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Hunter X Hunter is one of the messiest manga I have ever seen. It's a dark fantasy of deconstruction of Dragonball, however it has trouble balancing plot elements and its persistence in deconstructing Dragonball can be rather obsessive. More than anything, Togashi seems to make things up as he goes along. This is common among most Shonen authors, but for Togashi, this is far more apparent than his peers.
Characters in Hunter x Hunter are initially interesting but become more bland as the story progresses. Gon functions as a provocateur, acting heroic in some typical situations, but other times acting immature or acting upon a hardline logic that only he sees as correct, such as refusing to hear about his biological mother, because he considers his aunt his mom, and he "only needs one". This is supposed to be a deconstruction of Goku, however, while Gokuís lapses in logic are played for comedy, Gon's Blue-and-Orange Morality is played for drama. Unfortunately, Hx H lacks a centralized cast, so except for a few odd reactions, Gon's behavior has very little impact on character dynamics or relationships. The other major character, Killua, is kind of a pushover, especially when it comes to Gon. He spends a lot of time worrying about Gon not wanting to be his friend or worrying about being a coward. Most of the time, he is stuck in Gon's shadow. Thus Killua does what Gon tells him to and as a result, there is very little drama in their interactions. There are other characters, but they have a tendency to drop out the story for dozens, possibly hundreds of chapters, meaning it is hard for the main characters and even audience to get attached to them.
Itís hard to say Hunter x Hunter has a plot. The storyline revolves around Gon's search for father which is done defiance of his father's wishes, as he tells Gon he doesn't want to see him. Now this could be a story that discusses legacy and familial ties with a focus on Gon's understanding what it is he truly wants, but instead there's a lot of focus on dungeons and obstacles to the main character's journey. This is where Togashi excels, as when he is creating dungeons, they all have different rules and requirements. Most of the chapters focus on the main duo getting past one obstacle or another. However, it leads to a single-minded focus toward the particular obstacle, often pushing out other elements entirely.. The Phantom Troupe are introduced as a Greater-Scope Villain early in the series, yet the author struggled to introduce them in later arcs due to not fitting in his obstacles driven plots. Consequently what few appearances they do have, make them look like gothic posers, as they attempt to look threatening but do little to nothing to draw the attention of the main characters.
Hx H is dark, but it's a shallow form of being edgy. What draws me to dark stories is the aftermath as much as the actual material. Promised Neverland has children see there surrogate mother sell their companions to monsters for food, Berserk has the main characters survive rape and massacres, Death Note has one of the main characters killed by the other. However, because Hx H constantly moves around, its main characters often don't get affected by these dark actions. It is easy to get detached from the characters as well as the setting in general. One of the character's allies, Squala gets decapitated by a villain in one the story arcs. This is supposed to be a shocking moment, but due to his stilted dynamics with Kurpika, another character that is later put Out of Focus being fairly, it's impact is rather limited. Unfortunately, its also incredibly slow when it comes to developing these plot points as training arcs are interspersed throughout the series. I came to the climax of the Chimera Ant arc, frustrated and tired from all the padding that dragged the arc out to be so long.
Hunter X Hunter is subversive in its storytelling, but that is all I can say about it. Having one interesting quality isn't enough to carry a long running story and its over-reliance on this tool sometimes can be detrimental to the plot, as story arcs are often dropped on a whim. Hunter x Hunter has ugly art, its panels are filled with heavy text boxes, its characters are unrelatable and often stagnant, most of its relationships are poorly developed, its characters dynamics are repetitive, and above all else it is painfully slow. It's a storyline that drags itself along as it is weighed down by its many flaws. The question comes of whether you can tolerate watching a snail move along the leaf, just so you can see the occasional odd curve before it moves back into the same standard pace.
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