Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 58

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This week’s Hunter X Hunter had me wrestling with a dilemma of sorts.

It’s fair to say that I was looking forward to this ep as much as any anime episode all year, but fate intervened and left me a twisted, wraith-like creature with a bout of food poisoning.  So I was left with two choices – I really wanted to tackle this episode when I was at full strength, but the agony of waiting was too much.  So in the end I caved and decided I had to see it, and I’ll do my best to sum up my thoughts no matter how scattered they might be at the moment. 

Yeah, it was fantastic – but that can hardly come as a surprise.  In fact the ep managed to surprise me in almost every way except two – how great it was, and Pakunoda’s death (there’s no denying the Hunterpedia curse).  Here’s the thing – I like being surprised, very much in fact, because I’ve read and watched enough fiction over the years that very little can really surprise me anymore.  That Togashi is a terrific writer is hardly a bold and outlandish statement, but it’s worth pointing out how little of this conclusion went in predictable directions, genre-specific or otherwise.  This wasn’t a finale driven by climactic physical battles and revenge, but by strategic tug-of-war and expressions of loyalty and even integrity, much of it from quarters you wouldn’t expect to find it.

Let’s start with Kurapika, who (almost – would he have done the same if he’d felt that killing the head would truly kill the spider?) conclusively answered the question I asked last week – in the end, would he choose his friends over his enemies?  In truth I have to say that wasn’t a development that much surprised me either, but it was a powerful moment – not the most powerful of the ep, but a major milestone moment for his character in that he effectively decided that the living (and by extension, himself) were more important than the dead.  He can’t bring back the Kurta Tribe, but he can lose the friends he has now – and only by living on can he make the memory of his people live on, too.  Chrollo knew this about him of course – but if he was hoping that Pakunoda would refuse Kurpika’s conditions and let him die, he didn’t get wish.  Chrollo understands his people with extraordinary clarity, but he seems to underestimate the degree to which they feel loyalty to him.

If I had to pick the most intense moment of the episode, it might just be the scene in the hideout where the Spiders almost came to battle over whether to allow Pakunoda to carry out Kurapika’s instructions or not.  First it was Gon stepping up for his main character moment, showing his GAR by ripping away his chains as if they were nothing, then doing what Gon often does – clarifying the situation by stripping away all the intrigue and deception and breaking it down to its essence.  Pakunoda would only agree to the deal if she knew Kurapika would keep his word, and Phinks and Feitan were being blind to the fact that others besides themselves could act out of loyalty to their friends.  Then Franklin – perhaps the one member of the Troupe who’s been least heard-from – stepped up and put the others in their place with a very simple question: “What’s our worst-case scenario?”  Even Phinks had no answer to this question other than to let Pakunoda go.

Those are not the sort of moments you expect a blockbuster shounen arc to conclude on – nor do you expect the long-awaited Hisoka-Chrollo confrontation to end as it did.  Hisoka’s master plan was flawless right to the end – Illumi filling in for him, a demand Kurapika couldn’t refuse, in fact would seemingly be pleased to accept.  Of course he was bluffing about killing the boys (though it’s interesting to speculate whether they believed him or not) but what happened next amounts to only the second time I can recall seeing Hisoka really and truly caught off-guard – the first being when Gon surprised him during the final phase of the Hunter Exam.  Kurapika’s deal with Pakunoda had effectively undercut his entire plan by taking away Chrollo’s ability to fight with Nen.  There was a moment of shock (hilariously out-of-character) but no pouting or peevishly killing the defenseless Chrollo – he merely washed his hands of the matter and left the others to their own devices, disappointed no doubt but also possessing a newfound respect for Kurapika’s resourcefulness.

I think the most surprising element of the finale was the fact that the emotional peak came from the Spiders – most specifically, Pakunoda.  Remarkably, despite everything he’d said earlier, even Gon felt sadness when he heard she died – because in being around the Spiders for an extended period he came to realize that they were driven by many of the same motives he was, like friendship and loyalty.  In his heart he knows they’re all terrible killers, but he also knows that they (some more than others) are deeply loyal and protective of each other, something he understands on a gut level (which for Gon means a lot).  It was loyalty that drove Paku to give up her life for the sake of the Troupe – “Please, let this end with me” – who would have thought that she of all people would deliver the powerful summation of the entire York Shin Arc, and that Phinks would look at Gon and Killua and say “Pakunoda wanted to thank you”?

This is the magic of Togashi, of course – to surprise, and to deliver up complicated situations where villains don’t twirl their mustaches and tell the audience exactly how to feel at any given moment.  In truth of course the reason Gon and Killua didn’t flee the injured Pakunoda when they no doubt could have was out of loyalty, too – loyalty to Kurapika.  They didn’t want to make a liar out of him and more importantly, they didn’t want to see him driven further down the path of no-return by taking another life.  In the end,of course, it would be Paku’s life that Kurapika ended up taking – though the boys didn’t know that at the time (and neither did Kurapika). And while some of Neon’s prophecies have been borne out (“East is the direction to go; you will find the one who awaits you”) others remain a mystery for now.

The final conversation between Gon and Killua was a fascinating one, reflecting each of their personal biases – was Kurapika driven by revenge from the beginning as Killua said, or by something deeper, as Gon argued?  Either way I think Gon is right that the Kurapika of the moment has changed from the one who started down that dark path, because of the loyalty of his friends.  With Gon and Killua putting Gon’s still-unknown plan into action – plans don’t normally seem to be his department but it must be pretty good, as Killua gave it an 80% chance – there’s one more surprise, Phinks and Feitan’s presence at the auction and the aforementioned final remembrance of Pakunoda.  And with it the revelation that the Spiders cannot kill Kurapika for fear that his vengeful Nen will destroy Chrollo after his death.  As for Chrollo, stripped of contact with the Troupe and use of Nen, he does exactly what someone in his position should – sets off to seek the services of someone who can remove the chain from around his heart.  Gon and Killua have figuratively done so for Kurapika already, so it seems only fair.

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Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia: “Chrollo”

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  1. A

    So now that their arc is done, who would say was your favorite non-Chrollo Spider?

  2. Damn… That's a very hard call. Maybe Nobunaga?

  3. A

    Epic reaction by Hisoka! Ohw! That was fast! Off to greed island and Hatsu!

  4. A

    Fast would be an understatement. I mean, I was eager to get to this next arc but, damn! Well, I did laugh my ass off at Killua's face in the auction, so it's all good.

  5. l

    For some reason, by reading your posts, I have a feeling that you will enjoy Greed Island more than York Shin.

  6. e

    Well done Togashi and Madhouse, well done.
    Also, our little boys look fab in a tux. Be still my heart. Even among the poignant dialogue I couldn't help but be reminded of him:
    And while we are at it, I suspect Mrs. Togashi really liked Hisoka (and stiletto heels) That's basically the same color palette (in the anime version the costume is blue) as Hisoka's during the final hunter exam's arc on the island. Eheh.

  7. A

    The final dialog between Phinx and the kids always gets me emotional.

    I don't know exactly why, It's just the sadness in Phinx face, who has finally come to understand Pakunoda…

  8. A

    Yay! Onto Greed Island, my favorite part of the series!

  9. N

    I loved Pakunoda, so, so much in this series. Sacrificing herself just so the spider wouldn't fall apart like that was almost too much for me to handle.

    Also, I found it hilarious how Gon, Hisoka, and all of the Phantom Troupe totally upstaged Kurapika by the end of this arc.

  10. That's a very good point, one that occurred to me too. Considering how Kurapica drove everything in this arc, by looking at the caps you notice he's relatively a minor factor in this actual final episode. It's much more about Gon and the Spiders. Again – a very unconventional, Togashi-like route.

  11. Z

    So now, that the arc has finally ended… Was it better than Heavens Arena or not after all? =3

  12. A

    The only thing that I absolutely hate about this arc, is the general feeling that the spiders will never truly get what is coming to them.

  13. Better? Definitely subjective. In terms of plotting, yes – it's more of an intricate, epic web Togashi weaves. In terms of raw emotion and fascinating exposition, I give the nod to Heavens Arena – which also contains what I would argue is the single greatest anime fight scene of the last 5 years. So on balance you can't go wrong either way – if pressed, I still give the tiniest not to HA based on personal preference.

  14. Z

    Then I think you'll enjoy GI =3 It has an atmosphere similar to HA or Hunter Exam; while its plot is about as good as YS imo. Personally for me it's the best HxH arc.

  15. I sort of get the feeling this arc is right up my alley too, but the bar has been raised pretty high by the last two and I don't want to get my hopes unrealistically raised.

  16. A

    But it will be raised another level. It's like having a whole arc like an episode were the boys discover the wold of appraisers in ep 48. More like combining HA and YS but on the lighter and more technical side with SAO. Look forward to it.

  17. A

    So who would you think would win if Chrollo and Hisoka were to fight?

  18. If pushed I would say Hisoka – because, mainly, we've never seen Hisoka seriously challenged to the degree that Chrollo was by the Zoldyck pair, even when they were holding back. But it's really impossible to say when we haven't seen either of them at full strength.

  19. A

    I agree. Hisoka would be a great bet. But we will never know until they both reveal more. Maybe at the end of GI arc..

  20. A

    Chrollo is featured in the Hunterpedia!!!! So he's gonna die? 😉

    Looking forward to GI arc!

    Another great review Enzo-san! Btw did you read the one-shot about Kurapika? Since it's the prequel to the upcoming movie. or will you just watch the movie only? would you also write a review on both or either one(movie and prequel)?


  21. Chrollo got a waiver. Something about blackmail and pictures of Gon and Killua in their underwear.

    If someone scanlates the special chapter it'd be tempting to read it, because in theory it won't spoil the anime. As for reviewing the movie, it'll depend on whether I feel I get enough out of it raw – I'll certainly do so when the BD comes out at the very least.

  22. e

    Now that I've actually looked at them, Gon's boxers(?) in the Hunterpedia screnshots are cracking me up. The puffy cut and those frills at the bottom… I wonder if someone in the staff or in-universe (Mito-san? :p) has a soft spot for Regency-style female undies or is a closet admirer of XVII century pants fashion… because they're awfully similar.

  23. Yes, they do indeed appear to be bloomers. I've begun to suspect that the Hunterpedia segments are being animated specifically for the fujoshi in the crowd.

  24. A

    You may be onto something, Sherlock. But the bloomers=uke implications potential… ARGH! The shotacon side of the Force! One way or another, watchers' resistance is futile.

    *signature: Eli aka Broken-by-the-Schwing-and-Killua-Moe. Also, THEM GAMS*

  25. A

    Scanlations are out! Go on read it! It'll also reveal a few more detail on this episode too.. ^^


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