Hunter x Hunter, NANA, Berserk, and more have something in common -- hiatuses. Krystallina explores how that would affect a potential reader.

The Melancholy of Hiatus SeriesHunter x Hunter fans have once again got some not-too-unexpected news: the series is temporarily stopping its serialization.

Hiatus x Hiatus

One of the popular nicknames for Hunter x Hunter is Hiatus x Hiatus. The manga has had lots of breaks and interruptions over the years. (Plus there will be more red in the future!)

Hunter x Hunter Hiatus
Hunter x Hunter hiatus chart from here

But it’s far from the only manga where people have been waiting a long time for. NANA has been in hiatus since 2009 due to Ai Yazawa’s illness. CLAMP’s X was halted due to its subject matter in 2003. Berserk just published its 38th English volume after Volume 37 was published in 2013.

Light novels aren’t immune either. Nagaru Tanigawa has been pretty quiet since 2011’s The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya, only publishing an unrelated volume since then.

Now, a lot of these series are immensely popular. In 2008, NANA was only defeated by One Piece in 2008’s list of best-selling manga — and even then there was only a 33,000 copy difference. Berserk is the top-rated manga on MyAnimeList. Hunter x Hunter received two anime adaptations.

Meanwhile, lots of anime adaptations never got a continuation. FUNimation tried to lead a campaign for a second season of Fruits Basket. No Game No Life only covered about a third of the original light novel series. Deadman Wonderland had almost as many manga volumes as anime episodes.

So, is it worth it to spend time and/or money on an incomplete series?

Anime Side

Most anime series don’t go on real hiatuses (some may take a break between seasons), but quite a few don’t have a real conclusion. Many anime adaptations are created as almost an extended promotional video for a manga or light novel series. At least fans have an option to find out the end of the story…

… usually. For series like Blue Spring Ride and The World is Still Beautiful, the manga isn’t available in North America. I’m sure many people recognize these series from scanlations, but it puts companies in a potential lose-lose situation. License it, and people don’t buy it because the lack of an ending or continuation. Don’t release it and lose any chance of revenue to fansubs. How many reviewers (including yours truly) have rated a series low due to lacking a proper or good ending? Those comments no doubt affect sales. Without the original source material available, it’s not like these anime adaptations can just replace the first few volumes of the manga (or light novel in some cases).

Manga/Light Novel Side

While anime adaptations require approval from several companies to move forward, on each side of the Pacific, most series have had a “free to watch” option. Some air on television or are available to stream. But just about the only free option for most manga and light novels, however, is borrowing from your local library. So for manga readers, investing in a series means more than spending a weekend bingeing; it’s a serious financial investment. I know authors like D.Gray-man‘s Katsura Hoshino have had documented injuries and illnesses affecting their ability to write and draw, but for fans, it’s still frustrating to be left hanging.

But whether the author has a physical disability, lost interest, experiencing writer’s block, or is too busy playing the next installment of Dragon Quest, hiatuses have a ripple effect. Does anybody doubt that Bastard!! might have had Volume 20 released in English if the Japanese version hadn’t started approaching a stop that same year? Bastard!! fans spent money on a series they’ll probably never get to read what’s all available. I doubt there would have been much of a bidding war on Gate 7 if publishers knew CLAMP were going to suspend the series four volumes in. That means Dark Horse spent some money on a license that is languishing and bringing in very little revenue.

Even for big titles like Hunter x Hunter, while financially successful, I and other people haven’t bothered to check it out because the serialization is so erratic. I personally don’t like the thought of investing $300+ in a series where I can’t follow a full journey. No doubt it’s a huge moneymaker, but no doubt it could be making more. I adore NANA, but I wouldn’t recommend to other shoujo fans because it’s incomplete. At least Hunter x Hunter usually get some new chapters each year. NANA has only had a couple of images drawn in almost 10 years, and so it’s highly unlikely the manga will be finished.

Other Options?

So, for these types of series, which would you prefer?

#1: Hastened/rushed ending

#2: Regular serialization but in magazines with longer intervals (monthly, quarterly, etc.)

#3: New artist with original creator doing the story

#4: Irregular serialization, letting the author continue whenever

For me, although I can sympathize with the author’s disappointment for having to end it early, for most series, I’d rather see some type of conclusion. If the story didn’t pan out or the author just doesn’t have the time or ability to finish, let it end. I know some creators will miss the extra income for producing additional volumes, but give the series some dignity. That or promote an assistant (or other artist) to take over the drawing abilities. Even though her current work is less similar than her earlier manga, I think Mitsuki Oda can revive her Ai Yazawa-inspired style.

Final Thoughts

It’s a shame that such influential works like Hunter x Hunter and NANA are being passed over by potential fans. But dozens of new serializations start each year. Of course, no one knows when a series starts that it will end up going on hiatus, but once it does, hopefully the creators find a way to not, as the song goes, keep fans hangin’ on.

If you were an author, what would you do if it became difficult to work in the middle of a series? As a fan, what would you prefer they do? Do you think companies should license series where fans can’t continue the story? Are you a fan of a series that is currently incomplete, and would you recommend it? Why or why not?