A while ago I finished Hunter x Hunter manga. Yeah I know, 349 chapters. No, I am not crazy. No I didn’t have so skip work to read it. Come on, is it really that big a deal? 349 chapters?..
Yeah I know it is. Can’t believe I’ve read this huge manga. Though I was reading completely different from how I normally do. But to explain this I’ll need to say a few things about the manga. Spoiler alert, by the way.
Hunter x Hunter is a shounen story with most of the well known attributes of the genre. The story follows a 12 years old boy Gon and his friends who do things. It is kinda similar to the first part of Naruto, where there were random adventure, tournament, random but climactic enemy attack; and all of that didn’t happened specifically with Naruto, he just got involved in the things. Same here, HxH has a “hunter exam”, a fighting tournament, a big fight against a group of criminals, and so on. And I’ll go ahead and say this – all of those plot chunks in both Naruto and and HxH are examples of lazy writing. Tournament, exam – those are the easiest things you can throw in your story. And the payback is low as well, cause the events end up being mundane. Same with random adventures and fights, when you provide no motivation for them they don’t have as much impact.
You think I am being too negative? Hold on, i am not done yet :P
On top of what I said, unfortunately HxH is suffering from a few other diseases. First, the manga is heavy on text. And it is not an interesting text, just a bunch of explanations that you don’t really need. Second, every new arc starts really weak. For example, the biggest (and, in my opinion, the best written) arc started with this premise: “there is an ant queen that spawns soldier ants combined with humans and animals, and we are going to fight them”. Why would I be invested in that fight, even a little bit? These are new born soldiers, they can’t have any interesting motivations or thoughts. And there is no mystery, no sense of wonder. So why would I want to read that?
Third, the art style drops in quality in a catastrophic manner. I was honestly wondering if some of the chapters were redrawn by translators cause they couldn’t get decent scans.
So with all that out, here is how I read it. I skipped most of the explanation text, glanced through the low quality chapters, generally didn’t stay on one page longer than I needed to understand what is happening. That is a disrespectful way of reading, but hey, better than dropping it. And I am glad I didn’t drop the manga, cause behind all this mess it hides some treasures.
I said every arc starts in a boring way. Well, they all pick up speed as they go. Thinking back to every one of them I remember interesting moments, things that made it worth the time for me. It is really strange. When I started Chimera Ants arc, that I mentioned above, I thought that this is it, I am going to stop reading. It was just too boring. And yet that is the arc that in the end made me think that Yoshihiro Togashi has more potential as a shonen manga writer than Kishimoto and Kubo.
HxH does what I never seen in other shonen manga. Antagonist who on his own learns to become humane, and ends up being humbler than his opponent. Few very different but related plot lines in the same arc (different to the point that it feels like multiple stories put together; kinda like what G. Martin does in his Game of Thrones). Good guys actually paying the price for their actions. Let me elaborate on this one. Remember how in Bleach Ichigo sacrificed his power to defeat Aizen? And how he then got a nice arc about him learning new techniques only to get his powers back by the end? That is not paying the price. That is cheating. To pick another shonen hero, Naruto never has to pay at all, he needs a power-up – he gets it for free. In HxH when one of the protagonists did an exchange to get power to beat an opponent, the retaliation was horrifying. He was about to die a horrible death, that is pretty much what he had to pay. And in the and to save the guy from death one of his friends had essentially burden himself for maybe the rest of his life. That was amazing to read.
There is a lot of things I would have loved to praise this manga for. But I also want to keep the spoilers down. Also I don’t like making plot summaries, and this manga is complicated enough for major events not to make sense without proper explanations. So I’ll leave it at that. I like HxH. See you next time (^_^)/