Opinion Piece - Filling the KHR-shaped hole in my heart

I have a confession to make. 

It's been two years since the manga Katekyo Hitman Reborn finished.... and I'm not coping. 

I remember back in year eight, or 2008, when I first started reading the series (remember OneManga and then Mangastream?! I feel old...) and watching the anime (instead of doing my school work, tut tut.) My first cosplay was of Tsuna, the main character, back in 2010, and the con was filled with fellow KHR cosers. I remember the super popular shounen ai fan otome, Altor, which was in traditional Chinese and offered either 5927 or 6927. (Speaking of which, do fans these days still use these numbers...?) I was on Lunaescence during its peak in 2011, when Katekyo Hitman Reborn fics were being uploaded daily - no, possibly once every few hours - and was spoilt to death for choice, and ViViDEminence's reign as Empress (get it?) over smutty KHR fics. I remember still bludging schoolwork by watching Rebocon on Youtube before they were taken down. I would play and replay the OP and ED songs, the characters songs, the character theme OSTs... I bought merchandise, including the bootleg stuff, posters, accessories, artbook, doujinshi and had an incredibly unhealthy obsession with Kyoya I'll-Bite-You-to-Death Hibari. (I had a poster that I would kiss everyday. I still kiss one. Shh.) I also remember my complete and utter indignation when it ended... and HOW it ended. 

katekyo hitman reborn, chapter 1, akira amano
Needless to say, I was obsessed and I was obsessed HARD. 

And now... well. I was upset at the ending but I coped. That was also back before I knew Tumblr existed, so I couldn't take out my sorrow by spam-blogging every KHR-related image, text, video, quote etc possible. Somehow though, I moved on. I moved on to other manga. I read Hellsing, Fullmetal Alchemist, continued on with Bleach and Naruto despite my better judgement, indulged in shoujo manga and consumed 1/2 Prince, High School Debut, Kuroshitsuji, Switch Girl. These days I eagerly await updates to Attack on Titan, crave the sequel for Psycho Pass (whose character designs are created by a certain mangaka...), delight in reading Saint Onii-san and lovingly accepted Sket Dance and Magi. I started watching Doctor Who and Buffy and Sherlock and basically, I shoved my love for Reborn deep, deep down into my heart and I moved on. Kind of.

Yet several weeks ago, I suddenly was struck with an idea. 

"I wonder how Akira Amano is doing?" I knew she had created a oneshot post-Reborn about a detective but could, and can, not find it ANYWHERE, in particular the translation. (Links, please?)

Anyhow, it was a Bad Idea - I think.

I ended reading Eldlive and was outraged that there were only two chapters and okay fine it's her new manga but don't tell me not to compare it to KHR because I am. I have. I will. (Main three remind me so much of love children of 8027, 1895 and D59).

And then I thought - hey, let's re-read KHR! Because damn it, I just missed her art so much. Such a bad idea. I had decided to stop BTVS after season 3 so that I could focus on my schoolwork - and then I go through 200 chapters of KHR in seven days. No, no, no. It wasn't good time-wise or emotionally. 

(I was partway through the Future Arc but ended up refusing to continue.) 

However through those 230 chapters that I DID read, I was shocked to find details that I had forgotten about my Favourite Manga during Junior High. 

Like how Haru liked Reborn first, or that Naito Longchamp existed, or the fact that my ex-husbando Kyoya actually smiled a surprising amount during KHR's gag season, or the time Tsuna and Gokudera nearly got expelled, or Kyoko's participation in Russian Roulette, or Tsuna's great interaction with kids. How could I? How possibly could I have forgotten? 

And while Magi and Attack on Titan and Kuragehime and Saint Oniisan and Psycho-Pass and High School Debut are all more current loves of mine, I can't help but feel... well... a little empty when I remember what KHR meant to me and how much it meant to me. Rereading it opened that hole and it also reminded me of what it was that made KHR so loveable despite there being thousands of great manga and anime out there - what made it stand out from so many other amazing manga. 

I think that unlike Bleach and Naruto and other typical shounen manga, Tsuna is hopelessly ordinary. His mum is actually alive, he is just terrible at life in general and he doesn't have the tragic backstory that makes for "interesting reading".

Despite the odds, despite being 'useless' without that Dying Will Bullet, Tsuna finds that he has something worth fighting for - he makes precious friends, which is really a more relatable goal than saving the world, to every person, don't you agree? 

And I think that's why KHR started dropping off towards the end of the Future Arc. It started becoming like every other shounen manga - ridiculous bursts of power, impossible feats. More impossible than usual I guess. How ridiculous it seemed that the Shimon family were more powerful than Byakuran and all his parallel universe selves. I think that as much as I love Enma and co, Akira Amano would have benefited from placing the arc before the Future Arc. Or cutting it out entirely and skipping to the highly sought after Arcobaleno arc. When that arc finally came though, it was too late. The damage had been done, ratings hit rock bottom and KHR was ordered to be cut and the mangaka had to shove the ending into ten chapters halfway through an arc. 

Yet I think KHR also ended the way it was always supposed to - Tsuna being his usual, no-good self that denies his title as Vongola Decimo while retaining his growth as a "strong" person. 

Still, the way it was cut off like a gangrenous limb wounded me in the heart quite deeply. I don't think any amount of gratuitous self-insert fanfiction could ever assist me in healing such wounds - as melodramatic as it sounds. I guess I'm an Amar, after all! 

And so even as I try to plug up that hole with other things, I think that my relationship with Katekyo Hitman Reborn could be likened to that of one's first love. No matter what, you will never forget them or the bittersweet break up. (Why am I even using this metaphor, the hottest/heaviest I ever gotten with a guy was hugging one like one of the bros like not even...) Still - there is something about the manga that just gets to me and no amount of "similar" or "amazing new" manga can fill that gaping hole. 

I think a part of me just wants to move on by writing this, but we all know that's not the truth.

So I'm going to go off and watch me some ReboCon. 

Till next time! 

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