Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
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Hunter X Hunter

by McCamy Taylor

Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter X Hunter is my favorite manga. I have read the series three times. I own the first anime adaptation.  I am currently watching  the second anime adaptation as it is being released in Japan on Crunchyroll.  When the manga series goes on hiatus---which it does with alarming regularity---I cry and tear out my hair. So does my son. What kind of manga can make addicts of a 50 year old mom and her 20 year old son?  

Hunter X Hunter is the follow up to Yu Yu Hakusho, which was made famous in this country by Cartoon Network.  I have read the Yu Yu Hakusho manga, too, and while it is well scripted, I would not go back and read it all over again, because I already know what is going to happen. Hmmm.  I already know what is going to happen when I reread Hunter X Hunter , too.  But that does not stop me from enjoying it. Could it be the characters?

Our hero, Gon is a kid. A cute little boy in shorts who dreams of being a Hunter like his absentee father.  Ah, isn’t that sweet? He can communicate with animals. Everyone who meets him grows to love him. His major strength is his determination-----

And he gleefully pals around with assassins, psycho-killers and mass murderers. I think, perhaps,  it is the supporting  cast that sets this manga apart from all the other Puny Heroes Who Prevail In The End Due To Their Determination manga and anime titles that seem to flourish  in Japan the way that kudzu covers the American south.

Gon’s best friend is a kid, too. The brightest star of a family of assassins. And no, Killua (get it, Kill You) does not just talk about the assassinations he has committed in the past. He rips the heart out of characters who stand in his way. And Gon cheers him on.
Gon’s  biggest fan is the psychotic killer, Hisoka who dresses like a clown out of hell. Hisoka is looking forward to the day when Gon shows his full potential, so that he can fight---and, presumably, kill him. In the meantime, he goes out of his way to keep the “Unripe fruit” (his term for Gon) from being knocked from the vine prematurely.

Gon does not really have enemies. His biggest strength, after his determination, is his ability to make people like him.  However, there are plenty of villains, some of them extremely nasty. And by nasty, I am not referring to the way they kill people. Remember, one of the heroes plucks out people’s hearts. In the world of Hunter X Hunter the villains are the ones who refuse to be won over by Gon.  Since Gon charms people---even extremely bad people--- by accepting them for who they are, admiring their strengths and  criticizing their flaws, only someone who hates himself  can hate Gon. And in the heavily Buddhist culture of Japan, self-loathing leads to fear leads to violence leads to all the troubles of the world---

So, love yourself. Go read Hunter X Hunter. Ignore the fact that it starts off like Pokemon---school kid leaves home with the permission of his guardian in order to fight scary monsters and power up---and get to know Gon, Killua, Leorio, Kurapika and the rest. Just don’t be surprised if you get to a cliff hanger and discover that the writer has decided to take off six months in order to hang out with his wife (Sailor  Moon creator  Naoko Takeuchi). Hmm. Maybe that is the other reason this manga stays so readable. If  more comic book authors  had the opportunity to sit back and plan their next story arc in advance, we might have less Most Popular Character In The Series Dies Then Has To Be Resurrected A Few Volumes Later As Author Realizes His Terrible Mistake (yes, Masashi Kishimoto of Naruto fame and  Hiroya Oku of Gantz fame. I am talking about you.)

© 2010 McCamy Taylor

McCamy Taylor is the long-fiction editor of Aphelion.

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