Hunter x Hunter Graphic Novel Volume 36 cover image
Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
Hunters are devoted to tracking down priceless items, treasures, mystical places, magical beasts, and even other people. Prospective Hunters must take a highly selective licensing exam, and only 1 in 100,000 can pass this grueling qualification exam. This will give them access to restricted areas and amazing stores of information and the right to call themselves that special breed, “Hunters.” Gon Freecss is a Hunter.
Hunter × Hunter, Vol. 36 (entitled "Balance" – Chapters 371 to 380) opens aboard “The Black Whale,” the monstrous ocean-going vessel sailing to the “Dark Continent.” Meanwhile, onboard the ship, a succession battle rages for the throne of the “Kakin Kingdom.” Fourteen Kakin princes (a term used to describe both male and female heirs) want the throne, to one extent or another, and some are willing to kill his... or her rivals to finish on top.
Kurapika, a Hunter and a friend of Gon, is onboard the Black Whale, acting as a bodyguard to the infant Prince Woble and her mother, Oito. As the sun rises on the second day of the voyage, Kurapika must confront murder most foul. One prince is dead, along with several other people, and the killer or killers wield the power of “Nen.”
Meanwhile, in the lower decks, there is also a mafia struggle, and there may be several supernaturally-powered serial killers among the travelers. Miziaston must unravel the intrigue and conspiracies and find the killers before chaos ensues and possibly sinks the Black Whale. And he must keep Kurapika from learning that his mortal enemies, the Spiders, are also onboard the Black Whale.
THE LOWDOWN: The Hunter × Hunter manga is a strange manga, as far as I am concerned. I have even described it as a bizarre version of Naruto. Creator Yoshihiro Togashi has certainly created a weird one, but Hunter × Hunter is both an imaginative and engaging read.
Hunter × Hunter Graphic Novel Volume 36 continues the weirdness, but also offers mystery, intrigue, and conspiracy. Also, I can't help but admire how creator Yoshihiro Togashi presents two separate fronts in the war for the throne of Kakin. There is Kurapika's quest to discover which of the princes is trying to kill the others. Then, there is the entire mafia/Spiders/serial killer conflagration in the lower decks. I think regular readers of this series will be excited by this volume, although I find it a bit slower in pace than the previous volume.
There is so, so very much talk, explanation, and exposition in Vol. 13 that Lillian Olsen's translation/English adaptation is quite a feat. Letterer Mark McMurray deftly designs the pages with the heftiest text sections. Olsen and McMurray's efforts make the English edition quite a read, and that is not easy. I imagine that Hunter × Hunter could be a hot mess of a read if the English-language creatives did not handle with care.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Readers looking for off-beat shonen will want to try the Shonen Jump title, Hunter × Hunter.
7 out of 10