Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 92

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Oh, Togashi-sensei – you continue to confound my expectations at every turn.

One of my favorite catch phrases when it comes to anime I love is “simple and profound at the same time”.  It’s something a few very special series can manage to pull off, but another one springs to mind when I think about what Togashi is able to accomplish with Hunter X Hunter – epic and profound at the same time.  When I watch an arc like “York Shin” or “Chimera Ant” I think of what Salieri said of Mozart in Amadeus – it was like he had everything finished in his head and was just writing it down, like “taking dictation from God”.  The sheer number of moving parts in these arcs is staggering, almost as much as the intricacy with which they’re woven together.  But even more impressive is how Togashi can make these huge stories resonate emotionally, to make them about the characters even as he builds a huge story around them.

I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a strange quality to the first half of the episode, speaking in terms of emotional reaction.  It seems as if on some level Togashi is asking us to look past what the Chimera Ants have done, long before the birth of the King – the humans they’ve killed on behalf of their Queen.  Colt is certainly not immune from this, even as he’s remained the most sympathetic of them (along with Peggy.  Peggy!).  They wiped out entire villages.  They turned human children into meatballs.  But as I noted more than once, the Chimera are quite different from the earlier antagonists in H x H in that their motive has simply been that most elemental of all motives – to survive, procreate, and advance their species.

Something has fundamentally changed, starting I think with the birth of Neferpitou.  We saw abject cruelty before, and certainly rage (not least with Rammot) but Pitou and especially the King are of a different order of magnitude.  Both in terms of ambition and power they they’re playing a different game, but that fact in itself doesn’t change everything.  I was far from moved by the Queen’s dying moments and Colt’s agonizing over them, genuine though it obviously was.  These are not tragic hero figures, not after what we’ve seen.  Knuckle breaking down in tears is hardly a surprise, but I can only take Morel’s reaction to be an expression of approval for such unswerving loyalty as Colt is showing.  And the truth is that the ants are very much like humans in their individual variety, as we’re seeing more and more in the splintering of their society.

For all that, the strangest element was the baby – the tiny fetus that Colt pulled from the Queen’s carcass after Netero’s seeming good-faith efforts to have his people save her failed.  Just what the hell that thing is I don’t know, but that whole sequence was pretty damn creepy – though I’m not sure the balance wasn’t supposed to be a little more evenly weighted with the emotion of the moment (mostly drawn from Colt’s memories of his time as Curt).  Meanwhile there’s that prototypical Togashi “gathering storm” vibe going on, as great forces are moving all over the place.  Netero himself has put on his “Kokoro” t-shirt for what he sees as his last big fight, and expressed a GAR excitement at Colt’s assessment that he wouldn’t make it past the Royal Guard, never mind have a chance against the King (in cutting off his topknot Netero symbolically renounces his position at the top of the totem pole, and accepts his lower status as “Challenger”).    The King and his court are seemingly about to invade the republic of East Gorteau.  And most of the surviving squadron leaders have left the nest, set on making themselves kings – with the requisite feasting, procreating and conquest that’s involved.

Then there’s Gon, who’s set aside for most of the episode as it focuses on events in the NGL.  As we pick up his story he’s still in mourning over his failure to make his way back to Kaitou’s side, and the statement it makes about his own weakness.  But, in typical Gon fashion, he recovers himself as quickly as he’s lost himself – well enough to fake it and focus on the future, anyway.  This is the ability that Gon has and Killua lacks for now – to accept himself and believe in the fundamental goodness of existence, and give himself a reason to believe in the future.  He gets a stern talking-to from Spinner, who gives us a little more back-story on just why Kaitou means as much to her as he does.  Kil remains silent through all this, focused no doubt on his own failures, and his promise to Bisky.

In the usual Togashi fashion, there are important things that most of the major players are unaware of, and have the potential to change everything.  Kaitou seems to have been left behind by Pitou, and to bear very little resemblance to his old self.  Netero has gone off the meet “an old acquaintance” whose identity is not shared with the audience or anyone else (Morel and Knov may or may not know).  The Queen’s last wish is that the King bear the name she’s chosen for him – Mereum, “the light that shines on the world”.  And still waiting for Gon is Palm – though it appears we’re going to see a different side of her than we’ve seen before, as she and Gon have a “date” in their future.  Watching Gon turn his boyish charms on Palm (he’s likely innocent enough, though he at least seems to know what a date is) promises to be one of the more amusing episodes of a very dark and disturbing arc – whether it’s a last gasp of levity before things go off-the-charts bleak remains to be seen.

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  1. i

    This old acquaintance – I think that it might be a spider, maybe Hisoka but also Chrollo. The Chairman must have quite some treasures of his own which would appeal to Chrollo, who could order the rest of the spiders into action. And Hisoka would probably just come because of the guards. Hisoka + Gon vs Pitou would be awesome.

    Also it seems only HxH is worthy of a full post. This I agree to.

  2. I'd take the time to do a full H x H post if my hair was on fire.

  3. i

    Hahaha good one.

  4. C

    And when your house is burning down, you should brush your teeth. 😀

    I couldn't help it, that comment reminded me of that far too much.

  5. e

    That foetus looks the most human of them all ants. Even more than what I'm wondering about the who. Who's the foetus?
    The first half was pretty fascinating for its cognitive dissonance factor. CA arguably look like monsters and behave accordingly (some more than others) yet they are not, they're 'aliens' yet they're not. They have committed atrocities for the most part, but here we are asked to empathize – relatively easy given the quality of the execution here – and even sympathize with at least some of them.
    In Colt's case I can't forget he still spared that child some episodes ago and so far that has been the only example we had of an Ant caring for something and someone against the colony's interest***. Peggy didn't directly killed anyone but hey he was the scholar and he still had to feed on whatever was brought to him :p
    How many among us watchers – if they were Hunters among the Hunters watching Colt and the dying Queen – would have agreed with Morel's deal with Colt, for instance?

    ***tangent tying back to my speculatio post for the previous episode: giving how Meruem/CA King
    a) doesn't give a rat's ass about his colony and
    b) has basically left the nest and his squadron leaders do as they please and
    c) every CA and humans to him are food save for Pitou and maybe the other two Royal Guards the implication imho are that CA and humans are on the same level of worth/usefulness (or lack thereof). The dude needs to stumble on some specimen that is not just a rare human – that's food and/or mating material. Only the best for His Majesty :,D – but someone that can trigger his interest.
    Basically I'm rooting for Mr. King to form a bond with a human. And viceversa. Let's take this cognitive dissonance one step further ohohoh.

    Pink koala is baaaack. And as the saying goes I hope I won't have to regret my earlier comment wish being granted.
    That said, they are spreading outside of NGL now and the whole fictional universe is under the menace of dem predators. Shudder oh all ye living creatures for the ant love season is coming and they're not picky. YIKES.

    Gon's reaction was very… Gon X,D. I'm looking forward to the next episode.
    Spinner's speech was very bittersweet for us watchers imho, both as it highlights Kite's nature and by contrats what's become of him now. And frankly her promise to the boys at the very end to show them her natural treasure smells like a mighty death flag for her. I pray Togashi is trolling us in this instance at least.
    Because death&dashed hopes-wise I can't really imagine how hard for Gon and Killua will be meeting puppet-zombie-whatsit-Kite 2.0.

  6. K

    Actually the Kind has no reason to care about the other ants. They technically don't really under him which is why he left. It's part of the cycle.

  7. e

    My point for tat bit is that it goes with my 'the implication imho are that CA and humans are on the same level of worth/usefulness (or lack thereof)' .
    He had no reason to kill and eat them too, and I'm not sure that's supposed to be part of the cycle. All the other Ants minus the Guards were both appalled and frightened last week and remarked how he was on a different level altogether… going by how big the outer and inner variance of the 'normal' CA is already – something that was remarked in the first half of the epi this week too – that must mean something beyond the standard CA cycle workings.
    This one CA King is (hopefully) gonna break a few molds and start behaving in 'novel' ways so to speak. He might even break the CA cycle from the inside. It's a possibility as it comes with the human factor being the X-factor imho. And storytelling-wise I'd love to see that kind of curveball.

  8. S

    "The Kind" in this context must be the most unwillingly hilarious typo ever XD.

  9. e

    Gehe. For a moment I had thought that was intentional actually, in a Eumenides<—>Erynies euphemistic fashion. The name 'Meruem' with his shining light meaning is not too far from paralleiling that euphemism atm either. Oooooh the potential. Oooooh Togashi-san <3

  10. d

    This dissonance is what's appealing about HxH, though for now it's mostly intellectual dissonance as opposed to emotional. Once there's much of both, while we might root for Gon and Co. we'll also hopefully cast our lots in with the CA. When two sides clash, it's always empty when you're all in for one side only. I think that's always too easy, too carefully well-cropped and sterile. What I felt about York Shin I'd like to feel here. So yeah on Meruem/Human &/or Royal Guard depth. Pitou's just the bogeyman.

  11. C

    This is one of those episodes where all I want to talk about is what happens next… *grumbles*

    Oh well, instead, I'll comment on how I agree that HunterXHunter is both "simple and profound".

    That is because, much to all our delight, Togashi is a thoughtful mangaka who plans out lengthy scripts of thickly woven plots.
    He doesn't leave anything to chance, everything is planned out as eloquently as a director plans out a movie or play. The flow of the scenes, the emotions on their faces, everything is accounted for.

    Now if only he would stop going on Hiatus… 😛

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