Hunter x Hunter (Chapters 354-357) – Review Discussion
Hunter x Hunter:
Reviewed by: Tom
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.
With Hunter x Hunter now back in full swing we’re diving headlong into the battle between Hisoka and Chrollo. There’s a couple places where I feel the battle stumbles, with an ending that ultimately undermines a lot of the shocking developments but otherwise I feel like the flow works really well here and it’s great to see Hunter x Hunter getting back into the swing of things. Although I have to say the art is an area that still feels lacking. But let’s jump in.
We start off with an explanation of how much the human head weighs (as much as a bowling ball apparently) in an effort to sell how big an attack Hisoka flung against Chrollo last chapter. And then hits Chrollo a second time. I’m not sure this explanation was necessary however, as the art had done a superb job of selling the impact of the attack. It also, ultimately, feels pointless as Chrollo never seems to actually suffer an ill effects from such devastating hits.
Anyway Hisoka’s making a comeback thanks to this attack and manages to knock away more of the charging dummies, but Chrollo manages to get away in the chaos of the battle. Hisoka then proceeds to widle the puppets down one by one and internally postulates on Chrollo’s next move. He manages to catch sight of Chrollo hidden in the crowd and gives chase. He catches up to Chrollo, attacking him and seemingly killing Chrollo. Unfortunately it was nothing more than a mere puppet.
It’s here that Hisoka then realizes the real trouble of Chrollo’s mark not disappearing, as it means that a puppet won’t vanish if it’s been marked. That’s why the dummies head he’s been flying around is still active, even after it’s been defeated. It means that any dummy can still be an explosive weapon even after he’s taken it out. Hisoka is in big trouble.
The battle, which has been moving quite quickly up until now, takes a brief moment to explain how Chrollo’s abilities really work together. Hisoka is now forced to search for Chrollo before he can create to make too many puppets for Hisoka to deal with. Unfortunately Chrollo causes a panic long enough to get his hands on the PA system and give the Break Hisoka command, causing hordes of puppets to come rushing from the stands to try and kill him. It’s here that I find Hunter x Hunter’s art takes a significant dip, losing much of the detail that can be expected of Togashi’s art. It makes me concerned as these art dips often proceeded the hiatus that delayed Hunter x Hunter so frequently in the past few years. It’s also disappointing to see the art fall in quality like this, especially when it’s so on point in other chapters and pages of this very chapter.
Moving on, Hisoka beats back the rush of puppets. He’s doing well until one of the heads Chrollo marked comes flying back into Hisoka’s hand and explodes, destroying his hand in the process. It’s a great moment and a real shocker as characters very rarely lose limbs in Shonen Manga. It probably shouldn’t be all that shocking considering some of the stuff that happened in the last major arc, but with the series having been absent for so long these moments feel all the more surprising again.
Sadly the art dips again throughout much of this chapter and things aren’t looking much better for Hisoka. His hand has been completely blown apart and he’s pushed to his limits in order to survive against Chrollo’s continued assault.
Hisoka charges up into the stands and lands on the edge of one. He turns back and blows away the heads of all the puppets chasing after him. Unfortunately there’s too many and Hisoka finds himself overwhelmed again. As if the sheer number weren’t enough he spots two more rushing him with the + and – signs that, once pressed together, will explode.
Before he can respond the two explode right next to him. Hisoka survives the explosion as he flies out into the air above the arena. He knows he can’t hit the floor, the puppets will just surround him again, and the same will happen if he continues to hurtle towards the other side of the stands. He tries to change his trajectory but discovers he took more damage from that last explosion than he thought– he’s missing a foot.
Chrollo hurls another dummy at him, and gets another ready. Hisoka attempts to escape by reaching up towards the ceiling with his nen gum ability, but unfortunately he can’t quite reach it in order to escape.
With no other options Hisoka then decides that if he’s going to die then he’ll try something. He’s cryptic, and doesn’t explain what he plans to do, but he curls into a ball and the dummies move in, causing a huge explosion right on top of him.
With that explosive finale to the fight we turn our attention to outside the Heavens arena where panic is ensuing since smoke is rising from the top of the tower. The battlefield is a mess and Hisoka is blamed for the explosions (even though Chrollo was the one using those attacks.)
It doesn’t seem to matter that Hisoka’s been made the scapegoat for the chaos, however, as he’s dead and surrounded by the Spiders, The Phantom Troupe that Chrollo is head of. Hisoka is looking pretty bad, his skin completely charred off. Machi decides to stay behind and stitch Hisoka up as thanks for saving Chrollo from the exorcism that had been placed on him prior. But much to Machi’s surprise Hisoka comes back to life, having injected his nen inside his heart and lungs, causing them to renew after his death.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand Hisoka is basically a villain, and villains often manage to return from death or are capable of severely overpowered abilities. On the other hand I’m trying to decide what the point of having this death match was, which ultimately doesn’t end with either Chrollo or Hisoka dying. Maybe to show us how dangerous Hisoka is and how hard he is to get rid of? To establish Chrollo as equally, if not more so dangerous? Considering Hisoka, as far as we’re aware, suffers no ill effects after this I feel like the entire thing loses a lot of the impact it had. I still enjoyed the flow of the previous chapters, but this revelation really tacks the wind out of Hunter x Hunter’s sails.
Either way Hisoka is looking pretty beat up even if he is alive. Rather than running with the scars or some kind of after affects, Hisoka, as it turns out, manages to completely regenerate everything he lost meaning there really are no long lasting affects from his battle with Chrollo. As I said, feels almost pointless.
Anyway Hisoka then warns Machi that he’ll be coming after each of the Spiders as he imprisons her with his nen gum ability. Machi is angry and ready to kill Hisoka, but can’t do a thing now that she’s been restrained.
We flash forward to Chrollo talking with Shalnark on the phone, planning to infiltrate the upcoming voyage of the King and his princes all in an effort to steal some treasure. Shalnark gets off the phone but discovers that Hisoka has already killed Kortopi and Shalnark doesn’t last much longer himself as Hisoka closes in for a very quick and sudden kill. He’s left strung up on a swing set as crows pick at his body. The chapter ends as its noted that two of the Phantom Troupe are down with ten to go.
I can’t help but feel disappointed in Hisoka’s perfect resurrection. It’s one thing when a villain comes back from what a hero was able to do to him, but I guess since Chrollo and Hisoka are both villains it feels odd that the entire fight left no lasting affects on either fighter. I guess it displays how terrifying Hisoka is, but I can’t help but feel that by avoiding lasting consequences Hunter x Hunter undermines the sheer shock of the earlier chapters. This means, going forward, I don’t know that sudden violent damage to characters will make me bat an eye. It certainly won’t have the affect it had last time with Hisoka’s hand.
Also the dips in quality of the art, while not awful, have me concerned for the future of this series. I know many people are of the belief that there won’t be any more hiatus for HxH, but dips like this make me question if Togashi is running himself into the ground again and that a hiatus may just be around the corner. I’m hoping I’m wrong, I’d love to see a conclusion sooner rather than later. Let’s just hope Gon doesn’t get stuck on a boat like Guts’ did.
Otherwise I’m definitely excited to see Hisoka chase down the Phantom Troupe and the gruesome deaths his sure to bring to each member. It’s also nice to see this little plot now coming back into the rest of this dark continent arc, which is still off to an overall slow start as we’re not even on the boats yet! I wonder how much more set up we need before everyone’s off to this dark, mysterious and supposedly exceedingly deadly forgotten land.
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, 354-357 will be collected and released sometime next year.