly true when Chrollo seems to blow Hisoka’s hand to bits on the final page, and there’s no Machi around to fix it this time. I wouldn’t put it past Hisoka to have somehow used that as a ruse, and certainly not to become an even more dangerous fighter even if he’s actually lost an appendage. But there’s no denying things look bad for him for now.
That’s about all that looks bad in the chapter – the artwork is absolutely stunning here, certainly the best of any of the “Deathmatch” mini-arc. I don’t want to speculate on what’s going on with the mechanics of creating these chapters, but there’s a definite look to this one that suggests Togashi had less help in drawing the key panels – whether that be from assistants or a certain Sailor Senshi…