Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 145

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I wonder if anyone recognized Han Megumi when she showed up to the recording studio to dub this episode…

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.

With almost unerring accuracy, you could predict that any episode of Hunter X Hunter that ends in “5” is going to be a blockbuster.  It’s cherry-picking when the vast majority of H x H eps have ranged between great and jaw-dropping, but we’ve seen so many milestones on that number – so much emotion, so much GAR, so much pain, so much joy.  And to think this is the last one is a major punch to the gut – there’ll be no #155 to amaze and astound us.

This is definitely one of those episodes I’ll watch again (well, I plan to watch all of them again sequentially as soon as the run is over, but…), and parts of it multiple times.  There were so many big moments here – so many crucial milestones that the series has been building towards, some of them literally since the first episode – that it’s hard to know where to begin to assess it.  It does feel like sensory overload in a way, yet each of those moments in the moment was clear and distinct, and made tremendous impact.  It’s only in looking back on it that one realizes just how many crucial watershed events were packed into 22 amazing minutes.

I’m struck by a lot of things here, but it really has to start and end with Gon.  He’s the main character, my favorite character, probably the most contradictory and indecipherable character, and he’s been missing since Episode 131.  While his presence has still been the primary plot driver, we haven’t heard from Gon in more than three months (I guess my little joke last week wasn’t such an exaggeration after all) and as great as those intervening eps have been, that feels like a very long time.  There was never any question that Togashi and Madhouse would make his return live up to the buildup, because they nail all the big moments.  But I think it’s impossible to have a protagonist be gone for that long and then reappear in an emotional crescendo without changing the way we look at the character.

First off, Gon truly has wonderful friends.  To see what Killua has suffered – and continues to – for him is a reminder of just how loyal he is.  The moment when Killua saw what Gon’s withered arm looked like was dramatically perfect – horrifying and heartbreaking.  You could see the hesitation in him when Nanika asked for Gon’s hand, the fear of what he would see – and the reality was worse than he could have imagined.  Killua’s heart broke yet again, for probably the hundredth time – yet he bears it, because he loves Gon with all that heart and would do anything for him.  Tsubone – who perhaps knows Killua better than anyone, it seems – recognizes just how vulnerable Killua is, what his empathetic soul does to him.  Poor Killua – he really was born into the wrong life.

It isn’t just Killua, though.  The depth of Leorio’s loyalty is off the charts, and if he hasn’t suffered for Gon’s sake like Killua has, he’s certainly punished himself because of that fact.  And the entire storyline is filled with characters swept into Gon’s orbit.  And this is an important point, I think – Gon is certainly lucky to have an army of devoted compatriots, but doesn’t he deserve some credit for the fact that he’s been able to inspire so much affection, so much dedication?  Most of those people (not excepting Killua by any means) dismissed Gon at first, which is perhaps not a bad analog for the people who dismiss Hunter X Hunter because of how the main characters look.  It was only when they came to know Gon and were changed by him that these strangers became the blood brothers and sisters they did.

My reaction in seeing Morel flash Leorio that thumbs-up and Gon appear in the doorway at the Hunters Association was a complicated one.  Fittingly, Gon wears a big smile as if nothing has happened, because Gon’s smile is a force of nature in Hunter X Hunter. That sight exemplifies everything that’s infuriating, perplexing and irresistibly loveable about Gon.  There can be no doubt that he’s an incredibly selfish boy, and it’s hard to imagine that in that moment he’s thinking about all the worry and consternation he’s caused for those who love him.  But he’s also completely pure, a kind of shounen archetype taken to a theoretical extreme.  He sees the world with crystal clarity (even if sometimes not with accuracy) and is possessed of limitless courage.  He too is ferociously loyal to his friends, but ultimately Gon is a totally self-driven person – someone who need never reach outside his own sense of justice for the motivation to act in life.  He’s an enigma, a unique creation by Togashi, and he’s too easily dismissed by too many fans who don’t seem to appreciate that about him.

There are weighty implications flying everywhere in this episode.  As Alluka becomes aware of what Killua wants, there’s a moment of hesitation, of jealousy – but Killua promises that there’s no going back to the bad old days of being a prisoner in the Zoldyck dungeons.  Killua understands full well what he’s asking of Alluka but the stakes are simply too high for him to hesitate.  And as Nanika takes over, everyone in the family watches courtesy of Tsubone’s Nen camera -with Illumi’s reaction especially telling.  He recognizes the full potential of Alluka’s power, even if he doesn’t fully understand how Killua interacts with it – and he desires that power for himself.  But Killua dreams of making that power go away forever, of never asking Alluka to make Nanika appear again.

Inside the Association, everyone of consequence (except the blissfully unaware Leorio, it seems) is also fully cognizant that something very big is happening at the hospital.  The eighth ballot has placed Leorio in first place, but with only 44.4% of the vote and eliminated Mizaistom and Cheadle (who’s a distant fourth).  Leorio’s victory seems a fait accompli at this point, but Pariston chooses to delay matters by invoking the 8th and 9th Commandments, and demanding an emergency meeting to vote on reforming the commandments and the rules for the Hunter exam.  When the shock wave of Nanika’s truly massive power hits, though, Pariston realizes that he’s effectively won the war – the rules of the game have been utterly changed.  And it’s not as though Leorio cares one way or the other – if Pariston’s ambivalence about winning or losing gives him the power to troll without fear, Leorio really doesn’t give a damn.  He just wants Gon to get better, one way or the other – and if he doesn’t need to become Chairman so he can order people to help, that’s just fine with him.

The degree to which Pariston has been playing the others has never been more clear, and it’s Cheadle (as always) who’s most agonized by that.  I think Togashi is practicing a kind of equivalent exchange here – he’s giving us one victory with the return of Gon, but the price is the seeming ascendancy of Pariston to the chairmanship.  I’m not absolutely convinced that’s a bad thing, and it may in the end be true that Pariston finds the idea of being Chairman and actually being responsible for everything more trouble than it’s worth.  And indeed, he explains to Cheadle (in what seems like a moment where he actually takes pity on her) his initial vision was that Ging would end up winning the election, and he seems fine with that.  But when Ging removed himself from consideration, Pariston understood that there was a cure out there for Gon – and that in the end, that would make Leorio’s candidacy irrelevant.  It was only a question of stretching things out long enough – and happily for Pariston, that also happens to be an enormous amount of fun for him.

Finally, this episode is the story of reunions – the one we see, the one we don’t see, and the one that’s impending.  Gon and Leorio’s is a rarity in anime, a truly and unapologetically emotional meeting complete with a bear hug and tears.  It’s a great payoff, and one well-earned both by Leorio and the audience.  What a true and profound friend Leorio is, and what a great spirit Gon is to be so full of sunshine after everything that’s happened.  But there’s someone absent here, of course, and that’s Killua – that’s a reunion we don’t see, the person who’s been closest to Gon since the story began, and indeed we’re left to wonder if Killua recused himself before Gon even woke up and the reunion hasn’t happened yet.  For all the courage he’s shown it’s clear that this ordeal has emotionally wrecked Killua, and he may simply not have been ready to face that moment without collecting himself.  And Morel orders Leorio not to tell Gon that it was Killua who saved him – there are obvious reasons why that would be so important to Killua, but I suspect that’s a subject that’s going to addressed directly in the weeks ahead.

Last and most certainly not least, there’s the ultimate shounen moment, the one that set Hunter X Hunter in motion 145 episodes ago – the boy has found his father at last.  It’s a happy time for Gon as the audience (led cynically by Pariston) cheers his return, many playfully (or not) urging him to run for Chairman and promising their votes.   But when List catches Gon’s attention and points to Ging, the atmosphere changes on a dime.  It’s impossible to try and capture the complicated emotions that go into this moment in a few sentences – it’s 145 episodes and 330+ chapters worth of existential drama coming to a head.  I can only sit back and wait for it to play out, suspecting that this is going to show us a side of Gon we’ve never seen before (and perhaps Ging too, though I think that’s less likely).  After this nothing can ever be the same, and even in an episode and indeed a series overflowing with epic moments, this one truly stands out as unique and exceptional.

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  1. s

    Wow… just wow. All those feelings while watching this episode, definitely a special one. Why does this anime just have so much quality? It'll definitely sad to see how empty my Tuesdays will be in a month.

    One thing I was wondering about, though – now, what ARE those Hunter commandments, though. Pariston mentioned those, but with only mentioning the numbers while we only know what number 4 is about, this feels quite confusing. Is it actually like this in the manga? Or did they just skip over an explanation of those commandments in the anime?

    I've got to admit, though, I'm loving all those developments. The way how Pariston keeps screwing with the election. That reunion between Leorio and Gon (there's a reason why Leorio is my favorite character next to – I bet nobody would expect this – Phinks), that scene in the hospitel, Illumi's display of insanity… and especially the meeting between Gon and Ging. Definitely in a way that I wasn't expecting. I'm really wondering how this one will turn out, those cliffhangers are just… unfair.

  2. I checked, and they're actually printed in full in Chapter 331 – which was covered in last week's episode. Read them there if you're curious, but as the anime chose not to cover this last week, I'd rather not print them here just in case they have a reason in mind.

  3. s

    Alright, thanks for the info. I just checked said chapter, and Pariston's speech definitely makes more sense to me now.

  4. D

    I'll really miss your posts almost as much as the episodes themselves.

    You've given me even another layer of depth to a series I've followed for over a decade. Sometimes, you've walked me into paths filled with questions and wonderings that I passed by without noticing while reading/watching. Other times you've put what I feel/think exactly but in much better words that I'll ever be able to express (in both languages I use).
    And then, there are those times when you just left me speechless with one line that summed up a whole 22 minutes and many years of feelings and expectations.
    You've done this show justice. Togashi wrote a masterpiece, Madhouse executed it perfectly and your posts were just the cherry on top; analysed and reviewed amazingly.
    I found myself waiting for your posts the same way I waited for the episodes, and I too will rewatch the series and start reading what I missed from your posts.

    To be honest, what I appreciate most is how true you stay to the story. No matter how much you take apart the elements of the story, you always keep it all in the same universe that Togashi created.
    Especially the relationships. I am truly happy to have read your words on the important duo of the series, the ones we waited for when they were away, the backbone of the show; Gon and Killua.

    Thank you so much for sharing your writing with us!

  5. That praise is way more than my scribblings merit, but I all can do is thank you for it anyway – it truly has been a pleasure to write about H x H,

  6. Why is Knuckle horse-collaring Hanzo in shot 54, I wonder?

  7. e

    X,D I suspect that's because he was waving at the crowd like a beauty pageant winner or something during Gon's moment on the spotlight. Rewind to the moment Morel whispers to Leorio not to reveal Killua's role in Gon's healing… and focus on Hanzo behind them instead.

  8. s

    I don't remember whether that shot happened before or after it, but while they cheered about Gon's return, Hanzo seemed a bit like an (pardon the language) attention whore in the background. Perhaps Knuckle was just holding him back.

  9. e

    *slow cap at Dee's above comment* yep he's doing a really good job blogging isn't he :,).

    About the episode itself: Leorio as audience insert once more. The tears man. The tears.
    I wonder about Gon and Kilìs non-reunion. Did it happen offscreen and we'll be getting a flashback (this episode was already emotionally packed as it is after all) or indeed Kil excused himself as you hypotesise? I'm leaning towards the latter, if anything for Alluka-related reasons. Illumi (btw… eff off XP) and the reast of the family have witnessed Nanika's power. They most likely want him/her back to the family home and in their clutches asap. Hence Kil might have his hands full already with protecting his sibling – and himself from the return of the special needle – after saving his (most?) dear person. I mean, just recall Illumi's crazyfaces. It looked like he was not far from the hospital either…
    Chapeau to Pariston. Well played man, well played.
    Last but not least… I'm expecting everything and nothing about Gon and Ging's meeting. If there's one trait father and son share – beyond attracting people like magnets (well, Ging also manages to repel some people like one XDD) – is how hard to predict they are.

  10. w

    Gon sounds so young. If it's been three months since he's spoken, it's been more like ten since he's sounded so carefree. I think I forgot about how much joy he's able to bring to the screen just by being himself. I still want to see Killua call him a baka, though.

    You know, they actually might be able to finish this arc with it feeling like an ending for the story. Not a completely conclusive one (Kurapika, to start), but not a completely unsatisfying one either.

  11. S

    Not sure what my favorite moment was. Leorio's and Gon's reunion had me tear up a bit, seeing and hearing Illumi actually emote was a big change, but perhaps most surprising of all was seeing Pariston actually give a legitimate smile. Not the "used car salesman" fake smile complete with sparkles, but the actual smile he gave when he expressed his trust in Ging as a rival.

  12. S

    It was funny that Pariston said "I'm not God", because Gon didn't enter the room at the exact moment he wanted.
    But it happened just a few minutes later. He is pretty much God lol

  13. G

    I don't like Pariston at all. He seems like a life long politician to me. Surprised he has so many votes when anyone with 1/2 a brain should be able to sense the danger and sneakiness coming off of him like an aura of slime.

  14. M

    Gary, you're mistaken. He doesn't have an aura of danger, sneakiness, or slime.

    That's a privileged viewpoint we, as the audience, only get due to the perspectives of the Zodiacs who have dealt with Pariston extensively.

    The fact he can navigate social and political protocols so skillfully to his own ends, on top of the explanation given in the show about temp-Hunters, thoroughly tells why he can accrue so many votes.That's the power of charisma at its finest without any remorse.

  15. I agree with Gary on this one point: Pariston radiates sleaziness like a supernova, and given that what would assume Hunters are on-average smarter than an average person, I would think most of them see it.

    However, Hunters also seem like a group that dislikes boredom and want life to entertain them. Pariston is entertaining – he's a troll, and a lot of Hunters are trolls. He also literally controls a large block of votes that automatically go his way. And he's known to be Netero's handpicked Vice-chairman, so there's a lingering sense that he must have seen something in Pariston.

    Also, to be honest, I don't think Cheadle is the strongest opposition candidate.

  16. M

    My mistake with my last post is forgetting to address my point, which is that Pariston does not appear sleazy to normal folks or most Hunters.

    Ref: "That's a privileged viewpoint we, as the audience, only get due to the perspectives of the Zodiacs who have dealt with Pariston extensively."

    Pariston being a Hunter is a testiment to his own skill at concealing his motives and "sleaziness". He doesn't have an aura if you don't know him, it's only recognized from extended involvement with him – As the Zodiacs have, whose eyes we see him through.

    So, it is more of a surprise to me when one such as Gary questions his number of votes. It is NOT purely due to temp-hunters, but also because of how masterfully he hides his dispassionate selfishness.

    If he had an "aura" or radiated sleaziness, Leorio- No, the candidates would have noticed, let alone the man standing right beside him.

    A solid reference for comparison would be Hisoka or Illumi, who occasionally radiate perversion without restraint.

  17. Well first of all, Leorio isn't the best example because he was standing there scratching his ass while Alluka's aura was making everyone else in the building go into "Scanners" mode.

    Also, there's more to reading a person than Nen and auras – there's common sense. And one doesn't need to read Pariston's aura to know he's a scumbag. In fact I would argue he proudly displays that fact, practically winking at people while he's engaging in his act.

  18. G

    Not to mention all the disappearances.

  19. Z

    Pariston is my favourite thing in this arc. Truth.

  20. t

    =) Han Megumi has been filling a MUCH small role as one of the Zodiacs, Cluck(?).

  21. I forgot. She's had what, two lines total?

  22. S

    Not since episode 138, I think.

  23. K

    Pariston's talk with Cheadle at the end makes me think that perhaps he's not truly "evil" in the way that we normally think of villains, but he could just be someone who takes the concept of a troll to the very extreme and lives for the sole purpose of having fun and messing with people. There is the talk of how 18 hunters have gone missing since he became vice-chairman, and he clearly didn't care that Teradein and his faction died, but there's still no proof that he's done anything wrong beyond his mind games. He seems a lot like Netero, a man who always sought to combat boredom, but manifests it in a different way.

  24. m

    "ultimately Gon is a totally self-driven person – someone who need never reach outside his own sense of justice for the motivation to act in life. He's an enigma, a unique creation by Togashi, and he's too easily dismissed by too many fans who don't seem to appreciate that about him."

    Even with the selfish aspects of Gon's personality, or any of his traits that could be categorized as "negative", he never once comes off as unlikable. I think part of that is due to how he steadfast he is in holding true to those beliefs. Yeah sometimes he's unpredictable, and maybe even some things you could call hypocritical, but he never waivers in doing what he feels is right. There's never the sense that he struggles to do what he thinks is right. So often in shows/movies/comics/etc (and in real life as well) you get these self righteous characters who, despite being so quick to lecture others, are quick to go against their beliefs when the chips are down, or worse judge others for acting the same way that they do. I think that's what is most annoying in characters (and again ppl in real life). Not how you disagree with their beliefs, but how shallow their beliefs are, or how quick they are to condemn those same actions in others. The whole premise of the manga is Gon's journey to find his father/follow in his footsteps, and it never once plays out like a sad little boy hurting for daddy's affection. He never once thinks of Ging as a bad father, and I'd say that, even without having met him, he understands Ging in a way no one else does. He is seemingly very much his father's son, and he never once condemns Ging for leaving. In fact you get the sense that he understands his reasoning for being selfish, and wouldn't judge someone for doing the same things that he does. I think respecting someone for their beliefs comes more from respecting how they hold true to them than respecting how you agree with what they believe in (obviously not when those beliefs are racist or hateful). With Gon you get this great mix of typical shounen MC traits of standing up for those you care about, what you think is right, being pure of heart, and staying true to yourself mixed with very unconventional shounen MC traits like being selfish, having a really nasty violent side, love of fighting, and having occasional conflicting morals. He's a conventional shounen hero in such a realistically human way that it makes him ultimately unlike any other shounen hero we've seen before. I'm aware how contradictory that sentence seems. He reminds me of Bakuman and how often they brought up the idea of a conventional unconventional shounen character, and Gon seems like a character you'd see come from a Niizuma Eiji manga.

  25. C

    If you combined Hisoka with Pariston, what would you get? :/

  26. I was actually more wondering what would have happened if Pariston had met Shaiapouf. Would the universe have collapsed?

  27. C

    Their glitter would resonate and consume the world with the brilliance of a 1000 suns.

  28. H

    Might just be me, but Pariston is an ESP. He must be!

    That Leorio/Morel/Gon emotional reunion would do One Piece proud.

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