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Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 90 »« Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 88

Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 89

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「(ヤサシサ×ト×ツヨサ」
“Compassion x And x Strength”

Now those were the last two people I expected to see in this arc…

They call this arc "Chimera Ant" but there was nary a mention of the buggers in this episode. Rather, it focused completely on Gon’s fight with Knuckle – and in the process re-examined some old themes that have been a big part of H x H since the very beginning. As usual though, Togashi has a way of skewing the perspective so that old chestnuts like the training arc can be seen from new angles, and lends a curiously realistic psychological element to the fantastical combat elements.

Knuckle has been an interesting addition since he was introduced, and his role in the story has taken a fascinating turn. As we see more and more of him in action it becomes increasingly clear, this guy is good. He may not be Hisoka or Chrollo-level good, but he’s damn strong and no fool either. But the thing is, while he’s not an enemy in any real sense he’s certainly been set up as a crucial opponent and obstacle – and his fault is simply that he’s too nice. Gon uses the word "gentle" and from his perspective that’s how it seems I’m sure. But Knuckle seems simply to lack the stomach to use lethal power against a child, much less one he’s come to admire and respect. What a turn – to place Gon in the position where he has to take advantage of an opponent that’s too kind in order to prove himself and go back to the NGL.

I can’t help but think all the way back to the "Hunter Exam" arc, and another opponent who found the idea of hurting children distasteful. Bodoro paid with his life at the hands of one of those children he didn’t want to fight (for me, still Killua’s darkest hour so far) so it’s clear Togashi isn’t overly sentimental on this score. Knuckle was left behind by Netero and Morel precisely because he’s too nice, so in the context of this story his kindness is a genuine flaw – but it’s hard not to like Knuckle for it, at least for me. Even as he’s schooling Gon in battle he’s literally schooling him – coaching him on his weaknesses and on how to get stronger. He rates Gon "as strong as a mid-level pro" in terms of aura and declares that all he’s really missing is experience, and it’s clear he doesn’t want to be the one to end Gon’s journey.

Let’s be clear – I think we all know who’s going to win this fight. The story isn’t going to end here for Gon, as he has to go back to the NGL for the arc to continue. I’m going to feel sorry for Knuckle when that happens, but a little sorry for Gon too, because he’s also fundamentally a kind person but one who’s being increasingly forced to become ruthless. Knuckle is making the same mistake everyone makes – underestimating the speed at which Gon improves (even Killua does it). Knuckle tells Gon the weaknesses of his Ja-janken attack (after a pretty hilarious exchange about its new n-name) – too long to charge, and too risky (focusing all his aura at the fist, making hum vulnerable to a fatal attack). But not only has Gon been aware of those weaknesses, but he’s adapting on the fly – using the intimidating power of the attack to apply it as a misdirection (illustrated by Killua with a special baseball-themed assist from Leorio and Kurapika) that exposes the enemy’s fear and vulnerable spots to attack. This is Gon’s true strength – his peerless instincts which allow him to adapt his strategy to the moment at hand, and to have the sheer will and self-belief to press ahead with what they tell him to do.

I’ve little doubt Gon will find a way to end this without killing Knuckle – I just can’t believe even Togashi would go that far. But that’s still going to be a hard moment for Gon, I think. His first task – still unmet – is to get Knuckle to use his full strength. The full power of the new and improved Ja-janken was on-display here, and it was only because Gon had already almost tapped his strength that it failed – and Knuckle knows it, too. As rough as this struggle is, the real darkness – as usual – surrounds Killua. He’s been a spectator throughout Gon and Knuckle’s various brawls – deferring to Gon as Knuckle’s true opponent – but his own adversary awaits him in Shoot. And while Gon is getting most of his education from Knuckle, Kil is getting his from Bisky – who’s a harsher teacher in every way.

The full import of the lecture Morel gave to Killua becomes clear as Biscuit restates it herself – using kinder language, perhaps, but even more brutally. As Killua hasn’t fought anyone for a month, she takes it upon herself to give him a workout. That means revealing her much-despised true form (under the penalty of even more brutality if Killua ever reveals it to Gon), and using it she delivers Killua a terrible beating. The physical beating is nothing next to the verbal, though, and she eviscerates the boy by laying his every self-loathing fear bare. Killua enters every fight looking at potential escape routes. When he’s up against what he perceives as a stronger opponent he never even considers that he might win – he’s only looking for how he can survive. He’s too cautious, too negative – and the cruelest cut of all is when she tells him that if he doesn’t change, he’s "certain to leave Gon behind to die one day".

This is the essence of what Morel and even Knov told him, I believe. Killua’s entire approach to battle is based on his analysis of the opponent’s strength – but as Biksy tells him, that only works if the opponent is at full strength. On any given day "A, B, or C have a good chance to defeat D" – even if D is stronger – because if they’re at their best and believe in themselves and D is not, victory is possible. Fascinatingly, she ascribes this a curse that was passed onto Killua as a kind of "smothering love" – a "twisted and self-serving" love undeniably, but love nonetheless. Illumi has always been the darkness that hangs over Killua, though it’s never been explained so elegantly as Bisky does so here. For Killua, Gon and Illumi are the light and the dark, the essence of the person he wants to be and the person he fears he truly is. As always we see the contrast between the two boys in stark relief – Gon’s path is ever-forward, to do the things he wants to do. Killua’s is always dictated by what he doesn’t want to do, and what he fears will happen.

It seems that Biksy’s role in the story is over for now. She’s sent her beloved little ones off into their final battle with Knuckle and Shoot, and her harsh but necessary dissection of Killua was her last benediction. If he cannot defeat Shoot – who we must presume is "D", and stronger than Killua on paper – he must leave Gon’s side before he betrays him in his hour of need. This has always been Killua’s fear, that he wasn’t worthy to stand with Gon, and Bisky’s probably done him a huge favor by forcing him to confront it. For Gon the challenge is simpler – to force Knuckle to use his full strength and then defeat him – but he too must find a way to do it without losing the essence of who he is (which killing Knuckle would surely indicate he has). The difference is that Gon has absolute self-belief and trusts himself to do the right thing in the heat of battle, no matter the opponent – and that’s something that in truth will never apply to Killua. As always, he has the harder path – to act correctly despite analyzing everything too much, and to succeed despite the self doubts that will always plague him. Succeed or fail, for Killua the struggle will never end – he simply has to find the strength to trust himself and forge onward anyway. I think the key for Killua lies in the wisdom of Kamina: not so much to believe in himself, but to believe in the Gon who believes in him. And later, perhaps, he can learn to believe in the Killua who believes in himself.

 

Preview

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July 21, 2013 at 5:42 am
14 comments »
  • July 21, 2013 at 6:10 amExukvera

    I would do anything to hide it too if I were a girl who looks like John/Joseph Joestar. She reminds me of those scene of Part 2 where Joseph tries to sneak at the Nazi base disguised as a woman (with horrible results).

  • July 21, 2013 at 6:19 amMasterDragonKnight

    I always kind of wondered about the way Killua was raised. Both Illumi and his father drilled into him not to engage the target until he has a 100% chance of winning. This caused Killua to always be more cautious than necessary.

    However, we never see Illumi or Silva hesitate when it comes to fighting. Even when the outcome is not certain, as can be seen when Silva fought against Kuroro Lucifer, they still fought regardless.

    Why is it that only Killua was raised this way? Especially considering that Killua was supposed to be the heir, why would they intentionally handicap him?

    • July 21, 2013 at 6:27 amGuardian Enzo

      A good question, even if it seems to be inviting spoilers (which I hope people will resist). It makes me harken back to that scene where Silva held Killua on his lap and had that very gentle talk with him before he left. It was an almost shockingly innocent scene in that context, and certainly the most childlike moment for Killua in the entire series so far. Perhaps because he’s the heir, or perhaps just because he’s special in some way.

      I wouldn’t be so quick, though, to dismiss the self-preservation instincts of the elder Zoldycks. I don’t think we’ve even seen them enter a fight where they didn’t think the odds were in their favor, even against Chrollo. I certainly can’t recall Illumi ever taking on perceived long odds against him.

      • July 21, 2013 at 6:43 amnosajj

        Also remember that against Chrollo it was two against one, so odds were most likely in their favour. Plus, the fact that they were paid to kill Chrollo as part of there job may have played a part in their choice to fight Chrollo in the first place.

    • July 21, 2013 at 7:32 amRyuuzaki

      we cant answer that without giving a spoiler

    • July 21, 2013 at 7:44 amJack Spicer

      I believe that the elder Zoldyck mentioned during the fight with Chrollo that Chrollo wasn’t fighting them with the intention of killing either, rather he was waiting for an opportunity to steal their Nen techniques (which we discovered at one point requires that the original user remain alive), so most likely neither of them felt like their lives were in any danger through the fight.

    • July 21, 2013 at 9:47 amshoftee

      Good observation :)

      Show Spoiler ▼

      Not saying more than that.

  • July 21, 2013 at 6:59 amgedata

    “He may not be Hisoka or Chrollo-level good, but he’s damn strong and no fool either”

    I’d hold off on making that assumption until you see the man take things 100% seriously!

  • July 21, 2013 at 7:15 ambelatkuro

    Gah, Biske’s form plus those clothes. IT BURNS!!
    It’s ridiculous to even consider putting those two things together.

    This episode proves again that these boys still have a long way to go even if they’re prodigies with overflowing talent. That’s what I like about this. It’s never easy to win but a win will be well-deserved after putting a lot of effort and using all that you have in the fight.

    That said, Kilua’s predicament is an interesting one. Fighting without thinking about how to win. On one side, fighting someone way above your level is clearly suicide. Recklessness can only go so far. However, fights are pretty much unpredictable, more so in this world, so it really can go either way. There’s always a chance and not thinking about it says something about his way of thinking and also something about his past. Why this is so is something to look forward to.

    Great episode overall. Been a long time since I heard that soundtrack when Gon used the Paper attack. Eager to see how the two fights will go.

  • July 21, 2013 at 8:19 amfrubam

    I wonder what Palm intends to do when Gon/Kil wins the battle? Biske cut out of there rather fast, maybe because she thought there was a chance they could lose, but Palm wouldn’t be much of nothing but an obstacle unless she’s as good a Nen user as Knuc or Shoot. Then again, if Biske is afraid of her, perhaps she is more powerful/as powerful as her in some way(DON’T SPOIL ME; DON’T “SUGGEST” WHEN YOU KNOW THE STORY; DON’T SUBTLY HINT AT WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN!)

    • July 21, 2013 at 10:01 amLin

      In her true form, Biske would probably crush Palm easily, but it was pretty well established that she doesn’t like to show her true form if she can help it. It’s pretty obvious she’s not really afraid of Palm; she just find her hella creepy. lol

      Also, it’s just a running joke. You shouldn’t think too much about it.

  • July 21, 2013 at 8:34 amBukszie

    What I love about this series is the almost endless possibility of growth for the boys. No matter how strong they get there are always people stronger

    • July 21, 2013 at 6:27 pmEamonX

      yeah and not in the ridiculous fashion like Naruto or Bleach where power levels are inversely proportional to logic.

      HxH takes its time to explain the mechanics of Nen and improving on Nen. Not to mention, the creativity regarding some Nen abilities (like the dude with the huge pipe that smokes out rabbits lol).

  • July 24, 2013 at 8:51 amcyprinious

    I don’t care… I LOVE BISKE!!! She is so awesome and wise. Not to mention that my wife would kill for a Cookie-chan treatment. Heck I wouldn’t mind either!