Hunter x Hunter 371-375 – Review
Synopsis: Gon Freecss aspires to become a Hunter, just like his father. Setting out from his home Gon aims to take the Hunter Examination in order to find and meet his father. During the Examination he makes three friends: Kurapika the last remaining member of the Kurta clan, Leorio a prospective physician in debt and Killua, another young boy born into a notorious assassin family. Together they all aim for their Hunter License, but will they all succeed?
(Warning: Spoilers to Follow)
Gon has been through many trials. Having acquired his Hunter License Gon has since faced many obstacles. He’s fought in the Heaven’s arena, trained under the kung fu master Wing, clashed with the Phantom Troupe, participated in the dangerous and expensive video game: Green Island, and even took part in the battle for the world against the highly dangerous Chimera Ants.
Gon nearly died in the battle against the Chimera Ants, but thankfully recovered due to the efforts of Killua and his other friends. But now an even greater adventure awaits as the deceased Hunter Chairman’s son, Beyond, seeks to assemble Hunters from across the globe to explore the Dark Continent, a vast and forbidden land hidden from the masses of society.
I find that Hunter x Hunter is a bundle of frustration at this point. Returning from its latest hiatus the series continues to make little effort to craft an approachable jumping on point for anyone but the most die hard of fans. With each hiatus the bar of entry grows higher, almost expecting you to start this arc every time from the beginning before reading the latest material. But that’s not the only issue. While Togashi has worked hard to craft a complex mystery, it often feels overly complicated and in numerous ways.
For starters we have the plethora of Nen Abilities and Beasts. The series has always been a bit more thorough than other action shonen in defining its character’s abilities. We’re often given complex traits that have specific requirements, bonuses, and negatives to using them. Here we’re overloaded with abilities. From Kurapika’s very specific set of abilities, to the Nen Beasts themselves, it becomes difficult to remember all of the important details, especially as chapter after chapter has near full pages of text. For a predominantly visual medium, walls of text stand against what makes Manga usually so compelling.
This wouldn’t be a problem in and of itself, but is compounded by the sheer wealth of characters, many of whom are new, even to regular readers. While a chapter in this selection does make an effort to remind us of who each of the princes’ are, it’s a feeble and weak attempt, offering little more than their names, the queens that birthed them, and the number of guards each has. It doesn’t tell us a lot, and while it might help to remind us of the more memorable princes in the line up, it does nothing to introduce us to the seemingly less important ones.
The manga even undoes itself with this bit of audience approachability by further doubling down on throwing walls of information at us for each of the Nen Beasts associated with the princes. Complex descriptions of abilities are hurled our way, enough of which makes it extremely difficult to remember them all, yet the series seems to almost expect that level of devotion as it so rarely holds the reader’s hand otherwise.
I think my biggest problem is my increasing suspicion that Togashi is actually bored of Hunter x Hunter. I don’t mean that this writing is lazy, it’s not, clearly a massive amount of effort has gone into crafting the details of this murder mystery/whodunit, but instead how much we’ve abandoned what Hunter x Hunter has been.
This kind of started during the Chimera Ant Arc as focus shifted away from Gon and to the much larger story. During that Arc I began to get the sense that Togashi is less interested in our heroes and more so in exploring the world he’s created. Hunter x Hunter, especially with this latest arc, feels more a testing ground for him to play around with different kinds of stories. I argue this because of how Kurapika has been utilized in these last few chapters.
We started this arc with Kurapika joining this voyage with the express intent of confronting the individual behind his clan’s murder. Yet numerous chapters in that’s barely been brought back up. It feels like a thin justification for why Kurapika is here in this mess, a mess that Togashi has far greater interest in exploring.
While he teases here a thread for Hisoka and the Phantom Troupe, it feels like a slim morsel merely there to remind readers that Togashi hasn’t entirely forgotten about the rest of the story, although who knows when we’ll really get back to it.
I don’t want to bag too hard on Hunter x Hunter. There’s a lot of interesting ideas, concepts, and abilities at play here. The problem really is the accessibility and I have a hard time imagining Hunter x Hunter is picking up many new readers when it remains so thick and complicated. The designs for the Nen Beasts are another major bonus too and alongside some character work between Biscuit and one of the many, many new guard characters whose name I have no hope of recalling. I wish there were more great moments like that, and that the narrative would slow down and simplify itself to make the series a bit easier to follow. Right now I feel like I’m more reading out of loyalty than true enjoyment for what’s on the page.
Please let me know what your thoughts are on Hunter x Hunter in the comments below!