Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 86

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Nothing changes the mood faster than the welcome return of an old friend.

If anyone ever needed a mom, Gon and (especially) Killua did, right about now.  And with the return of Biscuit Krueger, we have – I would argue for the very first time – a change of tone in the “Chimera Ant” arc.  It’s ironic that it should happen now, after the way episode 85 ended, but it’s definitely happened.  “Chimera Ant” has been an unbroken run of dark, somber, creepy and brilliant episodes that felt totally different than all that had come before.  That all changed here, with an episode that was certainly full of serious moments but much more reflective of the tone in arcs like “Greed Island” or “Heaven’s Arena”.

My first question – what was up with that outfit, Killua?  I never pictured you as a khakis and plaid shirts kind of guy.  Kil has always been the adventuresome one when it comes to fashion it’s true, as compared to Gon’s relentless consistency, but that was a shift as dramatic as the one in tone.  And so was the introduction of Palm (the marvelous veteran Inoue Kikuo).  It’s she who greets Gon and Killua in town, though contrary to their initial reaction she’s not there to fight them.  I’d try to describe Palm but I think any attempt would be futile – “bizarre” is about all I can come up with.  She’s Knov’s student and madly in love with him (though her heart later goes a-flutter when she sees Gon’s boyish sincerity and determination), and quite vexed about being left behind while her master heads into the NGL to fight chimera ants.

This setup is easily the most classic shounen element of the arc so far.  It’s a challenge that must be met, with a time limit of a month – defeat the assassins and prove strong enough to join the fight in NGL.  Except that the assassins are actually Hunters too – two students of Morel, Knuckle Bine (Takagi Wataru) and Shoot McMahon (Ueda Yuji) likewise left behind with the challenge of defeating the boys to prove they’re strong enough to enter NGL.  Despite Palm’s insistence I don’t see this as a fight to the death situation – it’s clear that Knuckle, at least, isn’t a bad guy.  Despite his hilariously shounen bad-boy pompadour and brash demeanor, he’s kind to dogs and picks up their poop to keep the park clean.  His only interaction with the boys so far is a brief crossing of paths with Killua while the latter is on a scouting mission – during which Knuckle is loudly issuing a challenge which Killua ignores and in fact quite wrongly believes is so transparent that it could only be a trap.

The point is, this is Netero’s condition – and seemingly only one pair can win and advance into the NGL (though Palm seems determined to tag along if the boys manage to defeat the men).  Gon and Killua are basically unaware of any details of their opponents strength, which leads to the most interesting conversation of the episode – one which I’d call a direct offshoot of the scolding Morel gave Kil last week.  Killua argues that they must not only strengthen their fundamentals but learn as much as they can about their opponent.  No fight with a small chance at winning is worth fighting, and 50% is the bare minimum requirement – 70% is better.  Gon – as always far, far more clever than he seems to be – makes the very valid point that if they go to the NGL, they’ll constantly have to battle opponents without knowing their strength.  A win here is meaningless unless it prepares them to win against the chimera ants.  Kil is a bit taken aback, but points out that without a win here, nothing else matters.

I would describe this disconnect as the difference between a Hunter’s perspective and an Assassin’s.  There was a lot of viewer reaction to the tongue-lashing Morel (and Knov to an extent) gave to Killua last week – argument over who was “right” and who was “wrong”.  If I’ve learned anything about Togashi it’s that looking for simple answers is the wrong way to go – this isn’t an argument he intended us (or the boys, especially Kil) to be able to settle in the moment.  Kaitou himself endorsed Killua’s decision to flee – but Morel’s argument is that a Hunter simply can’t think in terms of first reactions and odds and flee on first sight.  This is a complicated issue, in the context of H x H and generally, and I think it’s one that’s going to get a lot of play in this arc before it’s over.

Into all this is added the wonderful presence of Bisky, at once a stern taskmaster and a protective maternal figure guided by her love for the boys.  She’s there because Palm used her power (we know she’s an Enhancer, but not much else) to look into the boys’ past and determined that Bisky-tama was the best way to help them get stronger.  As she says herself, she picks up where she left off – giving them impossible training tasks to fulfill before she lets them move on to the next step, with warnings that if “notoriously nasty” Netero gave them a month to complete a task, they probably need a year.  Whereas Gon wants to do it in a week, because his priority is understandably to go back and save Kaitou.  As Biksy shows off her taste in magazines and Palm looks on anxiously, Gon and Killua “Osu!” their way slowly forward, aided by a bit of recuperative Nen from Cookie-chan while they sleep.

While all this is happening – and providing a much-needed break from the relentless despair in the NGL – things aren’t quiet on that front.  Netero reveals that he has no concrete plan to defeat the Chimera Ants, and in fact tells Knov and Morel that based on his snooping Pitou seems stronger than he is.  He also admits to being “only half” of what he was at his peak and says it’s been 50 years since he was the strongest Nen user (could that now be Ging?) – now he’s all the way down at their level.  Netero is working under an assumption that it will be two months before the King is born – I suspect this may be optimistic myself – and for now seems content to conduct reconnaissance, through the use of Morel’s Nen smoke-bunnies.  I can’t help but wonder if this small, elite force notion is going to fail – at some point it might become an “all hands on deck” affair for the Hunter’s Association.  At the very least it will seem odd to me if Biscuit trains the boys up, then doesn’t join them in the NGL when she’s clearly a Hunter of elite strength herself.

Lastly, we have developments among the ants themselves – and they’re big ones.  Another member of the King’s Guard has been hatched – Shaiapouf (Hatano Wataru) who says the last of them, Menthuthuyoupi, will be born soon.  All we know about Shaiapouf for now is that he’s a bishie with butterfly wings and he retains the ability to read minds, including Pitou’s – which the latter doesn’t seem too pleased about.  And it’s with Pitou that the really big news lies, because he’s saved Kaitou’s body – a body which, I might add, seemingly has its head very much attached.  And Pitou decides that the power he wants to develop is to bring Kaitou back, seemingly so he can fight him again.  This is just full of weirdness and I’m not too keen to guess what’s happening yet – but clearly it sets the stage for a potential return for Kaitou, though perhaps not in a way Gon (or he) would want to come back.

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  1. C

    Zombie Kite eh :/

  2. j

    " :/ " indeed

    I'm not too fond to see Kite come back in any way shape or form. I like the guy, but he was important to the story because he died, and if he revives, it'd take away from dat impact. That the real issue with killing off characters in anime and mostly shounens – they never die. I'll give the benefit of the doubt to HxH, at least.

    Mad love for Biscuit! I don't know who the seiyuu is, but she makes a wonderful character out of that sensei.

    And yeah, back to Kite – a giant ice cube and an attached head?
    wth 🙁

  3. l

    =| Don't know if I replied correctly…anyways.

    The camera never shows the neck properly – for all we know it's still possible for it to be disconnected. Guess we won't really know.

    I don't think Kite will come back..not as a live person…maybe a zombie like cyber mentioned. Gon's saving Kite might just be letting Kite's body rest finally. I don't think there's any Nen that could reverse death.

  4. i

    That woman looked like she came out of the Ring.

  5. i

    Also with characters from previous arcs like Bisky appearing, I'd really like a Hunters galore to fight the Chimeras. Hisoka, Kurapika, the spiders and the Hunter exam guys should all arrive. How awesome would that be?

  6. f

    Speaking of Hisoka, we never got word as to what happened between him and Chrollo; that must have been one hell-of-a-fight that went down. I can only wonder who's the victor, if there even would be one.
    I'm not even sure Kurapika would be useful in these battles because his Nen is too tailored to the Spiders; despite having Emperor Time, instant healing, and his materialized chain, he'd probably wouldn't have enough versatility in his Nen to stand a chance against the likes of the Royal Guards, and would probably only be no more than equal strength against the squad leaders, least if they get their hands on how to use Nen properly.

  7. If you check the series thread on ASF, there's a cap of an interesting manga panel Togashi inserted that's relevant to this…

  8. f

    What does ASF stand for? A website?

  9. Sorry, Animesuki forum.

  10. N

    So,you decided to use "He" for Pitou?

  11. Yes. I covered that when he appeared.

  12. N

    But… Pitou is female!

  13. K

    This reply is for Enzo. Where exactly did you read that Togashi confirmed Pitou is male? If it's the 「彼」 (kare) (he) used in two of the guide books, only the first one applies. The second is a misunderstanding, where the "he" actually refers to Gon, not Pitou. And it's unclear just who writes those blurbs. Regardless, I wouldn't call a single use of a Japanese "pronoun" in a guidebook that was published early in the arc to be anything conclusive.

    It seems to me that Togashi conceived of Pitou's gender to be ambiguous by design. It's never defined one way or the other.

  14. K

    What can be said? Pitou is clearly a trap.

  15. U

    Kite's Head was not attached if you look closely. In the cube there is a white line going through it were kite's neck is meaning he is likely still decapitated.

  16. S

    Been following this blog for a while, and it's fantastic. I follow the HxH manga as well as the anime, so seeing somebody dissect a series with really deep writing (for its demographic) to such an accurate degree with their own interesting take on the material makes me all kinds of happy. I look forward to seeing your reactions in the future!

  17. A

    Enzo, is this you?
    Seems like LuffyTheSuperSaiyan is repeatedly quoting you anyway 🙂

  18. K

    lol that's definitely not Enzo. Not even knowing Enzo's race he sounds nothing like him. But it's nice to see fans like what he says enough to copy him

  19. h

    Watched that video alongside with this tab open and it's pretty much word for word haha, I think he just used this as a transcript.

    Not sure how I'd feel if someone ripped of my work and claim them as his own

  20. J

    Maybe he even comments around here? If you're reading this Mr copycat, you should be feeling bad right now. Very bad. You worthless scum 🙁 Get creative.

  21. Wow. I suppose I should point out that abject plagiarism – it really is almost word for word – but I'm reluctant to draw more attention to it.

  22. f

    HAHAHA, that is so funny X0D! Man, I SO want to call him out on that, but it's not my place. Maybe next time =03.

  23. R

    Not funny at all actually. That's amazingly rude and he either needs to credit, apologize, or remove the video. Not continue making them (especially since it seems like some of his other reviews are "borrowing" from previous reviews as well)

  24. J

    It's funny cause I gave this guy the benefit of the doubt and check out his other reviews for the show. But when you compare the language and material from Ep.86 to the rest, it becomes fairly obvious that he plagiarized that work.

  25. Did he do that on previous reviews as well, Rita? I checked a couple but I didn't exhaustively research it.

  26. C

    FYI, that pieces that Gon and Killua are holding are one half of the bishop and rook pieces from shogi. I don't remember their names, but the loud guy marching outside held the second half of the rook piece ("chariot" of flying chariot), and the guy who burned the piece into his hand held the first half of the bishop ("angle" of angle-goer).

    It's just a random observation. There might be some symbolism in that (in Shogi, each side only has one bishop and one rook, and they're the two most powerful pieces), but if there is, I'm not a catching.

  27. Thanks for sharing that.

  28. e

    Knuckle quite reminds me of Kuwabara from YYH though the latter was more of a cat lover :D.

    Aw, that moment while watching when you realize you're wearing those same two hues of green and eating the same spaghetti dish (cherry tomatoes, basil and black olives <3 ) Killua is XD.
    As for the plaid shirt… well there was a time in the late '90s when they were in fashion wasn't it? Makes sense given when HxH serialization started :p. I owned one peppermint green and hot pink plaid pile shirt (it's not as bad a combo as one might think ) myself back then and loved it dearly X,DD. TL;DR my inner Kil is not surprised :p.
    While we are at fashion: unless proved otherwise I'll believe Bisky's rabbits dress detail is another nod to Sailor Moon's civilian first name. Similarly to that spinning and pink heartlicious Cookie-chan power-up&henshin sequence. And that is so adorable in a tongue-in-cheek kinda way. Made only tastier by contrast by those spy (and killer) smoke-rabbits popping later on.

    Now, on the Kaitou's front I can't bring myself to be that optimistic. His head was in Pitou's lap last week with the cat Ant sitting in shallow water, there was no way or space for his body to be still attached.
    They may have it put back together this week but 99% I'd say what we're glimpsing in that ice block is his corpse – unless Pitou managed to retain his Nen/soul/consciousness inside Kaitou's imho likely severed head – and I'm suspecting Pitou is turning it into a puppet, zombie or something similar.

    Is Palm developing affection for Gon's oh-so-pure-shonen kokoro? DAT BLUSHING.

    I agree Netero is underestimating the Queen's spawning timing. It will come, and it will happen soon. This arc has been so effective in conveying the sense of rapidly escalating danger I'm finding hard to believe otherwise.

  29. Yes, Palm definitely went all shotacon there for a minute.

    I think Killua is a bit of a clothes hound, to be honest. He was sporting that l'il gangsta look during the YS arc, and he's seemingly always got some new outfit he's trying out. Whereas Gon is basic green, all the way. In fact, of all the regulars in this series Kil seems to be the only one who varies his wardrobe much.

  30. A

    And Madhouse has left out some outfits.

    For example, in the manga chapters corresponding to this week's episode, Killua wears two differents shirts. The second one had dark squares, Madhouse only drew the first one.
    I guess it would be a waste to draw two designs just for one episode.

  31. e

    @Augustin: SO. '90s. If HxH wasn't the main exception to my 'spoiler yourself at least a bit before committing' media approach I'd so be hunting for the related manga pages, ahah. Who knows, Madhouse might actually make the other outfit appear in a different episode.

    @Enzo: 'clothes hound'? lol. Well, there are at least two ways to go at it imho.
    Kil is basically experimenting a li'l bit of everything. <— Again, not surprised.
    Hisoka-darling follows the ' once you've found the style and cut that represents you best, just stick with it' rule imho, his outfits have the same cut but with variations a)sleeveless vs puff sleeves and b)colour palette changing with each story arc (oh how this creature can rock pastels and pink. But personally I was salivating at his teal and green combo back in York Shin . Coupled with his hair and the yellow it reminds me of big bold flowers, exotic birds, crazy seaslugs and a few chosen poisonous animals. Quite fitting I'd say :p ). Whenever he's not gloriously naked of course.
    And Gon is fine as long as there is green (in my mind I've labelled it the Aunt Mito Love shade). Consistent and loyal to the end.

  32. K

    I kind of wish Gon would keep the outfit he was wearing when they were in NGL. Not a big fan of the shorts.

  33. Remember why he had to wear that in the first place. If they go back, presumably he'll have to change back.

  34. And it's chapter 201, BTW – that other shirt is quite the style bomb.

  35. e

    @Kamen Raider Kekkaishi: b-b-but those are the shorts that launched a thousand shotacons. DEM GAMS + DEM BOOTS <3
    I liked the longer pants on him myself. He looked all martial and srsbsnss, and a bit older/maturer. For this arc and giving how he's growing up after all I'm hoping for the return of the long pants if they're going back to NGL…

  36. e

    @Enzo: oh thou provoke me. I'd bet my spaghetti cherry tomato sauce dish his second choice is a checkered pattern in that chapter and it looks like a chessboard X,DD.

  37. C

    Again with this?

    All right. You've lost a reader. Sorry it didn't work out, dude. Wish you the best and all.

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