This is a sequel to Hunter x Hiatus (Again), which was written the last time this series went on break.
Issue 16 of Weekly Shonen Jump reveals that Hunter x Hunter is set to take yet another extended leave of absence from the magazine. The news comes at the end of chapter 340, which will be the last chapter before author Togashi Yoshihiro takes his series into its newest in a long line of hiatus periods. This most recent run of Hunter x Hunter lasted 30 chapters, which is the new series record for longest streak of consecutive chapters without a missed issue. The previous mark was the run of 20 straight issues in 2010, when chapters 291 through 310 were published without interruption.
This announcement is curiously timed, as it was only days ago that an anime film adaptation was reported. Despite a lack of any concrete details explaining the reason for this hiatus, it’s reasonable to speculate that the timing of the two news items may be no coincidence. The report alluded to the idea that the anime film may be an original story, and it would be safe to assume that Togashi would want direct input in the creation of the film. Still, some clear communication from Togashi would be appreciated.
Although Hunter x Hunter only runs in short bursts, Togashi does manage to include a good amount of plot progression each time. These last 30 chapters have covered the aftermath of the fight between Netero and Meryem, most notably including the revelation that Meryem would die from the poison of the Miniature Rose. Meryem’s humanity was a large focus of the end of NGL, with Shaiapouf’s struggle to keep Komugi a secret from the king ending in vain as Welfin revealed her name. After Palm helped Meryem find Komugi, the leader was content to live the remainder of his life playing Gungi with his companion. As a result, the Chimera Ant arc ended without the satisfaction of its most fearsome villain experiencing defeat. This arc’s examination of humanity as a concept, from Meryem’s fluctuating ambition to something as simple as the value of a name, proves Togashi’s admirable willingness to eschew shonen stereotypes and traditions. However, the lack of a proper “boss fight” at the end of the arc does leave all of Meryem’s heinous acts unaccounted for. The Chimera Ant arc ran from Issue 28 of 2003 to Issue 43 of 2011, so while such a lack of resolution may be another accurate depiction of life by Togashi, it’s a letdown for readers who expected retribution after following the arc for over eight years.
This last run of chapters has also managed to begin and end a full arc. The 13th Hunter Chairman Election arc followed two distinct yet connected story lines, as the main plot of the election was complemented by the subplot of Killua attempting to save Gon. The election served as a splendid vehicle for Togashi to prominently feature his love for elaborate regulations and clever scheming, the latter most personified by the arc’s standout character, newcomer Pariston Hill. Pariston’s unnerving personality and unpredictability made him the perfect antagonist for a story predicated on debate and intelligence instead of fighting.
The action quota was fulfilled by Killua’s story, in which his plan to save Gon revolved around the abilities of his sibling Alluka, another fascinating new character. With Alluka’s haunting split personality Nanika giving Killua access to immense power, his intent to bring Alluka to Gon is met with active resistance from his own family, whether for safety purposes or to take that power for themselves. The struggle over Alluka led to some good chase scenes, and the prospect of a fight between Killua and Illumi was tantalizing, but that fight ultimately never materialized. In fact, these last 30 chapters didn’t contain a single memorable fight. Again, Togashi’s intent to write a dynamic story without adhering to specific genre guidelines is impressive, but Hunter x Hunter achieved its success by being a superb shonen action series that was supported by an interesting world, not dominated by it.
The most important development over these last 30 chapters was the surprising rise of Ging as a prominent character. For the entirety of the series, Ging was merely the goal for Gon; his role in the story was solely to provide the impetus for the main character to adventure and grow stronger in order to be able to reach his father. Therefore, Ging’s nonchalant appearance at the meeting of the Zodiacs was shocking, and his continued participation in subsequent events was surreal. The eventual convergence of the election arc and Killua’s story finally brought Gon face-to-face with his father, but that too was executed nonchalantly. Just as with the end of the Chimera Arc and the absence of a payoff for the tension between Killua and Illumi, this meeting between Gon and Ging was also a divisive plot choice. Certainly, the series never explicitly stated that their reunion would be heated or even particularly dramatic, but outside the context of the story, the expectations surrounding this moment were entirely justified, particularly after the swerve at the end of the Greed Island arc.
The goal stated by the main character at the beginning of a series is vital, even if it doesn’t always remain the most relevant plot point throughout the series. Judging Hunter x Hunter against its contemporaries, Gon meeting Ging is equivalent to Luffy becoming the Pirate King in One Piece, or the titular character of Naruto becoming Hokage. These characters have all developed additional goals as they have evolved, but their original motivation remains the underlying driving force behind their actions. Achieving such a goal before the end of the series without any fanfare might garner some shock value, but it strips away a core element of the series. This meeting between father and son provided no real benefit, yet it came at the cost of a vital aspect of Gon’s character.
Finally, just before the series went back on break, it introduced the concept of the Dark Continent, a vast and terrifying world outside of the confines of the known map. As with so many of Togashi’s ideas, this concept is exciting but questionable. A plot choice this massive can only be interpreted as a commitment to the readers; while it isn’t necessary to visit every locale and meet every creature detailed in the original visual representation of the Dark Continent, exploring only a small portion of this fantastic new world is guaranteed to disappoint the audience. Once again, then, Hunter x Hunter is hampered by Togashi’s commitment to his craft. The idea of a wilderness full of unfathomable danger would be purely exciting in the hands of another author; in fact, that exact premise has been cultivated successfully for years by Shimabukuro Mitsutoshi in Toriko. For whatever reason, though, Togashi is unable to maintain a regular publishing schedule, and the result is that readers have more difficulty committing to the ideas presented in Hunter x Hunter because those ideas may not be developed or resolved for years. It’s truly unfortunate that the circumstances surrounding this series prevent the full enjoyment of its content.
As Hunter x Hunter once again disappears from the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump, its audience can reflect positively on the developments of the last 30 chapters. Even without a marquee fight, the series did finally conclude the Chimera Ant arc, the peaceful conclusion to which was only frustrating to readers who had stayed current with the series all that time. Now that it is over, that arc can be appreciated solely for the plot it presents over 134 chapters, rather than scrutinized for what didn’t happen for over eight years. The 13th Hunter Chairman Election arc may have had its flaws, but it provided the satisfaction of a full story told without interruption. Introducing the Dark Continent right before a hiatus definitely makes for a painful cliffhanger, but at least the plot will be exciting whenever the series returns.
To close, here are some Hunter x Hunter statistics, updated from the previous hiatus article:
- From its debut (Issue 14, 1998) to present day (Issue 16, 2012), Hunter x Hunter has been absent from Weekly Shonen Jump 332 times.
- The Chimera Ant arc lasted 134 chapters over 402 issues of Jump; that averages out to one-third of a chapter per week.
- The longest hiatus remains 79 straight missed issues (2006-2007).
- The series’ record for absences in a calendar year is still 2009, when it missed 46 of 48 issues.
- There have been 671 issues of Weekly Shonen Jump since HxH began; Togashi has missed over 49% of them.
- Given 48 issues of Jump in one calendar year, that’s 6.92 publishing years missed.
- By comparison, One Piece (debut: Issue 34, 1997) has missed 45 issues to date. Naruto (debut: Issue 43, 1999) has missed 23 issues to date. KochiKame, which began in Issue 42, 1976, has still never missed a single week.