Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 127

Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 17 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 21 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 33

Not more damn analogies, Enzo!

When literalism fails you, a writer must look elsewhere for means to get their point across.  Togashi-sensei, Koujina and Madhouse keep pushing me, forcing the linguistic equivalent of Chimera-paced evolution in the effort to communicate how mind-bogglingly good this series is.  And since Togashi himself turned to baseball for help back in Episode 89 (not to mention naming a bunch of the “Chimera Ant” cast after pitches) why not follow his example?

Here’s my reaction to this episode – an episode which, by the way, I’m certain will be met with a fair share of complaints from some viewers.  Togashi is like a pitcher with a 100 MPH fastball.  There are quite a few pitchers with great velocity, but not all of them are great or even good pitchers.  What makes the great ones is the ability to mix it up – the keep the hitter guessing with a variety of pitches.  There are a lot of hitters who can get the timing down even on a 100 MPH fastball if they know it’s coming, but when a pitcher is good enough to use that pitch only as a knockout blow, it’s that much more devastating.

Well, last week’s episode was definitely a 100 MPH fastball (curiously, the eps ending in “6” seem disproportionately to be the blockbusters).  I don’t deny that would have been a great ep under any circumstances, but it’s Togashi’s versatility and ability to constantly keep the reader/viewer guessing that made it the all-time classic it was.  And as always, Togashi backs up one pitch with a completely different one.  He gives us a knee-buckling offspeed pitch to follow up the heat – a subtle and dark psychological musing that challenges our preconceptions about not just Hunter X Hunter, but storytelling itself.  I know I’ll be in the minority in saying so, but I think I actually loved it just a hair more than last week’s.

For starters, we get a dose of the political satire that Togashi has slyly inserted into this arc numerous times.  He paints a dark picture of “seeds” ready to bloom throughout the world because 80% of nations refused to destroy their existing stocks of the “Miniature Rose”, and tells us of terrorist attacks killing 100,000 people and 5.12 million lives having been lost to the device.  This is here for its own sake, no doubt, but make no mistake – it’s also an important part of the larger, narratively insurgent theme of “Chimera Ant”.  This is in part what Netero’s final words to the King were all about, and part of a larger assault by Togashi that demands we re-examine our assumptions about this story both on the small and large scale.

The scene then turns back to the ruined palace, where Gon continues his staredown with Pitou and the other members of the Hunter party are coalescing.  There’s a brief encounter between Knuckle and Pouf’s clone, the import of which is simple – whatever hope their was for a non-violent conclusion was destroyed with the blooming of Netero’s rose.  That was part of the choice Netero made, and even Knuckle – surely the most conciliatory of all the Hunters party – can see that there’s no longer any chance to talk things out, even if he doesn’t know exactly what’s happened.  Out in the wastelands, Pouf and Youpi have seen what’s happened, and immediately understood its import.

No moment in this arc is wasted – that should be clear now – and the critical callback here is to the conversation between Morel and Killua in Episode 85.  That was a fascinating scene in so many ways, the introduction of Morel and Knov.  Knov’s own words are foreshadowing to his future mental breakdown, making him sound hollow and arrogant (though I only realize this now) and Morel’s lecturing to Killua was quite controversial with viewers.  But in light of events this week, I think they should be recounted in full, because they ring eerily true:

“Bozu…  The minute you start talking about who can win in a Nen fight, you’re wrong…  You can’t make assumptions based on the amount of aura displayed.  The battle can turn at any time – that’s what fighting with Nen means.  But regardless – you must always fight 100% certain of victory!  That is a Nen user’s spirit.  The moment you were overwhelmed by the opponent’s aura and fled, you were disqualified.

There’s irony here simply in the fact that at the time, Morel seemed arrogant and Knov reasonable – but in hindsight it was Knov who was speaking vainly, and Morel simply telling Killua the hard truth.  Would a 13 year-old Morel have been able to understand that lesson?  No – but that’s a side issue, the main one being just how right he was.  The scene between Gon and Pitou is the living, breathing proof of Morel’s words.  Pitou’s aura may – hell, there’s no may about it – be stronger than Gon’s.  But can anyone question that Gon is completely in control of the situation?  He’s dominating Pitou in every way, dictating everything that happens – because of his absolute, unshakeable belief in himself and what he intends to do.  He sees through every deception, he’s many moves ahead on the board – and despite Pitou’s advantage in Nen, he’s unable to change the dynamic.  Gon owns him, despite being weaker in terms of pure power.

But this being Hunter X Hunter, even as fascinating as all that is, it’s not everything.  For this Gon, dominating Pitou with the pure strength of his will, is a pretty terrifying figure.  He betrays not an ounce of sentiment even as Komugi – who’s clearly a human, blind and terrified – wakes.  Gon sees through Pitou’s stalling and orders a halt to Doctor Blythe immediately.  When Pitou starts to request time for “after-care” Gon interrupts with a simple “The next time you try to delay me, I’ll kill her.”  And whatever thoughts of betrayal run through Pitou’s mind, they’re immediately overwritten by the impulse to just do what the boy says.

There’s a question hanging over everything, of course, and it’s a remarkable one: would Gon truly kill Komugi if Pitou crossed him?  It’s easy to say no, and that’s my instinctive answer – but Pitou certainly believes otherwise.  And really, can we be sure?  This is a main character like no other in an arc like no other in a series like no other, and even the uncertainty is a shocking thing.  It’s a very strange scene, when Pitou finally relents and joins Gon to race towards Peijing and the waiting Kaitou.  By this time the remaining members of the team have gathered and are watching (with Meleoron being cautiously held back in reserve), somewhat taken aback.  Gon declines Knuckle’s offer to apply Hakoware to Pitou with a chilling “I trust Pitou…” and an order to “keep watch” on Komugi until he and Pitou return.  Effectively, he orders that Komugi be taken hostage in order to keep Pitou in line.  His final words: “I’m sure Pitou trusts me…”

This is some seriously dark stuff going down here.  When Ikalgo asks Killua if he’s really OK with not following them, Killua replies “It’s OK – that was the plan all along.  If I were to get captured, it would give Pitou the option of demanding a hostage exchange.”  There have been many memorable lines of dialogue in this arc, but few more so than Knuckle’s internal monologue here: “Seriously…  What have they been through, for their minds to work this way?”  It sums up the situation and the series itself so perfectly – it tells us exactly who Knuckle is and why he’ll always be different from Gon and Killua, and it tells us just how atypical as “heroes” Killua and especially Gon are (and how Togashi has brilliantly flipped the impressions we’ve built of both of them on their heads).  Again, it’s fascinating to try and decide how to view this situation.  Is Komugi truly a hostage – would any of the others harm her, if Pitou betrayed Gon?  Would Killua, most especially?  It’s a disturbing, disquieting scene – Komugi, surrounded by the “good guys” in the cast who should be her rescuers, shivering in terror of them as she wishes only for the company of the Chimera Ant King.

Togashi and Koujina have one more curveball in the arsenal, one more assault on our emotions.  Youpi and Pouf rush to the scene of the explosion – now a crater full of molten rock belching toxic smoke.  Pouf is breaking down badly but Youpi is focused, enraged.  He takes command, ordering Youpi to search the surrounding area as he descends into that very embodiment of Hell to search for the King’s body.  And he finds it – a blackened, fossilized mass that looks curiously like an ancient Buddha statue.  I’m not going to speculate about whether the King is as dead as he looks, but what stands out in the moment is the raw, terrible grief of Youpi and Pouf. Such is the nature of this arc that whatever has come before, we cannot possibly deny the sincerity of it – this is genuine, heartfelt mourning over someone these two strange and terrible creatures loved unconditionally.  And that grief will now, surely, turn to rage and a desire for vengeance.  The wisdom of Chairman Netero’s plan cannot possibly be judged yet – on every level it’s still being tested.  Morally, ethically and strategically this arc offers us no easy answers, but a seemingly endless banquet of food for thought.

Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 12 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 13 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 14
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 15 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 16 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 18
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 19 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 20 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 22
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 23 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 24 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 25
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 26 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 27 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 28
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 29 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 30 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 31
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 32 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 34 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 35
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 36 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 37 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 38
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 39 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 40 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 41
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 42 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 43 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 44
Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large 45 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large Preview 02 Hunter X Hunter - 127 - Large Preview 03


  1. Bear with me, Rita, but even if spoilers don't call out specifics, when they telegraph what the general nature of the development is, I still think they're spoilers. I know you had no such intentions but I kind of wish I'd never read that, so I'll spare anyone else the same potential reaction.

  2. w

    Man, this episode took away my ability to sleep. Enzo, I completely agree with everything you've written here, really really felt this one.

    It's funny though, when you've spent the last hundred or thereabouts episodes using pretty much only Nen as your weapon, you tend to forget there are other ways to kill. That's for me part of why the bomb was so shocking, because it reminds the viewer that Nen isn't the be-all end-all.

    I suspect that whatever takes place between Gon and Pitou won't be a fight, but rather an execution.

  3. h

    It's funny you mention that callback to Morel in episode 85 because I've always found Hunter x Hunter to be a battle of wills/resolve

    First the nature of Nen itself and that someone's will/emotions can manifest itself into something tangible such as Hisoka imposing his Nen onto people who haven't unlocked their pores. This is also reflected in Kurapika with his chains and how their strength against the Troupe is absolute because of his conviction to never use his chains against anyone except them

    Fast forward to Gon and Genthru's battle in Greed Island
    "This battle is mental, not physical. I must crush his will. His will to fight, his will to stand, his will to resist"

    We see how that turned out…. As has been shown and told to us multiple times already throughout the series, when Gon puts his mind to something he won't budge. That's why him and Morel are great Hunters

    Going off of that, another example I want to bring up is also from episode 85 but an excerpt from Kite's speech to Gon and Killua

    "From here on, it all comes down to your resolve. If it's strong, you'll develop your Nen and grow strong via combat. If it's weak the Ants will eat you. But we can't die…. We are pro Hunters"

    "A hunt involves both hunter and prey. It is a battle of resolve. Emerging victorious from a battle of resolve is what makes a successful hunt"

    What Kite says there sums up Hunter x Hunter for me. I could go on and on with examples(Killua's lack of resolve until he removes Illumi's needle, Morel showing why he's a great Hunter against Cheetu and Leol, the weakening of his resolve against Pouf in the invasion, Knuckle/Morel/Youpi standoff, etc etc) This rings true even more in events we haven't even seen yet near and distant in the anime.

  4. S

    Great review as always. The truly fascinating thing for me is the very question that you focus on, "Would Gon kill Komugi if Pitou double crossed him?"

    Unlike you, however, my instinct says that he will. The boy seems like he's so far gone, that he's been twisted to the point where he'll do anything to get his way. I really think that moment when Gon despaired at the unfairness of it all was a turning point. I don't think he's the same character we saw in the start of the series anymore.

    I can't even begin to fathom what kind of psychological core theme Togashi is hinting at, as I'm content to just admit that he's a genius. I do wonder though, why I find myself rooting the Chimera Ants, feeling horribly sad for Komugi, and being down right terrified and appalled at Gon (who has been pretty much a hero character till this point).

  5. N

    Enzo my man I absolutely love every week's write up. I look forward to it almost as much as watching the episode itself.

    I just wanted to point out, and I was reminded of this somewhere else and thought it was just absolutely brilliant, that Gon and Killua now being the hostage-takers, and Knuckle commenting on it, was a callback to when the kids themselves were taken hostage during the Yorkshin arc.

  6. K

    Just out of lazy curiosity, do the baseball names hold any relevancy to the characters themselves? Like, I have no idea what a Knuckle pitch is or any of the other characters who are named after pitches (Shoot & Palm, that's all I think) as I don't care for baseball. But oddly enough, you using a baseball analogy here sprung the thought into mind that they type of pitches probably have some resemblance to the character, instead of just a name theme because Togashi likes baseball (which I'm assuming he does, don't actually know).

    Glad you brought up Morel & Knov's introduction, it was kinda weird experiencing the scene again when I watched it a month or so ago. Though I don't hold those words against Knov. & also Knuckle's line, "Seriously… What have they been through, for their minds to work this way?" was my favorite part of the episode so glad you gave it a shout.

  7. Well, the four characters in question are Knuckle, Shoot, Palm and Gyro. If there's a link between their characters/personalities and the type of pitch it's not immediately apparent to me.

  8. N

    I keep thinking of the Gon we saw in Greed Island, the one that felt morally obliged to stop The Bomber, but at the same time was committed not to kill him or hurt innocent by-standers. And when he had The Bomber tied down and defeated, he confessed not being able to forgive him but not wishing him any further harm.
    Injustice comes in two forms, it seems: the general kind and the personal kind. The typical Shounen hero treats the general type of injustice as if it was personal, but Gon seems more 'realistic' in that sense. Up to the Chimea Any arc all the injustice he encountered was general, and while he was always against it he could still see with 'eyes unclouded by hate'. But once injustice hits home and so near the bone, the boy goes locco. Very human-like, I think.
    I don't think Gon would have killed Komugi, simply because that would take away his single leverage on Pitou. Instead, what he might have done is injure her in such a way that she'd need some more of that Dr. Blythe treatment. Would he had done this? Only tagashi knows, and perhaps not even he.

  9. P

    I think that bomb was just a way of saying that no matter how powerful the ants thought they were (and truly were), they never actually stood a chance against humanity. Even though the ants could take on possibly the strongest human in existence (although I have no reason to believe Ging is not stronger than Netero), they were no match against the ruthless and experienced humanity as a whole.

  10. K

    I wonder how the fight would of gone had Netero been in his prime (which is a scary thought that this wasn't his prime) and Maha Zoldyck may have been just as strong at that point.

  11. h

    Netero still would get his ass kicked,I think togashi made it pretty obvious king eclipses any human ,there is no comparison

  12. h

    I don't know how does togashi write those intelligent scenarios he is like a chess master who plays against himself and on each side (here the hunters and chimera),he completely immerse himself into the character,how should it think,react and solve the situation,togashi is really an experience

    what I love about HxH,it's as if the characters are the one who move the plot,not the plot that moves the character,that really brings it to life, if that makes any sense

  13. s

    It does make sense; in most well-told stories, the characters are what drive the plot; the key to good drama is having the character motivations develop organically and in return, it is those motivations that facilitate the plot. Melodrama usually relies on the plot demanding the characters to become proactive rather than what you referring to. Not that all melodrama is bad or that having the plot drive the characters doesnt make for great stories. Sin City is a good example of well-executed melodrama

  14. S

    I don't recall the line about hostages being in the manga, but it made me remember the hostage exchange Gon and Killua had to go through in York New. It's so easy to overlook that the kids have been through some pretty rough patches given how young they are.

  15. R

    The scene with Pouf's face, half Ant half human (if it can even be called human), was a very stark reminder of the foe that our "heroes" are facing. I absolutely loved that callback to the reality of the situation. They've become so human like, some even more morally sound and righteous (Mereum) than even the protagonist of the arc (Gon threatening to kill Komugi if he doesn't get his way). It bares needed reminding that these "villains" are unscrupulous, terrorist ants. I absolutely love that!

  16. h

    yes,subtletly at its best,I wonder how many times I read/watched HxH and every time,I come out with something new

  17. F

    Just how do you see Mereum as "more morally sound and righteous" than Gon? This is the same king who told Netero that he would allow humans to permanently survive within a special zone, and reevaluate the number and quality of humans to be used for food. He also said he would use terror and violence to bring order to create his perfect, equitable society, not to mention the amount of death and terror he has already unleashed.

    I'm not saying Gon is an angel, I just want to know why you think the king, let alone any of the ants, are somehow morally superior for their participation in (and plans for) genocide?

  18. R

    I'm not referencing his past actions, I'm talking about in the grand scheme of things, what the king "wants" to accomplish is an equal and just world where things like poverty and disparities in wealth do not exist. Is that not a righteous notion? Sure he is going about it with horrible means (planning a genocide to rid the world of the problem preventing this world), but that doesn't prevent the intention from being a good one. At the moment, Gon is focused solely on his revenge, on his selfish desires, not caring about the lives of anyone else around him. He goes so far as to threaten to kill an innocent girl who has nothing to do with the conflict just to make Pitou listen to his demands. Not following a very strict moral compass there.

    I'm not saying they are "morally superior", I'm just saying, they are expressing more "morally sound" (king wanting a good world, Ikalgo not wanting to kill someone defenseless, Meleoron looking out for other beings in the same way Knuckle does) ideals than the MC we've been following for 127 episodes.

  19. This romanticizing of Mereum is getting a bit out of hand. If anything I think he proved with his words that Netero probably had no choice but to do what he did. If you're happy with a righteous world where humans live in prison camps and are only judiciously used as food, fine – I don't find that an especially righteous or desirable.

  20. S

    Though if a few days were enough to change the King's convictions to this point, it's not necessarily said that some more time would't redeem him completely (though of course it's a risk Netero couldn't afford to take).

    But I think that, more than anything, the conflict here has been an existential one. It's a conflict between species: the ants NEED to feed on humans if they want to keep their gene pool fresh, so there basically is no room for a peaceful accommodation between the two races. Meruem could be the most fair, honest, and just ruler for his own kind and still be a threat to humans. Togashi loves this kind of setup too – a similar conflict resonates through the last arc of YuYu Hakusho, where Yuusuke's demon ancestor, Raizen, lets himself die rather than eat other humans, while Yuusuke, who has come closer and closer to the demon world, has gotten to the point where from protecting humans from being eaten he now tells him he'll "force feed" him. Level E had similar themes too (and an ancestor of the Chimera Ants in the alien species who queen mates with a member of a different species every time, and then obliterates their planet). It's not always about ideology or morality: sometimes, simply, there is NO answer at all.

  21. N

    Wanting to make a better world does not make one morally sound (consider Stalin, Hitler and co. I don't doubt that they all had the best of intentions, in the greater scheme of things)
    By the way, I don't think it's true that the ants 'have' to eat humans to survive, not more than humans 'have' to eat meat. And the ants don't need to go vegetarian or anything, they can eat cows and dolphins like civilized people do.

  22. m

    You do bring up an interestin g question about whether or not Gon would kill Komugi. I honestly believe he would, and I think you can see it in his progression throughout the series. Sure, deep down he's an unbelievably fair and kindhearted person, even counting the fact that all kids are that way, but there's always been this other side to him. He's kept it in check with relative ease up to this point, but his guilt over what happened to Kaito made him snap. Not in the sense of he's become someone else, but moreso in that it brought out a side of him that was always there. He has always enjoyed fighting and dangerous situations in a way that no one who hates violence could ever enjoy. But I think that's what makes him so much better than the other battle shounen MC. It's that other side that makes him so interesting, and gives him a more realistic personality. In that sense he's Killua's opposite. Killua is able to kill and be coldhearted so easily, but you get the sense that deep down he hates that sort of thing. And even though Gon finds it much easier to be kind and see the best in others on regular basis, he has this side of him deep down that can be cruel.

  23. Remember what he said to Meleoron (with a sweet smile) in Episode 101 – "It would be easier if you were lying, because then I'd be free to destroy you." This has been foreshadowed in Gon for a long time – it's been clear that he's quite "different" and not at all bound by any conventional morality.

  24. m

    That was such a great line. The way Togashi has built that side of him up so subtly is brilliant. Before reading the chimera arc I never noticed that side of him. I noticed his love of fighting and adventure, but never really that dark side of him. Maybe not dark, just he has his own moral perspective and is willing to do whatever for it. He really is his father's son. His dad asks a guy to basically try to kill his son back in the greed island arc. But when I read the Chimera Ant arc it was a similar feeling to watching a good mystery. You didn't guess it was there, but once you saw it you immediately think of all the hints along the way.

  25. m

    It's such a basic concept to give your characters conflicting ideologies to give them depth and make them more realistic, but it's one of the harder things to do correctly and Togashi really nails it, even down to the way Gon and Killua are such polar opposites and yet fit so well together. Haha reading what I just wrote makes it seem like making your characters act hypocritically makes them more realistic, though I guess that's not necessarily untrue about people in real life. Not so much being hypocrites, but just having conflicting beliefs systems or acting in ways that are contrary to things they've said.

  26. s

    overall, i think the strength of this ep was allowing the intricate themes that are pervading this arc to really sink into its audience, and the fact that this ep played with moral grey areas so methodically without announcing it to the audience is why i feel like this ep ended up being a strong one in my book. While you may be in the minority on this one enzo, i do agree that this ep slightly inched out last weeks ep in regards to its composition and how it has changed what we think we know about the characters and the current situation at hand. As a cliche movie line would so rightfully put it, "the rules have changed".

    In my opinion, HunterXHunter is doing what any good piece of entertainment should do; tell a good story with interesting characters and dynamic themes that challenges its audience. This is the quality we should normally expect from the shows we watch. Is it a unique piece of work that couldnt be done by anyone in a hundred or thousand years?..Hardly but what it does do is weave plot and characters so smoothly and effortlessly (with some tiny hiccups of course) in a way that one would normally not expect from a series this abundant in characters, world building, and plot. I look forward to seeing how this series evolves from here. I feel like an extremely good writer knows how to top their previous work not by actively trying to do so by setting up grand scenarios for the sake of plot, but by challenging the characters they write, putting them into situations that allow them to come out as people they never thought they could be; by putting them through trials were they didnt expect to face. By doing so, your characters by default end up driving the plot and whatever strength or conviction they attain through their endeavors directly effect the strength and conviction of the story and the writing.

  27. e

    How ironic in the light of a certain book Knov was reading. Gardeners, garden, seeds, fruits, flowers (blooming atomic ones* these last two episodes). The literal and figurative garden encopasses the whole planet now…
    And now more than ever I feel Pitou is living on borrowed time. There's simply no escape from this Gon (for the record about offing Komugi I think a 50/50 chance is the optimistic option. The boy himself might not know his choice beforehand – if the circumstances allowed for reflection before doing it that is – but he wouldn't have voiced something he was not be ready to do. As Bisky assessed some time ago, he's the diamond).

    *talking about atomic… does that not mean Youpi Pitou plus one Meruem fossil (?) are getting a good dose of radioactive contamination now? Chairman 'mind like a plant' Netero's manmade rose with its own brand seed(pollen?) of distruction might well be the factor to defeat them instead (before?) the Hunters fight them again. <—– No spoilers please.

  28. m

    I do understand why you would like this episode just a little more than the last. Gon is such a fascinating character, it's different with him around. made me recall zepile's comment on Gon.

  29. h

    yes,zapile's comment on how gon doesnt care about right and wrong ,but what interests him

  30. S

    Enzo-san have you considered asking a volunteer to monitor posts for possible spoilers? That would really help you avoid being spoiled.

  31. I have considered it, but that starts to get complicated.

Leave a Comment