Hunter x Hunter (Chapters 350-353) – Review Discussion

Hunter x Hunter:

Chapters 350-353

Reviewed by: Tom

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Yay Gon’s back! Wait, no, that’s Killua right? Maybe? God it’s been so long who is anybody anymore!?

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.

Review:

It’s been awhile since Hunter x Hunter last graced the pages of Shonen Jump. In fact, it’s coming off its longest hiatus yet and there’s little confidence in me that Hunter x Hunter won’t in fact return to hiatus after a few months. Late 2014 was also supposed to be Hunter x Hunter big triumphant return which ultimately led into the single longest hiatus the manga has ever seen.

It doesn’t help that this hiatus occurred right after the manga had begun an entirely new and highly detailed arc that did not at all benefit from a sudden disappearance from the magazine.

Personally I’m mixed on Hunter x Hunter. On the one hand I’ve enjoyed the majority of its story and characters. On the other hand I’m one of the few who didn’t take to the Chimera Ant arc. I grew tired of the series doing more telling than showing, the constant flip flop of a major characters death and ultimately just never really connected with the arc as others did. That said, I was excited by the dark continent arc and grew interested in where it was going. So without anymore talk lets jump into this sessions review.

Chapter 350

Starting off its new run we jump right back into Kurapika’s revenge plot as he attempts to worm his way onto the security teams for the many princes vying for their father’s throne. Since its 2014 run I’d actually kinda forgotten about this whole plot involving a dozen or so princes vying for their father’s crown. It’s one of the more frustrating aspects of the hiatus is they run so long I don’t always immediately recall what was going on the last time we jumped in.

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Sounds easy, what’s the catch?

Moving on though, Kurapika has gathered a cast of characters stretching back through the manga, along with a couple fan favorites. Kurapika’s plan is to find and confront one of the princes’ involved in his clans death and subsequent selling of their eyes. Kurapika wants to infiltrate each princes’ guard so he can find the correct target. As it turns out Kurapika has a prince in mind, he knows who the man he’s looking for might be, but the trouble is all the security hiring positions are listed online anonymously, meaning it’s impossible to know which prince he’s applying for. Hence why he needs the help.

Kurapika is forced to go through each job listing and based on what information they contain, ascertain which listing might be for his target, a prince named Halkenburg. The manga gets quite wordy at this point as it explains who Halkenburg is, his traits, and Kurapika’s reasonings for why one listing might be Halkenburg and another might not. It’s kind of interesting, and some parts of this information are necessary for the revelations to come, but I honestly think Togashi can get a little too wordy for his own good, especially after coming off such a significant hiatus. There’s no effort made to try and ease the reader back in and I think that’s a mistake.

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Holy information dump, Batman!

After Kurapika and his team each pick their own targets they’re quickly all contacted for interviews. Kurapika heads off to meet his new employer, but is disappointed to discover he picked the wrong target. It’s not Halkenburg. Instead it’s a woman named Oito and her daughter, Woble, another heir to the King’s throne. Oito explains they were looking for someone like Kurapika, someone who is after Halkenburg. In fact, Oito lets it out that Halkenburg never put up a security job posting in the first place.

Oito elaborates on this voyage the Prince’s are taking into the dark continent alongside Beyond and the other expeditions. In fact, the Prince’s voyage is actually nothing more than a killing spree where only one prince/princess shall come out alive at the end. Oito, like any other queen, is doing everything she can to ensure that Woble survives this impending massacre. Oito is looking to essentially blackmail Halkenburg by threatening to frame him as taking part in this secret succession battle, there by ruining his political career. At least I think. Togashi, I feel, does a rather poor job laying out Halkenburg’s and Oito’s goals and plans. We get a lot of information hurled at us in this chapter and I’m not sure it’s always explained all that clearly.

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Lady is just throwing money at Kurapika.

Moving on, however, Kurapika agrees to join Oito as their body guard. Oito goes, briefly, into her past explaining her expectations for coming a wife to the King, and then now the harsh reality of such a position. Now she wants nothing more than Woble to survive. Kurapika takes Woble into his arms and we quickly get a few information panels letting us know who the rest of Kurapika’s team ended up getting assigned to protect.

Chapter 351

Now that Chapter 350 layed all that out for us it’s time we completely abandoned that plot in favor of another one! We switch to following Hisoka, who has finally managed to corner Chrollo within the Heaven’s Arena. Hisoka has been dying for this match up for ages, even going so far as to enter Green Island just to find a way to free Chrollo and his powers. Here the two agree that the chase they’ve been going through is over and this battle shall be a fight to the death.

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And now for something completely different! Two weird, creepy guys fighting each other! Oh wait, that’s most of this manga.

The battle begins right away as Chrollo takes control of the judge for the match and forces him to attack Hisoka. Chrollo then manages to get the upper hand and pummels Hisoka with dozens of kicks. Hisoka gets ready to counter, but Chrollo uses his abilities to make the judge explode, killing the poor man and shocking the audience. I’d actually forgotten a lot about Chrollo, since he’d been downplayed for years now. I generally found the explanations for his powers, both new and old, confusing. I think Togashi might be rusty on his explanations for characters and the more intricate details of battle, although I did ultimately manage to get the gist of the abilities and tactics on display here.

Chrollo, after explaining how his abilities work, as well as the effort he’d had to go through in order to adapt and adjust to incorporating new abilities into his fighting style, says he’s going to show Hisoka three more abilities. Hisoka is setting a new record for the number of abilities Chrollo has had to use to kill someone.

Chapter 352

Jumping right back in, Chrollo demonstrates that he may not be able to control corpses, but he can control dolls/puppets made from them. Chrollo takes the judge’s corpse and makes a copy puppet, sending it to attack Hisoka. Hisoka manages to kill the puppet by removing its head, which ends the spell. Chrollo explains the intricacies of his abilities a little bit more as we’re treated to another information dump.

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“Damn I shouldn’t have had that burrito.” – Hisoka’s inner regrets.

But this part is probably the more important aspect of Chrollo’s abilities, how one of his abilities simply cannot be undone and that’s his sun and moon ability, which allows him to mark someone or something to explode. The mark is permanent until it’s set to go off. Hisoka is a little on edge with this knowledge, but attacks Chrollo anyway, who rushes to hide within the audience panicking in the stands. Chrollo takes control over several members of the audience and sends them to attack Hisoka, buying himself time to hide.

By the time Hisoka finishes fending off these poor souls Chrollo is gone, hidden within the crowd and disguised as someone else. I wasn’t terribly impressed with Chapter 350, but 351 and more so 352 really got me pumped to have Hunter x Hunter back, even if I feel Chrollo’s explanations weren’t as flawless as past info dumps have been within the series.

Chapter 353

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You know, considering several people just died watching the match I think I’ll take my chances with rushing the exits.”

The audience panics and scrambles every which way thanks to Hisoka murdering two of the audience members under Chrollo’s control. We get a few shots of the audience and notice that several people now have doubles, obliviously the puppets Chrollo can make. Without warning they lunge for Hisoka and begin to swarm him. Hisoka attempts to jump into the air and avoid the charge, but the puppets leap after him.

It’s all a ploy as Chrollo appears behind Hisoka, ready to strike. Hisoka is ready, or so he thinks, and makes to block Chrollo, who changes his attack at the last moment and manages to get a hit on Hisoka, sending him hurtling to the floor. Hisoka is quickly overwhelmed, getting his ass kicked by Chrollo’s puppets. But Hisoka, at the last moment, turns the tide by using his bungee gum to whip around one of the decapitated puppet heads and strike Chrollo.

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Man it looks like Hisoka turned Chrollo into a bobble-head with how much his noggin’s shaking after that hit.

Chapter 353 has a solid reversal that really puts Bleach’s Tite Kubo to shame. It’s great to see that, while I think Togashi can be a little rusty, he’s still a strong story teller when he’s giving it his all.

That’s it for this session. Please let me know what your thoughts are on Hunter x Hunter’s return in the comments below!

Hunter x Hunter is published weekly in Shonen Jump. Volume 32, containing chapters 331-340, is available via Amazon.com. Chapters discussed today, 350-353 will be collected and released sometime next year.

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