Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 103

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Someone get that girl a tissue.

To say this has been a busy few weeks for Hunter X Hunter would be an understatement.  We had the milestone 100th episode, the demotion to late-night, and the leaked image that started a wildfire of speculation that the manga would – at long last – be returning in December.  None of this has been confirmed by Togashi or Shueisha and may not be until Monday, but leaks of this nature reported by the sties reporting this news have historically proven accurate most of the time, and there seems to be widespread agreement that the image isn’t a fake (update: as of 10:45 PM JST on 11/6, CR says there’s nothing in the advance copy of next week’s SJ about a 12/13 return for H x H.  Stay tuned – it may be a while before we know what’s really happening here).

If we assume something is happening with H x H in SJ starting in December, the big question is of course just what that is.   It’s certainly big news with wide-ranging implications if the manga does return to weekly publication, but the timing only muddies the waters – with the second film opening in December, this could easily be another one-shot to tie-in with “The Last Mission”, but it just as logically could be the perfect time to re-start the manga proper and generate cross-platform buzz with the movie.  Most importantly for purposes of the anime, a relaunch of the manga means incentive for NTV and Madhouse to keep producing the TV series, at least through the conclusion of the existing manga chapters.

Whatever this news turns out to be, it should be welcomed – any new material from Togashi-sensei is vital to keep the franchise going strong, so assuming the leak is genuine this is a great day for Hunter X Hunter fans.  The timing could hardly be better, coinciding as it does with the release of Episode #103 and the introduction of a character who’s very prominent in the ED.  Komugi is played by Aya Endo, the latest in a succession of big-name seiyuu to join the H x H cast.  Any time an important character appears it’s a big moment, but there have been very few prominent female characters in this series so Komugi’s debut is an even more significant one.

It’s pretty clear right from the beginning that Komugi is an oddball to say the least.  Apart from the fact that she’s blind and has two rivulets of snot perpetually dripping from her nose (I could do without seeing that constantly, to be honest) Komugi has a bizarre manner of speech, tossing in a few “-su” and “-ska” but mostly just mangling everyday words.  In her own words she “can’t do anything” but play Gungi, and when Meruem tells her to shut up and let him concentrate (on the rulebook) she shuts her mouth and forgets to breathe, passing out in the process because her nose is so stuffed up.  It’s tempting to toss an “idiot savant” label on her but I suspect we’re only scratching the surface of Komugi’s character, and she’s got more to her than simply the ability to play Gungi.

That said, play Gungi she definitely can.  Whether it’s her own skill being greater or the fact that the game itself is subtly far more complex than the others (most likely both) the King can’t master his opponent the way he did with Shogi and Go.  This is certainly a fascinating and strange place for Togashi to take the story, and one that reveals his endless fascination with games of all kinds – indeed, the entire plot of H x H could be seen as a game of sorts, but rarely so literally as here.  Where is this leading?  Mereum is obviously growing frustrated with his inability to crush this opponent – but he’t at least not bored, and I wonder if he has the perspective to realize that isn’t a bad thing.  What is Komugi’s role – what is she here to bring to the story, and to Meruem’s character?  If nothing else, with the Go champion having hanged himself (Togashi bright and sunny, as usual) Komugi is the only entertainment the King has left until the showdown with the Hunters begins.

This is one of those episodes where Hunter X Hunter gives very little focus to the main cast, trusting the audience to patiently embrace the setup and wait for the main event.  Killua is totally absent – and still not answering his phone – and Gon’s group is only briefly featured, as the B plot actually follows Morel.  We check in only briefly as Meleoron studies Knuckle and Shoot warily, deciding whether to reveal himself.  His initial reactions are “chou bad!” (I love the way this dude talks), but he does toss a cookie to the Yu Yu Hakusho fans in the audience, noting that Knuckle “looks like he’s in the wrong decade”.  The worm turns a bit, though, when Shoot reveals that Knuckle has been staying up all night saving every abandoned pet he can find.  As I said last week, I think Knuckle and Meleoron are actually a perfect match – they’re definitely both bros – but Knuckle may just be the nicest guy in any Togashi manga.  Seriously, the guy is a teddy bear wrapped in cotton candy underneath that pompadour.

As for Morel, his ability is formally revealed to us at last – “Deep Purple” (I wonder how many in the audience get the reference).  Normally he can animate 216 of his smoke soldiers, but because he needs them to be especially capable he’s channeled all his aura into 50 super-smokers.  This proves to be a problem with Cheethu shows up, seemingly freed from Knuckle’s Toraiten.  There are all kinds of previously unknown Nen abilities on the Ant side showing up here, leading Morel to conclude his best bet is to take on Cheethu now and find out just who can do what.  Cheethu’s ability appears not to be Nen cancellation (that turns out to be Leol’s flunky Hirin) but rather the ability to create a bubble of space where he can force his opponent to  – surprise, surprise – play yet another game, this time an 8-hour “tag” where the only way to escape is to touch Cheethu (or, presumably, die when the time is up).

It’s unsettling that there are so many new Nen tricks popping up on the Chimera side, not least that they have a Nen cleaner of their own (as does Morel, I see that as potentially huge in the ultimate conflict) but even with his new power, Cheethu seems no match for Morel to me.  Mentally this is a mismatch, as Morel has the ability to yank Cheethu’s chain any way he wants – which serves as a nice reminder that Nen isn’t everything, and I suspect will be the key to Morel eventually coming out on top.   And that’s fighting basically one-handed, as he can’t afford to release he aura control of the 50 soldiers – if he could do that, Morel wouldn’t even need to worry about outsmarting and manipulating his way to victory.

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17 comments

  1. C

    Let us hope this isn't the last we'll be seeing of the top-notch sakuga.

    This episode had the same team in charge of 82, 88, and 95. I think we'll know for sure if they'll be staying once the AD info for next month gets leaked.

  2. i

    "Smoke on the water" – seriously Togashi is awesome. No one else in Japan would think of such subtle references to… anything.

    A lot of people hated (and still do) hate the mini battles that prelude before the main battle of Chimera Ant, calling it filler and whatnot but I really enjoyed some them. They may not have earth shattering implications on the overall plot but they're entertaining and exhibit the fun and deathly little carnival inside Togashi's head. I mean if you hate this, what on earth are you doing liking HxH, really?

  3. e

    Well, if my memory is not tricking me Deep Purple have a devoted following in Japan since the '70s at least and before HxH Araki sneaked Deep Purple refs in Jojo – I'm quite looking forward to see that animated otherwise I'll have to hunt the related manga bits down X,D – .

    Anyway yeah the DP ref had me grinning as soon as Morel started his smoke on the aura trick.
    On top of that we have a stormbringer at the very end of the episode… 8D

  4. S

    >No one else in Japan would think of such subtle references to… anything.

    Right…

    Togashi is a scrub compared to Araki where musical references are concerned.

  5. e

    What if the perma-snot is a diversion meant to disrupt her opponent's concentration? :p I must admit for a second while staring at the King's dangly earlobes I thought they would make excellent tissues (hey it's still tissue) for the little lady :,>
    Anyway, she has resilience – at leats when it comes to srs bsnss playing – and Morel was not the only one to display mental fortitude this episode. Good job girl. Keep the ultimate boss busy some more… while he grows from intrigued with you to fond of you I bet – finally a worth challenge! 8D – . Provided he doesn not snap that tail of his in annoyance and rips her head off more or less by accident. But the ED is sorta reassuring the girl will be part of the plot for some episodes more at least :,).

    Meleoron. And Knuckle. Soon-to-be-allies. Aw. They feel like a perfect match indeed.

    I think we need some Palm in the city helping her beloved sensei. Where art thou Palm?

    Some more days left before selection day. Kil-baby heal well and timely with Ika-bro please ;3;.

  6. U

    Well we finally know Cheetu's nen type. Despite his personality he is a Conjurer. Still it's very clear he needs to focus on his ability and improve it. Shortening that time limit and making a condition that his opponent has to chase him would help a lot.

  7. A

    This is around the part of the series where I started getting irritated about the nen powers in HxH. It's not that it's lacking in creativity– hell, I think only Jojo's Bizarre Adventure could beat Togashi when it comes to games, rules, and limitations.

    The problem is that almost every single ability introduced in the Chimaera Ant arc is is just so unorthodox and intricate that it makes it really hard for me to think they're an extension of the main 5 nen groups– and that always really bothered me, since the previous arcs depicted Specialization as this super rare trait to have. Now that everyone has some kind of inexplicable game changing power, it undermines most of the more grounded abilities that we saw in, say, Heaven's Arena.

    I don't know, it's fun to follow the fights, but this kind of itches me for some reason.

  8. A

    Yeah that's been weirding me out too. Before the nen moves we saw were relatively simple. Hisoka and his bungee gum, Kastro made a double of himself, Killua uses electricity, etc. And now recently there's the crazy dart game and now this game of tag? How does one develop such a technique, especially if you're as new to nen as the ants and are learning it yourself?

  9. m

    maybe u can take it as since the chimera ants are a fusion of many different creatures, the nen abilities they develop are also not your conventional nen powers, and that their nen groups overlap more than your usual power users.

  10. m

    still, i do admit that they learn too fast and are too powerful. the time lapses between episodes, offscreen, do not help either. it just feels slightly jarring, though i dont find it a problem since i love this show way too much to care.

  11. S

    It's heavily implied that Cheetu's ability choice was actually rather poor, and more driven by his faith in his own speed than anything else. It could be that these overly complex abilities are in fact a combination of multiple skills (like Kastro's double was) and as such are bound to perform poorly. The darts were the combination of two users linking their abilities as a limitation to make them more powerful – it could well be that the sister handled the Conjuration part, while the brother was an Emitter. It could also be that it all was a Conjuration trick, and the especially powerful effect was a result of the limitations that required both brothers to work together, and to die if they didn't get the right score.
    As for Cheetu's ability, I think it's just the kind of stuff a child without guide would come up with. Probably a mix of Conjuration and who the hell knows. He would have probably fared much better with something simple as, say, a pair of boxing gloves that can be conjured only when he's running faster than a certain threshold and will load up power for every second he spends running at that speed, and then unleash it with his first punch. That would compensate for his physical weakness and would be easy and versatile. His super-specialized ability is not a strength, it's a weakness.

  12. n

    Simone, you must be a well experienced nen user! I'm impressed by your tactical analysis.

  13. S

    *sigh*

    I do read/watch too much HunterXHunter, I know.

  14. U

    It was said Pouf allowed the ants to master abilities like this so quickly. And as I said Cheetu needs to refine his power more as it has too many flaws. Also it's a pure conjurer power just with a lot of limitations and conditions on it.

  15. K

    Most Nen abilities are composed of multiple categories. Genthru's bombs took like three. And like Kurapika said his chain jail required emission to work. As does Hisoka's bungee gum. Paku's bullets was a combination of conjuration, specialist, and emission.

    Cheetu's room is no different than most nen techs. It's also poorly thought out by him. He's confined in a small space and I imagine there is a penalty for getting himself caught before the eight hours.

  16. S

    Lots of good analysis going on here. I'll be as non-spoilery as possible, but you should not that the more competent the Nen-user, the more thought out the ability. This is evident in cases like Kastro and other Heaven's Arena competitors vs. The Phantom Troupe or Genthru. You'll find that this carries over in this arc when comparing the lower echelon of ants to the likes of the Royal Guard. Also take not that ants like Meleoron and (as we'll see hopefully next episode!) Leol who remember their past lives seem to have more efficient abilities. Food for thought.

  17. j

    Holy crap 2 weeks later, I finally caught up…this chimera ant arc is fucking long!

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