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I have heard so many positive things about this story and I expected great things. I sincerely believed that I wouldn’t be misleading myself from the toxic positivity of a fandom, because Togashi’s Yu Yu Hakusho was a series that I highly regarded in terms of character depth, setting, fighting scenes, and some of the plotting. I expected quality because his previous work was an amazing array of quality of interpersonal relationships, situational awareness, and amazing and clever battle scenes. Togashi had written a masterpiece with Yu Yu Hakusho and the only thing that I could think of as a negative was the rushed ending in the anime. I thought that, even if I disliked Hunter x Hunter that it would be decent at least. However, I’m afraid that this is one of the worst stories that I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching and all I can do is comb through the rubble of this dumpster fire to try to understand how one of the greatest writers of the Shonen genre fell so far to create this hideous monstrosity of piss poor writing, mostly awful and shallow characters, terribly half-assed worldbuilding, horrible narration, and a clusterfuck of a battle system that – upon deeper scrutiny – is clear that Togashi is just making it up with terms as he goes along with the story. Togashi’s writing in Hunter x Hunter is among the worst I’ve seen of any shonen series ever.
The core failure of Hunter x Hunter is that it is nothing but training and tournament arcs with barely anything happening between them and with mostly anti-climactic conclusions. The Hunter Exam ends with Gon learning of the aftermath after he wins his battle, but we as viewers see none of it. After a very brief rescue arc that doesn’t amount to anything since Killua is randomly free to leave with permission from his father anyway, with no real stakes since it goes from an interesting dynamic of a guard who wanted to be Killua’s friend to some boring coin toss game while Killua’s conveniently in the other room of the servant quarters, it then goes into some new training and tournament arc. The purpose of this training and tournament arc of Heaven’s Arena was ostensibly to have Gon train so that he could fight Hisoka in Yorknew; Hisoka had told this to Kurapika and Kurapika had told Gon. Gon and Killua then decided to train in Heaven’s Arena to fight Hisoka in Yorknew, but then it is revealed Hisoka was in Heaven’s Arena after all. Gon gets his dramatic fight with Hisoka and loses by technical knockout. After the fight against Hisoka, an arc that set-up rooms where characters become bosses and there were hundreds of more floors to keep going up, then ends prematurely for no real reason. Gon and Killua then leave for Gon’s home at Whale Island, just so Gon’s aunt Mito randomly reveals a secret message from Ging that conveniently sends Gon and Killua to Yorknew where Kurapika already is. In other words, Gon and Killua went to Heaven’s Arena to train so Gon could fight Hisoka at Yorknew, Gon fought Hisoka at Heaven’s Arena anyway, and then Gon’s aunt randomly reveals a secret box where Ging mentions Yorknew in a recorded message and for Gon to go there if he wants a chance at meeting him. Instead of Hisoka saying he’ll meet him again at Yorknew; Gon no longer had a reason to go to Yorknew and so Togashi had the plot conveniently bend over backwards to make Gon think that going to Yorknew was somehow predestined. It was sloppy writing at best and asinine at worst; it only worsens from there.
At Yorknew, Gon and Killua start pawning items to sell in order to make a profit to buy a rare video game that Ging’s clues made out to be important, but why didn’t they just go back to Heaven’s Arena to make that money when the tournament battles kept paying in the tens and hundreds of millions which would have helped them quicker? Why did they conveniently decide to just leave and why couldn’t they have simply asked to take a period of time-off? There’s no reason to believe they’d be required to stay there since Hisoka is free to come and go, but Killua brings up leaving on his part could cause some bizarre penalty because he left as a kid years ago. Togashi clearly didn’t think of how the localities are interconnected and randomly forgot plot points or dropped plotlines midway. For example, why didn’t Wing briefly mention Biscuit Krueger to Gon and Killua during training in Heaven’s Arena instead of Biscuit randomly stating in an off-hand comment that she used to train Wing? Kurapika in the Yorknew arc also displays these poorly written self-contradictions. Kurapika wanted to collect his clan’s eyes and kill the Phantom Troupe, so why didn’t he decide to destroy the eyes or hide them after thinking the Troupe had all been killed off and believed that he had the scarlet eyes? Why would he send off what he believed to be legitimate scarlet eyes to Neon Nostrade, the daughter of his employer, when one of his two objectives was to use their mafia connections to get the eyes? And, what about the impact of side character deaths in the story? In the Yorknew arc, a fellow servant of the Nostrade family was randomly revealed to be the lover of one of Neon’s attendants without any build-up, introduction, explanation, or reason to care about him before the Phantom Troupe murdered him. How can it be called quality writing to have all this information dumped on viewers for this random guy just before the Phantom Troupe murdered him? Why is it that in the current manga, we have no information for why Neon randomly dies with no explanation and the only thing HxH fans can say in HxH community forums is guesses that it was probably her father; despite there being no established motive, purpose, or reason for why she suddenly died? No story arc at all. She’s randomly just dead now and readers have to accept it? This entire story is honestly a mess of half-assed writing and it is painful to observe how people call this series a mark of good writing.
The Nen magic system, often applauded as among the best, is one of the most shallow and weakest forms of writing outside of the ability of Hatsu. First of all, Togashi kept adding confusing terminology instead of simplifying the terms so they’d be easier to follow. Second, and far more importantly, Togashi is clearly making up this system as he goes along. What is the point of Ten and Ren when Nen users can use “advanced” forms En and Ken? Initially, when Kurapika seeing Uvogin wipe the floor with other Nen users in the Yorknew arc, this battle system was actually clever and made sense. However, with the additions of En, Ken, and especially Shu; what exactly was the point of having the initial abilities when they can be combined into various “advanced” forms that have none of the drawbacks of the “basic” forms? And why didn’t Uvogin use those advanced forms against Kurapika in their battle? The answer is obvious: Togashi was, and always has been, making up this magic system without any clear planning on how it is supposed to work. For example, during the Heaven’s Arena arc, in which Hisoka fought against Kastro the clone-maker, Kastro was admonished by both Hisoka and others for increasing abilities that weren’t close to his Nen type as an enhancer because it taxes him more to use conjuration and manipulation. Yet, Biscuit Krueger’s training for Gon and Killua during the Greed Island arc is supposed to enhance all of their various abilities with the different Nen types. Killua’s rhythm echo (where he creates afterimages through stepping) and ability to transform his hand into claws doesn’t make sense in the context of the Nen system without him having awakened Hatsu already, which he didn’t do since he never learned it until Heaven’s Arena alongside Gon. In the manga, there’s now a new form of power system anyway. Moreover, Kurapika’s red eyes give him the ability of two different Nen types, which makes the whole point of Nen types moot when the most interesting and best written main character of the show can use a cheat to use multiple kinds to bypass restrictions.
Togashi will always be one of the greatest Shonen manga writers of all-time and he has made an absolute masterpiece called Yu Yu Hakusho. I sincerely am left in utter disbelief that anyone can claim characters like Leorio, Killua, or Kurapika have even a tenth of the depth of characters like Kurama, Kuwabara, Yusuke, and Hiei. The idea that Yu Yu Hakusho was Togashi just getting a grip on writing detailed characters and somehow “perfecting” it with Hunter x Hunter is so woefully indefensible that I can’t even believe people make such arguments. Whereas Yu Yu Hakusho provided Yusuke’s teenage introspection on learning to care for others, the character of Gon just seems to be a strawman caricature of Kid Goku from Dragonball in order for Togashi to decry shonen protagonists as completely insane while making Gon as selfish as possible without any degree of awareness of kid Goku’s inherently compassionate nature and Goku’s ability to learn about different forms of right and wrong from his journey and experiences like when kid Goku challenged the Red Ribbon Army. Yu Yu Hakusho will always be Togashi’s magnum opus and it is quite clear that he hasn’t updated Hunter x Hunter much because he recognizes the flaws and realizes that he made a mistake in creating it. I can only speculate, but it’s possible that he either had too many ideas and doesn’t know what direction to take it, or he’s ashamed of writing Hunter x Hunter because it is genuinely the worst written shonen series ever made. Worse than My Hero Academia’s low-quality portions, worse than Inuyasha’s negatives, worse than Naruto’s worst parts, and so on. The characters of Hunter x Hunter are shallow or terrible, the Nen magic system is something he’s clearly making up as he goes along, Togashi failed to practice show don’t tell since the narrator seems to be the main character more often than the actual main characters, and the only thing it has is various forms of half-assed training and tournament arcs that get dropped plot points and anti-climactic endings. Examples range from the Heaven’s Arena arc’s entire setting being dropped and forgotten about to the billionaire Battera given some random and poorly explained backstory to cancel the entire purpose of sending Nen players into the Greed Island game. I say this with all sincerity: Hunter x Hunter is the worst shonen ever written.