The battle for succession begins in Hunter X Hunter Vol. 35! Journeying to the Dark Continent was never destined to be a quiet cruise. Kurapika and other hunters aboard the ark are thrust into the middle of a battle for the throne of the Kakin Kingdom. The hunters play various roles in the upcoming blood bath such as bodyguards, spies and assassins. With only just a few hours into the journey, already there are casualties! The beginning of the volume opens in the middle of a fight, will it end just as dramatically?
We are introduced to the participants of the succession war, the princes of the Kakin Kingdom. Each one is protected by a guardian nen beast, whom, at the moment are invisible to the princes. The king gave them one rule in order to win the succession war. It was “the sole survivor is the official heir of the throne”. What he meant as “survivor” however becomes a topic of debate among the factions. Sound complicated? Well, it gets better… or worse?
The thing I’ve come to appreciate in Hunter X Hunter is just how crazy in depth their power system is. By power system I mean “the stuff that helps makes you strong in anime”. In Naruto its Chakra, in One Piece, its Haki. In Hunter X Hunter, has Nen. An aura based power innate in living beings, similar to Chakra in Naruto. Each arc seems to find more and more ways of creating this intricate mind puzzles and psychological situations for the protagonists of the series. In fact, Hunter X Hunter Vol. 35 felt like I was reading the most intense match of Clue. Was it Kurapika in the Servant’s Quarters with the Chains? Or was it Prince Benjamin in the Banquet Hall with his Nen Beast? That is the best way I can describe it and maybe, Murder Mystery Dinner meets Shonen Manga.
The more princes we are introduced to, the only one you really care about is the baby, Prince Woble. That’s right, a baby! And he’s the first prince everyone seems to want to rid of! Tells you a lot about the type of people these princes are, right? Well, Queen Oito, Woble’s mother is tasked with caring for the child as one would expect. She is guarded by Kurapika and Bill among other hired guardians.
It is they who are tasked with not only protecting their princes from harm, but also to send messages to other teams and speak on the princes’ behalf. Because of this, Hunter X Hunter Vol. 35 reads like a volatile game of chess. The series is known for its complex scenarios, so going chapters without a proper fight sequence is normal. But the fights are all that much better when the tension of a scene suddenly snaps! That’s one thing I came to appreciate especially in this volume, the suspense factor.
Another thing one should know about Hunter X Hunter Vol. 35 is that the series’ main protagonist, Gon, is not present in the whole volume. The reason is explained in the “Characters” Index of the manga. The volume so far has focused solely on Gon’s friend, Kurapika and his involvement in the Succession War. You won’t hear any complaints from me, though. All the fights Kurapika are in always surprise me and keep me thinking. If you are the same, there is plenty of that in Volume 35!
Nearing the end of the series, partnerships are formed and casualties keep rising! To what lengths will the King’s children go to succeed the throne? The idea of siblings killing each other is repulsive enough, if that’s the minimum requirement, it makes you wonder what those sort of people are capable of with their newly attained Nen abilities.
Moving on from the story points, let’s talk a little about the art. The cover itself is gorgeous. The use of color and the foreboding head of King of Kakin make you feel a sort of dread. Its not going to be an easy cruise and there’s going to be a lot of darkness. Inside, we have the first few panels that are very well drawn and inked. Most of the art is this way. I can’t speak highly enough of Yoshihiro’s style. There are points in time, where needed, where the art does take a back seat to the dialogue. There are a couple full page spreads that I can remember and it is fantastic. The roughness in his art adds a layer of drama to the scene. Background tend to be scarce in this Volume but when Yoshihiro does takes the time to draw landscapes, they really catch the eye!
I asked in the beginning of this review whether the volume would end as dramatically as it began. I think the best part of a story that integrates elements of suspense is the anticipation. We got a great moment that is sure to shake things up in Volume 36 and it seems as if we ended up with more questions than we did answers. As we get closer to the Dark Continent, the higher the stakes become for everyone. This Succession War feels like its the perfect prelude to what is bound to be a grand adventure coming soon.