Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 70

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If there’s a pure shounen heaven, surely this episode of Hunter X Hunter must be it.

I keep making the mistake of thinking that Madhouse can’t keep topping themselves, but Madhouse keeps topping themselves.  I don’t know how they do it – or how Togashi did it, for that matter – but it just keeps getting better.  With every new masterpiece Togashi shows us another element of his mastery, and Madhouse shows off their unimpeachable ability to animate and choreograph action.  Series this long aren’t supposed to be this good – it just doesn’t work that way.  Authors go into slumps, the money gets tight, something is supposed to go wrong and make a show mediocre for at least a week or two.  Dammit, this just isn’t right!

I can honestly say that this is one of the very few shows that’s ever floored me with sheer GAR to the point where I was practically shaking with adrenaline.  It always seems to involve Gon, and it’s no coincidence – if Kenshin Himura is the perfect main character – shounen or otherwise – I think Gon is too, in a completely different way.  Seriously – how much guts, determination and pure power is it possible to fit into that tiny body?  I’m normally resistant to characters who are as pure as Gon is, but as written by Togashi he’s so damn genuine that I’m completely swept up by his heroic nature.  He’s everything a shounen lead is supposed to be, including capable of being overpowered and defeated – but in being defeated he simply sucks it up and uses it for inspiration.  There’s a reason other characters are swept up by the untarnished nature of Gon’s pride and courage, whether they want to be or not – we’ve seen it over and over, with friends and rivals alike.  Hisoka, Biscuit, Zepile, Tsezguerra – even the likes of Wing, Leorio and Kurapika.

Of course, no one has been more changed by Gon’s nature than Killua.  And no one comes as close to matching Gon for having strength and courage that outsizes their physical stature.  But it wasn’t the more obvious GAR elements of Gon’s character that impacted Killua, it was his loyalty and empathy – he did the most difficult thing it’s possible to in a relationship, which is to inspire someone to be a better person.  That’s a big part of great shounen too, and if Gon is a perfect shounen lead, than his relationship with Killua is possibly a perfect shounen friendship.  While there’s no question that Gon’s stubborn unwillingness to compromise drives his friend crazy, there’s also no question that Killua admires it – and while he’s strong enough to hold his own in any situation, his loyalty to Gon has convinced him to take on the role of the unwavering supporter and protector (something which Gon truly needs, as his strength does not make him immune to the dangers his courage and stubbornness exposes him to).

In Razor, Gon has found a perfect foil to spur him to reach the next level in his development (which is probably not coincidental, under the circumstances – nor is the fact that Gon so resembles his father with this tourniquet around his head).  I like the arcs in H x H that aren’t necessarily driven by a conventional good vs. evil narrative, which is one of the reasons I love “Heaven’s Arena” so much.  Razor is ruthless, no doubt, but he’s not malicious – he simply has a job to do, and no pity on those not strong enough to stand up to him.  Of course Genthru is still out there and he’s undeniably evil, but there’s the sense that it’s this standoff with Razor – a game that isn’t a game – that’s the true centerpiece of “Greed Island” and the aspect that matters most in the long-term.  If there was a consummate Gon moment in this episode (in the last it was his smile when Razor announced he was instructed by Ging to not go easy on Gon) it was in his reaction to Razor’s technique in deflecting his “Jan-Ken-Pon” attack.  It was pure, unadulterated joy at seeing such brilliance and elegant power – even though it meant his own attack hadn’t accomplished its ultimate purpose.  Gon and Hisoka are more alike than Gon would care to admit (just as Biscuit and Hisoka are closer in their interest in the boys than she’d care to) in their shared obsession with strength.

It was also refreshing to see a measure of Tsezguerra’s true strength – which lies not in pure Nen power, necessarily, but in analysis and technique.  It was he who gave the most cogent description of what was happening inside the game – including the fact that Killua’s hands were being ravaged by being the “holder” (sort of the anti-Lucy and Charlie Brown) for Gon’s freakishly powerful Janken attacksHisoka has injured himself too, while still managing to use his bungee gum to secure the ball after one of Razor’s trick throws nearly causes him to be knocked out (and does manage to knock Bisky to the “Out” zone by nicking her dress).  But Gon refuses Tsez’s entreaties to let him use himself as the holder, though he knows Nen techniques that could allow him to use his hands to channel Gon’s power as Kil is doing, without crippling himself.  I don’t know what’s more affecting here – Killua’s heartbreaking quiet courage in hiding his injuries behind a smile and his pockets (something the poor kid has had a lifetime of practice at) or Gon’s heartfelt declaration that he could only use his full strength if it was Killua holding the ball (and Killua’s reaction).  This is the complete trust and loyalty of their friendship – and in the end, though Tsezguerra has logic on his side, he has no choice but to acknowledge that his logic is no match for their dedication to each other.

As he often is, Hisoka is the cherry on top of all this glorious Togashi brilliance.  Surely this must be heaven for him, watching all the sheer ungodly power and immovable pride (and his two favorite shotas) on display – and he has no small part in the madness himself.  It seems fitting that it would end up being he and the boys standing alone in the ring against Razor – fitting, and almost too cool for words.  What a notion, that the boys and Hisoka should be thrown together in such a situation – and the preview teases what looks like a kind of Super Sentai formation of the three of them in executing Gon’s plan.  Hisoka’s reaction when Gon whispers it to him and Killua protests that it might not work – “Oh, but I so want to try it”- would have been worth the price of admission even if hadn’t come at the end of a spectacular episode that clicks on every level. And it’s interesting that even when standing with strategists and schemers the likes of Hisoka and Killua (and Bisky and Tsez too, for that matter) it’s the “idiot” Gon who keeps coming up with the plans, and they keep deferring to him.  Gon may lack the cunning of his best friend and his… whatever Hisoka is to him, but his instincts are always with him, and it’s the sheer unbreakability of his spirit that allows Gon to think most clearly when the tension is at its highest.  This is his fight, and I think his friends (and whatever Hisoka is to him) know that – and it’s one that he’s going to have to win his own way.

Because we haven’t done one in 70 weeks, I decided to hold a “H x H character poll” – please stop by the sidebar and cast your vote.

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Greed Island Tutorial: “Contact”

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  1. h

    I love how Gon is willing to play the bad guy or fool instead of being the "atypical good friend" and hurt Killua's pride

  2. J

    "That's a big part of great shounen too, and if Gon is a perfect shounen lead, than his relationship with Killua is possibly a perfect shounen friendship."

    Thank you again for saying that. Killua/Gon is my favorite shounen friendship. Since the original anime run (2000's?). Madhouse really did good. Mr. Narrator casually referred to it as their strong bond of trust/friendship, but their moment there — Gon's speech, Killua speechless (can't argue with Gon, Gon is just pure gold) — is one of the perfect shounen moments I have watched. That's the true power of nakama right there. More meaningful than the usual stuff I've seen (where one screams the word…and everything's fine. Yes, Na*** I'm talking about you. Haha JK)

  3. S

    There's only one question I can't get around to. What is the ball made of? If anything, the strongest one right here is it.

  4. A

    I think it's also worth noting how Gon already knew what happened to Killuas hand, and that he expects him to hold the ball again, if he is willing. If it were anyone else, Gon would surely have a problem, but when it is Killua he trusts him, when he says he is capable of continuing. We know that Killua has always had an analysing mind, and looked after Gon when he was being too reckless, but this episode I also found Gon acknowledged Killua for this, and furthermore relied on it.

  5. m

    I totally agree. And after watching this episode a second time (cuz it was just too awesome) I realized things I didn't notice before, or I was mistaken in what they meant.

    After Gon hits the ball the first time I thought Killua's reaction was based on the big guy getting knocked out. But actually it was the pain he felt, I think. Then, he turns and holds the ball again and communicated to Gon (without speaking) that he is ok and can handle another. Gon sees this and trusts him.

    Amazing!!! And all so subtle I totally missed it the first time!!! These two boys are amazing.

  6. S

    Also if I may add..
    Look at Gon's eyes when Killua holds the ball the second time. You can see that Gon looks at both of killua's hands before charging up his nen. Madhouse did a really good job putting stuff like this.

  7. e

    Eheh. I must say reading your posts after a HxH episode is an extra bonus in itself. They tend to be among your best ones and your average level is already high to begin with. Tehehe.
    But this also make commenting harder because you cover all the bases here, blogger-san! Sooo… instead of quoting and seconding verbatim this whole post of yours all that's left to say in my case is:
    1) a-ha! I knew Hiso would use his Gum o'wonders to catch that ball. *scattering the figurative pop-corns around while jumping with glee* Gotta love the magenta mofo.
    2) Good subtle visual clues to hint at Kil's injury and at Gon realizing it before Tzes pointed the issue out. This friendship, SO MOVING.
    3) I was expecting a gattai since the match started. Seems like we'll get it next week. WOOOHOOOOO. I'm still grinning like a maniac.

  8. m

    i would not only credit gon's unbreakability for his surprising plans, but also his stubborn focus. like in hisoka, there's always many things going through his mind, his scheming, but with gon, it's just one thing – winning this. he's so pure it's so damn shounen you're right!

  9. A

    ''Because we haven't done one in 70 weeks, I decided to hold a "H x H character poll" – please stop by the sidebar and cast your vote.''

    Oh thats cool

    *sees the limit*

    ONLY 2!? Come on man …

  10. e

    Indeed, only 2. Supreme cruelty there, Enzo T_T.

  11. I thought it'd be more interesting that way. 😉

  12. M

    It would be hard enough trying to pick five.

  13. e

    Voted twice… and with this I'm officially an outlaw. I regret nothing :p.

  14. B

    Hisoka was so amazed by Gon's improvement, that the wounds on his face started bleeding out after just wiping them.

  15. G

    Gon's big weakness is he is innocent and nieve. He is very trusting and wants to believe in the best of other people. He has grown some in that aspect over the series but its still his biggest weakness. Fortunately for him he always has companions (Killua, Biscuit) to neutralize this some.

  16. j

    I wish a HxH movie could just focus on an epic Greed Island quest for a super rare card and be pure shounen fanservice. Too bad I don't think it's an idea most people would like enough for a movie to be all about that…

  17. j

    Oh, and I'm surprised no one talked about the two new soundtrack tracks this episode; they really helped giving the desired feelings. How do you make HxH's REASON ED more awesome than it already is? Making an OST song based on it, of course. FFFFFF yes.

  18. Yeah, good point justin – very nice work with the soundtrack. Madhouse has always managed to add new BGM elements for the really, really dramatic battles.

  19. J

    I agree. And that instrumental (I think I also heard something orchestra-like) Reason ED started playing when Gon said those things about Killua until the ep ended. Whoever is in charge of HxH OST and director/editor, they did a good job.

  20. M

    That episode was so EPIC! In my opinion, it beat the OVA version tenfold.

  21. M

    I have to say, I was on the verge of laughing at the epicness of it all.

  22. S

    I'll just leave this here:

    Watch at your risk and peril.

  23. S


    My eyes!! You ruined it!!

  24. j

    I loved this episode more then words can express but mostly I loved the music. The one, slight (and it is slight) problem I have with HxH is the music. Don't get me wrong, it's good. But it doesn't grab me in the way a great shounen series should. The emotional stuff is brilliant, like the spiders and kurapikas themes from the yorkshin arc. But the only music played during any kind of battle I enjoyed was way back in episode 34 when Killua was facing off against the guy in the wheelchair (apologies, I can't remember his name) and the ref screams Hajime. That music was awesome. But now, the music that played during this ep, when gon powers up for the second time and launched the ball at razor and he rebounds it was perfect. The fact that it was used again in the following ep. hopefully this means we might get this epic piece of music for the most epic moments of the series.

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