Believe you me, I take no pleasure in the fact that the first paragraph of last week’s post was prophetic. It didn’t take an esper to see that we were coming up on a pivotal week – 10-chapter increments have significance when it comes to volume sales, and it’s no coincidence that Togashi’s returns have tended to last about that long.
Obviously I’m bummed that we’re looking at another hiatus, but I’ve taken the approach that any new Hunter X Hunter should be considered a bonus, and appreciated as such. Expectations are a luxury a fan of this series really can’t afford. If I take a modestly more optimistic view of this hiatus than prior ones (and I do) it’s because of a few factors. First, Togashi-sensei has been more open about the cause of his interruptions of service (his back) than ever. Second, we’re actually getting a projected return date this time – “before the end of 2017” – which as far as I remember has never happened before. And third, the quality of the art never degraded during this run, as it has in the past when Togashi was at his limit. Maybe I’m whistling through the graveyard here, but I’m hopeful that Togashi and WSJ are managing his condition more proactively this time around.
We certainly didn’t get a chapter ending that would give us an indication that Togashi was planning for a break – it’s just a regular cliffhanger. To say that the Nen training session is a tense affair would be a massive understatement – it feels more like a hostage situation than anything else. Kurapika has elected to teach his class with his back to Oito and Woble’s room, the better to protect them if (when) things go off the rails. He’s also painted a “do not cross” white line on the floor – a line which one of the 4th Prince’s army (Muhan) immediately decides to cross to prove a hotheaded point. It becomes clear quickly enough that Kurapika is not a man who’s going to be intimidated.
The biggest issue, though, is that there’s an assassin at work – and their “Sebastes” (which looks like a Zashiki Warashi with a mask) is waiting for the opportunity to start taking out Kurapika’s students. That comes along quickly enough when someone who isn’t supposed to be able to see it sees it, and what I expect is going to be quite a bloodbath gets off to a rather grisly start. Sebastes’ killing method is through the use of “Tsuchibokko” (which look exactly like Tsuchinoko) which drain the victim’s blood. This killer straight out of Japanese folklore makes a very interesting addition to the bizarre menagerie already gathered on the Black Whale.
And with that, we return to the all-too familiar pattern of waiting and hoping, not knowing when the story will continue. When it happens, it happens – until then, no one should be more equipped to exercise patience than a Hunter X Hunter fan…