I’m continually amazed at the way Hunter X Hunter keeps finding new ways to entertain me. Perhaps as much as any of the great shounen I’ve seen or read, H x H can effortlessly slide from one style to another without losing a step. Fast-paced or reflective, violent or relaxed, the quest, the challenge, the battle, the aftermath, even the change-of-pace – none of these seem to pose much of a problem. And as awe-inspiring as eps like the ones depicting Gon’s epic battle with Hisoka are, you wouldn’t want them every week or even that level of awesome would start to lose its impact.
At the moment I feel as if I could watch episodes focused just on Gon and Killua in peacetime forever. Apart from the utterly fascinating way these two are so different in every way, Han Megumi and Ise Mariya are redefining the standard for female seiyuu playing boy roles. It’s especially surprising in Ise-san’s case, because she’s had quite a few major roles and almost no experience playing boys. There’s absolutely no question that as great as Gon and Killua are as characters and as each performance is, something magical happens when you put the two of them together. Authenticity is what’s normally lacking in these types of seiyuu performances, but both of these women make the carefree and boisterous nature of the on-screen friendship seem extremely real.
A big part of the credit for that has to go to Madhouse too, because this series is probably the finest currently airing when it comes to animating faces (especially now that MGX has finished its run). Of course they bring Togashi-sensei’s comic faces to life brilliantly, but you can look at Gon, Killua and Mito and know instantly what they’re feeling. The intensity of Gon’s desire to meet his father, the worried love Mito has for him, and the way seeing the two of them together makes Killua feel – as great as the seiyuu are no dialogue is even needed to understand. I find Killua especially fascinating to watch, especially as he watches Gon – you can see the kaleidoscope of emotions run across his face in a matter of milliseconds. That’s the kind of detail you just don’t get in mediocre animation.
After an interesting return to the original pre-open animation, we pick up where we left off – learning with Gon about Ging. And we get a sense of just how difficult a man Ging might be, as he repeatedly offers Gon a chance to back out and stop the tape – and then finally tells Gon that he doesn’t want to see him, no matter what Gon wants. It’s understandable that Ging (who we finally see in present-day form, in a very cool sequence) would feel some sense of regret over walking out on his son, but it’s obviously something darker than just guilt driving him to make things so difficult on his son now. The feelings in Gon are so strong that the Nen practically explodes from him as he listens to Ging throw down the challenge to him – “Catch me if you can.” Significantly, Gon refuses the opportunity to hear Ging talk about his mother – proving conclusively that he’s a boy who takes his principles very seriously. Mito is his mother – that’s it, period.
Of course Gon wasn’t expecting that Ging had booby-trapped the cassette with Nen, causing it to erase itself when it had been stopped – but I don’t think Gon would have listened to the part about his mother, even had he known. With the tape gone, focus now turns onto the memory card – and thus begins a hugely entertaining sequence that reveals just how much more naïve and less knowledgeable about the ways of the world Gon is when compared to Killua. Kil reveals that the card is from an old “Joystation” console, obsolete in the real world (apart from Sheldon Cooper’s apartment) but, Kil surmises, likely available on behind-the-time Whale Island. A quick trip to the toy store nets a console, and the card is revealed to hold a saved game from “Greed Island”, which a little internet research reveals was a rare game designed for Hunters only, of which only 100 were made. The original asking price? A staggering 5,800,000,000 Jenny. But just try getting one for that now…
It’s a little scary to think that Gon is so naïve that he would have accessed a Hunters-only website from his home PC if Killua hadn’t stopped him – but that’s Gon, and that’s why he needs the more street-smart Killua to balance out his instinctive genius. And the depth of Killua’s affection for Gon is revealed in the fact that he’s willing to call his hated brother Milluki (Gon’s fantastical imagination here is the comic highlight of the ep) for help. Milluki is revealed to be an otaku of the first order, and he has leads – but he extracts the price of a copy of the memory card in exchange. And those leads point to two places – a website than Milluki will only reveal after receiving the card, and to the auction in York Shin – the same auction where the boys are to meet up with Kurapika and Leorio (and of course Hisoka as well). So with that, H x H has not only set up the next major arc of the story, but the huge one that follows it as well. I hate to see the boys leave Whale Island but the story is clearly ready to begin the next phase, which looks to be an episode where we catch up with Kurapika and his Nen instructor at last.
Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia: “Ging” (I just noticed the moemoe drawings of Hisoka on the board)