This article contains spoilers for the first 34 Volumes of Hunter x Hunter
The 34th Volume of Hunter×Hunter, which hit the shelves on 26 June, has caused quite a stir among some of its fans. This is not just because it is such a long-awaited volume (the first one in a year) but because it contains Yoshihiro Togashi’s self-commentary on ‘Chrollo vs Hisoka’.
If you are not familiar with Togashi, you might wonder what the fuss is about. For instance, Eiichiro Oda, the creator of popular Jump series One Piece, answers fans’ questions and also talks about background information and future developments in ‘SBS’, a question-and-answer column in his manga volumes.
However, Togashi has never added author commentary, as far as I know. No wonder that his self-commentary, which can be considered as complaining, upset the fans a great deal.
I’m going to analyze the self-commentary in Volume 34 and propose several hypotheses. I think the reasons why the self-commentary was included in the manga volume reveals much for deciphering Hunter x Hunter from here on. They might sound like far-fetched speculations to you, but if you consider some of them as possibilities, you’ll enjoy reading Hunter x Hunter more than before.
What was written in Togashi’s self-commentary?
What was Written in Togashi’s Commentary?
First of all, I will sum up what he actually said in the commentary below.
・There were several things he wanted to do in the showdown of ‘Chrollo vs Hisoka’.
・First, their showdown itself. He wanted to have both of them excited on stage, with Chrollo, who declared that he would without a doubt win, to emerge as the victor.
・What he wanted to do most is to have a member of the troupe murdered by Hisoka.
・Togashi stated that he has his own manual to write stories, though his ultimate judgement depends on his ‘intuition’.
The important point here is that he decided who should be killed by Hisoka by following his ‘intuition’. Before analyzing the commentary, there is one more assumption that I want to share with you. It’s the story of the battle between Chrollo and Hisoka.
Hypothesis 1: Was Hisoka Entrapped?
The ‘Chrollo vs Hisoka’ battle is the battle every reader had been waiting for from the beginning of its serialization, a super high-context fierce battle packed to bursting with magnetism.
Chrollo’s Nen ability, ‘Skill Hunter’, allows him to steal the Hatsu of others. He is already equipped with ‘Sun and Moon’, and ‘Order Stamp’, as well as acquiring ‘Black Voice’ and ‘Gallery Fake’ from his troupe members. Together with ‘Double Face’, he managed to corner Hisoka.
I won’t explain each ability from scratch in this space. To sum up, the battle of ‘Chrollo and Hisoka’ looks like Chrollo was taking advantage of the abilities he stole, but there is the strong possibility that the members of the Phantom Troupe were hiding among spectators and assisting him secretly.
I’d explain this hypothesis further below, but at this stage, I want to point out this hypothesis can explain Hisoka’s doubt, as well as the reason why the particular members of the troupe whose abilities Chrollo used were in the venue.
Because of its condensed information and complications, understanding the battle of ‘Phantom Troupe vs Hisoka’ is a difficult task. To be honest, even I, a self-proclaimed Hunter x Hunter enthusiast, can hardly catch up with the story.
I presume Togashi and his editor, who knows better than anyone else what is happening in the story, must have had a similar concern.
Hypothesis 2: Does the Commentary Come from Togashi or The Goodwill of His Editor?
The fact that the self-commentary was included in the volume astonished fans. Now, I’m going to explore the reason why the self-commentary was included.
I work as an editor, therefore I am concerned with how to deliver works while keeping a good relationship between authors and readers. In short, how to open works to readers or simply how to write a commentary.
This might be off-topic but I once asked rapper Hahanoshikyu to write an opening commentary because his short story, ‘If Chrollo and Hisoka Had a Rap Battle’ was super exciting but quite unpredictable, therefore I thought it needed some explanation.
As an editor, I believe Togashi’s editor must have thought he had to do something to help readers understand the ‘Chrollo vs Hisoka’ Battle, which is, as I said earlier, difficult to understand even for me who is writing about his self-commentary.
It’s Too Much Excitement! Togashi-Sensei!
The ‘Chrollo and Hisoka’ battle was full of misleading information and with the nature of high-context culture. If I were the editor of Togashi, I would have thought it needed a comment from him to make more readers understand and enjoy Hunter x Hunter deeply, as well as preventing some readers from dropping the manga because of its complexity; the battles themselves were complex enough to understand completely, and moreover, the back-alley tactics behind the battles further complicate the story.
I believe that the self-commentary was included on the editor’s request. However, would the manga artist with remarkable talent, Yoshihiro Togashi, listen to his editor? I think his self-commentary was far from his editor’s expectations.
A commentary on ‘Chrollo vs Hisoka’
Now, taking the two hypothetical preconditions, that the battle was actually Troupe vs Hisoka and that his self-commentary was requested by his editor into account, I’m going to explore the self-commentary further.
It’s inconceivable that the author of Hunter x Hunter would write a commentary, as there is a lot of foreshadowing interwoven into it. I don’t know whether Togashi intended to ignore his editor’s possible request to write a commentary on the battle of ‘Chrollo and Hisoka’, but his actual commentary was to pour out his true sentiments.
He said in past interviews that he writes the dialogues as if they were a scenario for a stand-up comedy routine and always before he draws the rough sketches. He prepares several logical developments and in the end, lets the protagonist finds the way.
Moreover, he examines whether a character will take action in accordance with his planned developments, even though the scenes won’t be included in the finished manga in order to eradicate discrepancy in his works, which also demonstrates his characters’ supremacy principle.
He said in his interview with Sui Ishida that ‘manga becomes more interesting when I can’t control the characters.’ I believe this remark demonstrates Togashi’s true talent.
The Jump with the new re-serialization of Hunter x Hunter and the newest volume
Togashi confessed in his self-commentary, ‘Hisoka wished to kill Machi in that place, but I rejected it.’
As a long-term reader of the manga, I understood how essential it was to the story for Hisoka to let Machi live with the role of the messenger, even though he desired to kill all the members of the phantom troupe. However, there was still some doubt remaining in my mind.
Because for Hisoka, who changed his desire from taking pleasure in fighting to killing off the Troupe, the existence of a messenger must be purely nuisance. The absurdity of Hisoka’s decision to spare Machi’s life might have been decided against Togashi’s usual story-making method.
Obviously, there is a possibility that the method itself doesn’t apply to everything, though I think the last words in Togashi’s self-commentary, ‘I just hope I don’t regret it…’, implies that perhaps it wasn’t fully his own intention.
To the Next Chapter
This article is just my own speculations based on my hypotheses and without any concrete evidence. I speculate that, on the basis of my feelings as a long-term reader, something is not quite right.
Hunter x Hunter has resumed its serialization and I expect its adventures to the unknown world will inspire us. Thank you very much for reading this far. Lastly, I just want to say, Togashi is the best! He is a genius!