I don’t mean to jinx anything, but we’re 9 chapters into this most recent inter-hiatial period for Hunter X Hunter. Hopefully next week’s chapter is just a number, but 10 has tended to be a significant threshold for these Togashi comebacks – for reasons that are fairly obvious to anyone who’s bought a WSJ manga volume before.
One thing I can say for sure – if you look at a drop in art detail as a harbinger of ill tidings to come (and it’s been a good predictor in the past with H x H) so far, so good. This chapter is another beauty, and it’s always a treat when Togashi is able to show off why he’s not just the finest writer in shounen manga history, but one of the elite artists. The Black Whale is another of Togashi’s signature settings, and the Nen beasts have allowed him to really flex his drawing muscles in a fresh way.
Story-wise, it seems as if we’re at a pretty critical juncture for Kurapika. He’s been out for 9 hours – 9 hours during which, it seems, Emperor Time has been in full effect (which is rather a waste, because Queen Oito was also passed out for much of that time). I don’t know exactly how much time Kurapika has pissed away from his lifespan here – five or six years sounds about right – and it seems he’s not even 100% sure exactly how the rules of his ability work. In a sense it’s something of a relief when Tserriednich’s Nen beast eats the cockroach and “forcibly aborts” Little Eye. As Oito notes, Kurapika really doesn’t look very well.
There are a number of interesting moments in his chapter which seem important, starting with little Prince Woble reaching out and clasping Kurpika’s hand. It’s a nice, warm interlude in itself – but given what we know about the nature of Nen and the writer who invented it, this feels like more than a tender show of affection. We also discover that a large group of bodyguards has had a feather imprinted on the back of their hand. Is this the work of a Nen beast – or perhaps a Nen user? The most powerful one of those around is Kurapika, and the men and women he’s promised Nen training to have converged on Oito’s chambers, awaiting their first lesson. Kurapika may be weakened, but they don’t know that – and they have a growing sense that this is the person who’s been pulling most of the strings since the succession war started. For good or ill, Kurapika is now thoroughly the center of attention…