Am I surprised that “Greed Island” closed with such a fulfilling, warm and emotionally satisfying final episode? Not in the least – Togashi has already proved to anyone’s satisfaction (certainly mine) that he knows how to bring these massive arcs across the finish line in style, and H x H by Madhouse has already pretty much rewritten the record book for consistency. Still, you can’t help but shake your head a little at the incredible ability this series has to just keep delivering, time after time after time. It’s truly remarkable.
My usual notes page for an anime episode is pretty much overflowing this week, but the first thing that caught my attention was the moment when Biscuit was watching Gon and Killua get ready to play the restricted cards quiz. My exact thought was “She’s looking at them with a mother’s eyes now.” And I think events later in the episode certainly bore that out. For a series that does action as well as any show can, pretty much, it’s astounding that Hunter X Hunter is so great at these quiet emotional moments too – I’m reminded of the short interlude on Whale Island, where we saw Gon and Mito in some of the sweetest and warmest interaction I can remember in any anime, made all the more affecting because we saw it more or less from Killua’s outsider perspective.
Bisky grew on me, to say the least, and it’s certainly safe to say Gon and Killua grew on her. From starting out mischievously wanting to break up their friendship for fun, she came to love both of them – so much so that she had to force herself to say goodbye to them after they’d cleared Greed Island because in her own words, if she didn’t she’d “become too attached”. Bisky is not a soft and sentimental person by any means – she’s a hard-ass of the highest order – but the emotional bond between she and the boys really became a beautiful element of the series. I was hoping there might even be a hug between them at the end – it’s not the anime way I know, though we did get one between Gon and Mito – but their actual farewell scene was pretty much perfect. She was a great character, and I’ll miss her.
It seems very fitting that Gon should have won the quiz in his own right, because all along Greed Island meant more to him than to anyone else. Gon played the game the right way for the right reasons, and that would have been true even if it hadn’t been effectively created just for him. With one exception the other players weren’t planning anything unsavory – just hoping to win the quiz and sell the card to Team Gon – but they never really had a chance (hey – why didn’t we get to see Killua’s punishment game?!). As for Abengane, he got his closure – he “caught the bomber“, and went back to the real world to earn his fortune cleaning up Nen. Starting, in fact, with Chrollo Lucilfer, who’s back in the game, thank you very much (and I don’t mean Greed island).
Sadly but not unexpectedly, Ging wasn’t waiting for Gon once the game was over. After having received “Ruler’s Invitation”, Gon, Killua and Bisky travel to the game’s actual capital city of Limeiro where he’s to claim the 100th card, “Ruler’s Blessing”. Instead of Ging, he’s greeted by two of Ging’s friends – Dwun (Suzuki Takuma) and List (Anzai Chika). Dwun’s room is a dump, to say the least, full of bento boxes and toys and generally befitting a hard-core otaku (or mangaka). And Dwun himself is a bit of a smart-ass, teasing a very puzzled Gon relentlessly with nonsense like a “just for Gon ending”, though the polite, well-dressed and rather shota-like List scolds him for it. Together they tell Gon the tale of how Ging created the game with ten of his friends, each of their initials forming the name (including a bonus feature on how Ging changed Dwun’s – whose actual name is “Wdwune” – name on his own accord). For now we know only the G, R, E and E (the girls at the entry and exit of the game, twins), D and L – perhaps the rest we’ll meet I, S, A, N and the other D later.
So what three restricted slot cards did Gon choose to take back to the real world? Well, there was never any doubt that he, Kil and Bisky would each take a choice. Biscuit was predictable – Blue Planet, what she promised all along (though it was far from the most precious thing she got out of the experience), but Gon comes up with a fascinating gambit. Once again, the “idiot” Gon is the one who comes up with a brilliant notion when the chips are down – we’ve seen it over and over again, he’s brilliant in his own way. He uses “Paladin’s Necklace”, “Patch of Shore” and “Transform” to actually walk away with a non-restricted card card – “Accompany”, which is what he wanted all along. Why? Because the first name in his binder isn’t Goreinu, which it should have been, but “Nigg” – and Gon figures that’s a clue that he was taken into the game as a baby, probably by Ging. Clever boy.
It’s so classically Gon that the first thing he tells Bisky he wants to do if he meets Ging is introduce him to Killua, his best friend in the world – which pretty much pushes her over the emotional edge. Killua has the tsundere act down pretty well, but he can’t hide his true self – and that’s the smile on his face as he watches Gon enter the castle alone, hoping to meet his father. I’m sad in a way that the two of them can’t keep traveling with Bisky, because they make a highly entertaining and formidable team – but in the end, Hunter X Hunter is a chronicle of Gon and his friendship with Killua. All the others – even Kurapika and Leorio – are accessories to that, destined to appear and disappear from the story while Gon and Killua will always be a team. It’s a credit to Togashi-sensei that so many of those characters are memorable – just add Bisky to the list – but it’s Gon and Killua who will always be the heart of H x H.
And now, with another brilliant, epic arc behind us, we embark on true Hunter X Hunter history. With next week’s episode we finally reach the part of the manga that has never been animated in any form. Not having been a viewer of the 1999 series and OVAs the impact of this moment is perhaps less immediate with me than with some, because the entire series has been new ground. But as a huge fan of Rurouni Kenshin, I can imagine what it would feel like to finally see the “Jinchu” Arc animated, never mind by a great studio that was hitting the adaptation out of the park. “Chimera Ant” comes to our screens at long last, and I for one can’t wait to see what happens next.
Greed Island Tutorial: “Game Over”
Preview: Reunion x And x Understanding (Chimera Ant Episode 1)