What's Eating Yoshihiro Togashi

Yoshihiro Togashi is a name that holds weight with manga and anime fans across the spectrum. The man is praised as being a genius for reshaping what it mean to be a shonen. He wasn't afraid to go to dark places with his writing, places others would not dare to go at the time. Despite all of this he's just as often been called a lazy, washed up, or a hack who got lucky twice. Something is eating away at Yoshihiro Togashi, but we don't know what.

Togashi has had a long history as a mangaka. Picking up his first major work in 1986. However, he wouldn't become notable until the short series Ten de Showaru Cupid in 1989. It was serialized in Jump and based on a prior work he had done. It follows a teenage boy named Ryuji who is taught "the pleasures of flesh," by a demon girl that his father hired. In short, it was a perverted romantic comedy that failed to capture the interest of fans, or even a stable source of assistants, relying on his younger brother Hideaki for help. It ran for less than a year, and there weren't enough chapters to fill out the final volume so several of Togashi's prior one shots had to be included.

Cupid was nothing short of a failure, ranking dead last in popularity almost constantly and was ridiculed for being filled with potholes and a sex obsessed middle school student. On many occasions he barely had enough votes from reader polls to keep the series going. Years after it concluded Togashi would admit that it was the biggest failure of his career.

Despite the failure, he was given another chance almost immediately. In an unprecedented move at the time, he was given a new series, within the same year. That series was Yu Yu Hakusho, a now legendary story. Much darker than his previous works and not afraid to dive into the darker parts of story telling Yu Yu Hakusho skyrocketed in popularity almost immediately. Based around his love of detective stories and horror films Togashi provided the perfect combination for fans to digest.

Then came the end. Togashi wanted to stop the manga in 1993, but continued. Despite what rumors say, he wasn't under stress from the editorial team. They were fine with him taking a break. Instead, he would later go on record stating, he ended the series "out of personal selfishness." That selfishness fueled several health issues for Togashi, he wouldn't allow editors to help with planning manuscripts, would frequently refuse assistants help on the artwork and only slept five hours each night. He even refused a break offered to him so he could assist with the Yu Yu Hakusho anime. The reason is because he didn't want to make his own personal schedule inconsistent.

After cutting the success of Yu Yu Hakusho short, Togashi began work on a science fiction manga called Level E. It lasted for two years but didn't go over well. Fans found it hard to relate to the main characters, especially when they wouldn't appear in every chapter. The animation team that created the anime found the series to become less endearing as time went on. Level E was a failure and Togashi seemed to be heading back to the obscurity of Cupid. There was however one success during this time. 

Togashi met, and fell in love with Nako Takeuchi. Nako is most known for long running series Sailor Moon, Sailor V and Princess Naoko. However, she has nearly half a dozen award winning one shots, has worked on the writing teams of several anime (beyond her series), has won awards for song writing and illustrated three additional manga under her own name but is rumored to have done several others. She is entirely in a league of her own when it comes to Mangaka.

In 1998, Togashi began Hunter x Hunter, assisted with the art by Nako, and his younger brother. The series was popular almost immediately. For a while Togashi tied with Eiichiro Oda as the fifth most popular manga artist. However, the series has become known for near constant delays and hiatuses. Togashi has also become known to frequently apologize to fans for delays, and poor quality work. Despite running since for 22 years, the weekly series only has 390 chapters as I write this. For comparison Eiichiro Oda has been working on One Piece since 1997 is closing in on chapter 1000 despite being forced to take mandatory breaks. That brings us to our main question; what is eating Yoshihiro Togashi?

Multiple rumors have popped up over the last 22 years about what Togashi's problem may be. The most common, is that he has a debilitating back issue. Some state that it prevents him from drawing. Others go as far as to claim it keeps him in bed most of the day. Despite this, he continues to state that one of his favorite activities is to go bowling with his family. Togashi could very well have back issues. They could be hereditary. Many people on my father's side of the family, including her have a degenerative disc in their back that appears around forty and my mother's side of the family have issues with sciatic nerves in their backs. Posture could also come into play, most people bend over when drawing. Still, I don't know if this is our answer.

A funny theory that pops up is Togashi is a fan of Dragon Quest and has dedicated his life to playing the game. The most concrete proof for this theory is a picture of him playing the game in a room that could only be described as disarray. On the opposite end, Togashi has stated Yu Yu Hakusho put him under a lot of personal stress due to not sleeping including some chest pain.

But, there is a third group of people. These people simply believe that Togashi is not interested in writing long manga. The proof being that he wanted to end Yu Yu Hakusho a year earlier. He's also completed several other projects while Hunter x Hunter has been on hiatus. He assisted Akira Toriyama on Hetappi Manga Kenkyujo R, wrote multiple guidebooks for his series, wrote some new Yu Yu Hakusho shorts, recently co-created Akuten Wars with Hachi Mizuno. He doesn't have an aversion to work, and isn't bothered by letting other people do the art for stories he writes. It's entirely valid he just might lose interest on long stories. Before this Yu Yu Hakusho was his longest work by far, clocking in at whopping 175 chapters, and he was losing interest there. Hunter x Hunter has already doubled that number of chapters. 

It could be a mix of all of these issues, but I don't think so. My theory behind his issue is simple, anxiety. Yoshihiro has no problem still working. Even if he can't draw, he's shown that he'll just fill pages with text, and his work with other mangaka show he's fine with letting others draw his stories. But, with his own works, the only consistent assistants he's had are his younger brother, and his wife. He's never had an issue completing any short manga series or one shots, even now. There was never any problem when Cupid was running and people were asking how he still had a job, but when he became one of the most popular, things became shaky.

Sometimes, the pressure is just too much for people. Only sleeping five hours because you have a lot of work to do, but won't let others help isn't dedication. That's a fear of failure. People are much more critical of long series, despite the fact that there are hundreds more chapters, the series becomes more popular, but people are still much more critical. People loved Fairy Tail, then it started getting a little long and people had complaints. That fear of failure can be immobilizing to some, including myself. Even at my age, I still break out in hives during stressful situations, before presentations, interviews, salary negotiations. I just had to learn how to deal with it. Togashi could be in a similar situation, learning to deal with the pressures of success, even if he has been dealing with it for years.

While Oda suffers from an illness, and Togashi may as well, they shouldn't be compared on that. Oda isn't fond of being famous either. He states he often wears disguises when going out so he isn't recognized, and takes quiet hikes. Togashi enjoys bowling, his wife is a superstar in multiple formats, his mother runs a successful store and his younger brother Hideaki may not have reached the same heights, he does have a dedicated fanbase. There is no way for Yoshihiro to escape the spotlight.

Then again, I could be wrong. All we have is a bunch of rumors based on vague statements from Yoshihiro made to editors. At this point, it is all he said, she said. Nothing is for certain. Will Hunter x Hunter ever finish? I think it will, it might be an unorthodox method, but I think it'll finish. It doesn't really matter, some fans won't be happy. One thing is true, something is eating at Yoshihiro Togashi; it could be chronic pain, video game addiction or anxiety but we may never know.

You can check out some of my short stories at 12 AM Fiction or if you like vampires follow my web serial Exsanguinate and of course hear me on the Powerbomb Jutsu podcast if you enjoy pro wrestling.

What's Eating Yoshihiro Togashi What's Eating Yoshihiro Togashi Reviewed by Darrell S. on Friday, November 13, 2020 Rating: 5

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