HXH manga & metropolis 2001
hi! wow, long time no website work or diary writing! been dealing with a pretty horrific mental health crisis on top of a rough end of semester in school, so i really haven’t had much juice leftover for this project – or really even for reading and watching shit, which makes me really sad!!!!!!!!!! i’m finally well enough (and free enough, lol) to do a little more than i’ve been doing, but still running low on mental resources for any real work. i really hope that will change soon, but in the meantime, there were a few things i got through and wanted to talk about on here so i can catalog my feelings about them. here’s that really quick, and i hope to be back on this site next time with something more substantial, haha.
hunter x hunter: The Manga: I like; the it
i’ve been a hunter x hunter guy since like, late 2018 or early 2019, when i first watched the 2011 madhouse adaptation and fell head over heels for its ridiculous maximalism, uncompromising stupidness, + unwavering commitment to taking itself completely seriously in spite of the two previous traits. i watched all 148 episodes in the span of a few months and thought about it basically nonstop for a while – but i never really felt compelled to seek out its other adaptations or the source material, despite how much i loved it. i guess i was more or less satisfied with the story the way it was presented to me; though the comic goes on, wrapping it right after gon meets ging for the first time and parts ways with killua felt like the perfect narrative bookend, just the right place to leave these characters that i’d become so dearly acquainted with. but for whatever reason, recently i got bit by the hunter x hunter bug again. just realllllllly started missing The Guys. so i finally took the time to acquaint myself with the source material and continue the story. i have thoughts!
first of all, um, i really prefer the manga now…LOL. i don’t really MIND the visual style of the madhouse adaptation per se, it’s…fine (better than fine for the hunter exam arc, which it feels designed in service of)… but man, there is something really special about togashi’s artwork that got completely lost in translation. there’s a fluidity to it, weaving effortlessly in and out of the extremely disparate tones of each individual arc and scene while still maintaining its character and readability in a way that having standard character sheets to animate from dictate the visual style doesn’t allow for. chameleon-like, it adapts to whatever tonal niche it needs to fill. and it’s hunter x hunter, so the story kind of demands it suit every possible narrative tone at least once. i was really struck by it. i was also struck by the incredible readability of the oftentimes completely batshit fight scenes? the guy is really incredible at visual storytelling. (which is funny because hunter x hunter occasionally devolves into more of a novel than a comic for pages at a time) this is all to say that i really do think this is the best medium through which you can hunter your hunters and whatnot. reading the manga even once is probably enough to convince anyone of this.
i also was finally able to gain insight into how stupidly faithful of an adaptation the 2011 TVA is. it’s, like, shot for shot most of the time? that’s pretty incredible, but it makes the small-but-significant plot changes that they made all the more baffling. like, honestly, if you’re going to adapt the entire chimera ant arc using the manga as basically storyboards, why on earth would you compromise some of the character beats that are most central to gon’s character progression there by just omitting the kite thing until after greed island? you guys are weird. and like, after reading the manga, i kind of feel like a lot of the narrative “cleaning up” that went on in adapting it was actually to its detriment. part of what i like so much about HXH as a story is it feels weirdly stream-of-consciousness. the wide range of tones and settings and characters (almost unrecognizable from arc to arc) gives the whole thing this sense of like, “this is obviously just some shit this guy thought would be cool on a whim rather than something that he deliberately set out to implement from the start of the comic” that is really appealing to me. i love when it feels like togashi is just going on a completely unplanned diatribe about like, endangered species or MMO culture or nuclear warfare or whatever. slimming it down and cutting the fat off of the meat kind of feels like it robs the writing of its character. togashi is quite clearly the type of person who just sits around thinking about like, how society would operate if we lived underwater or how tardigrades live on the moon. its the consistent commitment to just talking about whatever the fuck he’s thinking about arc-by-arc and panel by panel that makes hunter x hunter feel heartfelt and immersive, like getting really into the story you construct with a sibling while playing with action figures.
and i mean, is this manga anything besides playing with action figures? in 2019 i remember being really indignant that the majority of the conversations going on about HXH online were like, reddit debates about whether or not silva or netero would win in a fight. i thought it was a real shame because there’s so much meaty character stuff going on all the time, so much interesting thematic shit. i really wanted everyone to be having lengthy socratic seminars about like killua and gons codependent relationship or like, the parallels in what togashi is trying to say with the chimera ants and the phantom troupe and all that. but now i’ve grown and matured, and 4 or so years have passed, and after reading the source material, i can finally see the forest for the trees: those guys on reddit were probably flying closer to togashi’s narrative intentions than i was. maybe it’s the chrollo and hisoka fight that made me realize that, or maybe it’s just a greater familiarity with togashi’s voice as an author, undiluted by anime development pipeline. i think that maybe this guy really wants, more than anything else, to do really stupid fight scenes for hundreds of chapters. and that’s beautiful and heartfelt in a different way than the pigeonholed version of “beautiful and heartfelt” that i’d settled on when i was 17. but it’s still the principle that i admire more than anything in art: the sense that somebody on the other end of the manga you’re reading or cartoon you’re watching went through all the hard work to tell the story because they really, really wanted to. and isn’t “what if silva and netero fought who would win” a version of that? i still do think HXH is “that deep,” the same way that i did when i was younger. but “that deep” and “comic that was mostly penned to draw buff guys beating eachother up with weird magic” don’t really have to be mutually exclusive, do they? like, if you really think about it, DO you think gon would bomb netero if meruem got his wish granted from alluka? and like, what WOULD kurapika do?
that’s a deep cut for any 2019 HXHblrheads, if you’re even still alive out there. get in touch with me man. you remember “he’s worse than ever?” you remember that shit? we were craaaaazy.
anyway, enough about general storytelling intent, let’s get into “the specifics!” there’s too many characters for me to really even get started on talking about character stuff in depth, but i think killua somehow snuck into the “favorite hxh character” position, finally dethroning gon after 4 years of nothing but gon. it’s probably because i’ve become incredibly fond of the “living weapon” type of guy in the past year or so, or maybe it’s just because the needle pulling scene REALLY hit this time. either way, i struggle to think of another character that straddling the line between “deeply tragic” and “fucking hilarious” so precariously and in such a constant way as killua. really love him. i became conscious in this read-through (in a way that i hadn’t been when i first watched it) how much he is just your standard “mom and pops want me to inherit the old family business!” character, but instead of like, tending to the farm, it’s just murdering people. that’s gold. that’s so good. that’s literally so good. and in true hunter x hunter form, the narrative takes it completely seriously and at face value, and it sucks you into a world where that’s not a joke so wholly that it’s impossible not to resonate with it and find it genuinely harrowing.
i still wept like a child at the end of CAA the second time around and i’m not afraid to admit it. i really think that that arc is a masterwork– not that i necessarily know what it’s a masterwork in, but it’s something. i think my favorite part of the whole arc is actually the way that the resolution is abruptly caught off – we have palm tell us, more or less, that everything is going to be okay, but then we cut out, away from the action, knowing only that it resolved itself and not how, to scenes of pastoral mundanity, slow recovery in these gentle pockets of introspection. trying to carve out a way to live in a world that very narrowly survived – its so archetypally in service of the things i love to see in stories that it feels almost built for me. the fact that it’s only after that, only once we see the new life peeking out between the rubble of the forest fire, that we actually get to learn how it all came to an end really makes that shit land like nothing else after the nuclear-tier stakes and oppressive grimness it wakes you up from. it’s just really good. like i was kind of thinking i would think it was less good now that i’m just generally a little more well read than i was when i first watched hxh. but i still wept like a child you know?
as for what’s actually new to me, um…the succession arc is…well, it’s in my head now, to be sure. i’m really not sure what i think about it. it’s the most convoluted and apt to lose you elements of the prior two arcs dialed up to 900. it is incredibly hard to follow, but i’m definitely hooked, even if i’m not sure i fully understand the scope of what’s going on. just when you think there possibly can’t be another layer to this thing, it keeps winding down deeper. i get the sense that something really remarkable is being set up, though ; i wonder if this is how people felt when the chimera ant arc was ongoing too, like this feeling that something REALLY incredible could happen, but it’s probably going to take at least another 50 to 100 chapters to get there? yeah. i mean, it was a bold move to introduce completely new nen mechanics 400 chapters into the comic. it was an equally bold move to put basically every recurring character that isn’t gon and killua on that fuckin boat. how am i supposed to keep track of like, no less than 75 characters!?? and hisoka too? man you really had to bring that guy? god i’m so sick of him. listen i really hope he gets killed this time. like somebody has got to finally kill him.
if i sound a bit unconvinced of my feelings, it’s because i am. but i’m excited to see it shake out. and i’m kind of pretty sure that the panel where kurapika holds woble and like, remembers he’s human for the first time since yorknew is actually one of the best panels in the whole damn thing. the nen beasts fuckin rule too. i don’t know. whatever happens, it’s hunter x hunter. it’s gonna be crazy, so i’ve got to be there. and being able to say that is pretty special.
Favorite arcs: Chimera ant arc, Zoldyck family arc
Favorite characters: Killua, gon, alluka/nanika, komugi and meruem and neferpitou (all in one nebulous thematic blob), shidore
here’s the “fanwork i made while going through this piece of media” of the entry! nothing crazy this time, it’s a collage i made of panels i screenshotted while i was reading to express a feeling that HXH kind of always draws out of me. as well, i included some drawings i made :3
jesus christ i wrote a lot, sorry! I like hunter x hunter somewhat. but theres more! here’s a quick feature on one specific scene from metropolis 2001, which i finally watched after roughly 5 years of my best friend trying to get me to watch it.
METROPOLIS 2001: Do you ever see a shot in a movie thats so good that it changes you
ok, i know this is not what this entry is about it all but let me digress for a second just, like, immediately – have you ever seen “millennium actress” by satoshi kon? there’s this sequence at the end that recontextualizes all of the little anecdotes told over the course of the entire film and splices them together in a new order that reveals the “real story.” watching it feels like pulling one final stitch taut in place, and that one tiny movement suddenly reveals a massive, intricate web of embroidery, suddenly paints this vivid, clear picture; it’s like looking at a JPEG one pixel at a time and studying each of them individually, trying to figure out what they mean, and then zooming out, finally getting the gestalt. it’s the purest distillation of one of my favorite things to feel from art: that sensation of a perfectly engineered machine with every piece in exactly the right place, that kind of awe and that sense of unstoppable momentum. when you stand in front of that kind of thing, you kind of cease to exist under the sheer magnitude of it. metropolis 2001 might be the first time i felt that same emotion in the opposite direction.
i could talk about the rest of the movie! it was good. it was beautiful, incredibly overanimated in a pretty jaw-dropping way, with art direction that feels very true to tezuka’s style. directed pretty erratically, but its jarring starts and stops are kind of charming when you get used to them. it’s not very subtle, and i’m not sure how i feel about that yet. tima is “just like me for real” ( a sentiment my best friend shared they had been “waiting for me to (post about) for 5 years”) and i loved pretty much every scene she’s in. i could talk about those things, and other things, but i kind of don’t want to. i kind of just want to talk about “i can’t stop lovin’ you” by ray charles?
like i kind of don’t care about anything else. millennium actress’s big jaw-dropping blot-out-the-sun moment is like, building up, right? it’s building something. but metropolis’s “big moment” is the exact elemental opposite, just exploding everything down to rubble. the whole film is weaving that same complicated tapestry, slowly, deliberately, you can see it as it’s getting woven, and then it’s like, hey, check this out, and just lights it on fire. i don’t have any smart commentary, or really anything to add besides that. i’m just kind of amazed. i sat there with my mouth open, just completely fixated, and felt it writing itself on my heart forever.
i guess the point of writing about this is just 1. what the fuck? i think that was kind of the best thing i’ve ever watched. Not like, the whole movie, i mean just that one scene. i kind of feel like that was actually a masterpiece, and not just like, a masterpiece to me, but like, in general. and 2. i didn’t know it before this, but i think it’s possible to create the same awe that you feel when you’re watching a supercomplex machine churn away with no regard for you, with all of its pieces perfectly in place, by just blowing the fucking thing up.
i’m not really sure what to do with that knowledge, but i’ll do something with it, i think. my favorite character is tima. Duh.
that’s all :3 i hope to see you next time with something a little more substantial, but thank you for reading, if anyone is reading these! (besides chimera, hi chimera LOL)