Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 93

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I may have said this before, but I’m running out of superlatives for Togashi, and for Madhouse.

Confession time: I was really looking forward to this episode, as much as any I have for a long time.  Partly it’s because I’m such a huge fan of Gon (the most under-appreciated member of this sterling cast, IMO) and I knew this ep was really going to give him a chance to shine.  Partly because I knew it was likely to deliver a big dose of humor, one of the almost countless elements H x H can deliver brilliantly but which has been in short supply in “Chimera Ant”, and figures to be even more so from here on out.  And of course, I had a pretty good idea we were going to see another side to Palm we hadn’t seen already, though not exactly what it might be.

Now, normally, coming into an episode with such high expectations is a major worry for me, because it’s asking for disappointment.  But I can count on one hand with room left over how many times this adaptation has disappointed me in any meaningful way in 93 episodes, and the most remarkable thing is that it manages to both meet and defy my expectations at every turn.  You’d think after getting to know a writer and set of characters as well as you do after 92 episodes, things would get a tad comfortably predictable – but somehow the way things play out in H x H is never exactly as I expect.  The only thing that’s predictable is that the result will be brilliant and vastly entertaining, and so it was here.

Togashi is nothing if not ruthless, and the first victim this week is the ruler of East Gorteau.  Change the “East” to “North” and you have a pretty good idea of what Togashi is parodying here, and it was just as timely when it it was written as it is now (indeed, with the drug mafias and bogus anti-industrialism at work in the NGL this arc has been the most politically satirical yet).  While the events which transpire when the King and his court arrive at the palace are hardly surprising, they’re still a compelling watch.  Togashi uses the opportunity the King’s innocence in such matters offers as a device to go after the nonsensical method of humans in choosing their leaders, and given that Japan has probably the most dynastic nature of any modern democracy it’s not hard to see where his sights are aligned.  The King likes what he sees in the palace, and decides to make it part of new empire – “The Meat Plantation”, a place where his new food supply will be processed and he can enjoy the view of his new domains.

That dark prelude is a clue that this episode isn’t going to fall into the conventional pattern of “light-hearted” or a comedy break, but in fact provide some very stark contrasts in tone.  Prelude it is, though, as the main event is clearly the event of the title, Gon’s date with Palm.  This works on so many levels it would be exhausting to try and list them all – as character development, as straight-up comedy, as parody, and as a plot development as well (just for starters).  Togashi doesn’t do things conventionally and this is no different – it takes the series (and Gon’s character and his relationship with Killua) squarely into places it’s never been before.

First and foremost, this is really funny stuff, but it’s also shockingly direct and blunt.  Palm, for starters, makes no bones about the fact that she’s hot and heavy after a 12 year-old boy.  Gon, for his part, proves himself to be a serious player not just in the way he calmly handles Palm’s advances (and her psychotic episodes) but as he reveals his past to Killua.  The really hilarious part of all this is that Killua considers himself the sophisticate of the two, but in fact Gon smilingly tells him of the “older women ” who came to Whale Island on their fishing boats, and how because they “only like younger men” he would show them around the island and “had them teach me things”.  You can’t rank Gon’s calm recounting of all this or Kil’s stunned reactions – they’re equal in terms of brilliant hilarity.  “Teach him things?” a stunned Killua asks himself.  “That means Gon is… a grown-up!”

Well, I don’t think things are quite as Killua imagines them here – though who knows – but he’s never seemed more like a little boy than as he basks in Gon’s worldliness.  “Woman like that were called fanatics” Gon cheerfully explains – well, we have other names for them, Gon…  But whatever they taught him, one gets the sense that it’s not Gon who needs to watch out for Palm, but the reverse – because Gon clearly knows his way around charming (I was going to use a wardrobe-based idiom here, but I think I’d better not) older women (sometimes the cougar stalks the prey, and sometimes it’s the cougar that’s hunted…).  Palm cheerfully allows herself to be twisted around Gon’s little finger, and it’s part of the alchemy of Gon’s character that one can almost believe it’s possible for him to be as innocent as he seems in doing it, yet not doubt that he knows exactly what he’s doing.  As for Kil, he of course resolves to stalk the pair of them to “protect” Gon when they’re on the date, and while there’s a legit need, his deeper motives are impossible to miss.  “I spent all my time training with you…  And I don’t ever really want that to change.”  Only the first part is said aloud, of course, but it’s the second part that really tells the story of Killua’s mindset in all this.

The date itself is, once again, brilliant stuff.  As Killua stalks the happy couple in what looks like a heavily modded Mongolian cap (hilariously, the extent of his “disguise”) he’s in-turn stalked by an arrow which rather unnecessarily keeps us abreast of his location.  Palm has cleaned herself up remarkably well, to say the least, and Gon is the very picture of relaxed, confident innocence as he shows her the town (and surroundings) in gallant fashion – “player” doesn’t do him justice.  But there’s trouble in the mountains, and this is where despite his self-doubts, Killua is correct in what he’s doing.  He knows (thanks to one of the WTF newscasters of all-time – no detail too small for Togashi weirdness) that there’s been a Chimera Ant attack two cities over (Cheethu at work), and because Knuckle has called Gon to let him know Kaitou was alive (though… not himself) that the ant captains and out playing King-to-be.  And in fact, as Gon takes Palm to the mountains where it seems he plans to present the gift he’s gathered for her, Killua senses the aura of a Chimera Ant, and takes it upon himself to draw it away from Gon and Palm.

As always, it’s all about Killua sacrificing for Gon here – in many ways his every move is a refutation of Bisky’s warning about him, though he can’t see that truth for himself.  With Gon helpless due to Knuckle’s ability Killua is truly the only protection he has (apart from Palm, whose true powers in battle we’ve yet to see, though one suspects she’d be fierce if called on to defend her little darling).  Unfortunately the rogue ant that’s turned up is none other than Rammot, the boiling mass of rage and Nen bunny-shrike power that he is.  This is a huge symbolic moment for Hunter X Hunter, and for Gon and Killua.  As Killua takes to battle quite literally to preserve Gon’s innocence, happily playing with Palm (though Gon is clearly less innocent than Kil once thought) he faces a battle which he cannot run away from.  He must either kill Rammot or condemn Gon to die, because if Killua runs Rammot will surely find Gon soon enough and kill him.  Retreat is not an option – it’s quite literally victory or death, because if Killua reverts to his usual pattern and retreats, it would unequivocally mean betraying Gon, and admitting that he’s no better than the cold-blooded assassin his family raised him to be.

Cruelty of cruelties, there’s no episode of Hunter X Hunter next week (presumably due to Koshien) – and what a place to leave things off.  I’ll repeat once again, please do not post any manga spoilers in the comments – no matter how many times I say it it keeps happening, and at this point any intentional manga spoilers are going straight into the spam folder and the IP address onto the blocked list.  But as always, read the comments at your own risk – I make no promises about deleting every spoiler before it sees the light of day, though I do my best.

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26 comments

  1. H

    r u serious…NO HXH NEXT WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!

    WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT???????????

  2. S

    Honestly, is it wrong that the thing I'm mostly looking for next episode is Gon's "surprise" to Palm? And it's not like I don't KNOW what it is! This part always cracks me up, and I was glad nothing was cut out. The part where Killua says "He's a MAN!" (I prefer that translation to "grown up") is just hilarious. All of Killua's sense of superiority shattered, in one instant. And there are hints of envy (jealousy?) in his behaviour during the rest of the episode. Truly the stuff of art XD.

  3. That is funnier, but assuming the anime adapted the same dialogue, the word Killua used is "otona" which has no gender connotations. So I have to go with the literal here – and "grown-up" has a little bit more of a boyish tone to it than "adult".

    Hints? Hints?! I'd say Togashi does a veritable fish-slapping dance with the audience when it comes to Kil's jealousy. Not that it comes as any great surprise, as we have seen lots of hints already. I think this is just the most openly we've seen it expressed (hell, he even admits it to himself).

  4. i

    But which do you think he's more jealous of Gon or Palm? Honestly I think its Palm, especially after seeing PR.

  5. Oh, I don't think there's any question it's Palm he's jealous of. And I don't even think this has to go down a fujoshi path here (though it could be interpreted that way easily enough). Even without that aspect it's clear Killua loves Gon more than anyone in the world, including anyone in his family, and he's defined his own redemption by what he can do to help Gon. And anyone else getting close to Gon – most especially a girl, one assumes – is a threat to that.

  6. i

    Speaking of Fujoshi, have you ever been to Otome road? Even though I am a guy I'd like to go to both Akiba and Ikebukoro

  7. S

    Well, what I meant was – envy for Gon, or jealousy towards Palm. Shippers will have something to talk about after this episode XD.

  8. C

    @the "whose Killua jealous of" topic:

    I don't think he's jealous of either at the moment. It's definitely more of a sense of inferiority, much like his assassin-complex that encourages him to run and survive.

    As he stated so eloquently, he's spent all his childhood in assassin-training. The sudden realization that Gon towers over him in an area neither should have any experience in, is just very daunting.

  9. I was just on Otome Road Friday, in fact, as I had some business in Ikebukuro. Always interesting to see what's in vogue there ATM.

  10. C

    And @Simone:

    It's not wrong at all to be looking forward to Gon's surprise.

    Killua's concern for gone aside, this episode was all about unveiling a whole different side of Gon that's equally if not more impressive than his shining resolve or nen-potential. 😉

  11. i

    Hehehehehehehehehe, It took a while for me realize that the 't' in Gorteau might be silent, in which case HAHAHAHAHA.

    The date was pretty funny and I found that in some cutscenes the arrows did help.

    The main thing I want to is that as talented a writer Togashi is, I think he's even better at foreplay. Okay that sounded wrong but I think this whole arc up till now has been epic foreplay. The king's birth was the first of no doubt several climaxes but Togashi hasn't yet pulled out his final card. He's teasing us and pleasuring us until that final battle where when we're begging for it, he'll give it. I think I watched Free for a little too long though. Dropping immediately.

  12. e

    I'll have no internet for nefarious watching anime purposes for few days… blessing in disguise for me :,D . Yet howewer you slice it indeed no HxH next week AAAAAAAAH. KilluaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAH.

    This episode was ideed fantastic from intense chilling and hilarious and edgy in different ways. Among the funny bit the Mongolian cap visual gag and the news lady were among the highlights for me as well – although it would be hard to rank them -.
    Also Gon's confirmed a natural :,D. Be still ye shotacon hearts.

    Hmmm… going by Pitou's words about dealing with the freshly killed dictator to 'use him to control others' I'd say Kaitou's brand of being alive is still dubious, Knuckle's phone report notwithstanding.

  13. C

    http://lh6.ggpht.com/-kjNHoA38FvA/UhB1PcNcBaI/AAAAAAADbhA/qNCpDEX2MSQ/s1600-h/Hunter%252520X%252520Hunter%252520-%25252093%252520-%252520Large%25252022%25255B2%25255D.jpg

    BEHOLD! THE FACE OF A GROWN-UP!

    The GonXPalm date is one of the moments I've been looking forward to since the beginning of the series. It shows off how Gon is far more mature and deep as a character than any of us dared to imagine. 😀

    This is reinforced by Killua acting as our audience surrogate for this short moment.
    Like our favorite Zoldyck, we all presumed that they, as children, are romantically pure.
    This assumption is demolished as Gon casually pierces Killua (and us) with the mind-blowing truth that he is not only experienced with dating, but was educated to some degree in mature activities that we will never know the full extent of!

    I could not help but feel like Gon true depths as a person suddenly became both insurmountable, unreachable, and unknowable.
    That there existed machinations within the blindingly bright-hearted Gon that none of us could ever hope to grasp.

    That is how I define Killua's reaction; not as simple as jealous, but a form of uncomfortable awe.
    A bit of authentic Togashi-genius.

  14. S

    Indeed XD. I think this goes to stack up with Togashi's systematic deconstruction of shonen tropes. Gon should be the "idiot hero": look at him superficially and he's just like another Goku, raised in the mountains, freakishly strong, incredibly naive, with a natural sense of justice. And then he creeps you out with his simple lack of morality now and then. And then, THIS happens XD. It's genius because it doesn't even CONTRAST with what happened before; it just builds up Gon as a much more complex, fleshed out character. Suddenly, he acquires a third dimension and pops out of the screen. How can you look at his naivete as childish, rather than willing (and maybe still in good faith) manipulation after this? Gon is scary XD.

  15. C

    I wouldn't go as far as to say he's being manipulative. He is still a straight-forward person, evident in his nen.

    His actions just look naive because they often seem the simplest, but simplicity does not equate to naivety. His simple actions are backed up by his worldly experience. 😛

    That's the type of person Gon is.
    Where others turn to cunning, deception, distance, anger when they've experienced various worldly things, Gon sticks with charging head-on – Even when it comes to dating.

    One 'could' argue that Gon was stalling when he told Palm they'd go on the date the next day and that he needed time to prepare his surprise.
    But it's also equally arguable that he really did just want time to prepare his surprise and didn't feel it appropriate to go on the date right away. 😛

    Whether or not that (Gon simple being mature and not manipulative) is scarier though, is up to you.

  16. m

    Yup well said! And I have to agree with Palm how attractive Gon is XD Assertive, alpha, knows how to treat and pamper ladies yet still manage to come off pure and sincere…and just so much fun to be with. Give him another 5 years and he'll be a heartbreaker. People called her a pedo but she's not. I'm sure Killua is charmed by Gon like that similarly too.

  17. e

    Do not forget he can rock a tux as well as James Bond too (YorkShin hotel auction scene) :p

  18. j

    This week we were introduced to Chrollo's gf – and she works at your local newscast!

    But seriously: as hilarious as this episode was with Palm's sudden twist, it is episodes like this that break my immersion in HxH's world.

    It's about Killua's decision to take head-on the ant by himself: dude, Gon is with Palm. Palm is most probably in Knuckle and Shoot's level of skill. As far as I know, that is a lot stronger than Killua's own strength. If you'd sticked with them, you would have had a lot more chances of winning with Palm by your side. Heck, Killua could perhaps remain hidden throughout the entire battle and let Palm take care of Rammot, or at least deliver the finishing blow from behind as Rammot is busy with her.

    I'm really surprised Killua didn't even think of this, with his supposedly calculative mind. Oh well, guess we'll have to see his butt be kicked next episode, until someone comes and saves day (probably Palm, since she's the closest).

  19. G

    I don't understand how Palm did not sense danger nearby (if she is as skilled as Knuckle and Shoot)?

  20. i

    I don't think she is. Or then she would be allowed to fight Gon/Killua for a place in NGL.

  21. First of all, we don't know Palm's strength, and neither does Killua presumably. He's not going to trust Gon's fate to someone like that. And with Gon helpless to defend himself with Nen, Killua would never allow him to get into a life-or-death situation. He wouldn't want Gon's fate decided like that, and he'd also be worried that Gon would charge into the battle anyway.

    Second, Killua was going to stalk them even if they never went anywhere more dangerous than the local Coldstone. That seems self-evident to me.

    Lastly, I suspect Killua is fighting Rammot alone in part because he feels he deserves it. He wants to put Bisky's charge against him to the test and hopefully, to the lie. He badly wants to prove to himself he's worthy of being at Gon's side and this is his way of doing it. He's not aware of all this consciously, but I think all of it is playing on his mind.

  22. C

    Killua provided the explanation already. I think it's more questionable that you brushed it off so easily in favor of doubt.

    PALM IS MENTALLY UNSTABLE.

    Regardless of how experienced Palm is, she's not in a good state of mind. It is a very real possibility that Palm would stab Killua for interrupting their date the very moment he turned his head to assess the enemy.

    Palm's too much of a wild card – The fact she cleaned herself up THAT WELL proves this, Killua can't trust her to act within any positive expectations.

  23. i

    On Palm's strength, while I think it isn't as great as Knuckle's or Shoot's, I think there might be some. If you think about it Knuckle/Shoot weren't allowed to enter NGL immediately because they had defining flaws Love of animals/Cowardice. It had nothing to do with their strength so maybe Palm's nuttiness is her reason for being left behind. One more thing, she made the transition from Sadako to Sawako a lot easier than in KnT.

  24. Any comment that starts with "It's not clear yet at this point in the story, but…" shouldn't be here.

  25. j

    Gary, well, I wouldn't rely TOO much in Palm's senses given how crazy she is :p
    Plus, another factor is that she's so obsessed with Gon and now she's in a friggin date with him; I dunno, I could let that slide…

    But I'd think that she is a very strong woman…ishruns, maybe Netero and co. were expecting her to overcome her weaknesses, like her lack of self-control, by making her count on two kids to win for her? It's convoluted, but I doubt Palm would be there at all if she wasn't ready for NGL. She was insructed to do that, after all.
    Netero said it himself; he isn't desperate for Nen fighters, since they'll only make their enemy stronger if they're defeated etc etc. With that mindset, I don't think he'd let Palm inside NGL if she wasn't as strong as Knuckle'n'Shoot.

  26. A

    Oh shit, zombies have taken over the media while we were busy with the ants! WE HAVE TO LET THE PEOPLE KNOW

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