Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 147

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I suppose the only surprise by now would be if Hunter X Hunter didn’t surprise me.  So I guess this episode was unsurprising…

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.

It was very hard to bring myself to start this episode.  I expected that, but when the time came it was even worse than I expected.  The reason is obvious – watching brings me that much closer to Hunter X Hunter being over, and I’m still struggling to wrap my head around Hunter X Hunter being over.  In a real sense, too, this episode strikes me as the finale rather than the literal one – I knew that going in even without having read the manga, but I feel more strongly than every after having watched it that I was right.

I’ll save the real summation stuff for next week – not that I could hope to do justice to three years of brilliance in a few clumsy paragraphs.  There’s plenty to chew on in the episode itself, and for me at least it’s one that carries some bittersweet elements – not everything here was as I imagined it or wanted it to be.  But Togashi has certainly earned the right to take this story where he thinks best, and he’s never been predictable in any respect.

Raise your hands, non-manga readers, if you expected the first third of the episode to focus on Koala.  This is a classic Togashi misdirection – tease the hell out of a huge event in the series canon, then turn the camera on- what, a character from the fourth tier?  Fifth?  To even call Koala a major supporting character would be a stretch – he’s been absent for a year of episodes, and wasn’t even a high-ranking member of the Chimera hierarchy, just a foot soldier.  A really interesting one, yes, but never one who gave reason to suspect he was going to have the moments he had this week.

Just as classically Togashi is that he made Koala’s part of the episode utterly compelling (though Horiuchi Kenyuu deserves a lot of credit too) – in fact, I would argue the best part of the episode (which is in itself bittersweet for me).  In effect, what we have here is the de facto final episode of the “Chimera Ant” arc after the final episode of the “Election” arc.  This feels right to me – that story was so huge and changed everything in Hunter X Hunter so fundamentally that it needed an additional epilogue.  My initial thought was that Koala might have been Gyro all along, but no – he was an anonymous hitman likely working for him.  And the picture he paints of the scenes we saw play out with his character changes their meaning substantially.

There were always strong Buddhist themes in “Chimera Ant”, but Koala lays them out far more literally than they had been before.  He’s effectively confessing his sins, and doing so to a now startlingly grown-up Kaitou (now played by Satake Uki, the full-time idol who plays Q.T. on Space Dandy).  It’s a reflection on the events of “Chimera Ant” but just as much a philosophical musing on life in general – on the meaning of individual identity, on the Buddhist notion of death and rebirth, on duty and courage.  Koala’s judgment on himself is harsh, although he tried in his own way to act with compassion.  Kaitou’s solution is for Koala to dedicate his life to her/him, to spend every day apologizing and making amends rather than run away and live out his days in self-recrimination.

The upshot of all this, of course, is the arrival of Gon on the scene.  Apologies are certainly the theme of this episode, and Gon is doing as Ging ordered – apologizing to Kaitou for what he sees as his failures in battle.  It’s clear here that Kaitou has retained the essential kindness he had as a human – for Gon there are no accusations or condemnations, merely forgiveness.  Or rather, the declaration that Gon did nothing to Kaitou that needed forgiving.  “It looks like we both needed more training” is Kaitou’s summation – and this applies to more than simply doing battle with Pitou.  That in itself is a quintessentially Buddhist statement.

At this point I was starting to grow a bit uneasy that more time hadn’t been allotted to Gon and Killua’s reunion which, after all, could be argued to be the true climax of the entire series.  I’m going to be honest here and say I wanted more out of this than I got.  I’m not saying I’m right and Togashi is wrong, only that for me the final third of this episode left me somewhat unfulfilled – that’s on me, not him.  We didn’t see Gon and Killua’s reunion – it happened off-screen.  Gon’s apology was brief and more comic than anything (though that too could have happened out of sight, in addition to what we saw).  The lighting, music and cinematography were perfect – Madhouse couldn’t possibly have done more than they did.  But Togashi-sensei chose to make this a minimalist moment rather than a cathartic one.

In the end, I chalk this up to “boys will be boys”.  Hunter X Hunter is a shounen like no other, but it still fundamentally acts as a deconstruction of pure shounen tropes.  Gon and Killua are 12 year-old boys (or 13, or whatever they are in the story by now) and they handled this moment like young boys would.  There was no hugging, there were no tears, not even a truly heartfelt moment of apology from Gon – that’s just not the guy way.  Like most boys they would rather show their vulnerability to anyone rather than their best friend.  But after seeing what Gon’s careless words had done to Killua, I thought this moment would transcend those rules – that much at least seemed to have been earned.  One could argue that something more overtly emotional would have been out of character for both Gon and Killua, and I can’t say that would be wrong.  But if there was ever a moment that justified going out of character, this would have been it.

There’s also the practical matter of where this leaves the story as far as Gon and Killua.  Ging has unsurprisingly ditched Gon again, but this time he’s left a note – “Find me on top of the World Tree“.  This is a massive tree, 1,784 meters tall – taller than any man-made structure – and Gon sets out to climb it and find his father one more time.  That Killua should step aside here isn’t a surprise – at this point it’s clear than this moment has to be Gon and Ging’s alone.  But for the two of them to truly go their separate ways – that, too, feels a little hollow after how much they’ve sacrificed in order to stay together.  There’s no question they’ll meet again – Alluka says as much – but even if it’s a classic boyish front for Killua to tell Gon he’s now “second place” to Alluka, it’s sad to see the end of their arcs framed as Gon choosing Ging over Killua and Killua choosing Alluka over Gon.  It clearly isn’t as simple as that, and family does matter – but for me at least it’s quite a melancholy way to end their journey together (and indeed, their faces reflect that they do too).

For the conclusion of the episode – and in many ways of the series itself – I have nothing but praise.  This of course is anime-original, and perhaps that’s why it expresses so much more emotion than what came before – a photo montage of a few of the indelible images of the last three years set to the third (not the first, interestingly, though I think the correct choice) ED.  And perhaps most importantly, the return of the traditional preview music and voice-overs by Gon and Killua for the first time since before everything became dark and terrible.  There’s still the matter of next week’s final episode (how truly painful it is to type that), but for me I suspect that preview will always serve as the spiritual conclusion of Hunter X Hunter.

ED: “REASON” by YUZU

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Preview:

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22 comments

  1. G

    Koala shooting the little girl in the back was mentioned by meleoron way back in ch 189 (ep 79) during his conversation with koala.

    Meleoron: "didn't you attack that crying kid from behind, the other day while it was trying to run away?"

    http://d173.diamond.fastwebserver.de/series/HunterXHunter/0189-009.png

  2. D

    Yes.
    I told you last post how I feel when I read, as a manga reader, your speculations about what's to come. But in that last episode I felt sad when you were talking about Gon and Killua's reunion (and even every time you mentioned that their friendship is the backbone of the series), knowing how things will play out.
    All manga readers were craving an original "proper apology" scene from Madhouse. I doubted that will happen, but wished that Togashi himself would write a different ending for the arc for Madhouse.
    While the manga was updating, I remember how angry I got, and even till now I am angry about how rushed the ending was. After all these years of following Gon and Killua, it wasn't enough, how and why they separate.

    After rereading the arc, and watching it on screen, and because you digest things differently the second time; the whole Alluka arc wasn't convincing to me and it's why I've been angry since the release of the chapter. I even noticed a few things at the start of the arc that gave the impression there is bigger turn of events at the end than it really was.

    That aside, in my opinion (the rational one at least) Gon and Killua needed a separation after all that's happened in the Chemira Ant Arc. Their friendship has become unhealthy, esp. to Killua.
    Killua, due to his upbringing, self doubt and lack of trust in people, developed a selfless over-protective sense to those he cherishes and does trust. He wanted to protect Gon's innocence but failed and it broke him. I understand leaving Gon's side would do better for him in finding and thinking more about himself, but I can't see how Alluka at his side would help. I kinda feel like he's left one precious friend he sacrificed all of himself for, to do the same thing for two; Alluka and Nanika.

    In the end, it is how Togashi chose to do it and he sure isn't predictable. He still can fix things at a later stage, we know nothing. I just hope Killua won't pull a Kurapika and go off-screen for ages, and if he's shown, I really hope Alluka wouldn't stay so one-note in terms of character and story.

    Apologies for the article! It feels like I've been wanting to discuss this with a person that gets why all this hurts, for a very long time ^^;
    Thanks for reading and of course for another great review.

  3. Well, thanks for holding your tongue until now. And I don't really take issue with anything in your comment – most of it is in line with my feelings as well.

    I too wonder if it might be healthier for Killua and Gon to separate – for a while – for some of the reasons you suggest. And I too think in a sense Killua is substituting that which is unhealthy in his relationship with Gon with Alluka – though for practical reasons, he needs to do so for the moment.

    But I don't think Gon and Killua need to stay parted – Killua especially needs a breather at all, to find himself. As I've said in the past Gon's quest has always been positive – about what he wants to do – while Killua's has been about what he doesn't want to do. Maybe protecting Alluka is a start but Killua needs a vision for his life that's about him, and not someone else.

    I also think Gon and Killua parting like this wouldn't have felt so melancholy if there'd been better closure between them – a sincere and heartfelt apology (which I know is how Gon felt) and an open expression of how much they mean to each other. Without that, the way they split up feels very unfulfilling for me. I would think Togashi has plans to address that later, but even absent the obvious questions about his health, I don't necessarily love the choice to leave things this way. But he's Togashi – he's the genius, not me. I trust his judgment pretty implicitly in matters concerning his own story, and that he'll eventually show us why this went down the way it did.

  4. D

    I sure used the wrong word. I meant they need a break not a definite separation of course. I like to think it's hinted in Alluka's "I'll give him back when I'm done".
    It's just a matter of how long till they're back together.
    I sure wished for a deeper reunion/apology between the boys.

  5. K

    I said in a previous post that it's very like Togashi to have something important happen off screen, which is why I still think there's a good chance that Hisoka killed Chrollo. But you're right, the Gon and Killua scenes were lacking, but it was still in keeping with Gon's personality. I actually had a problem with Kite's personality. Telling Koala that he would kill him if he didn't devote his life to him didn't seem at all in keeping with the way he was before. Killua was an assassin, too, he and Koala are no different, but Kite never acted that way with him.

  6. I have seen speculation that Kaitourina isn't actually Kite, only pretending to be. But that doesn't explain why she knew Kaitou's name in the first place. I think there are numerous explanations for the inconsistencies, the most obvious being that a human reborn into a Chimera body has never been declared to automatically have the same personality. And there's no guarantee Kaitou meant what he/she said to Koala with that threat – he/she might simply have recognized that was exactly what Koala needed to hear, and that he could be a useful ally to have.

  7. K

    People have also speculated that every Chimera Ant has multiple minds/human memories, and the dominant personality wins out with traits from the other ones, which is the theory I'll cling to for now, because I can't imagine the Kite that was human ever killing someone who wasn't a threat to anyone.

  8. b

    I'm confused about a few things in this arc

    1) Why did Hisoka kill Teradein?

    2) Why do they let Illumi walk around freely (previous episode)? From the association's perspective dozens of hunters went missing trying to go after Illumi, because he mind controlled dozens of civilians (which is this massive atrocity). All of this is seemingly forgotten once Killua and Illumi are on good terms again

    That whole part of the arc with Illumi and Hisoka seems very pointless,like it was only there to add some extra suspense and action without having any real consequences in the story itself.

    Am I missing something?

  9. 1. I assume that's to cover his tracks, because at this point no one as far as I know has connected him to what's happened.

    2. I'm not sure the Hunter Association was aware that Illumi was going to show up where and when he did. There's also the matter of having to find Hunters willing to go after the guy who just killed a bunch of very strong Hunters.

    As to the third point, I don't see it that way, as Illumi was always a real and present danger to Killua and his intentions to have Alluka save Gon.

  10. S

    I think even if Killua says he forgives Gon, things will never be the same.

    I mean, in this episode Killua said a lot of serious things as a joke, like "you owe me a lot" or "you are second to her". It's like he is trying to say "you ruined our friendship".
    But as this is goodbye, they don't want to end they relationship in a bad tone, so they're pretending everything is ok.

    I hope they can have a mature conversation in the future, and rebuild their friendship. Or a more healthy friendship.

    In short, this is not a closed case.

  11. E

    This.

    As Togashi deconstructed tropes and darker sides of shonen shows, he wasn't going to spare the most sacred of all – friendship. Too much friendship is bad, you can't forget about yourself, egoist people are going to use you if the relationship is of dependence. This is what I take from Gon and Killua. Just saw how the boys acted at the end of Greed Island and now, something was lost along the way. Maybe one day they can recover in a healthy relationship without all the shonen self sacrifice and constant need and more like a mature friendship.

  12. C

    It's a little late for this, but his name's not Kaitou.. it's Kite. Or if you want to stick to romaji, Kaito at the very list (you can check the credits too). I guess it's something to keep in mind for the tribute posts. 😉

  13. C

    About the separation between Gon and Killua, I think this was for the best. A separation doesn’t mean they will never be reunited or that they will never contact each other again (Killua said he would email Gon constantly). And more, we have to think about how this friendship evolved and how the characters evolved. Gon’s objective was to find his father. Killua didn’t have one. Remember episode 37 when they were at Whale Island, Killua said he didn’t know what he wanted to do, to which Gon replied “stay with me, help me find my father, and you will find something you want to do along the way”. And Killua did. He helped his friend achieve his objective and he found something for HIMSELF: protect Alluka. This part of their journey is over now. Now both have different paths to go, different ways to grow, and considering everything they went through so far, like other people said in the comments, I think this was for the best, and I’m sure they will eventually meet again (the last things they said were “see you later”, which means it is only a temporary goodbye to allow them to learn different things until the next encounter). Well, after this book I’ve just written, I admit that I too wanted more from the second half of the episode. But that’s Togashi, and after so much greatness, I trust him and I’m sure he will find ways to surprise us in every aspect.

  14. G

    Enzo, as you say, apologies and making amends are the themes of this episode. But Gon and Killua going their separate ways with that expression on their faces is not a guy thing. It's not boys will be boys. It's cause they both know that important things were left unsaid. Killua never had a real discussion with Gon about what happened, never pressured him about who Gon is as a person and never expressed how hurt he is. It's played for laughs basically. They are too afraid that anything more and their friendship would be at risk. Nothing is resolved, they force themselves to smile because they have to and they go to their ways both feeling that something precious was lost. Even Gon feels it, a character known for his honesty, but even he cannot express it to his best friend. It's hard to do that after all.

    Also, they don't have to go their separate ways. Not really. I believe the breaking point of their friendship was that scene in the room with Pitou and Komugi where Gon eviscerated Killua emotionally, and Killua -for the first time in the series- couldn't stand being in his best friends presence and chose to leave Gon's side -something that he did very reluctantly when he only HAD to in previous episodes. That terrifying something was reinforced by what he saw Gon do to Pitou later. A half assed "gomen Killua :P" cannot repair the damage that was done. Maybe nothing can.

  15. S

    I couldn't have said it better (literally, I tried to say this in my comment, but it wasn't nearly as clear).

    Something was lost between them.

  16. I certainly don't deny there's a lot of unspoken stuff between those two, but I don't take as pessimistic a view on it as that. They're kids, and they love each other more than brothers. I think Killua came to realize that the relationship as it stood wasn't healthy for him – he was making it all about Gon and not enough about himself. But to suggest that what happened was so damaging as to make it impossible for them to get past it? No, I don't see that. There's work to be done, but the young are resilient. I think this is something Togashi intends to get back to – let's just hope he gets the chance.

  17. N

    Oh my, that Pink Koala closure – I want to say "I will never doubt Togashi again!", but then I get sad thinking I might not even get the chance to.

  18. T

    Reading the manga, I personally never had the pessimistic outlook on the end of Gon and Killua's adventures together that you and everyone else in the comments seems to be seeing. I never saw it as "Gon leaving Killua for Ging / Killua leaving Gon for Alluka". Or "their frienship is broken" / "Killua is too hurt". Reading people's different views, and seeing the anime, I can definitely understand them. But my views on the end of their relationship were always entirely positive.

    The thing I loved most about Hunter x Hunter and Gon and Killua's adventuring together was that there was no reason for them to be adventuring together. No "they're both on the same journey", or "each's goals just happen to put them on the same path". No. Gon is going on a mission. Killua is joining him because he loves Gon and likes to hang out with him, and has nothing better to do. It's like me going on a cross-country trip to visit my estranged father and my friend saying "hey, I've got nothing to do, I'm going to join you, and we'll make it a roadtrip together."

    And now. . . that journey is over. And Killua no longer has "nothing to do." It's sad to see them part, but I don't think there is anything deeper to them parting ways than "see you later."

    I recently graduated college. My best friend at University moved to Califnoria. I didn't. It was sad to see her go, and see our adventures end, though we do not at all think we will never see each other again, and we know it isn't the end of our friendship. Still – it was sad. I see Killua and Gon's separation as being the same.

  19. L

    This. This is exactly what my impressions were in that entire scene. I was also of the mindset that the amount of time that they did for the conclusion of their meeting was just right (didn't want to use absolute such as 'perfect').

    It honestly would not have felt right to have that "apology"/reunion dragged on more than it should and have this emotional outbreak that would change the entirety of their relationship altogether (IMO it would be feel criminal if the series added something more).

    To me, Gon and Killua have established this certain bond throughout their adventures of knowing each other far better and beyond the capabilities of being able to verbally express themselves, as is the same irl for many strong relationships that have matured.
    What needed to be said and done had already passed and accomplished the moment they turned to walk their separate ways. There were no regrets in this scene to me, only the natural sadness that comes with the finality of things (e.g. this show) which in this case is a part of their friendship to SOME degree. Using the famous idiom of "All good things must come to an end" what seems to be implied here that's ending is NOT their bond or strength in their relationship, hence why Alluka even stressed out loudly (perhaps for us the audience) "You'll always be FRIENDS!", but rather the end or hiatus of their wild adventures together which has been a huge part of their friendship and series.
    It's simply one of the stages in life on moving on that everyone will have to go through at some point in their lives.
    Gon and Killua were in a complete mutual understanding as Killua has finally found a greater purpose in his life just as how one of my close friends had wanted to move on to a different state to pursue his dreams. It's why this scene has touched me greatly as to how it parallels some things in my life and why this series is truly special from how it ties down the journey to its end.
    I'm not saying that I'm glad this show is ending but if there ever was a time and scene to which they could have done it, I cannot fathom any other time other than now in the narrative.

  20. m

    I understand why you, and many others, feel that the ending was a bit rushed, or at least lacked the proper expression of emotion wanted. That being said I don't see a way in which that would happen, and still fit their characters. Killua's taunting "I was really depressed" was by far the biggest verbal expression of emotion we've seen from him. Yeah it was hidden behind poking fun at Gon, but with the type of person he is, that was his way of expressing how upset it made him. It's more than just "boys will be boys" it's just the way the vast majority of males, young or old, are. I've never once had a moment with male friends or family where I've said something as absurd as "I really liked hanging out with you, and I'm going to miss you an awful lot." In fact I've never heard of any guy who has had a moment like that with another guy. It would be super difficult to pull off a scene like that without it feeling so out of character. Gon can say stuff like "you're my best friend in the world," and I've known a few guys over the years who will say stuff along those lines, but that's worlds apart from the scene you're envisioning. Gon did say "we'll be friends no matter where we are," and I forget exactly how it went, but the manga version was much better as it was less of a "Kite said this:" sort of thing and more Gon expressing that sentiment. I feel like the scene was perfect though. It fit each of their characters well, and fit what you would expect from two young guys. If they had taken out the scene where you see the sad looks on their faces as they turned away from each other then, yeah, that would be a different story, but that was a very realistic moment from a two very realistic characters (personality wise anyway obviously not the setting). I do agree that it was missing the initial scene where they meet after Gon woke up, but it's unlikely to have been much different.

    When I first read that scene in the manga I was expecting that the whole series was about to end. He finally met his dad, which was the initial macguffin of the manga, and everyone seemingly has gone on to their own thing. After finding out it wasn't the end I was expecting a time skip bc while it seemed that Leorio and Kurapika were also main characters, it really was mostly a story of the friendship between Gon and Killua. With those two apart it would be a very different story, but with how amazing it's been so far I trust Togashi can pull off a great arc even if Killua doesn't come back. (That's not in any way a spoiler btw since I haven't read any of the new chapters. I'm waiting until a bunch have come out so I can read a good chunk of the next arc at once, and so I have no clue if there is a timeskip or not or if Killua comes back or not)
    All in all I think this adaptation was far superior to the original (which was still great bc the source material is great) even without taking Chimera Ant into consideration. The only part I would say that was better in the original was the original introduction of Kite. I even ended up liking the anime a bit more than the manga. There's something about seeing a story that has a lot of action in motion that is better than seeing it in panels with dialogue boxes. It was such a ridiculously high quality for such a long running show, and the VAs were phenomenal. I really hope that Togashi is able to complete the next arc before the grueling mangaka lifestyle gets to him, and that they animate it asap. It was a great show, and I really enjoyed reading your posts over the last year or so. It's cool being able to see it through the eyes of someone who didn't know what was coming up next (well until the end when ppl went crazy with spoilers).

  21. M

    Hi. Before I begin, it is in the middle of the night and I need to scream. So. Here goes:

    UAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    *gulps down remaining frustration, slaps on face smile*
    So, I am going to begin acting like a civilized human being. 🙂

    My thoughts:
    Yeah, something wasn't there anymore. We all hoped it would last forever, but it didn't. Sad. I mean, they still love each other a TON, but the spark of excitement and their… desire to adventure together faded. They got other goals and dog gammit I am crying.
    I have so many jumbled thoughts right now… Quoting John Green, in the novel TFIOS, said by Augustus Waters- "My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations."
    That is the best thing that can describe my feelings right now. So… yeah.
    Sorry for this.

  22. Don't apologize. This was a tough episode to take, emotionally.

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