There was an awful lot happening in this ep of H x H – as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago there are several different threads in the story at the moment any one of which, on their own, are big enough to be the centerpiece of an arc. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen an author so boldly crowd the playing field this way – and he doesn’t mess around in bringing things to a head, either. The risk is that so much of consequence will be happening concurrently that the threads will overshadow each other and the audience will become desensitized to the GAR – so far that sure isn’t happening for me, but it takes a lot of balls to try and pull it off.
I don’t think there’ll be any question what the headline among headlines will be this time, but another pretty huge event happened – Gon and Killua finally spoke with Kurapika, bringing their arcs literally and figuratively together at long last. It was a long time coming, and I’m not sure what it was that caused Kurapika to pick up the phone this time – maybe he assumed it was Nostrade – but the upshot of all this is that he can no longer pretend his obsessive quest for revenge is simply his own business. I think Kurapika was fully aware that he was destroying himself but as long as it was only himself, it was easy enough to tell himself it was for the sake of his tribe and worth it. Now, with the boys involved, the moral consequences are exponentially greater – and he needs to ask himself if not just his own soul but the lives of two friends, and children at that, are worth the cost.
From their perspective, Killua and Gon are being very true to themselves. Gon sees things in a direct way by his very nature, never mind his age, but even tortured, complicated Killua has elements of a child’s world view. Fighting the Spiders is right because the Spiders are evil, and if he’s able to fight he should do so. The most interesting element for me is that among everything they’ve done, it was Nobunbaga’s grief over Uvogin’s death that most angered Gon. And it was that even more than Kil’s threat to fight on with or without Kurapika’s help that finally broke Kurapika’s resistance. I think he realizes now that something he’d hoped to contain and make personal was no longer just his fight.
Speaking of fights though, the highlight of episode would certainly have to be the clash of the titans between Chrollo and the Zoldycks. It was yet another in a string of epic battles in Madhouse’s H x H, beautifully choreographed and animated, and it was striking how quickly Togashi got right to the point – Zeno and Silva against presumably the strongest of the Spiders, no preamble. Their meeting was very low-key, almost casual, and then immediately shifted into combat mode – neither side seeming much interested it taking the measure of the other except by battle. I’d thought perhaps Silva might be the strongest of the Zoldycks, but it’s clear Zeno is still very much the man in charge here – he calls the shots in battle, and he appears to have the stronger array of Nen skills to boot. He has the attitude to match, immediately shutting the grumbling mafia dons up by pointing out that even if they had their weapons returned to them, he could kill every last one in seven seconds. And I don’t think he was bragging, either.
Given their track record and buildup, this is a battle where it seems almost inconceivable that either side could lose. Chrollo is obviously at a two-against-one disadvantage, but his own abilities seem unique – a Specialist who can co-opt the moves of an opponent using his “Bandit’s Secret” book. But Zeno immediately sees his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, even as Silva is wounded by Chrollo’s poisoned blade in the initial skirmish. Zeno’s plan is simple – use his awesome powers to pin Chrollo down, at which point Silva uses his own – which seem geared towards a massive frontal attack – to kill Chrollo, even if it means killing his father too. “Not worth the money” indeed – again, I’ve no doubt the old man isn’t bragging but I also imagine he’d prefer to live, given a choice.
It seems odd to think of the assassins as the good guys but they are here, in a sense. It’s hard to imagine Zeno ordering his family to stage a symphony of violence for the reasons Chrollo did – for the Zoldycks killing is merely a job, and the Spiders seem to take a certain relish in it – addicted to the thrill – that the Zoldycks don’t. It’s also notable that Hisoka seems not to be participating in Chrollo’s orgy of death, though perhaps for entirely different reasons. Killing randomly and wantonly isn’t fun, and therefore Hisoka likely sees no point in it. Without the thrill, why bother with the kill? But the other Spiders are closing in on the building where the Dons and Neon are trapped, and Kurapika is surely fated to face them directly. I suspect his fate and the boys are inexorably linked as well, especially with Killua’s father and grandfather in the midst of battle meters away from the boy (and another interesting development teased by the preview). Whether the heroes’ battle with the Spiders will run concurrently with Zeno and Silva’s or even join with it remains to be seen, but it should be a hell of a ride either way. And if I were Shalnark, I wouldn’t buy any green bananas.
Gon & Killua’s Hunterpdia: “Shalnark”