Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 27

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It’s a fantastic time to be an anime fan.  But an exhausting one to be an anime blogger.

OP2: “departure! -second version-” by Masatoshi Ono

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With episode 27 the Heaven’s Tower Arc finally begins – and with it we get a new OP and ED (though the OP is only a slight remix of the old one with new animation).  It’s an amazing time to be watching anime – not only is the Spring season one of the very best in the last 5 years, but the schedule is packed with outstanding shows on virtually every day of the week, and in virtually every genre.  Eureka Seven is back in style, NoitaminA is kicking butt, and even studios like DEEN and Hoods are out with manga adaptations that look great and seem destined to improve on their source material in every way. 

And in the midst of all that, we have Hunter X Hunter carrying on in relative obscurity – still drawing excellent ratings and still delivering outstanding and classic shounen every week, with nary a misstep.  I continue to marvel at how easy this show is to love, how totally involving it is every week.  Togashi-sensei’s formula seems so simple – it presents itself as a boy’s adventure battle manga, presenting mazes and duels and puzzles every week, but there’s so much subtlety and darkness hidden in the rushes.  In reality this is a psychological study, this series – the real entertainment is not in the tests themselves (clever as they are) but in watching the way the characters react to them.

With the focus now on getting stronger to face Hisoka – and on earning enough money to live – Gon and Killua (now happy and smiling as he’s back in Gon’s company) head for Heaven’s Tower – at 991 meters the 4th (!) tallest building in this world.  The drill here is pretty simple – it’s like a Roman amphitheater except the gladiators get paid, and participation is strictly voluntary.  Of course, you start on the first floor and if you win you get enough jenny to get a canned drink – but that prize money increases as you climb, which you can only do by winning.  Turns out Killua has been here before – his father left him there at the age of six and told him not to come home till be reached the 200th floor (out of 291).  Talk about tough love – but Killua managed to accomplish the feat by eight, earning hundreds of millions of jenny in the process, and spending it all on snacks…

As the first floor is all about assessment, Gon and Killua are instantly advanced to the 50th floor after their routine wins – Gon using the newfound strength he gained by powering his way through the Testing Gate at the Zoldyck Estate.  But joining them there is someone seemingly destined to be the next major cast member – Zushi (Osu! – Terasaki Yuka), another cute shounen even smaller than Gon and Killua.  He also easily defeats his first-round opponent, using the Shingen-Ryu martial arts he diligently studies under his master, the bespectacled and unassuming Wing (Toshihiko Seki – Fred Luo!).; Zushi is serious, somber and determined – determined to reach the top floor, in fact, though we’re not exactly sure why that’s so important to him just yet.

It falls that Killua and Zushi face each other in their first match on the 50th floor, and I have to confess, I was seriously worried for Zushi there.  It says something about the impact Zushi made in his introduction, and about what an odd and difficult anti-hero Killua is.  It didn’t seem at all a stretch to think that he could let his restraint slip and seriously injure Zushi without batting an eye.  Killua did try and hold back, as it happens – but Zushi proved stronger than he expected, and when Killua became peeved at this I really started to worry for Zushi.  Zushi, in fact, began to use a technique called “Ren”, and this seriously spooked Killua – as it reminded him of the techniques of his nemesis, his brother Illumi.  Fortunately (for both boys, I suspect) Wing sternly rebuked Zushi from the audience and Zushi remembered his promise not to use Ren until Wing told him he was ready.  Killua wins their battle, of course – but not by a knockout, which has him even more vexed than ever.

It’s quite remarkable how much happened this episode – so much so that I thought maybe Madhouse had spiked the pacing for some reason, but a check of the manga reveals a pretty faithful adaptation.  Not only did we get a very comprehensive introduction to life in Heaven’s Tower, but was have Killua asking Wing to teach him Ren – and eventually Nen, the highest form of his discipline – and offering to humble himself to learn from the beginning.  If Gon is obsessed with Hisoka Killua is likewise so with Illumi.  Again, we have the stark contrast because Gon and Killua’s sheer strength – and ruthlessness (especially Killua) and their very typical schoolboy demeanor – like Gon jumping on the bed when they get their precious private room when advancing to the 100th floor, or the way he and Killua playfully mimicked Zushi’s “Osu!” when introduced to Wing.  This is surely quite intentional on Togashi’s part, and quite an effective device.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens at Wing’s dojo – I suspect there are darker aspects to both his story and Zushi’s that we haven’t seen as of yet.  For now, the both of them are an interesting addition to the cast and the story – yet again – is taking an intriguing turn.

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ED2: “Hunting for Your Dream.” by Galneryus

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Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia:

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14 comments

  1. A

    Just for the record, most people consider the Heaven's Tower arc to be separate from the York Shin arc, so we're not quite there yet.

  2. l

    Kuroro appeared in the opening. F*cking BADASS.

    I'm already happy.

    And in contrast to many people that hate this arc(Heaven's Arena, not YS), I don't. It has a lot of awesomeness all around, and the start of it was great. It's hard not to enjoy HxH, I could watch it over and over again and then come here to read your post abot it lol.

    Anyway, looking foward to the next episode.

  3. m

    I actually liked the Heaven's Arena arc more for introducing nen than the actual arena battles. In shonen where people tend to get New Powers As The Plot Demands a well-organised power system with rules is a rare treat.

  4. Fixed that, thank you Guys.

  5. S

    Your opening statement really made me want to comment on this post.

    Totally agree with you on the whole fact of how awesome this season has been. I'd say not just this season, but everything since Fall of 2011 has been consistently getting stronger and stronger, with the peak being this Spring 2012 season.

    That said, I'm really glad you're covering a small series like Hunter X Hunter among the extremely WEALTH of other series you're covering weekly, with excellent, thoughtful and exceedingly well written posts for each.

    I'm really enjoying this new arc and a look into the colorful if somewhat dark world of Hunter x Hunter. This latest arc is really starting to get me addicted to the series, with Kilua acting as a kind of senpai to Gon and getting him and himself ready for the big event that's going to happen six months from now.

    It is interesting that they've both found a teacher that may give them some serious teaching into improving themselves.

    But yes, in this extremely chaotic comment, is my reply to your post, and my serious commendation and praise for what you're doing. Keep at it man, because it is quite the epic work!

  6. Epic – I like that. Thanks, Setsuken – whatever hard choices I make – and there will be some killers in the next week – H x H is definitely staying in the rotation. Not only is it excellent and criminally underblogged, but it's quite easy to write about.

  7. s

    I'm quite pumped up on this arc. The sheer amount of spoilery stuff on the OP and ED makes me giddy with want. We also got confirmation to what Leorio's affinity is 😀

    It's also good to see that you're as confused and wrong (no offense!) like Gon and Killua to what Ren and Nen is as you are meant to be at this point.

    I really like how very thoughtful your reviews are :3

  8. b

    Finally we're here on Heaven's Tower. And with the introduction of Nen, should be even more interesting. This is the concept which makes HxH stand out. Looking forward to it. I wish we have a cool sound effect like in the first version.

    Love the new OP and ED. Mostly the contents rather than the song.

  9. T

    "And in the midst of all that, we have Hunter X Hunter carrying on in relative obscurity – still drawing excellent ratings and still delivering outstanding and classic shounen every week, with nary a misstep. I continue to marvel at how easy this show is to love, how totally involving it is every week. Togashi-sensei’s formula seems so simple – it presents itself as a boy’s adventure battle manga, presenting mazes and duels and puzzles every week, but there’s so much subtlety and darkness hidden in the rushes. In reality this is a psychological study, this series – the real entertainment is not in the tests themselves (clever as they are) but in watching the way the characters react to them."

    YES! You've gotten it. This is exactly how the series will continue to be.

  10. S

    So we already get to see the Spiders in the OP/ED eh? Well, I surely hope they change the OP by the time we get to the second part of the York Shin arc, since this upbeat song seems… rather unappropriate for the general mood of the story. But again, the York Shin OP for the first series (The Sun Also Shines at Night – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDbhLbAkxQg) is one of my favorite OP ever, so I doubt they are going to match that…

  11. M

    Gosh I love reading your HxH posts. Sometimes I feel like not blogging the show because you've got it covered (even if you do say it is criminally under blogged, hah!) It was fascinating to see three boys around the same age take part in Heaven's Arena, contrasting personalities and all.

  12. M

    Madhouse did a great job with this episode, one of the best episodes yet I believe. They nailed the pacing, the art… yes, even the music this time.

    I wonder if they will change some of the art in the opening in the next episode or the one after? And then go for a completely new one in the next arc?

  13. Heh, 2 blogs is still under-blogged!

    I doubt we see any new art until the next OP.

  14. F

    This anime reminds me back in the day when i started it with naruto and bleach, nothing like a good shounen to set your spirits high.

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