Hunter X Hunter: Memories x and x Milestones – Episode 24

“Father x and x Son”

Hunter X Hunter is about surprises if it’s about anything – Togashi-sensei always has the ability to take the story in a different direction than you expect.  And that certainly applied to the inner workings of the Zoldyck family.

Gon’s quest to meet Ging is the spine of Hunter X Hunter, in true shounen fashion.  But long, long before Gon was able to make that happen we had another father and son reunion – and this one was extraordinary in every way.  The scene where Killua and Silva speak is one of the most memorable of the entire series, yet another moment in the H x H canon that reminds us that this series is like none other, refusing to be conventional about anything that matters.

The context of this, of course, is that Killua has just been chained up and beaten in the Zoldyck dungeons for his transgressions against the family – though as Milluki says, he could have freed himself at any time and chose not to.  After the horror show depiction of Killua’s family to this point the depiction of Silva and Killua’s conversation is shocking.  Silva is an enormous man that looks like he belongs in Fist of the North Star, but he’s amazingly gentle and caring with Killua, who looks like a toddler sitting next to him.  Their conversation is full of warmth and affection, Killua unmistakably eager to bask in his father’s affection, and ends with Silva granting Killua his freedom and making him promise never to betray his friends.  It’s practically heartwarming – but how in the world do we reconcile it with what’s come before?

The answer to that question, I think, is that we don’t – and that answer is a big part of what makes Hunter X Hunter so unique.  Even 120 episodes later one can’t say for certain how much of what we saw here was a father’s love for his son, and how much of it manipulation and exploitation.  It’s complicated, because everything and everyone that matters in this series is complicated.  A great scene that’s powerful in the moment, and one whose repercussions stay with you long after – a true trademark of this series.



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    I'll play yin to your yang on this matter.
    'It's practically heartwarming – but how in the world do we reconcile it with what's come before?' Now… even we leave aside what would be spelled out in later chapters/episodes and what Togashi will end up delivering in the future and yet unwritten, I think that – surprise surprise – our own filter and subjectivity/experience come into play. It's a bit what happened for you when watching Watamote I think. You could get the code there and analyze it so well also because you felt a personal connection based on close familiarity with the subject.
    In my case I feel like I get a good deal of the Zoldyck code. Let's just say even at this early milestone you could reconcile that scene with what happened before. When you witness and/or live the spirit of that code – if not the whole letter of it – the questioning about 'how to reconcile…' is not a question. It's your reality.
    My take on Silva has not really changed since this episode. But even for non-Zoldyck-code readers/watchers we were given some more info in the 120 episodes the came after (making a freedom deal with your son while you have either oredered or consented to have the equivalent of a reote control implanted in his head without the kid knowing, how genuinely loving of you Silva Daddy) … including a relationship chart :p. Now, depending on Togashi's plans and your faith in humanity this assesment could change. As it is now and so far though my opinion is: manipulation&exploitation semper certa, genuine affection is up in the air except for Silva-Kikyou, Kikyou-Kalluto and Kil-Alluka. And the former two are mostly because the family chart ( = in-universe Word of God?) is telling us so.

  2. Well I can certainly say my family is nothing like the Zoldyck family (and I have no idea if Togashi's was) so if there is a code here, I freely admit it's lost on me.

    That said, my outsider's take on Silva has evolved perhaps a hair over time – though not much – and perhaps counter-intuitively it's softened a bit. I think Silva is mostly speaking here in his role as "captain" of the family (though he's outranked – twice – as far as patriarch). But I do think he… loves? Well, I don't know – he has affection for Killua. He values him above all his other children. And this is as close as he can get to showing love – manipulating his son to try and get him to the place where he thinks Killua ought to be. It's not exactly The Waltons (all of three of you will probably understand that reference without Googling) but it's not completely cold and detatched, either.

    The Zoldycks are seriously fucked up. But almost everything in H x H is, and the series is really about finding meaning in relationships with other people despite that fact. That's why in Togashi's world, even though the Phantom Troupe aren't literally a family and are literally a group of mass murderers, they act more like a true family than anyone in the series, probably apart from Aunt Mito and Grandma and Gon when he's on Whale Island with them.

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    Enzo I would not wish my worst enemy a direct experience of that kind of code. About Togashi the man has an enquiring mind and is not shying from uncomfortable topics. I'm not stating a thing about his family btw (although I'll freely admit since readng a dertain husband&wife Q&A I have this mental image of him dusting his cake stands collection in pigtails while Naoko-san affectionately calls him 'Chibiusa'…) . Based on his skills and grasp of human nature I trust he could 'simply' come up with such depictions by observation and research without having to go through those himself. It's just that among the possible human behaviours and relationships patterns the one he picked for the Zoldyck is one I'm pretty familiar with.
    Talking of familiarity, that's also why my opinion of Silva has not really softened based on what we have been shown so far. You can act as if you love, you can simulate it more or less calculatingly. You might even believe you love your kid and value him above the rest. But in reality you act that way as long as it's convenient, useful or gratifying. And the less cold and detatched you appear the more effective you can manipulate a child.
    Problem is: it can be pretty hard to tell the difference in intention when manners appear similarly caring or loving. Silver lining on the fictional front: that's where I'm seeing a tiiiny possible redemption hatch for Silva. While I would not be surprised either way (just how pleased I'd be about a favourable outcome) your relative optimism is still very welcome and sort of endearing. Thank you for being a good human being, be it by your own merits, family environment, school, mentors, friends… :,>.

    'And the series is really about finding meaning in relationships with other people despite that fact' Hell yeah and good point :D.

    P.S.: the Zoldyck-Lannisters weren't The Waltons fans hence I had no chance to watch the show back then and has not really been rebroadcast here since. Pity as it's quite the family – blood-related and otherwise – saga from what I'm reading. On the other hand as family series they loved Little House On The Prairie (hard to reconcile… ? Yet they did. It used to be broadcast on the main national channels at lunchtime for years. The whole family would gather at the table to follow) and How The West Was Won…

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