You gotta admit, Hunter X Hunter has one of the most complex power systems and intricate plot lines in Shonen. Not to mention the deep philosophical implications during the whole Chimera Ant arc with Meruem and Komugi.
Despite that, author Yoshihiro Togashi admits in a Q&A session with an idol that he had only 3 chapters worth of content in mind before commencing to write the series way back in March 1998.
For the initial drafts of the story, he had Gon fail the Hunter exam and the story jumps from one to several years in the future. However, his editor said “Naah that won’t work”, hence that and the timeskip ideas were rejected, and Togashi went with Gon clearing the exam.
Togashi stated he had to draw the section right before that part and revise his initial plans, admitting he wasn’t able to finish the manuscript that week.
(Togashi holding 2 volumes of Hunter X Hunter)
Furthermore, he had already planned for Killua to become Gon’s friend and Hisoka to be the villain. And thankfully for him, that idea wasn’t rejected.
He also stated that he didn’t decide on the substance of the exam until just before the start of the series because he wanted to savor the fact that he didn’t know what would happen.
Funnily enough, these events are almost identical to another legendary mangaka whom Togashi looked upto, Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama.
Toriyama also had the idea that Dragon Ball would not run for very long, having just finished his other masterpiece, Dr. Slump, and that’s why he had storyboards prepared for only 3 chapters. But just like Hunter X Hunter, Dragon Ball ran for more than 10 years, much to Toriyama’s irritation, on the demand of the readers.
Basically, he had no choice on the matter because his editors would keep forcing more ideas on his plate and he had to comply with their demands.
“Fuyuto Takeda: And then serialization began, but from the beginning, how much of the story had you already planned?
Toriyama: I hadn’t thought it up at all. I figured it would probably end in about a year, and I had only really prepared storyboards for three chapters.”
Most manga fans would know Toriyama would write on the seat of his pants, but he did that purposefully, just to feel the excitement of “what’s going happen next?”, along with the reader.
Additionally, Togashi also had the tendency to procrastinate his work to the last minute, inserting the details at the 11th hour while spending most of the prior time preparing the narrative structure.
The author of Hunter X Hunter has spoke about how Dragon Ball and Toriyama have influenced his works, as we can clearly see from characters like Gon and Meruem being inspired by Goku and Cell.
Maybe he was inspired from Toriyama more than we thought.
Anyway, here’s the full statement of Togashi, talking about his preparation before writing Hunter X Hunter:
Q: How much of Hunter × Hunter’s story did you have in mind when you started writing it?
A: The first three chapters.
Once I had a rough idea of the setting (a story in another world that focuses on the profession of Hunters), I felt like I could continue the story as long as I wanted. So I decided that the goal of the serialization would be to “continue for as long as possible” and that it should start with the main character taking the Hunter Exam.
At the start of the serialization, I decided to write three storyboards and a scene where the main character fails the exam and the story jumps one to several years in the future. I didn’t decide on the content of the exam until right before the start of the series because I wanted to enjoy the fact that I didn’t know what would happen. In the end, after I discussed it with my editor, the idea of Gon failing the exam was rejected.
So if the question is asking about what actually appeared in the story, the answer would be the first three chapters. However, I had already decided that pillars of the story—the friend (Killua) and the villain (Hisoka)—would appear at the beginning of the exam. I decide what needs to be done in terms of narrative structure first, and then work on the details with a great sense of urgency until the last minute.
In that regard, I had a rough idea of the outline for the story ahead, but since the timeskip idea was rejected, I had to draw the section right before that part and revise my initial plans. I remember that I probably wasn’t able to finish the manuscript that week.
About Hunter X Hunter:
Hunter × Hunter is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yoshihiro Togashi. It has been serialized in Shueisha’s shōnen manga magazine “Weekly Shōnen Jump” since March 1998, although the manga has frequently gone on extended hiatuses since 2006. Its chapters have been collected in 37 tankōbon volumes as of November 2022.
It was first adapted in anime format in 62 episodes by Nippon Animation, which ran on Fuji Television from October 1999 to March 2001 but stopped until the York New City arc. A reboot by Madhouse aired from October 2011 to September 2014, totaling 148 episodes, with two animated theatrical films released in 2013. This reboot covered everything from the 1st arc to the Zodiac Election arc.
My Anime List describes the overall plot of Hunter X Hunter manga as follows:
“Secret treasure hoards, undiscovered wealth… mystical places, unexplored frontiers… ‘The mysterious unknown.’ There’s magic in such words for those captivated by its spell. They are called ‘Hunters’!”
Gon Freecss wants to become a Hunter so he can find his father, a man who abandoned him to pursue a life of adventure. But it’s not that simple: only one in one hundred thousand can pass the Hunter Exam, and that is just the first obstacle on his journey.
During the Hunter Exam, Gon befriends many other potential Hunters, such as the mysterious Killua; the revenge-driven Kurapika; and Leorio, who aims to become a doctor. There’s a world of adventure and peril awaiting, and those who embrace it with open arms can become the greatest Hunters of them all!
Source: Hunter X Hunter Fandom