The other day, at Sanbunzaka Studio, the place of all the beginnings, we conducted the recording for episode 148 of Hunter x Hunter, which will serve as the turning point for the anime for now. I will not say “final episode” myself. I will be stubborn and only call it “episode 148.” I say this, because in terms of episode numbers, in a certain meaning, this will be the final episode, but I feel that it also feels like the start of a new beginning. If you ask me, episode 147 is the final episode, and 148 is sort of an epilogue. The original manga is still continuing, and the adventures haven’t ended yet. An unknown world still awaits. Actually, it’s like what has happened up until now in the story was nothing more than a prologue, and it gets me even more expectant for what’s to come. Though I say that, when I think that “I’ve been going to the same place every week at the same time for three years, but next week, this won’t happen…,” I get very sad…
I know I shouldn’t talk too much, but I will condense my feelings right here. To everything up until now, and to everyone, I say, “Thank you.”
– Han Megumi
How in the world does one go about starting a post like this? I’ve written so much about Hunter X Hunter over the last three years – without question more than I’ve written about any subject in my life. And without question those posts have been read by more people, both cumulatively and in an average week, than any other posts I’ve written. There can’t be much that’s left unsaid. There can’t be a shred of doubt about my feelings. If I were smart I would just say a heartfelt “thank you” and stop right there. But this series means too much to me to let it go so easily.
The “Memories x and Milestones” posts I’ve written over the last ten days already serve as a series review of sorts, so there isn’t a whole lot of point in covering that ground here. And frankly, this final episode serves as a series review in its own right – eloquently encapsulating everything that was so wonderful about H x H far better than I would have thought possible in 22 minutes. I was a little bit empty after last week’s episode, to be honest – Gon and Killua’s parting was not the emotional catharsis I’d hoped it might be. But this finale gave the series the kind of closure it needed, even subtly casting Gon and Killua’s status in a different light.
This precious experience will motivate me for my future career. HUNTER×HUNTER is my treasure for now and ever.
– Abiru Takihiko
It’s quite interesting that Togashi-sensei wrote this chapter when he did, because it does indeed feel like both an end and a beginning. With a story like Hunter X Hunter that’s how it should be, because there should always be a world of endless possibility waiting for us at edge of the the horizon. And Togashi has left us a truly astonishing number of dangling plot threads, enough to make Han-san’s quote about the first 339 chapters and 148 episodes being a prologue seem very realistic. How much if any of that possibility Togashi will explore is anyone’s guess, as his health is obviously a huge concern. And how much of what he does explore will find its way to anime one day is just as difficult to say, given everything that would have to fall into place for there to be further production on H x H. But there can be no doubt that the mythology of Hunter X Hunter is limited only by Togashi’s imagination, and as we’ve seen, his imagination is virtually limitless.
That said, there’s absolutely no doubt that Togashi intended the events of this episode (Madhouse added a bit here and there, especially for Gon’s journey to the World Tree, but most was manga canon) as a kind of epilogue for the story that ran for the first 147. There is indeed closure here – Gon catches up to Ging and has the talk he’s been dreaming of at last. We touch base with many old faces, tie up some loose ends while leaving many more dangling. And the philosophy behind the story is laid out quite poetically by Ging (he still stinks as a father, but he’s undeniably got a way with words), in a holistic way that it never was before. The feeling at the end of the episode was perfect – the only thing better would have been a message telling us the series was going to continue next week after all.
Thank you for so much happiness! My feelings are more than gratitude. It is the treasure of my life.
– Ise Mariya
Let me just free-associate about the episode itself, because my emotions have my thoughts so scattered that it would be days before I’d be able to do anything else. The background music during Gon’s journey to the tree was a new orchestral mix of “Hyori Ittai”, which I absolutely loved – this series just keeps delivering the mail when it comes to the soundtrack. There was a cameo by Togashi-sensei (at the registration booth to climb the World Tree), and I generally loved this whole sequence because it recalled the heady, buoyant nature of the first couple of episodes – Gon’s enthusiasm and energy spurring him forward like the force of nature it is, the smile never leaving his face. That’s how I want to remember Gon.
I have a lot of resistance to Ging, generally speaking, because on a very basic level the notion that anything could be important enough to walk away from a beautiful son who loves you and leave his upbringing entirely up to someone else is foreign to me. But this is a manga, not real life, and one has to get past that I guess. Ging has a very important role here in addition to being Gon’s goal – he represents the pure Hunter ideal better than anyone else in the cast. To be free (maybe don’t knock a girl up if you want freedom, but never mind). To always be searching for something – to always hunt. To be driven not by greed but by the simple desire to know, to experience, to be – and even to do some service to society along the way. And as Mito said, Gon certainly inherited Ging’s essential nature in this respect.
More than that, though, it was in the quest for Ging that Gon learned the first big lesson that Ging taught him on top of the World Tree (I love those “Piyo!” chicks, especially when they shut up on-command) – what’s important is not the destination, but the journey. While the boy Ging had a worthwhile goal – to set up a nonprofit for stewardship if priceless archaeological relics he’s never otherwise get to see – the best thing about the experience was the friends he made on the way. And for Gon, frankly, the best thing about his quest for Ging was meeting Killua, Kurpaika and Leorio – and all the others whose lives he touched, and who touched his. And I think Ging, for all his faults, would have no problem accepting that.
The entire father-son talk was more emotionally satisfying than I expected, if I’m honest. And it acted as a tantalizing glimpse of the wonders Togashi still has in mind for Hunter X Hunter, should we all be so fortunate as to see them brought to life. This is the reason for Ging’s continued journey – there’s a new world outside the one we’ve seen, one which dwarfs it in every way – and it was this world from whence the Chimera Ants came. There are “at least” four requirements to visit this world – Authorization, Means, Qualification and Contract. And Ging, who’s been called “the best Hunter in the world”, hasn’t achieved a single one of them yet.
In the end, though, that doesn’t matter – because he’s enjoying the journey so much. I could have lived without the “if our paths should cross again” he offered Gon, but the advice which followed it was Ging’s finest moment as a father – “Enjoy the little detours. To the fullest.” So many boys’ lives would be richer and happier if their fathers had communicated this utterly simple bit of wisdom – it’s the essence of the adventurous soul, the heart of what separates a traveler from a tourist. Togashi clearly understands this deep in his soul, and the beauty of this notion permeates Hunter X Hunter through and through. It was present at the beginning of the series, and many travails along the way notwithstanding, it was present at the end. And that’s exactly as it should be.
As the episode concludes, we take a trip ourselves as the full version of “Departure” plays – not into the past, but into the present. Morel and Knov (somewhat recovered, happily) settle their bets as to who would go to fight the Chimera Ants, and drink a toast of vintage champagne to Netero’s memory. Knuckle, Palm, Meleoron and Ikalgo are together happily at the recuperating Shoot’s bedside. The picture which closes the OP sits on Leorio’s bookshelf – that sweet, sentimental guy that he is. He’s still trying to reach Kurapika, who still isn’t answering – but he’s clearly made progress in his goal to recover the eyes of his fellow Kurta. Canary and Amane visit Gotoh’s grave, and he shockingly appears – except it’s really a Kiriko, presumably there to hide the painful truth from Killua. Beneath the palace in East Gorteau, Marshal and Spy rest for eternity, hands clasped. Killua and Alluka greet the new morning, side by side. And Gon takes the wonder of Spinner Clow’s Small-billed Swans at Kaito’s side, eyes bright and smiling, the possibilities as endless as his limitless imagination. Indeed, the only thing missing is Hisoka, who’s such an important part of Gon’s journey that it feels as if we should have seen him one last time.
This sequence was the hardest part of the episode for me to get through, to be honest – indeed I’m finding myself back in that place now, just writing about it. But that’s also as it should be – after everything we’ve been through with Gon and the people he’s met, the ending should be both happy and sad, because neither would do justice to the journey without the presence of the other. This is both an end and a beginning, because the journey always continues as long as we have life and the will to make the most of it.
And there it ends – 148 episodes, three years, countless emotions. I’ve said all there is to say about why I feel Hunter X Hunter will go down as the greatest shounen adaptation of all-time, and one of anime’s greatest series. It’s a perfect storm, a marriage of a truly brilliant writer with an anime staff and cast that was committed from day one to making something truly great. And they’ve succeeded, gloriously so. The words of those who worked on the series are full of the love they feel for it, and the impact it’s had on their lives – and it’s certainly the same in its small way for we who loved it as viewers. When people are truly passionate about their work it shows through in a way that can’t be faked, and that passion made Hunter X Hunter into something that’s special in every way.
I feel so many emotions now when thinking of Hunter X Hunter – sadness, affection, curiosity about the future – but most of all I feel gratitude to those people for pouring so much of themselves into making something truly lasting and important. That work is its own reward, the journey that truly matters – but their legacy is the series that will stand as one of anime’s most remarkable achievements and the joy that it brought to so many viewers all over the world. Surely, there can be no truer definition of art than that.
You should enjoy the little detours. To the fullest. Because that’s where you’ll find the things more important than what you want.
– Ging Freecs
ED: “Departure” by Masatoshi Ono (Full Version)
End Card: by Abiru Takihiko