Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 37

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It’d be hard to imagine two episodes more different than this one and last week’s Hunter X Hunter, but the series never misses a beat.

In some ways, this episode felt almost like a reward for both the characters and audience – a chance to sit back and relax after a pretty intense run that peaked with the Gon vs. Hisoka combat of the last two weeks.  Those Heaven’s Tower eps weren’t just intense because of action, but they were jam-packed full of information too – the audience has to learn Nen as the same time Gon and Killua are learning it.  I haven’t seen a lot of shounen that consistently bombard the audience with stimuli the way this one does, and they range from purely visceral to quite intellectual and esoteric.  It’s a unique experience but sometimes it’s nice for us to have a break, just like for the boys.

That’s not to say that this was “filler” (how I hate the way that word is overused – almost as much as “slice-of-life”) or a placeholder. There’s some very important plot advancement here, arguably some of the most important of the entire series – but it’s parceled out in a rather low-key manner for H x H.  Even more, it was a vital opportunity to see Gon and Killua in a different context that we’re used to seeing them, and that’s very important to understanding them as characters.  That dichotomy between the two sides of the boys’ nature is an important element of the series, but we’ve really only been looking at them in one mode for the better part of the last cour.

There’s also something very magical about hearing Han Megumi and Han Keiko playing Gon and Mito respectively, even if that’s all projection from me.  There’s a real warmth to their scenes together that shines through despite how rarely they happen, and I really think it’s important to see that this boy who’s a ruthless and deadly fighter with an iron will is also a kid who loves the women who raised him and has kindness in his heart.  It struck me in watching the Whale Island scenes that Killua really admires Gon, in a way – he calls him “admirable” because Gon has something he wants to do (find his father) but I think it goes deeper than that.  Killua admires the fact that Gon is able to become the Hunter that Wing – who likes him – calls “terrifying”, yet still retain the essence of who he is – smiling, optimistic, and affectionate with his family.  Gon has things he wants to do – Killua has things he doesn’t want to do.  In many ways Killua is like a photo-negative of Gon – or at least, sees himself as one.

Watching Killua’s reactions on arrival in the Freecss household is one of the most fascinating elements of the episode.  He’s quite awkward at first around Mito and Grandma, unsurprisingly, and you can see him trying not to be a third wheel.  But while he never stops feeling like an outsider, he’s also keenly observant of Gon’s interactions with his family and probably a little envious (he admits to wishing he had a Mom like Mito). Gon, for his part, is adorably eager to show Killua everything, literally running in place as he announces his plans to show Killua around the island.  This easy ability to slip into innocence is something that separates the two boys, and while Killua lowers his guard enough to act like a goofy kid around Gon, there’s an “old soul” quality to him that says that part of him knows it’s an act.  And it’s the desire to protect that side of Gon, I think, that motivates Killua to walk the dark path when necessary so as to spare Gon from having to do the same.

Love is definitely in the air pretty thick here – some classic shounen bromance as Gon openly shares his feelings for Killua and on why having a friend is so precious to him.  Killua mocks him for it, but that’s an act too – Killua treasures the friendship just as much as Gon does.  And the scene where Gon explains his family history to Killua around a campfire – telling him of how he never asks about his mother because Mito is the only mother he’ll ever have, as Mito silently listens – was handled perfectly.  This is something else that binds Gon and Killua – loyalty, something both of them seem to treasure above all else.

Of course even if Gon doesn’t, we’re free to ask what might have become of Gon’s mother – but for now, the focus is on Ging, his father.  Gon has pledged to search for him and while Mito clearly disapproves, she shares both a story of her past and a memento from Ging.  Ging (who looked almost exactly like Gon) is her older cousin, to whom she was fiercely attached, and like Gon he left Whale Island at age 12 to become a Hunter, because he “had something he wanted”.  His departure clearly hurt her deeply (her own parents died in an accident, which was what she originally told Gon happened to his).  Ging returned to the island 10 years later with a toddler Gon in arms and Koyama Rikiya’s voice, and left him in her care – along with a steel box and instructions to give it to Gon if he became a Hunter (which Mito halfheartedly tried to throw away numerous times).

It’s Kil who figures out that it’s something Gon only has now that he’s a Hunter that’s the key to opening the box, and I laughed pretty hard when Gon came up with his Hunter License and Killua facepalmed, because I had the same thought Gon did.  No, it’s Nen that’s needed – and the box’s contents are revealed to be a cassette tape (interesting that Madhouse left this as is – I guess the “10 years earlier” thing), a ring with Nen writing on this inside, and a memory card (a cassette tape and a memory card – anachronistic?).  The boys play the tape (even the birds listen closely when Gon’s father speaks)  and when Ging asks him the question that I guess sets the tone for the rest of the series – “Do you want to see me?”.  I think we all know the answer – and I look forward to learning more about Ging next week before the series finally shifts to York Shin.

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Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia: “Mito”

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16 comments

  1. A

    Whoa! That was fast! I'm still waiting for nyaa to release this.

  2. J

    Well, the memory card looks horrendous and BIG (half the size of the cassette tape) – maybe it's a 16MB card, haha.

    I am dying to learn more about Gon's dad. I was able to watch a good amount of the first HxH anime adaptation, but that is something I absolutely have no memory of.

  3. b

    Koyama Rikiya is a perfect pick to voice Ging. What a cliffhanger though :/

    Something to think about. Why would Ging leave a box to Gon in that the way to open it is to participate in the most dangerous test of all time, pass that, and learn a powerful discipline using auras. It's as if he wanted Gon to undergo those ordeals. Or at least he knew Gon would pursue the road to being a Hunter. And what's more is that the content is still clues to Ging's whereabouts that Gon still needs to decipher. What kind of father would do that to his son?

    It's a hard topic really but that's also what this episode presented I think. Ging is one big enigma even with that backstory and it's gonna be interesting to follow Gon's pursuit of his father.
    Very much enjoyed this episode even with being low-key, which isn't a bad thing. The duo and we the viewers deserved it.

  4. My take is that Ging simply wanted to make sure Gon never got access to the box and its contents unless he became a Hunter itself. Maybe he knew, maybe he figured it wouldn't be safe for Gon unless he was strong enough.

  5. K

    Without ruining anything that happens onward, your analysis is spot on Enzo! 😀

    The YS arc will naturally flow into the exact thing you mentioned, and it'll all make sense when we reach that point (my favorite arc!)

    Prob be another 30 episodes until then but, alas, I must wait for it to hit that point ;__;

    The box contents will make sense in due time, so don't worry about it too much 😛

  6. I like many more Koyama characters than I hate, though. And he's done plenty of work that's as good or better than his work in F/Z.

  7. Let's keep the manga hinting out of it, please.

  8. See above. Let the series get there.

  9. A

    That was a great episode. Killua and Gon are absolutely freaking adorable, as always, and I really enjoyed the scenes between the two. And your analysis about Killua towards Gon adds a heartwarming but also sad element to their relationship. Killua is willing to walk the dark path so Gon can stay in the light.

    I like how it's more of a "coming of age" story than your standard shounen. Not just for Gon, but for Killua as well, even if Gon is the primary protagonist of the story.

    I got major goosebumps when Ging's voice started playing on the tape. Next episode can't come soon enough! :)

  10. A

    Ging is God

  11. A

    Aww. I was waiting for Killua to drool because Mito wanted him to eat peas. Maybe that was just an add on in the previous series.

    Major goosebumps indeed. I've been having it in the last couple of episodes. I'm sure I'm going to have it next week! Woohoo! Can't wait!

  12. A

    Such a heartwarming episode! The 2011 version may not get everything right, but the adorable parts seem extra-adorable.

  13. A

    Not that it is the most important thing to know with the upcoming arc, but I realize that CR's naming of Yorknew City has been a source of some (minor) contention, so I just wanted to say off the record, as it were, that this is essentially by licensor request. There is more to it than just a phone call, "Hi, can you please do it this way," but I cannot discuss specifics. And as usual, it makes me sad when I see people (not here) blaming the TL for this. If one must blame someone, feel free to blame yours truly (the editor).

    But I hope that it will not mar people's anticipation for the upcoming parts–I am very excited, personally, anyway.

    Also, on a different note altogether, I also laughed a ton at Killua's reaction to Gon's hopeful, "Oh! It's my license!" response. They do a really great job with the facial expressions in this series. The animation is often deceptively simple, yet you never end up wondering what people are thinking of feeling unless you're supposed to.

    (Oh, GE: somewhat off-topic, but I was unable to respond to your last HxH post… Re: Hisoka–I agree that he was always a very strong personality. I only meant he didn't come together for me as a character vis-a-vis my writing him. It sometimes takes me some time to get the sense of how I think they talk, as distinct from X or Y other character. That's all. And those eps were where I finally felt that "click" as it slid into place.)

  14. I sort of understand their view here. Unless they have a smattering of Japanese, an English-language viewer wouldn't get the joke with "York Shin".

  15. A

    Hello Enzo! This is my first time replying to one of your HxH posts despite having read all of them.

    Before I comment on the episode itself, I just wanted to say that I really, really, REALLY enjoy reading your posts on the Hunter x Hunter remake. In contrast to your posts, there are still fans of the original (small group nowadays) that insist on telling others how the original had better direction, atmosphere, art, characterization, and the list goes on. (I have to admit I was like that at the beginning of the series but everything about this remake has improved soo much since then.)

    It's irritating to read their complaints so reading your posts are literally refreshing to read. In addition, they're analytic of HxH's characters and themes and I'm impressed with the amount of depth you put into them.

    Moving on, I really enjoyed this episode, especially since it showcased not only Gon and Killua's friendship but also the insight it provided us on Ging himself.

    Haha, to be honest when I watched the original, I was under the impression that Mito was in love with Ging but here, I got the impression that Mito really valued her friendship with Ging (since at the time they were the only children on the island) and Mito was just extremely hurt by Ging's selfish nature when he decided to become a Hunter and leave forever. (Poor Mito)

    The music during Gon and Killua's talk really was perfect, almost made me cry haha. Also liked the fact that we didn't hear Ging speak until the very end of the episode. I was half expecting to hear Ging as a child but I think not hearing him speak till the end made him seem more mysterious.

    Random note: I loved seeing Killua steal Gon's bed. XD It made him seem adorable and bratty at the same time.

  16. Heh, yeah I thought it was pretty funny – he set up the futon, then when Gon didn't show up immediately he just said "F-it, I'm taking the bed."

    I kind of thought there might be a crush on Ging too, but nothing really serious. I don't think it's meant to be a big deal.

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