Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 136

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With Hunter X Hunter, it’s impossible to look back without looking forward.

I don’t really know how to start this post, because I don’t really know exactly how to classify this episode.  Was it the end of “Chimera Ant”, the beginning of the Election Arc, or something else altogether – a bridge?  For me I think it’s probably all three in equal measure, and I suppose that’s as it should be.  60-episode story arcs don’t come along every day and you really can’t end something like that on a conventional note, especially one as emotionally devastating and complex as “Chimera Ant”.  Whoever writes wikis and such is going to have to decide whether “Chimera Ant” ended at Episode 135 or 136, but apart from that the distinction doesn’t much matter.

What I know for sure is that an epic like this can’t just end with the plot resolution – a coda is desperately needed, and that more than anything else is what this episode was.  It’s a mistake even good writers make more often than not, but Togashi is just too smart to forget this step.  There are many questions that remain unanswered, and as always in Hunter X Hunter every arc acts as the seed from which the next one (and sometimes more than one) sprouts.  But for the chimera ants themselves, to a certain extend we get closure – and again, that seems totally fitting to me.

In the aftermath of Meruem’s death, we see that an untold number of East Gorteau’s civilians have died with him.  The international community has swooped in and NGL and East Gorteau have basically been wiped from the map – the riches of the latter split among the surrounding countries and the former set aside as a “nature preserve” to be overseen  by the Hunters Association.  This is a critical point, because the surviving chimera ants could do a lot worse than to remain there, out of sight and out of mind from a human race that would never be able to accept them as anything but monsters.  It seems not impossible to me that this was the Association’s thinking all along, as the least troublesome way of dealing with the problem.  There are already 5 million new human refugees to worry about, and it’s virtually certain that the Association is going to be a scapegoat  – adding masses of chimera ant refugees to the list isn’t going to make things any easier.

Of course, we’ve come to know the chimera as individuals and there are those among them for whom a quiet life in an abandoned fiefdom isn’t going to cut it.  Welfin and Hina are headed to Meteor City with Bizeff as their passport, Welfin operating under the assumption that Gyro may have headed there.  Bizeff may be on the run as a Class-A war criminal but he deserves a much worse fate than road-tripping in an RV with those two, even as annoying as Hina is.  Welfin, on the other hand, has grown into one of my favorite characters and I’m glad to see he’s come out of all this with his spirit (if not his body) intact.  He leaves us popping a Heineken and high-fiving Hina – a surreal moment to be sure, but again one that somehow fits.  And his last words to Brovada?  “Don’t die until you’re dead.”  It may be one of Gyro’s expressions but Welfin as surely lived out the truth of it as much as anyone has.

It’s Brovoda who’s involved in the emotional apex of the episode – he’s staying behind in the NGL to help the silent chimera ant who he’s come to believe is a small child.  He’s paying forward the kindness shown to him by Ikalgo, or at least that’s what he tells himself as he leads her to the village she seems to remember from her prior life.  It hit me a few minutes into this story who this girl really was, and Reina’s reunion with her mother was an unexpected moment of redemption – especially when her mother recognized Reina despite her grotesque appearance.

But for me it’s Brovada who’s the real heartbreaker here – he tells Welfin that he can see it in the eyes of those chimera that remember their old lives, and he’s not one of them.  On top of everything that’s been taken from him Brovada has even been robbed of his past, making him even more bereft than the likes of Welfin.  The story that ushered in “Chimera Ant” as one of the darkest and most tragic arcs in shounen history ends with a stunning reversal, as Reina and her villagers refuse to let Brovada walk away alone after what he’s done for her.  It one last surprising turn for this arc that’s full of them, and for all the pain and despair leaves us with a feeling of hope.  That, surely, is a remarkable thing.

There are other questions attached to the chimera ants’ story of course, not least of which is whether Colt with ever become Kurt again in his own mind, and join his sister in reunion with their mother.  I don’t suspect we’ll ever know, but Colt does have one last role to play here – he reports to Morel that the little girl (who looks resolutely human) he adopted upon the death of the Queen and named “Reina” is protesting that this is not her name.  She’s very insistent – “My name is Kaitou!”  To say that’s quite the bombshell is an understatement, and I’m not even going to try and explain it yet because I can’t force it to make sense given what we’ve been told so far.  But the funny part of all this is that I thought I’d been spoiled on this point, and it turns out I was almost completely wrong.  It’s a case of one of those “cannot unsee!” moments where you see something and look away too late, and it turns out what I saw was so misleading taken out of context that it might as well have been (though it wasn’t) an intentional misdirection rather than a thoughtless spoiler.  Go figure.

This is the moment, if there is one, where it feels as if there’s a tectonic shift and the new story begins to take shape.  At long last, the camera finally returns to Gon and Killua – though we don’t really see Gon.  He’s in bad shape, on life support with his doctor baffled, and a clearly-ravaged but still passionate Knov is determined to find a way to save him.  That means bringing in his own specialists out of of pocket, and “rebuilding the entire hospital if necessary” (why, exactly I’m not sure).  It’s Killua, naturally, who’s performing the bedside vigil but as much as his love for Gon is still driving him, it’s clear that Killua is deeply wounded by what happened.  “I wanted you to ask for help.” he chides the unconscious Gon, but as always Gon ran off ahead on his own.  The toll the events of this arc have taken on Killua is no less obvious than the toll they’ve taken on Gon – Killua’s wounds are different, but just as deep.

The real pathos here, of course, is that it’s Gon who’s inflicted those wounds on Killua.  And of course, it’s really only Gon that has the power to hurt Killua the way he’s been hurt here.  Killua pledges to Knov that he’s going to heal Gon himself, though he doesn’t say how – only that he’s going to be gone for a while.  Gon hasn’t hurt Killua with malicious intent of course, only thoughtlessness – but Killua seems intent on holding Gon accountable this time.  This is the true legacy of “Chimera Ant”, the end of childhood for these two, and their relationship can clearly never be the same.  But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you look at that relationship from Killua’s perspective.

Finally we have the pieces of the Election arc starting to move into place.  Netero has ordered an election to find his replacement, to be invalid if less than 95% of Hunters participate.  And he’s ordered the Zodiacs – the leaders within the Association and obviously people Netero trusted to be in charge of it.  The final moments of the episode are historic indeed for H x H – for the first time we see Ging Freecs live and in the flesh (given his track record as a dad, I’m not expecting so much as a card, never mind a hospital visit).  And the preview is a veritable spoilercopia of important faces old and new, promising fascinating developments ahead.  We may have gotten our extended epilogue for an arc that richly deserved it, but the creative momentum of Hunter X Hunter is so relentless that the future allows us little time to dwell on the past.

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  1. S

    I knew this episode would look stunningly beautiful!

    The next one also seems that way…hm, maybe it's the colors? Somehow, the new characters look even better than how they were depicted in the previews from the magazine.

  2. z

    I'd say an arc is over when we get a new OP/ED (at least in animation if not song).

    I don't think I like the "reincarnation" slant of the chimera ants that retain their memories. If Kaito is "alive," that lessens the impact of the sacrifices so far. We'll see how that plays out I guess, but it's giving me DBZ vibes. :/

  3. Arbitrary but as good an arbitrary distinction as any…

  4. S

    Gah, I don't rememeber where that Reina/Kitou child came from, does anyone know the episode?

    And I really want to know what that false spoilerific comment you were told was ^^ but if contains a spoiler in itself somehow, then don't tell me!

    And the colour palette really changes when we're not NGL or East Gorteau. I really missed these bright colours!

  5. b

    Episode 92. When the Queen died, they found a little fetus inside the body.

  6. Nope, not telling…

  7. e

    @Stot: I don't remember the number but it was the same episode Meruem was born. The baby was spotted among the Queen's insides after her big bro (a.k.a. King) had ripped Mommy's womb and walked away…

  8. w

    As soon as we saw her looking out over the ridge, I knew that ant was Reina. That entire scene was perfect, real restoration for the soul after all this darkness. I wonder if now that the ants arc is finally over they'd move it back to morning TV? Probably not, since this arc might be the last we see of the anime.

    On you point about what this episode in arc terms, I think in a way the Chimera ant arc hasn't properly ended yet. At least we'll be feeling the repercussions for a while, and I don't see Gon making any sort of recovery for the next few episodes. Chimera ant would continue to tie itself up as the election arc goes on.

    Also, I'm expecting a massive "BAKA" from Killua to Gon whenever he wakes up. If there was ever a time where he has the right to say it…

  9. I'd rather not know when things will and won't be revealed…

  10. e

    Ah a few jaw-dropping moments this week ( including Bizeff basically getting a free pass. No retribution, no redemption. Realistic but so you-gotta-be-kidding-me-why-Togashi-argh frustrating. Even the original Diego had at least his poetry).
    1) It didn't hit me who Hina was until they showed the village but goodness that hit quite hard among the acceptance&reunion goodness.
    2)I can't weep over a crying blue lobster's blues. Oh ffffuuu— T_T.
    3) Well I was mulling the chance Gyro was 'Reina' the former foetus Ant – or Mr. Pink Koala Shooter, provided the latter he's still alive and will ever be onscreen again – . Last chance was… Brovada.————> Definitely was not expecting the Kaitou bomb – well that means that sooner or later Gon must be able to recover enough to either be informed or see the child with his own eyes, yes? YAY – . I guess the Queen must have fed on his internal organs as on the outside his body looked 'whole' all things considered. Anyway yay Kaito and possible Gon implications .yay.
    4) Ging in the flesh holy moly! I second the thought we won't be seeing him paying a visit to the hspital, as much as I'd wish for the contrary :,)
    5) Hisoka. HISOCCHIII <3. Mofo is looking fabulous too.

    And while we had info on who is NOT Gyro I really hope Togashi is goign to to give us an answer. Still too much of a flashback about him for leaving it at/as fond remembrances by Welfin. The latter now looks much more like a dog now btw. I guess it fits with the resurgence of his humanity in a way.

    Last but not least, Killua. Ah, dear kid. I have an inkling of where you are going but we'll see.

  11. 7

    Regarding your 3rd point, the Pink Koala was already killing people before Gyro was even captured by the horse-snake dude

    Besides, given what we know of Gyro, he's a meticulous, misanthropic sociopath, not an impulsive psychopath

  12. N

    This… is a spoiler.

    Sometimes I just want to cry out of frustration.

  13. N

    ***Please do not reply if you have read the manga or have any information not strictly derived from the anime***

    Welfin, Hina and Bizeff going to Meteor City is pretty awesome in my opinion, especially if we get to see some humorous road trip scenes, and most especially if their arrival there means interacting with the phantom trope.

  14. I think that road-trip could make a great spinoff series…

  15. N

    also, Hina is one of the very few that can actually negate nen, which makes her very useful for the phantom troupe. true, they should have by now caught up to that guy from greed island with the similar talent, but who wants to carry a giant lizard around?

  16. K

    I actually like that Kite got reincarnated. And it makes sense when you remember Pitou only needed to play with the body and probably just gave the brain to the Queen.

    I also think it makes Gon's sacrifice even more pointless. He went on a massive revenge streak and it turns out he probably didn't need to.

  17. G

    Not sure if reincarnation is the right word but I'm glad it happened. That development shoul d ease Gon's soul once he recovers.

  18. Z

    'we see that an untold number of East Gorteau's civilians have died with him.'
    Don't know if you've noticed, but it's probably Pouf's fault 😀 He was previously shown dead near the big crowd of zombies, and (as it was mentioned earlier, Rose's gas is transmitted via the corpses of the infected) has effectively killed them. He probably didn't know that, but still)

  19. That's a good point.

  20. S

    So, that actually happened? I had a feeling that it was possible, but…how depressing!

  21. s

    First-time commenter and long-time lurker here (been around since the start of York Shin iirc), thought I'd be a good point to actually comment here given the nature of this episode.
    First of all as an overall comment – thanks for keeping up with those HxH reviews, those are always nice to read through – especially since they're from an unspoiled perspective. Most persons I do know who reviewed it in the past have spoiled themselves by now, so seeing this perspective definitely is refreshing.

    So yeah – a nice end to a satisfying arc, I'd say. Got some closure for Brovuda and Welfin (as well as Hina and Bizeff), showed Colt again and even picked up on Colt's and Reina's background. It is contrasting to what has been shown last week, of course, but I don't mind it. It's also refreshing to finally see an episode in the daylight again – as nice as the Palace Invasion was, after a while you really want to see the usual color palette again.

    Most interesting part has certainly been the last part of the episode – Netero's message, Ging and the Zodiacs, as well as Hisoka in the preview. He's been missed oh so very much, and I'm already excited for whatever shennanigans he's up to.

    So it seems like they literally mean it with the Zodiac – judging from the second-to-last picture, I've spotted chinese Zodiac at least, including Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Goat, Monkey and Rooster so far, and I'm guessing that this one guy between goat and rabbit is Dragon. Makes me wonder what Ging would be, though, since he's obviously involved with them.

    The fact that Kite was reincarnated actually leaves some interesting implications, now that I think about it. Most likely the queen did eat either his brain or innards – probably the innards, since it'd really explain the scars Kite's body had, since Pitou would have only repaired the arm and head otherwise (then again, those could have been from the time when Kite was used for the ants to train, so who knows), and it'd also leave a very interesting implication about that one comment Meruem made back then – about the food he received when he was born. I thought that he just talked about Pokkle since he was the other person with Nen, but with Kite it'd actually make a lot of sense as well. If any manga reader reads this, please don't say anything about that, in case the anime addresses this later on.

    Well, other than that, the only thing I could say is: thanks for the consistently good reviews, Enzo!

  22. Welcome, and thank you!

  23. O

    Just a question, hasn't over a year passed since the beginning of the story? Wondered why the doctor said he was twelve.

  24. I wondered that too.

  25. S

    Togashi's mistake. And Madhouse didn't fix it.

  26. s

    Does anyone know the tune/song that was playing whilst killua was talking?it also played in episode 85 during the "gon,you are light"scene and episode 91 during the "during the 30 days you can't use nen ill protect you" scene..

  27. s

    Should be 'Nagareboshi Kirari ~ Version for Orchestra' from the Phantom Rouge OST.

  28. s

    yeah,it's the one.Thanks alot

  29. S

    I read the manga so I knew the scene with Brovuda was coming. I thought I wouldn't cry. I was wrong 🙁

    Also I hope non-manga readers have high expectations for Ging, because he's going to meet or probably surpass them in ways you couldn't possibly expect.

  30. A

    I'm confused. Were there two characters called "Reina" in this episode?

  31. Yes, that was what Colt named the Queen's baby – after his sister, of course, though he didn't remember it at the time.

  32. H

    I liked this episode more than the previous one! The rush of the hunter music felt revitalizing after being under a dark tunnel for so long.

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