Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 138

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There’s no such thing as a trivial detail in Toghashi Yoshihiro’s world.

Author’s Note: Please be very careful to avoid divulging any
information about upcoming events from the manga. When in doubt, don’t
post it, even if it’s remotely possible to view it as a minor spoiler.
Thanks for your cooperation.

I remember, mukashi mukashi, when Kurapika was thought to be androgynous by some viewers – it seems like such an innocent time looking back on it.  Togashi has always loved his gender-bending male characters, but I believe this is the first time he’s ever confronted the matter so openly.  And each succeeding Zoldyck sibling we meet seems stranger and stranger, building up to this last (though not youngest) and certainly creepiest brother.

But as highly anticipated as that character’s formal introduction was, there are other matters addressed first in this episode – namely the powder-keg of tension that is the Chairman election.  Another round of voting has taken place, and again fallen short of the required 95% turnout required for validity.  It did, however, see Pariston’s vote-share increase over the first round, and the tension in the conference room is amped up even higher as a result.  Togashi is using these argumentative sessions as a way to slowly peel back the covers and reveal the essential nature of the Zodiacs.

The fault-lines are clearly becoming visible here, with Cheadle acting in the role of organzing the last line of defense against Pariston’s ascension.  Mizaistrom is opposed too, though he seems to have his own agenda above and beyond opposing Pariston for its own sake – he’s a mystery, and clearly a man to be reckoned with (he would have been a welcome presence on the field when Brazil played Colombia in the World Cup).  Pariston is biding his time, goading and baiting the more manageable of his colleagues into doing what he wants and waiting out the others, that smile never leaving his face.  What Cheadle is doing appears to be delaying the inevitable, and both she and Pariston seem to know that – she even wishes that Ging were present, an acknowledgement that she lacks the wherewithal to stem Pariston’s tide alone.

For his part Beans is allowing himself to question Netero’s wisdom in making Pariston Vice-chairman – an act the old man said he committed because putting someone he couldn’t stand in the role would be far more interesting than planting a yes-man there.  In the heady pre-Chimera Ant days boredom seemed Netero’s greatest enemy, but it’s tempting to believe Beans might be right – though of course it still seems more likely that Netero was simply seeing so many moves into the future that we haven’t reached the endgame he envisioned yet.  The rule changes Pariston and Cheadle eventually settle on will likely drive the turnout up to 95%, but there’s nothing in them to suggest the overall direction of the flow of events will change.

The main event of the episode, though, is the return of Killua to the Zoldyck compound.  The Election Arc has more callbacks than a casting agency, and this time we see a couple of welcome faces from the “Zoldyck Family” arc – Seaquant and Zebro, two good-hearted family guards who think highly of Killua-bochan.  Seaquant is a Hunter, of course, and he reports to Zebro that Killua hasn’t shown up to vote in the election – only to have Zebro tell him that Killua has already arrived home, and to ask Seaquant to tell Gon that Killua looks distressed.  This is quite a sad and touching moment, really – Zebro always was a sweetheart when it came to Killua and his friends.  But neither man is in any position to help the Bochan in his current crisis.

Kil has, as we know, returned home to seek help for Gon.  And that help comes in the form of the sibling he refers to as his little sister, Alluka (Uchida Maaya).  Alluka has been referenced twice in Hunter X Hunter – once in a photograph (in Episode 97) and once in a verbal reference to “five brothers”.  And indeed Alluka is a boy, younger than Killua but older than Kalluto – this is quite clear, yet Killua and only Killua refers to Alluka as a girl for reasons that haven’t been explained as of yet (though if nothing else, Alluka performs the remarkable feat of making Kalluto – who I initially mistook for a girl – look veritably masculine).  It’s also obvious that Killua looks upon Alluka as a family member while everyone else is more in the line of a monstrosity – when Killua meets his father Silva refers to Alluka as a “thing” and “not human”.

Whatever else one might say about the Zoldyck clan, it’s always seemed plain that Silva values and probably loves his children – so for him to take this attitude should be a clear signal something is seriously amiss.  And indeed, in a way, Alluka may be the out-and-out creepiest character in the series’ annals.  Via flashback (ingeniously framed) we see what makes Alluka so terrifying.  We meet him as a cute and seemingly normal little boy, playing with butler Mitsuba.  When she grants three of his innocuous requests (“Lift me up!”, et al) his face changes into a terrifying death maskLittle Killua (and seemingly only little Killua, and just how that came about is interesting to ponder) is aware of this phenomenon (Bullseye!) and explains it to his worried parents after Mitsuba spills the beans – if you complete three of Alluka’s requests Alluka will grant you a wish and his face will return to normal.  But if you refuse four requests in a row, you – and the person you love – will die.  And that’s the fate of Mitsuba and another butler (presumably a lover) after she complies with mother Kikyo’s order to refuse Alluka’s requests as an experiment.

We’ve seen a lot of strange Nen abilities in Hunter X Hunter, but in Alluka Togashi has given us one of the strangest and most seemingly random – and one that’s apparently completely inborn in Alluka.  As always there are various supplemental rules – the greater the wish, the more difficult the requests (which leads to ones like “Give me your duodenum.” to the poor woman Illumi selects to be a guinea pig after one of the butlers greedily asks to be made a millionaire (next time talk to Regis).  And the person whose wish was granted need not be the one cursed with the subsequent requests – or the cost if they’re unmet, which apparently expands exponentially to include more people as the previous wish’s scope expands.  I wouldn’t seeing some sort of rationale behind all this at some point, but for now it stands as one of the scariest and weirdest abilities in the entire series.

It’s plain to see where this is headed, and it’s certainly unsettling given that what Killua seems likely to request is a much bigger deal than having a million Jenny fall out of a passing airship.  He’s effectively wishing for the return of a life, no less – and though Silva relents and allows a visit to Alluka when Killua recalls his words about never betraying a friend at the time of their last meeting, the cost for granting such a request would be almost unimaginable based on what we were shown this week.  There’s another story here too, Alluka’s story – that of a child seemingly totally isolated from human contact and loathed and feared by her family (who don’t fear a hell of a lot, it must be said).  Only Killua seems to really care for Alluka, and given who Killua is now thanks to his friendship with Gon, it’s unthinkable that he’d walk away and leave Alluka to that terrible fate whatever else happens.

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  1. C

    You switched from male to female pronouns at the end there.

    For the record, I think it's a bit rude to use a pronoun other than the one Killua uses. It's obvious that he's the closest to her, and while everyone else uses male terms, those are also the same people who call her a non-human thing. So… yeah.

  2. Not going to dive into this wormhole again after the Pitou ordeal, sorry.

  3. C

    Well, rudeness is one thing, but grammatical consistency is another. Regardless of the choice you make, you accidentally wrote "her family" in the final paragraph.

  4. The truth is I did that on purpose, because both are used in the episode itself.

  5. B

    As for my humble opinion, I think it's fine to use either gender, until we learn what sex Alluka identifies with. But knowing Togashi, it might never be clear cut.

  6. D

    One can refer to Alluka as they wish.
    She's a fictional character.
    Attacking a real person about it is more rude than what pronoun one uses.

  7. N

    I agree with Clarste. Killua knows Alluka better than anyone and considers Alluka as a human, the others don't see Alluka as a human being but a tool. So why would Killua be the one in the wrong?

  8. Until the anime clarifies exactly what's going on, all this lecturing is actually a form of spoiling. Which is pretty damn rude, when you think about it.

  9. C

    I don't know why you'd think it's a spoiler when it's clear that Togashi has no interest whatsoever in clarifying these matters and never has for any of the ambiguous characters. Killua calls her a girl, everyone else calls her a boy. That's the end of the story, because ultimately her gender is less important than her ridiculous nen ability.

  10. M

    This comment-chain is the most open-minded discussion I've seen on Alluka's gender. Thank you all for that.

    Every other message board I've visited had people vehemently arguing that Alluka was transgender, with only what we currently have as evidence, and opted to lash out at any notion that we should wait and see or suggesting there was another explanation.

    It was oozing with bigotry in favor of transgenders, so reading this was refreshing.

  11. H

    Like Nero, I figured Alluka (despite being a boy) identified as a female and Killua was the only one lovely enough to address them in that way.

  12. T

    To be honest, I don't think it really matters what pronouns people use to describe Alluka. Personally I like to think Alluka is a girl, but I don't mind when others call Alluka a boy.

    What really irks me about the whole 'Alluka gender debate' is when people start attacking others, I mean please respect other people's opinion! It's really rude to tell someone off, just because they think differently than you and it can sometimes, make the person not like the show/book/object and well y'know what I mean.

    Anyway I really love the Hunter x Hunter franchise and I think this review is pretty spot on.

  13. J

    Watched the new OP&ED today, goddamn they're pure hype; easily among the best the series has offered.

    Is Alluka a boy?
    Is Alluka a girl?
    Nay, it's Gon's plot armor.

    Continuing from that time I said Gon's transformation was the biggest asspull of the decade in anime, I now admit I was wrong – Allu-wishingmachine-ka is by far the winner. Sasuga Togashi!

    Anyway, that doesn't mean we're in for some great fun here. With Hisoka and "more callbacks than a casting agency", I'm having a stupid grin watching these episodes. I also really dig the (late) change of format in the previews. Hearing Gon's cheerful voice with that circus music would diminish his absence and the 'more serious' HxH atmosphere. Too bad they couldn't do it back in CA arc, but better late than never : )

  14. I've yet to see one instance of fan bitching about asspulls in H x H being an actual asspull, so I doubt this one will end up being one either.

  15. K

    When something happens that was already set up then yeah it's not an asspull. Gon's transformation was totally plausible within what nen was.

  16. r

    It isn't the transformation that's an asspull, it's the fact that Gon will probably live/be okay after that transformation (which would defy the rules). I think that's what the fans are talking about.

    Anyways, we still don't know what will happen or how this will play out, so those are just assumptions, but with the introduction of Alluka it seems more likely that this will be the case.

    Deus ex machina or not, the show and these turn of events are still very enjoyable

  17. M

    (reposted after fixing inexcusable typos)

    @Enzo & rebiawatkins: Back when the chapter first came out was when most of the "bitching" happened. You're unlikely to see much more of it nowadays.

    A lot of people forgot how nen worked, and got worked up because it felt very much akin to Naruto always going fox-crazy whenever he's in a pinch. But, when things like vow/limits are explained to them again, they usually come to their senses and realize it was somewhat a stroke of brilliant foreshadow and fruition.

    Alluka on the other hand… A young wish-granting creepy-face of doom? Understandable feels like a "ass-pull".

  18. S

    The operative word I've seen here is "probably" or "we don't know." Just chill and we'll find out whether everything turns out ok in the end.

  19. n

    That was a damn good horror story. I remember I actually trembled in awesomeness when I first read the flashback in the manga. The "ability that can grant wishes" is a common thing in the media but Togashi brings the concept to the whole next level. Gotta hand it to the guy's imagination.

  20. e

    Well this was… interesting.
    On the election side Pariston is one deliciously cunning character (and he somehow fills the blonde sparkly elegant viciously smart manipulative bishie hole left by Pouf in my heart :p). he is being framed as a villain it can't be simple that simple in Togashi's universe and in politics. Looking forward to some more layers peeling.
    It's Killua's part carrying the emotinal power for me as it often happens. Zoldyck complex family fuckery time it is then. Absolute friendship and loyalty are really bringing him to risk the unthinkable here. But hey if there's one people in the word able to both handle and love the terrifying yet seemingly innocent fragile creature Alluka seems to be I'm trusting him to succeed. Go Kil. Go :,).

  21. B

    I was expecting something messed-up from last week's preview, but damn, that's the stuff of nightmares! You're a real bro Killua, in both meanings of the word.

    So has Kurapika's gender ever been clarified or did I miss something? Beyond the subs qualifying Kurapika as male.

    There's no such thing as a trivial detail in Toghashi Yoshihiro's world.
    Let's play the game of guessing what will be featured in the next arc! The most obvious thing would be Gyro and Meteor City, possibly Kaito as well. Any other ideas?

  22. I'd rather not play that game, as I fear it might prove too tempting for those who know the answer…

  23. C

    It is SO tempting. Suffice to say, Togashi always amazes. I hope that's not a spoiler.

  24. B

    I hear you Enzo. It's interesting nonetheless to go back and see all the little details foreshadowing characters and events often an arc or two in advance. If someone watched a single arc, they might complain about unused elements in the narrative that only pay off well after.

  25. K

    Kurapika is clearly male. He's just a pretty one.

  26. R

    Whoops, didn't expect that it count as spoiler, my bad. I just want to point out that the deal with Alluka is not as asspully as people made out.
    Oh well, at least I know the standard of what you consider as spoiler.

  27. B

    @KRK: Well given that we're talking about HxH, the argument "clearly male" is a little light. I'm not trying to be confrontational, but I'm not sure from where you're drawing that conclusion.

  28. K

    The fact that everyone refers to him as such.

  29. B

    I'm not sure, I seem to remember Kurapika and others using only gender neutral pronouns to describe him. But then I haven't parsed every single bit of dialog, so what do I know?

  30. n

    Didn't he expose his chest when he fought Uvo in Yorkshin arc? For what I remember, he was FLAT, guys. Anyway, I think it's kind of fun to imagine Kurapika as a female (and the potential shoujo development among the quartet and such) but that completely belongs to doujin matter, imo. I think It's a prime example of readers just being paranoid. For one, I've been a fun of HxH since it first appeared on Jump more than 10 years ago, but I honestly never considered the possibility of Kurapika being a trap until I read this discussion today.

  31. B

    Isn't a trap the idea of a man "tricking" people into believing he's a woman tough? Not exactly the subject matter, but I get what you mean.

    We can discuss flatness all night long (He wasn't exposing his chest, but it left little to the imagination. Another example would be during the Hunter Exam.) I just like to think that it doesn't matter if it's a dude or a gal.

  32. The Kurapika issue didn't need clarification – he was clearly a guy from the beginning, though it's been irrefutably reinforced a thousand times over since then.

  33. S

    Alluka's ability is ridiculous I have a hard time believing it's even nen.

  34. K

    That's really how some abilities work. Neon also had a power that was not transitionally nen

  35. S

    Transitionally nen do you mean the need to activate ren for use of hatsu? Neon's nen ability was pretty conventional for a specialist, it was bound by a condition being that she cannot see the fortune she predicts and the dream writer is conjured and given a task like Morel's smoke puppets… Komugi was also a genius who's ability was rapid gungi development, pretty much the reason she was so good at gungi to begin with, it also had a restriction being that she would kill herself if she ever lost which made it very powerful and was seemingly always active when she played. But Alluka's ability was manipulating causality making money blimps appear, and while their are conditions it just doesn't seem like a feat nen can achieve let alone a child with seemingly no knowledge of aura. Another thing that makes me heavily question just what Alluka's ability is, is her face changing that makes me think this may be something other then nen however it still may utilize aura.

  36. S


    Oldest to youngest.

  37. B

    Nice catch! I thought there might be a logic behind the names but I never took the time to think about it.

  38. A
  39. w

    Little Easter egg, Alluka is playing with Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask toys in one of those flashbacks. I'd like to think the fact that Killua is the only one to refer to her as a girl will also be properly addressed at some point.

    I may be imagining it, but now that he's got his classic outfit on, I think Killua looks noticeably older. His clothes don't seem to hang as loose on him as they once did.

  40. Yeah, that's been noted by several folks in various outlets. I mean he did marry the creator so it was nice of Madhouse to get that plug in there for him… I checked the manga chapter and it doesn't seem as if Togashi used it himself – though there is a very funny Death Note/Doraemon gag that I'm sorry didn't make it.

    As to Killua looking older I confess I don't see it. In fact he looked even younger to me, though that's likely because he always looks like a cell phone strap toy next to Silva.

  41. w

    Well Silva looks like he walked straight out of JoJo, so anyone looks younger next to him…

  42. Yeah, I definitely get Jojo juju every time I look at that guy.

  43. a

    All I can think of is "Alluka-ssu!" since we have Maaya as the VA.

  44. C

    Well, Togashi knows how to do horror…

    In regards to Alluka's gender (no spoilers here, just speculations, since I don't read the manga) I think he's most likely male biologically, but his psyche is female. Illumi uses male words to adress him (otouto) because he is trying to dehumanize Alluka, since no one besides Killua sees Alluka as a human being. On the other hand, Killua chooses to treat him as a girl because he knows Alluka better than anyone else and knows he is psychologically female, and is the only person who loves him and cares for him, so he respects that decision. And in my opinion, I think Alluka is like this because of his solitude and lack of human contact. So seeing that the only love contact he has is his older brother, he may have subconsciously developed a female psyche to better connect with Killua, to strengthen the bond with him. But Alluka's gender doesn't matter that much, neither the words used to adress him/her.

    More importantly, Alluka's powers are a mystery. Again, I think he subconsciously developed them, since he was too young to have learned Nen by the time the whole situation with Mitsuba happenend, and his parents were equally terrified. But how he developed this powers remains to be explained. But one thing Silva said stuck with me: that Alluka "came from somewhere else" or something like that. Hmm… if there's something I learned and you even mentioned in this post is that no detail is small enough to be forgotten by Togashi, so let's see where this ride is going to take us.

    As for the Zodiacs, can't decide if I hate or love Pariston. I think he was created to be hated, just like Pouf, but he's so sarcastic, always smiling, sparkling, and there's an unsettling aura always surrounding him… he's interesting. And apparently, no other Zodiac besides Ging can stand up to him, but I sense Cheadle is venturing to try that. We'll see how that goes. Can't wait for next week, and great review, as always.

  45. T

    1. I agree with the topic on Alluka's gender, it doesn't really matter.
    2. Mhmm I have a theory about Alluka's powers but I won't say it here.
    3. Yeah Pariston creeps me out and annoys me but both he and Ging are really damn smart it's scary

    – Tay

  46. A

    Killua's powered up quite a bit, last time he visited he opened the third door weighing 16 tons, this time he opened the 64 ton door.

  47. U

    The parents never refer to Alluka by gender. Illumi calls Alluka brother. While Killua calls Alluka sister.

    This is the only character people are more confused about then Pitou. Because Togashi decided to straight up contradictory about it. As opposed to Pitou who he never bothered giving a straight answer about.

  48. f

    That screenshot of Hisoka in the preview is oddly attractive… maybe it's the earring. He does have exquisite taste. Maybe it's the angle. Maybe absence really does makes the heart grow fonder? Or maybe I need to be reminded how creepy he is (which I probably will in due time).

    I should get some rest.

  49. e

    I vote and second all of the above plus the animators sharing about the same feelings :p.

  50. You don't see a lot of Hisoka with a serious, thoughtful expression like that.

  51. e

    I am intrigued by what flavour of serious it is this time then. Until we are not seeing that shot of him in context the camera angle makes it seems as if he's rising his eyebrow just a tad… couple that with the sideline glance and chin-on-hand and you have one clever pose rendering.

  52. m

    Togashi-sensei amps up the horror every single time. I can't state how much those mask-like faces freak me out everywhere.

    It doesn't seem like Alluki is born naturally (it feels like he is a cursed child of some sort). He does seem non-human, because he doesn't have hold over his power (in fact, it feels like his power controls him)

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