Although there were a few grisly moments courtesy of those most ruthless of the Phantom Troupe, Phinks and Feitan, in general this was probably the one episode of Hunter X Hunter since the middle of the Heaven’s Arena arc that was simply breezy and fun. As dark and violent as this series can be – and usually is – it also has the ability to be a pure comic adventure yarn when Killua and Gon are the center of attention. And the added element that a certain twin-tailed middle-aged loli brings to the table should prove an interesting dynamic to watch.
I won’t post unwanted spoilers here but since she’s on every cast list I don’t think this is one: in the “Phantom Rouge” film, Gon and Killua interact extensively with a girl named Retzu. You can watch the film yourself to see what those interactions are like, but it’s certainly not spoiling to say they’re interesting – at the very least because it’s really the first time we’ve seen the boys extensively share the screen with a female character apart from Mito-san. Retzu is their age which makes her fundamentally different from Biscuit Kreuger (who only looks their age) but Biscuit’s arrival on the scene is certainly one of the headline moments of Greed Island so far. Whatever her character turns out to be like, this is a canon opportunity to see Gon and Kil partnered up with someone fundamentally different from what we’ve seen before, and that in itself is a big deal.
That said, there’s every indication that Biscuit isn’t going to be just another side dish. While her initial plan to tag along and tease the boys fun might be half-baked, she’s clearly got some things going for her as a character. She’s got a temper, for one, and she’s got real strength for another. In fact, Biscuit has been “practicing Nen for forty years” – which I would assume places her age as least 50. She’s a bit flaky, too – full of odd ideas and she gives the impression that she’s in Greed Island as a lark in the first place. But when she sees what she has in Gon and Killua – two “rough gems” who could use the polish someone with her experience could give them – she can’t resist the notion of stepping in and helping out. But it’s not as if she butters them up – she’s as harsh in her instruction as she is cute in appearance.
The initial impression I get is that Killua and “Old Hag” Biscuit especially are going to have a hilariously entertaining relationship. Gon can be as stubborn as they come, but he respects strength – and when he gets a notion of just how strong Biscuit is, he’ll be willing to follow her lead because he knows it’ll make him stronger too. Killua on the other hand seems to resent being commanded on principle, and wants to work as much out for himself as possible. He’s also got a classically bratty attitude to go with his L’il Punk wardrobe, and there’s a quick chemical reaction between he and Biscuit like baking soda and vinegar. I don’t see either of these two giving ground, even as they become allies, which should make their interactions fun to watch (and possibly cast Gon as the “mature” peacemaker of the trio, a role I think is a good fit for him).
It’s a good thing Biscuit does tag along, no matter what Kil says, because the boys’ inexperience is proving a bigger hindrance inside Greed Island than in the “real” world (more on that in a minute). After Killua wins a spell card in the Jan-Ken-Pon tournament (defeating Gon in the final – who would ever think Gon would go away from “rock” when it counts? I’ve since read the manga chapter and know why…) it’s quickly stolen from them by a calm and orderly band of thieves. Cards are useless in this world without other cards to protect them – and when the boys head off to Masadora to try and gather some, Biscuit watches them blunder their way through several monster encounters, knowing that their raw strength is enough to keep them alive for now, but won’t be if they ever run across someone formidable. She finally decides to scrap her simple mischief plan and step in when they forget to use Gyo to see through the illusion presented by a suit of armor, unable to stomach their blundering any longer. And thus begins what promises to be an interesting friendship.
There are a couple of other developments that have the whiff of importance to them, too. Before they start battling monsters Gon and Kil (and Biscuit) run across a pack of bandits who appear by all accounts to be NPCs, part of a game scenario – but when they play along, their only reward is to be forced to leave the village in their underwear after they give away their clothes and last 80,000 Jenny. This is a puzzling development that even Biscuit can’t figure out, and was surely included for a reason. The “alliance” of Hunters reveals that they’re after the precious “Breath of the Archangel” card, which can only be acquired in trade for a complete set of 40 spell cards. And then there’s the Spiders, in two groups. First the ever-analytical Shalnark – traveling with Kotolpi and Shizuka – has figured out several elements of the game involving Nen abilities and spell cards. Most interesting to me is that he makes a pretty good case that Greed Island isn’t a virtual world at all, but in fact a real place – one that players are somehow teleported to when they join the game. Filed away as potentially crucial info. There’s also Phinks and Feitan, who serve as a reminder that while some of them can appear reasonable and even pleasant, the Spiders are a gang of ruthless killers, and these two promise to wreak havoc in what’s already a pretty cutthroat environment.
Greed Island presents an interesting challenge to director Koujina Hiroshi. Togashi is really in full-on geek mode here – one suspects there are huge binders (or perhaps mass storage devices) full of information about every facet of Greed Island, most of which never made it into the manga. How much of what did does Koujina-sensei throw at us? I want to know everything about the game, but it’s a lot to take in – and massive information dumps every week can do a lot to grind the narrative momentum to a crawl. So far I’d judge that he’s got the balance just right – we’re learning bits and pieces (including via the Gon & Killua Tutorial) but I’m not having to stop the video every 30 seconds to catch up. As the boys get deeper into the world where Ging awaits I suspect the layers of mythology will only get deeper too – it’s going to be interesting to see just how much detail the anime provides and how much is left to the imagination.
Greed Island Tutorial: “God Eye”