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Thread: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

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    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member Cinnabar's Avatar
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    What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    WARNING: TvTrope links ahead. Also, I suppose there's inevitable trope discussions ahead.

    I sort of asked this question in another forum, but I thought I'd ask here as well and get into more details. I want to hear what you guys think of this.

    So... People have been describing HxH as a deconstruction of shounen tropes. But first, a brief definition of deconstruction, courtesy of TvTropes (as I do not trust myself to explain this coherently):

    Spoiler show


    There's also an entry for HxH's deconstructions here.

    I want to know what you guys think of this. I guess I'll throw in a few specific questions to get things started. You don't have to answer all of them, of course.
    • Do you think Togashi was/is successful with his deconstructions? Do you like how he deconstructs shounen tropes, and would you say this is one of the reasons why HxH is enjoyable to read? Why or why not?
    • Are there instances where you think Togashi failed to deconstruct, or had difficulty with deconstructing, certain shounen (and character) tropes?
    • Since Yorkshin and Chimera Ants are popular topics, what do you think about the deconstructions in those arcs? I'm curious about what you think of Meruem's character and the end of Chimera Ants arc in particular. You can cite other arcs too, of course. Like maybe the Hunter Exam or Heaven's Arena. Tournament arcs are staple shounen tropes, I think. If you could, explain how you think a certain trope in the arc has been deconstructed by Togashi.

    You can talk about stuff that hasn't been asked too, and you can give a better definition of deconstruction if you want. I think I got the gist of it, but maybe I'll understand it better if people talked about deconstruction as applied to HxH, since I keep hearing people say that it's a deconstruction of shounen tropes.

    (If this has been discussed before in another thread, I apologize. I probable missed it or something.)
    Last edited by Cinnabar; August 12, 2012 at 03:34 AM.

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    MH Senpai MH中毒 / MH Chuudoku / MH Addicted Uriel's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    Well...All enemies on HxH are not such. I think that is quite a prove of deconstruction. They all have dreams and motivations and Togashi is actually quite explicit about Gon crushing those dreams.

    It's funny that just past night I was discussing this with a friend. They did not watch the series and thought that it was the same as every other one, It was hard to explain the subtle details and then It just stroke me that some people (In particular some fond of particular series that I wont mention because it will make senseless trouble) can't get HxH and the reason they can't do it is because they keep that vision of the Idiot Hero and not the deconstruction it has.
    The Sky is pouring
    The wind is blowing
    The sea looks red,
    a surging sea of flames
    looks like the entrance to hell
    'Perfect', the captain said.

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    MangaHelper 英雄メンバー / Eiyuu Menbaa / Hero Member kindredxiuxiu's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    I had a similar encounter with a friend of mine I recommended this series to. They didn't like it (since their favorite character, Leorio, didn't get as much screen time as they would've liked). But I told him to at least make it through Yorkshin because that arc is awesome. First thing he said was "it's probably like every other shonen. Gon is going to train, get stronger, and then beat each of the spiders and eventually take on Chrollo". Boy was he wrong.

    Point 1:

    The other shounen I have experience with is DBZ and Bleach that I can reference (I'm sure I've read plenty others). I haven't read OP or Naruto, and since they're so far ahead, I don't feel like reading that many chapters right now. It's really refreshing when you get a protagonist who you can't label as "lawful" or "good". Gon is a very interesting case. He does things because he feels like it. He doesn't differentiate between "good" and "bad". He someone manages to get caught up in things, and does what the reader perceives as "good". For example, during the palace invasion in the Chimera Ant Arc, Gon wasn't focused on Meryem. His GOAL wasn't Meryem, it was to get Kite back. Sure, he cared that a lot of people were being killed so the king could get a supply of nen-capable people in the country, but he didn't have a burning desire to "save the world". He wanted to kick Pitou's ass and get his mentor/friend/father figure back.

    Normally I can't stand shounen protagonists, but I actually like Gon. He's not my favorite HxH character, but he is one of them. He's very interesting from a psychological standpoint. I think Togashi did a great job of deconstructing the stereotypical "shounen hero". Gon has a good heart, but he doesn't see things as black and white, "good" and "bad". And he's had his bad moments too, mostly in the scene with Komugi and Pitou.

    Out of our four mains (which really turned into two mains ) Leorio probably has the best moral compass, then the rest I'd put on equal level. Killua, Kurapika, and Gon all seem to have their goals, which may seem like "good guy" goals, but at the same time tend to put everyone else on a lower priority level. A few examples: the scene with Komugi and Pitou, where Gon wanted to get Kite back, and as result didn't give two shits about Komugi's life, even after Killua explained that she was probably an innocent injured by his side. Killua not caring about everyone else getting eaten by the ants, as long as it's not Gon who can't use nen. Kurapika only caring about his revenge on the spiders, and I doubt he cared too much about any of the members in public who suffered in Yorkshin.


    Point 2:

    This is another thing I love about HxH: the fights. The fights are structured in a way that requires strategy, quick-thinking, and skill. As seen in other shounen, Gon and Killua train ALOT. But even with training, they are rarely strong enough to take on the big baddie. Hell, they get beaten a lot. If HxH was a typical shounen, the main character (or in this case characters) would train, and train, and train, and eventually take on the top bad guy while their friends take out his right hand men. Yes, this did happen once in Greed Island with Gon vs. Genthuru, but keep in mind that Gon didn't beat him by himself. Killua and Bisuke were the ones who thought of the trap that made the defeat possible. So it wasn't like "OH SUDDEN GON POWER UP. GENTHURU BEATEN WITH JAJANKEN!".

    Even so, Gon is pretty badass and although he has his few techniques, he doesn't just limit himself to overpowering his opponents. You have to factor in his wits as well. These combinations make for interesting fights.

    Then there's Killua, who doesn't fight the big baddies, but instead goes on killing sprees and tears ants apart with his hands effortlessly after running around a country for 30 hours straight. I don't think we'll ever see him in huge battles exerting all his energy on one opponent like Gon, but he's still pretty badass.

    Instead of digressing, I could've summed up this point with one word: Dodgeball.


    Point 3:

    Hey, even the bad guys have feelings and dreams! Half the time, the "bad guys" aren't even bad guys half the time. Well, maybe Genthuru is an exception. But the best example is the Ryodan, who since the beginning of HxH have been coined as bad guys who killed Kurapika's clan. Now we see them as seemingly normal thieves who don't have qualms about killing others to get what they want. No, they're not "good guys", but like even the protagonists, they are pretty morally ambiguous.



    tl;dr Everyone, even the protagonists are morally ambiguous, which make them awesome! Even the bad guys aren't really that bad, and that makes them interesting and awesome! Dodgeball.
    Last edited by kindredxiuxiu; June 26, 2012 at 05:35 PM.

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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    Well, in the case of Killua you've the point that He's actually an assassin...His point of view involves the easiest things and how He was taught to be. In this part I also like what Togashi made: It has sense. The characters don't brutally change their point of view just because one encounter...They just keep evolving at their own pace and you can read how they chain of thought changes over time.
    Killua is the prime example of this: Only in Chimera Arc He could take off the needle of Illumi who was settled to avoid confrontations with things out of his range. And even after that, He carefully picks his fights. It's not that He becomes a knight and a good guy...He still uses the methods He's more comfortable with.

    And even so, not a single time this was judged as good or evil. TvTropes describes this well as the Blue and Orange Morality.
    The Sky is pouring
    The wind is blowing
    The sea looks red,
    a surging sea of flames
    looks like the entrance to hell
    'Perfect', the captain said.

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    MangaHelper 英雄メンバー / Eiyuu Menbaa / Hero Member kindredxiuxiu's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    I agree. I also really like they way Togashi goes about character development, mainly with Gon and Killua (since they seem to be the focus of this). It's done at a very nice pace.

    Even though Killua doesn't want to be an assassin anymore, he doesn't stop killing. He doesn't have mental breakdowns or emo moments when he still kills something. He just has more self-control over his actions. If he deems it necessary in a fight to kill his opponent, he will do so in the most efficient way possible and end the fight. And it's very interesting that even 200 chapters later, after he's said he's done killing, you still see glimpses of his ruthless, bloodthirsty side when dealing with the ants. At the beginning of the arc when Gon had qualms killing the ants, he jumped right in and got the job done. Then again, I know people have different opinions on Killua now vs. the beginning of HxH, so I may be missing the ball on this one.

    Gon, well, the whole Chimera ant arc pretty much tested his innocence. Even though this arc was extremely long, it was still a great arc. ALOT of character development happened here. This is the first time you really see his killing intent, I believe, and I chucked a bit at the moment when Morel wanted Gon to hit him and Killua had to stop him because he had so much pent up energy from wanting to kill Pitou. And then Gon's like "I'm sorry... haha... I was going to kill you.", like it's nothing. And even after Gon found out Kite couldn't come back and transformed, after he got out of the hospital, he didn't turn into some emo kid or anything. He was his usual cheerful self. This could also be a testament to his stubborn personality.

    Looking at these two from a trope perspective, one would expect Gon to be the idiotic, inherently good, shounen hero (he's not), and Killua to be the brooding, emo kid with a terrible childhood (he's not). Well done, Togashi. You made very likeable protagonists.

    And then there's Meryem, who despite being born for a few days, went through major character development as a villain. Togashi sure hit my heartstrings with that one. That link you posted explains Meryem's situation well.

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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    Quote Originally Posted by kindredxiuxiu View Post
    Point 3:

    Hey, even the bad guys have feelings and dreams! Half the time, the "bad guys" aren't even bad guys half the time. Well, maybe Genthuru is an exception. But the best example is the Ryodan, who since the beginning of HxH have been coined as bad guys who killed Kurapika's clan. Now we see them as seemingly normal thieves who don't have qualms about killing others to get what they want. No, they're not "good guys", but like even the protagonists, they are pretty morally ambiguous.
    Togashi sure knows how to make his villains interesting (again, with the except of Genthuru). The villains of HxH are more than a bunch of bad people doing bad things just because they're evil like how they are usually depicted elsewhere. They are villains that makes you question if it's okay to root for them when the protagonists that you loved them for so long fight them.

    I read till chapter 290, and to be honest it feels like Netero is the bad guy and Meryem is the good guy. Meryem tries to talk sense to Netero and how the human world is corrupted and wants to fix that. He even explained that he will use force and fear when it's necessary to maintain order and how he's going to protect the weak... but Netero puts all that aside and only wants to squish him like the bug he is!

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    Registered User 英雄メンバー / Eiyuu Menbaa / Hero Member TheAmericandream's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    I think the strength of HxH is in its execution and ability to deconstruct the troupes and reinvent them, but sadly its surface level appeal is not apparent to a lot of people who first stumble across HxH. Still its the thing I overall appreciate the most about it, alongside Togashi's ability to pace and the concepts behind Nen. Hunter x Hunter is truly genius.
    Freddy? ....No, HISOKA!!-Agon's famous last words.

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    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member Cinnabar's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    Yes, the character growth in HxH is astounding. It doesn't happen in a snap, but it happens gradually. Gon and Killua are prime examples of these. What I like about HxH is that there isn't a single character that I dislike, probably because they're all fleshed out in their own way (some more than others, but they are all fleshed out nonetheless). Honestly, I can't think of one that I don't like at all.

    I also like the moral ambiguity here, especially with Gon. Usually, I don't even question the protagonists' moral compasses because I know they will (almost) always end up doing what they think is right. I believe Gon doesn't work like that. He's pretty much the definition of a wild child, but he's also not a complete Idiot Hero, and his characterizations tend to be subtle. I like that about him.

    I personally thought the Ant arc was the hardest arc to deconstruct because Meruem's impossible to defeat, but I think Togashi did okay with it. I like how he died through man-made weapons (nuke+poison) as opposed to Nen. I think he handled Meruem excellently, considering that he's some monster that cannot be defeated. Usually, the audience shouldn't be able to sympathize with such characters. But Togashi wrote him well, I believe.

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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    Quote Quote:
    Yes, the character growth in HxH is astounding. It doesn't happen in a snap, but it happens gradually. Gon and Killua are prime examples of these. What I like about HxH is that there isn't a single character that I dislike, probably because they're all fleshed out in their own way (some more than others, but they are all fleshed out nonetheless). Honestly, I can't think of one that I don't like at all.
    I wasn't really sad when Uvo died, but I was kinda sad when Paku died. And if the other members of GR die at some point, I'd probably be sad, too. Same with Meryem, I was sad when he died.

    Quote Quote:
    I personally thought the Ant arc was the hardest arc to deconstruct because Meruem's impossible to defeat, but I think Togashi did okay with it. I like how he died through man-made weapons (nuke+poison) as opposed to Nen. I think he handled Meruem excellently, considering that he's some monster that cannot be defeated. Usually, the audience shouldn't be able to sympathize with such characters. But Togashi wrote him well, I believe.
    I preferred this ending over a "sudden power up from a protagonist, yay Meryem's dead!" ending. It's rather ironic that he would die from a man-made cause after everything he's went through.


    Something else to add:

    We can't forget about nen. Togashi made a very smart system here. Nen is hard to learn, but it's not supposed to be an impossible feat. Oftentimes in shounen we get the "Oh, this form is very hard to achieve and only a select few could ever hope to achieve it in their lifetime". Suddenly, alot of the main cast have access to this form. THEN there's a secondary form, and a third form... and a 4th. So far, Togashi has just stuck with nen abilities without the need of a "super nen form". He also has good explanations for why certain people are able to develop the nen they developed. Killua with his electricity, Hisoka with the bungee gum.

    Also, I liked the scene where Killua questioned Gon for always saying "Jan... ken... rock!" when in a fight since that'll give off his attack to the enemies and they can anticipate it.
    Last edited by kindredxiuxiu; June 27, 2012 at 11:39 AM.

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    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member Noonealive's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    I'll like to add to this if ya don't mind. The way Togashi handles the story to me is engenius when i really get to think about it. Throughout all of hunter x hunter how often does he tap into what the person is thinking. I could say he does it often but somehow makes it seem that the action is the one that determines most of the progression, not necessarily the thoughts of the antagonist and protagonist. The way he does it makes it seem that the story could always be explained. The thing that surprises me the most is that he knows how to exploit this type of writing to the fullest. The subtleties do so much and i can't stop to think how so little can actually contribute to the story in such a big way. He makes it to where their decisions characterize them and not necessarily their actions. He also makes it to where the action also characterizes and not necessarily they're decisions. He uses this method interchangeably.

    Posting this just made me realize(literally) to why hunter x hunter is pretty much unpredictable.

    I may be over analyzing, but this is just how i feel when i read Togahis' work.
    Last edited by Noonealive; August 09, 2012 at 09:29 PM.

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    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    The term 'deconstruction' gets thrown around too much. I simply see HxH as being different. It's still shounen, of course, but this is Togashi's imaginary world, with his rules and his way of thinking. For something to be a deconstruction it must, imo, provoke the audience to critically reflect upon the truth, falsity or self-contradiction of established genre conventions. But generally speaking, shounen inherently isn't a genre of art that takes itself seriously, or expects the audience to take it seriously, and the themes are by design simple and absolute.

    Ultimately, what i am arguing doesn't mean much. Whether you call HxH a deconstruction or not, it's still the same thing and it's still just as good.

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    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member Noonealive's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    Yes, Of course it is shounen. It's just has qualities and storytelling is much different when it comes to certain events. It's not like it literally 'deconstructed' the whole genre. It just added new touches here and there, some you rarely see in other shounen. In the end it worked out for togashi. The story still seems interesting even though he goes on hiatuses. People would have dropped it if the story wasn't worth it. I'm sure of that. He builds up moments very well, but he does it in a way where people are expecting this and this to happen.He takes that momentum and somewhat makes the actual climax less visible.

    But whatever. It's a badass shounen thats all i can say.

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    MH Senpai MH中毒 / MH Chuudoku / MH Addicted Uriel's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    Quote Originally Posted by mousiehamster View Post
    The term 'deconstruction' gets thrown around too much. I simply see HxH as being different. It's still shounen, of course, but this is Togashi's imaginary world, with his rules and his way of thinking. For something to be a deconstruction it must, imo, provoke the audience to critically reflect upon the truth, falsity or self-contradiction of established genre conventions. But generally speaking, shounen inherently isn't a genre of art that takes itself seriously, or expects the audience to take it seriously, and the themes are by design simple and absolute.

    Ultimately, what i am arguing doesn't mean much. Whether you call HxH a deconstruction or not, it's still the same thing and it's still just as good.
    Well, I must quote TVTropes here...

    Quote Originally Posted by TvTropes
    It's not that Hunter × Hunter doesn't stand on its own as a shonen fighting manga, but especially once you get into the ant arc it becomes hard to ignore that Togashi wants to deconstruct shonen manga, its villains, and the Idiot Hero.

    Specifically, the Idiot Hero and his frequent form of Cloud Cuckoolander instinctive ethics. Gon verges on Blue and Orange Morality sometimes, but it's just the kind of thing Incorruptible Pure Pureness frequently invokes, carried just far enough to be slightly creepy.

    Gon Freaks (said hero) is designed in tribute to Son Goku in several ways; there is a reason Gon catches a giant fish as his first act.

    And then of course he recently sacrificed his life to turn into a huge muscle-guy with endless hair in order to destroy Nefelpitou for destroying the mentor Gon wasn't strong enough or old enough to save...it was horrifying as hell, but a little bit funny, too. Because look, it's grown-up Goku Up to Eleven.

    The situation with Pitou that he's avenging is also a deconstruction of the way a villain's threat level and a hero's growth are often shown by giving them a Curb-Stomp Battle the hero barely walks away from, and then turning the tables the next time. Because just surviving doesn't mean there aren't consequences for weakness. (Not that Togashi hasn't used the trope. Although at least once with Sensui it was slightly subverted by the death thing.)

    Five-Man Band dynamics also played straight and deconstructed. Interesting because Gon, Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio map onto the team from Togashi's first big series.
    They are: The Overpowered Idiot Hero, the Small Scary Killer, the Smart Pretty Boy, and the Big Idiot With A Heart Of Gold.

    Kuroro Lucifer is weird. Hisoka does not belong in children's comics. And Meruem is an attempt to be psychologically realistic about a cosmic-level entity born full-grown to devour humans and conquer the world.
    And the link for the ones who missed in the first post
    The Sky is pouring
    The wind is blowing
    The sea looks red,
    a surging sea of flames
    looks like the entrance to hell
    'Perfect', the captain said.

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    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member heron bpv's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    ^A must reading entry on TvTropes, seriously. Though a lot of things are out-dated or based on the non-canon material of the 1999 anime.

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    Registered User 有名人 / Yuumeijin / Celebrity Crude's Avatar
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    Re: What can you say about Togashi deconstructing shounen tropes in HxH?

    The Chimera Ant arc was definitely the point where the most deconstructing happened.

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