Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 148 (Prologue End) and Series Review

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In many ways, I think this is probably the toughest post I’ve ever had to write.

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

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ED: “Departure” by Masatoshi Ono (Full Version)

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End Card: by Abiru Takihiko

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  1. O

    Man, I can't believe it's been over 2 years since I found you. From the get go, I was hooked, and every week it was so nice just to catch up with you. In the time that has passed us by, I couldn't even begin to tell you how much has happened, in my life and in this world, but if one thing remained a constant, it was you. Constantly being a great distraction, with a great heart at its core. An amazing story with equally amazing characters. Thanks for being that surprising support that I didn't even know I needed, that I still need. People might never understand why I loved you so. "To hell with them," I say. I will listen to your advice, and I will enjoy the many detours on my journey, because in heading towards my ultimate goal, I will find what's most important. Thank you, for the laughs and tears. See you later, HunterxHunter.

  2. l

    I just have to ask, but now that the 2011 anime has ended will you give the Furuhashi Kazuhiro directed 1999 anime a chance? More HxH can't be a bad thing.

  3. I've watched probably 10 episodes or so, though not sequentially. I probably will watch the whole thing when time allows, though I can't say for sure when that will be.

  4. G

    Well here it is…even though I just caught up to the show when it got to episode 138, thank you for covering this for all this time and making me watch it doing so. HxH is now fighting for the top spot in my list against Shin sekai yori and futur shows are going to have a tough time getting it down from there, such an amazing ride all the way through.

    I don't think there ever was a character I didn't like or at least enjoyed to hate (Genthru and Shaiapouf for exemple) which is an amazing feat with a cast this huge.

    The only negative thing I can say about it is that it was too good…it got me to be more critical of other shows to the point where I had to lower ratings on my MAL because I didn't feel the gap between their ratings and HxH was big enough. What a horrible negative, I know.

    Anyway, once again thank you for covering it and making all those Memories x and x Milestones post, even though I didn't comment on most of them they were pretty nice reads and got me to already go back and watch some of the old episodes again.

  5. Thanks… That is a genuine problem, actually – when a show is this good for this long, it makes one look at lesser series (especially those in roughly the same oeuvre) with a bit of a jaundiced eye.

  6. S

    The birds that Gon was watching at the end were those that Spinner Clow was protecting.
    She wanted to become a hunter so she could pay back her debt to Kite, who lent her the money to buy the mountain home to the Small-Billed Swan.

    She said she was going to show the place to Gon and Killua.
    Togashi didn't forget, nice detail. Though Killua is missing…

  7. Z

    Killua, along with other members of the cast, were watching it in live broadcast) Except for Kurapika, of course

  8. S

    Now you will make posts about the ten chapter of the manga? I really want to know your thoughts of the new arc ^^

    Sorry for the bad english XD

  9. Probably do a post on them as a collective, since there's no timetable on the restart.

  10. y

    Just a quick correction; the orchestral mix in the background during Gon's initial ascent isn't "Departure", it's "Hyori Ittai".

    That said, I absolutely loved reading your impressions these past years. Thank you, and I look forward to your manga posts!

  11. g

    Now that you've experienced the magnificence of Hunter x Hunter, do you intend to try Togashi's earlier works (assuming you've never seen them)?

  12. I have. I don't think either comes close to H x H, though I do find Level E utterly hilarious.

  13. S

    I can safely say I love anything that's come out of Togashi's pen. Level E is hilarious (and already displays the seeds of the fascination for some of the themes that will then be translated into HXH, like the conflict between instinct and self-awareness). And I also love YuYu Hakusho, though I see it as a more classical 'shonen' thing it's something I really enjoyed. I never watched the anime (which is, I suspect, plagued by glacial pacing, filler and other common flaws of shonen anime of the day) but I own the full manga collection and love it. Especially the Black Chapter arc and the final arc – which by the way has to do with the biological need to eat humans and the refusal to do so. The same themes recur over and over, replayed in different arrangements.

  14. K

    You can see seeds of what comes in H x H towards the end of Yu Yu. But Togashi was clearly burned out near the end.

  15. g


    YYH doesn't have a filler problem at all. Asides from some of the toned down violence (understandable) I think it's better then the manga.

  16. S

    Hm, thanks for the heads up. I heard the final arc was changed though…? Anyway, will check it out.

  17. s

    Sort of, yeah. The anime added quite a bit towards the end of the final arc since the manga ended there rather abruptly. It's mainly a few additional fights.

  18. s

    Wow… just wow. After three years of watching it, the anime comes to an end, and I'm already feeling a bit hollow inside. It's been a good ride for sure.

    Also – nice catch with seeing Togashi, though I think it's a nice touch that they even included a reference to their next anime Kiseijuu in the very same shot. Nice work there, Madhouse.
    Well – off to read the manga, then.

  19. H

    "You should enjoy the little detours…that's where you'll find the things more important than what you want."

    Ging, *fist bump* this is more of who I'd hoped to see.

    Thanks for sharing your raw and unreserved passion for this series enzo! An earnest summation to say the least.

  20. H

    Here's a picture of thanks ICYMI. Jajanken!

  21. Damn – you're good.

  22. D

    I've only been watching HxH since January, so I don't have the three-year connection that a lot of people here have, but darn it if those opening flashbacks didn't make me feel nostalgic even so. And darn it if I didn't get choked up during the "Departure" montage of all our friends going about their lives. And darn it if you didn't get me all choked up AGAIN reading your review today, Enzo! I must be getting soft in my old age…

    This was a terrified end to a terrific series. It was almost TOO satisfying, in fact – this truly felt like an ending, and now I'm not sure I even want to pick up the manga where the anime left off (particularly since there's no guarantee we'll get another ending as great as this one). Excellent job by Madhouse for not only adapting the material, but knowing exactly where and how to stop.

    There's some idea swirling in my head about repetitions and cycles – a theme that seems to run through most of the HxH arcs, from the Hunter exam to Greed Island to the obvious reincarnation/enlightenment themes of Chimera Ant, and even to the cycle of revenge/hatred present in Yorkshin – but screw it, there's time enough later to over-analyze. For now I'll just enjoy the feeling of a journey well finished (and another always on the horizon).

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, thank you again for blogging this show so thoughtfully and passionately over the years, Enzo. I never would have given this series a try if not for you – and judging by the comments, I'm not the only one. I'll definitely be paying it forward when I sing this show's praises to my own friends and readers. It's well deserving of every glowing review it gets.

  23. B

    Thanks for bloggin this series friend! I may not have been here since the start, but reading your posts made this series more enjoyable than it already was. I'm gonna miss it!

  24. E

    Hi Enzo. This is my first time commenting but I've been reading your episode reviews for this series from the start, and this seems to be a good place to thank you for writing them – they've given me as much enjoyment as the episodes themselves. I've particularly enjoyed reading your analysis each week and also (as a manga reader) your speculations. I'll miss your Hunter x Hunter reviews but I will definitely be trying out some of your other recommendations. Thanks again!

  25. Thanks, Eri and Broki – much appreciated.

  26. K

    The best part is how much you can clearly see the show means to people working on it. I don't think I've seen that many times. Especially Megumi Han who really treasures Gon as an essential part of her career. I'm really rooting for her in the future.

  27. E

    I really liked how they put in a little cameo of Migi on Togashi's magazine. I loved the Kiseijuu manga, and if the anime is even half as good an adaptation as HxH was, it will be my favorite new show this season, bar none.

  28. m

    I remember reading this scene for the first time in the manga and thinking that this was the end of H x H. The original Macguffin of meeting his father had been found, and the most important character, aside from Gon, has left to go do his own thing (something that should take a considerable amount of time), The conversation with Ging was so perfect that it leaves little to be said. He is exactly the type of man that you'd imagine him to be, and in many ways is an adult version of Gon. If it truly had been the end of the manga here it would've been one of the best endings of a long running shounen ever. If it were anyone other than Togashi I would imagine the story would be kept going by a contrived incident that forces Killua to come back to Gon with Alluka in tow as a new group member. Only bc it's Togashi do I think Killua won't be coming back in this next arc, and that there won't be a new random big bad who shows up out of left field to force the story to continue, Meeting Ging was really the only thing that bridged all of the arcs in H x H. They were all so perfect as stand alone stories, and only flowed as one overall story in the sense that it was the story of Gon's life (and his relationships) as he searches for his father. Togashi hasn't had to rely on having new villains pop up over and over, each stronger than the last, to continue the main threat that the MC must face. While there has been main villains in each arc, not all have been Gon's opponent and they essentially have had nothing to do with each other. Instead of having the story pushed forward by the quest to "save the world" or defeat an enemy it has been more of watching Gon go through his life and watching his growth. That leaves room for the story to essentially be endless, even after he has reached the goal that started his journey. I'm still struggling to hold off on reading the manga until they've released a big enough chunk, and it's easily the hardest I've had to try for any manga/comic/show. The story is so open at this point in terms of who will be the focus alongside Gon in this next arc, but I know it'll be great no matter what, and I hope we get to see a Gon/Ging father/son team up next. I know the dark continent arc will be be a very long arc, and likely the longest one yet. I had thought we might see a time skip of sorts as a way to bring back the Gon/Killua team, but that does seem unlikely. I said it before, but it has been a pleasure reading your posts and getting to see things through the eyes of someone who hasn't read the manga (or seen the original anime) and who didn't know what was coming. Thanks for covering the show!

  29. A

    I've been unable to concentrate and finding myself tear up randomly today. I barely can think about this show being over without wanting to cry.

    But likewise, I'm grateful for the people who have made the series happen. I am grateful for Togashi putting together such an amazing story to enjoy. And I'm grateful so many people have been introduced to just how special HxH is. Your coverage was a joy to read, you gave me the perspective of someone looking at the 2011 series with both a critical and fresh mind.

    And now with just about everyone caught up, it's probably best to look to the future because my eyes become impossible to see out of if I reflect on all the great memories.

    Thank you HxH, and all you have brought.

  30. S

    The marshal and spy forever together, untouched by time, undisturbed by history… how so very touching this visual, emotional journey has been. for us avid fans inside our minds I do believe that this hunters journey will last forever, even if one day we do get an adaptation that completes the series as a whole this sentiment will remain unchanged for legends last forever…

  31. J

    When I finished HunterXHunter I literally knew no one who was also watching the series so I in turn was left to wallow in my own misery… I pretty much walked around my house screaming"IM DEPRESSED!!!" But now that I've found this blog all i can say is Thank God, finally someone who can reciprocate my feelings. I loved this anime and was so emotionally attached to these characters that not being able to share my admiration for HunterXhunter was figuratively killing me. lol well I guess what I wanted to say was THANKS TO THE MAKERS and thanks to you guys for loving HXH as much or more than I did, now I have closure.

  32. LOL – glad to be of whatever service I can be in your time of grief. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation.

  33. A

    Too bad! I've just written a long comment in vain.
    I'll try to paraphrase what I wrote earlier by expressing how sad I am HxH is over. I watched like 25 episodes one after another, plus I slept during the day and I woke up during the night.
    I remember I gave up a long time ago when HxH was suspended, then the 2011 version came out, but this time I won't give up!
    {I'll see you again}
    {You never really left}
    {I feel you walk beside me}
    {I know I'll see you again, HunterxHunter}

  34. S

    Tried out the search feature, nice! I stopped at this one because the headline picture is low quality for some reason. Whatever your algorithm for choosing the top picture, it has a few quirks. (100% reasonable though)

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