Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 84

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So far, the only light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.

“The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way of our return.  We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.  It was very quiet there.”

– Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Yes, I meant it when I said that Ponzu was the lucky one.  And now we know just horrifyingly true that was.

Enter the Royal Guard, at long last.  This is obviously a development that has the potential to change everything, for all that we knew it was coming.  The first eight episodes of the “Chimera Ant” arc, for all their horror and disquiet, were merely the preamble – the overture that plays before the opera begins. Now the major players begin to walk on stage, and the first of them is Neferpitou (Fujimura Ayumi).   He (I say “he” because Togashi has apparently said Neferpitou is male, and gender is an established part of Chimera – and real – ant physiognomy.  It’s certainly not the first time Togashi has introduced a male Hunter X Hunter character some mistook for female – I never thought so about Kurapika but he got me with Kalluta) appears to be largely modeled on a cat – not a larger one like Hagya, but a house cat or small wildcat of some kind.

What really matters is that Neferpitou is the first of the three Royal Guard to hatch, and the depth of the difference in power should be evidenced in the fact that Rammot – who appeared to be just about the most psychotic and self-absorbed in the bunch and was brimming with Nen power – immediately cowered before him, utterly beaten.  It’s surely no coincidence that Togashi chose to have Pitou appear just as Rammot was haboring thoughts that his Nen power might make him a suitable candidate to be King himself, suggesting that the individuality among the ants was truly spiralling out of control.  Let’s remember what we’ve been told – the Royal Guard exists for the service of the King, not the Queen.  It’s to him that they owe their allegiance.

The sheer brutality of what happened in the ant nest tests even the high bar Togashi has set for himself in this arc.  There was the spectacle of a fat pig-ant apparently assigned as the Queen’s chef/butcher, supervising a huge pile of bodies that he made into “meatballs” to feed to her.  Given what Rammot said about the nerve toxin the victims are injected with, it seems safe to assume this is a living larder – that most of these humans are alive and paralyzed as they wait to be consumed.  And underneath a huge pile of skulls is Pokkle, alive and apparently waiting in vain for a chance to escape.  He’s able to mask his presence from Nen novice Rammot when he and Peggy come searching for him, but as soon as Pitou arrives on the scene he susses out Pokkle’s presence without any problems.

There’s not much need to elaborate on what Pitou did to Pokkle – it simply confirms that Togashi has pretty much no limiter, and nothing is out of bounds.  It’s one of the most horrible things I’ve seen in anime, but in practical terms it’s also terrifying to note than Pitou was able to do what he did just from reading about the brain in one book.  It seems indeed that Gon’s attack on Rammot opened his pores and freed his Nen, and the implication is that Rammot became an Enhancer because that’s what Gon was (though to be honest it fits Hisoka’s personality test to a T).  Naturally enough, it occurs to Peggy and Rammot that they might introduce Nen to the other ants in similar fashion (Colt is already the first), which I suppose would mean the world would be facing an army of chimera ant Enhancers.  But then there’s the fact that Pitou himself has Nen power, and he was born with it – he’s a Specialist, in fact.  We don’t know exactly how that happened, but the implications are obvious.

Once again the main cast is on the periphery of the episode, though their faceoff against Hagya is an important one.  Hagya, as he says, hunts like a lion hunts – he waits in the tall grass while the prey is flushed out of the forest.  It’s no surprise that Kaitou, Gon and Killua are too powerful for his cannon fodder to handle (Kaitou seemingly spins #2 again).  But what it interesting is that when Hagya sees this, he realizes he’s outclassed and calmly walks away from the fight.  He, too, remembers things from before he was killed and “reborn” – the power he thought he had as King of the Jungle, and the realization that his claws and fangs were nothing against the true monsters of the world.  In some ways his quiet retreat is more frightening than Rammot’s frenzied rage and threats, because it implies a deeper and more profound danger.  Hagya will be heard from, though in just what role I’m not sure.

The dynamic among the ants is a fascinating variable going forward.  For weeks we’ve been watching them grow more and more individualistic, seemingly implying a splintering of their ant-like single-minded sense of purpose, a possible vulnerability.  Is the arrival of Pitou – with his two fellows presumably close on his heels – enough to stem that tide?  Will the very presence of the King’s Guard cow everyone into obedience the way it seemed to with Rammot?  Is there enough individualism now hard-wired into the chimera ants’ code that a civil war between the Queen and King and their followers could come about?  At this point we really don’t know the answer, only that Pitou’s presence has changed the rules of the game in dramatic terms.  And given how keenly he seems to be able to sense Nen, with three true colossi of Nen coming ever closer to the nest as they follow Hagya, a major confrontation seems imminent.

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  1. U

    Debate on Pitou's gender is vary widespread to the point were the wiki just says unknown. Honestly I think that Pitou is female she has breasts for gods sake and Togashi was never very specific.

    The manga was only slightly more explicit with Pokkle (In that it showed that Pitou had clearly ripped the top of his head off to get at that brain of his.) and that after Pitou's order that he be fed to the Queen the pig butcher went to work.

  2. Apparently there are also official manga publications which refer to Pitou as male, or so I've heard. In the end it doesn't really make that much difference.

    Yeah, I'm sure the manga was more explicit – but I'm perfectly fine with that. I don't need to see every horror Togashi unleashes in graphic detail, when the gist of it is terrifying and revolting enough.

  3. s

    Pitou is female she has breasts for gods sake

    Well Miyuki has breasts as well and Yusuke had to cop a feel down there just to make sure of his gender. What do you say about that?

    and Togashi was never very specific.

    Togashi, all authors for that matter, doesn't need to be specific if clues are already given. Based on all Togashi's readily available works, if a person talks, acts and identify as a particular gender, s/he must be treated as such regardless of his/her biological sex.

    I haven't seen this episode yet but I can't wait to watch it.~

  4. A

    Madhouse added a more prominent hourglass figure, a noticeable bust and made him/her/it thinner which made the hips look wider.

  5. B

    Considering the Ants are composed of a mish-mash of various other creatures, it's entirely possible that Pitou is both male and female.

  6. A

    The Queen ate male and female humans, so it's only natural some Ants just happen to have a female appearence (Pitou, Zazan, Hina). But that doesn't mean they are female. All Chimera Ants are male apart from, of course, the Queen (it was stated somewhere but I can't remember where)

  7. I'm pretty sure it's not true that all Chimera Ants are male. I'm not sure why they would be, for starters, but aside from the simple fact that sone of them (Zazan for example, and Hagya's sidekick) appear indisputably female, I've never seen anything official suggesting they were all males.

    As for Pitou, I hate to see the conversation get so bogged down on this when it's far less important than most of the chapter. But for the record – as a blogger, I have to refer to him by something other than "it" and in a case like this, I try and be as faithful to the source material as possible. In this instance there are 3 relevant points:

    1. Togashi has reportedly said Pitou is male (and has a history of drawing androgynous males)
    2. There are at least two official H x H databooks showing Pitou as male
    3. Pitou refers to himself (in the manga) by the generally (though not exclusively) male pronoun "boku"

    That's it. It may not be incontrovertible but the circumstantial evidence is pretty overwhelming that Togashi created Pitou as a male character, so that's what I go with unless something proves the contrary.

  8. A

    Zazan and Hina appear indisputably female because they were made from female humans, so they have female human genes. But it's merely a matter of appearence.

  9. U

    Apparently Togashi never actually confirmed anything about Pitou's gender. And the databooks don't state anything definitely. I have heard that people in japan are confused about it.

    Anyway it does not matter that much. Pitou's gender is very unimportant so people can call him/her what ever they want.

  10. S

    I don't think Rammot's Enhancer nature depends on Gon having "baptized" him. Remember that Gon and Killua were both similarly "baptized" by Wing, who's an enhancer, and Killua turned out a Transmuter nevertheless, according to his personality. I think Rammot simply happens to be an Enhancer – as you noticed, it's really in his personality.

  11. Might well be – I was just guessing. Pitou's Specialist ability makes him that much scarier to me, not just because I've always figured it was the strongest class but because it might have other implications.

  12. A

    They aren't necessarily the strongest class.
    Neon was an specialist, and her ability was to make predictions. She wasn't physically strong. The same goes for Pakunada and his "memory reading" ability.

  13. S

    Specialists have the POTENTIAL to be the strongest… since their abilities can't be put into any category, they can completely transcend them and be totally broken (see Kuroro's skill theft ability, that with all its limitations, was incredibly powerful, or Kurapika's terrifying "Emperor's Time").

  14. m

    specialists may be strong in that their abilities are special and cannot be replicated. but that doesn't mean they have the potential to be strongest. you can be an enhancer and only know to punch the air, and still hone it to be a very strong skill.

  15. N

    This episode was really unsettling. I've never felt so uncomfortable with an anime before and the worst thing is I knew this was coming!! Madhouse are doing a great job with this arc so far and I have no doubt they will continue to do so. Things are only going to get more intense from now on…

  16. j

    All this talk about Pitou being a male or female…Then what about the scorpion woman whom GE (haha wth) described as Angeline Jolie-like? Is she a male too????

    And sh!t, no mention about that preview??? DAT PREVIEW?!?!?!?

    ITS COMING I SAY (i don't read the manga)




  17. j

    " but aside from the simple fact that sone of them (Zazan for example, and Hagya's sidekick) appear indisputably female, I've never seen anything official suggesting they were all males."

    Nevermind about that first comment I made then.

    As for the whole male/female discussion, I shrug it off. HxH is not anime-perfection for everyone. There is only so much a shounen can do without introducing females or boobs without having its main audience lose a bit of interest. HxH keeps fanservice to a minimum, but every now and then it'll have its scenes or characters (this time, Zazan).

    In my little world in my mind, I just say they're all males and the horny ants that dig the woman-looking ants live a perverted fantasy.

  18. e

    Holy **** that was horrifying, and I had accidentally spoilered myself last week on another site. (note to GoT TV script especially regarding Theon's gorn: that's how you unsettle your audience while showing actually very little).
    Pokkle's final scene remided me of a French novel I read a few years ago (Morgane by Michel Rio It's from his Arthurian trilogy. Unfortunately while said trilogy has been translated in a few languages it's not available in English. Dense books in the good sense of the word). Let's say Morgane le Faye in this 'verse can go to pretty dark places in her quest for absolute knowledge and at one point she performes experiments on the brain of a living subject. Her modus operandi there is basically the same as Pitou. And in both cases it's quite the terryfying showcase of intelligence&curiosity with little or no empathy to hold enquiring minds back.
    On the other hand, having a pig-Ant butchering humans is so darkly grotesque. Did he grind them a-la Teacher in The Wall's animated sequence I wonder. Togashiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

    Thanks for the opening clue Enzo, it was enough to suggest me postponing lunch. Whew.

    In terms of comic relief the 'Ikemen!' moment just when Kaito&boys fresh from Ants slaughter appeared just had me chortling. Oh the wonders of mood mixing when done right.

    With legions of both natural born and awakened Nen Ant users scenario the extra Hunter squad can't come too soon…
    I'd almost hope , given how this arc is so long and is famed in bringing escalating darkess, that the Ant crisis escalates to bad enough of a point to require Ging's involvement to at least some degree. It's a cornball's hope though.

  19. G

    Seriously the Hunter's Administration needs to call out a worldwide SOS and send every Hunter on the planet there to kill these ants because its way out of control. This goes on much longer and it would be the end of the human race.

  20. A

    Superb review as usual. Thanks for the read. I'd like to add a few tidbits, as it pertains to differences between manga and anime.

    Some people relate to the bonus material as filler. I don't see it as such, I see it as Togashi adding all the stuff in the anime that he was too lazy/sick to add as he rushed through the arc and the drawings when he published the original story in WSJ.

    We finally got the confirmation that the armadillo is definitely dead, hence this ant being Gon's 1st kill, contrary to popular belief (fanboys like to claim Gon's 1st kill is that one kill much later in the arc, no details needed as I would venture into spoilers terrtory).

    Furthermore, Hagya's change of mind towards fighting Kaito & co was much more detailed here than in the manga. We got the bonus Lion type hunt + Flutter's direct exposure to Kaito's scythe which led to their retreat.

    All in all, up to thing point, whatever extra content we got was neither superfluous or unneccessary. The anime delves much more into most chimeras (at least, most storyline important chimeras) psyches than in the manga and it is a good thing.

    On the censor hand, while we weren't expposed to much of it since the beginning of the arc, this time we didn't have to watch the horrible chopping off of poor Pokkle by the pig after Pitou told him he wasn't needed anymore.

    Were we spared or is it yet to be included (could be next week's op) ? Ponzu's horror wasn't censored but we might have partially escaped Pokkle's gruesome end.

    Thanks again for the review and feel free to share and disagree with me, quite happy to find a nice spot to discuss HXH.


  21. A

    I feel like even if Togashi had confirmed Pitou's gender as male, Madhouse clearly and deliberately changed it to female- why else would they bother giving the character very obvious breasts? To me, the character is as indisputably female as Hina and Zazan, but I won't dwell on this in comments for other posts, just wanted to share my thoughts.

  22. n

    I'm sure Madhouse would consult with Togashi on something as uncertain as Pitou's gender.

    I for one am actually enjoying all the extra filler scenes that they are adding. Madhouse is doing an excellent job on these. They are interesting and a lot better than any other filler scenes added to most other animes. More Hunter x Hunter is always a good thing! This ep was amazing although I wish they added Pokkle's actual death scene, perhaps with a flashback scene with him and Ponzu before he kicked the bucket?

  23. J

    Yeah, when Rammot got down on both knees and realized that him becoming king was nothing more than a dream…oh boy. Plus seeing him actually eager to follow Pitou? I mean this was the guy that was going berzerk just last episode. Can't wait to see the fights!

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