Hunter X Hunter – 362

It’s week two of the rest of our Hunter X Hunter lives.  And that means (at least for the nonce) that the material has to carry itself.  The sideshow is pushed to the- well, side.  And Togashi-sensei has a chance to entrap us in his web once more, with only his writing and his art to lure us in.  Can he do it?

In short – yes.  Fortunately those are two powerful weapons in any arsenal. and this chapter has the distinction of being unmistakably Togashi despite the contents being almost wholly unfamiliar.  I can’t even really put most of the names and faces together yet, but now that we’re a couple chapters into this latest oasis I’m beginning to feel the material.

No question, the gorgeous artwork that goes into the Guardian Beasts has something to do with that.  Togashi-sensei isn’t often singled out for his artwork (in part because it’s usually the first element to suffer when his health craters), but he’s a magnificent mangaka in this respect.  The guardian beasts are like something out of the old D & D “Monster Manual” (or perhaps “Deities and Demigods” – there’s something very Cthulhu about them).  And since this is Hunter X Hunter what little we’ve learned about them is the tip of the iceberg – the dark and twisted connection between they and their masters is surely only being hinted at.

Togashi frames this chapter mostly through a conversation between two characters we’ve basically never even met – Topaz and Sarkov, two Nen-uisng bodyguards of the Prince Tserried.  These princes have had guardian beasts watching over them since the pot ritual, yet none had any idea they existed – but now the secret is out.  And Topaz knows full well her master is a profoundly evil sort, which makes her terrified at the notion that he discovers Nen and insists on learning how to use it.  The literal-minded Sarkov (who’s not as stupid as both he and Topaz pretend he is) reasons that if Tserried is going to learn Nen anyway, it may as well be Tserried who teaches him – perhaps she can intentionally slow him down and shepherd him down meanderings paths with relatively harmless abilities at the end of them.  But I think we know how this works in Hunter X Hunter, and it’s a pretty safe bet that’s not going to happen.

It would be easy to feel somewhat detached at this stage given how new all of these people are to us and how Byzantine the story it, but somehow it’s all kind of coming together. Our glimpses of the other princes don’t give us a lot of warmth or rooting interest – it’s a sea of ego and perversity to say the least.  And the one prince who’s shown some sense of serious-mindedness, Halkenberg, has dropped out of the succession war – and now all of his bodyguards have turned up dead.

The thing with “Chimera Ant” was that no matter how dark and despairing it became (and that’s pretty dark and despairing), there was always an anchor – someone worth rooting for, a spellbinding moral dilemma (and as they did in “York Shin” Gon and Killua through their very presence provided a needed infusion of innocence and occasional humor).  We haven’t got that in “Dark Continent” yet, but it’s still early – and if we allow ourselves to imagine where this arc could go if only given an extended chance to develop, it’s hard not to feel a little giddy.

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9 comments

  1. h

    the princes didnt have the guardian beasts watching over them for their whole life,it has been only for a couple of month,that’s only recently after the pot ritual,remember the one where they had to put a drop of their blood in it’s mouth,

  2. D

    “These princes have had guardian beasts watching over them for their entire lives, yet none had any idea they existed – but now the secret is out.”

    My understanding is that their nen beasts were not awakened until the pot ceremony that happened right before they got on the ship.

  3. Right you are.

    I told you I couldn’t keep all this straight yet!

  4. Y

    Togashi pls stay safe and rested and hydrated and recover, the world needs you \\(T.T)//

  5. M

    The one thing I’d hate the Dark Continent to turn out like – and it has the potential to – is for it to be a vanity project. Where there’s no lesson, spiritual growth, a glimpse into the optimist heart of the human nature, or a meaning to be pondered or taken away as a whole.

    Every arc has had it, in some form. Even if that form was just Gon & Killua shining through. But there was often even more, especially in the darker arcs, like how Yorkshin was a tale on the destructive implication of revenge and how Kurapika chose his friends, or who could forget the redemption tale in the CA arc.

    But I trust Togashi. And I believe something will be learnt after we sail this sea of ego and depravity that is the Hui Guo Rou family. Togashi is not done exploring the violence and maliciousness in the human heart.

    Also, isn’t it just neat that every 10 chapters we get in this arc are so fleshed-out and explored that they feel like mini-arcs on their own when you read ’em, and yet so far they are still just set-up?

  6. Like you said – I trust Togashi. That side of the arc will emerge eventually, assuming it’s ever seen to completion.

  7. a

    I think this is the first chapter where the threat hits home as viscerally **real** to me. Even with the dead bodies before, there was still such a detached atmosphere that they were more ‘crime drama’ interesting than “Silence of the Lambs” terrifying. We knew the setup, we know who’s involved, we know this can’t end well, but it still felt comparatively ‘light’.

    With this chapter it feels like walking into hell. I see the sign, “abandon all hope ye who enter here”. The image of Topaz looking at the Prince’s Nen beast though was just terrifying. Viscerally terrifying.

    Indeed, the audience, everyone, knows that this man cannot, should not, must not learn nen.

    Togashi has managed to give me a character where he makes Hisoka look charmingly innocent by comparison. Hisoka gets off on murder, but he only wants to target people who at least have a fighting chance of killing him.

    The prince could not give less of a fuck. At all. He’s happy to prey on anyone he deems unworthy, even by HxH standards, this is truly a sick sociopath. Undeniably smart, ostensibly charming, and god damn psychotic.

    I find myself rooting for Pariston of all people to get involved in this.

    Togashi understands horror, that’s for sure.

  8. It’s not often that anime/manga monsters terrify me these days but Tserreid’s Nen beast is genuinely horrifying. I got chills when it opened it’s mouth. It really reminded me of Parasyte and a lot of Junji Ito’s work.

  9. J

    I dislike how this series seems more and more to introduce villains that seem to be powerful without ever having to work at it. In contrast to Gon and Killiua (who granted both have better natural aptitude than many of the other characters) who have pushed them selves and trained extensively, suddenly there are these nen beasts that were conjured out of thin air and are and have made their masters enormously powerful threats.

    The chimera ant arc bothered me in a similar way, but I at least could ameliorate my feelings by thinking of the chimera king as the pinnacle of years of chimera evolution.

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