I was wrong when I said last time
that I haven't read shounen manga since Hikaru no Go. After picking up the new anime series, I got myself caught up on the Hunter x Hunter
manga. Someday, when I want to reread the series, I will go and get the tankoubon, I think. Togashi-sensei's art style is very bold and simple sometimes, but I kind of like it. Also, he tends to clean it up a lot for the tankoubon. I'll never forget that big looming shadow thing that Pitou summoned, that in the tankoubon became an intricately drawn nurse robot thing. And those couple chapters where Gon's and Killua's faces were really just a bunch of zigzaggy lines.
I saw on Wikipedia that the manga has been described as "an almost random collection of psych-outs, battles, puzzles, and trickery" that works. And I really agree with that. I love the puzzles and trickery, and always fall for the psych-outs.
I'm glad the series is moving again, and the Ant King arc is finally over. I've kind of lost my hold on the story so far; I just remember the characters and the world. The Ant King arc got better, I think, and less gruesome, but the last chapters went up and down a lot. Maybe I just lose attention when the characters I really like (read: Killua) get pushed to the background.
As for the new arc... I couldn't care less about the Hunter Association elections. Yeah, we finally get to see [spoiler] but he's not really that interesting, and everyone else involved is annoying. Fortunately, the other major plotline features Killua, so I have no complaints. It's also more puzzle-y than battle-y, not that I mind the battles usually.
I also started reading 07-Ghost
recently, which I guess is partially shounen, or shounen-shoujo confused, or something. It certainly has parts that are very light in text, in a way I associate with shounen series.
I saw some reviews on Baka-Updates Manga by people who really hated the series and complained that it was incredibly hard to follow, and I realize they're right. I really like the story and the characters, but the "writing" is awful. There are really short scenes that just cut off, that leave me wondering, "What just happened?" And within single dialogues I feel like there are often these non sequiturs that I have to go back and reread. I don't think all
of them can be blamed on my poor Japanese skills...
(I recently read a nice article
of tips for legal writing -- probably generally applicable -- and the main idea was that writing is a contract between the reader and the writer. And if you make the reader go back and reread something, you've broken the contract.)
I don't believe in blind gensaku-worship, but I do usually think the gensaku is better. I think 07-Ghost may be the rare exception, though. I really loved the anime, and from what I remember I think they fleshed out some scenes in ways I really enjoyed, and which probably improved the flow and ease of understanding. I will stick with the manga because I want to know what happens, and because I don't think the poor writing is so bad as to be fatal, but I think a rewatch will be in order once I catch up, plus I will never stop hoping for a sequel.
And now, having said the inferior gensaku is a rare exception, I have to mention another candidate: Pandora Hearts
. It's on my list to read next to 07-Ghost and Uraboku, and lower down only because I haven't impulse-bought any volumes yet unlike the other two. But recently I came across a discussion of it on a message board, where someone said the manga was better but mentioned the plot had become confusing lately. So I had to ask, "Confusing in a good or bad way?" And it sounds bad. It was so bad that I read all their spoiler-tagged discussion and don't feel spoiled at all because it is so confusing it doesn't make sense.
Unlike 07-Ghost, I think this may be fatal. It's disappointing because Pandora Hearts was another series whose anime left me thirsting for more of the story, which I can only get from the manga. But if the story starts falling apart, then I guess there really is nothing there for me. Maybe it's time to just get those beautiful limited edition DVD sets and content myself with that.
In other manga news, I discovered a neat series called Superior
about a demon queen who's killed half of humanity and then disguises herself to tag along with the hero sent to kill her, then falls in love with him. It's got nice humor, and the chapters have those dark reflections on humanity that I like in a series. (I don't know how to describe it better than that. Think Akino Matsuri, but less gruesome.) Not the biggest fan of the art, particularly the design of Exa, the main character, but what can you do. Plus, I'm always a sucker for series with a fantasy setting.