「ツイセキ×デ×ブンセキ」 (Tsuiseki x de x Bunseki)
“Pursuit x And x Analysis”

I hope people keep talking about the impending demise of Madhouse, because every time they do the studio does something that really knocks your socks off.

As promised, here’s one of my occasional check-ins on H x H

I’m fascinated by this continual talk about Madhouse being in desperate trouble, given that they continue to produce not just great anime, but anime with phenomenal production quality. Maybe it’s sour grapes about NTV taking a large financial stake after founder Maruyama Masao left to form MAPPA; maybe it’s just hurt feelings that Maruyama (a truly great man and friend to great anime) left. But what I never see is convincing evidence that the company is actually in trouble. One writer cited as evidence – and I quote – that Hunter X Hunter is “terribly directed, with clearly not a lot of money involved” and that Chihayafuru is a painfully mediocre show”. That sounds about right for a world where a studio that produces a jaw-dropping episode like this one is on death’s door.

One of the hardest things about blogging H x H, to be honest, is that after 49 episodes it’s hard to come up with nice things to say about it that I haven’t already said. Fortunately the plot, world building and character arcs are incredibly dynamic and detailed and never get stagnant – but how many times can I gush over the facial animations, the battle choreography, the timing of the dialogue and the atmosphere? This ep had pretty much all of it on display in spades, and I think for the first time I’m truly getting a sense of why many consider this the best arc in the series. For my money Heaven’s Arena is still tops because it best combines not just the dichotomy of darkness and light at the heart of the series, but also the psychological intrigue, mythology and brilliant humor with the mass of GAR. So far York Shin has been more focused on the blood and guts side, and shrouded in darkness – but the last couple of episodes have really brought home the sense of immovable objects getting ready to collide with irresistible forces. It’s plain to see – it’s going down, and it’s going to be big.

One of the many elements I love about Gon and Killua’s arcs is that while we’re constantly shown how ridiculously overpowered they are (“One in ten million” as Wing called them) Togashi doesn’t hesitate to show us that there are plenty of people out there for whom they’re still no match. And Killua is smart enough to realize it when he’s staring it down. Killua really shines in this entire episode – he’s such a pimp, coolly sipping his parfait as he explains to Gon and Leorio why taking Nobunaga and Machi head-on would be a very bad idea (two Hisokas, indeed). Kil completely takes command of the operation, dishing out orders and instructions, and makes it absolutely clear that it’s life and death the boys are playing with here. He also relates a story about the ultimate compliment the target of a hit can receive – when an elite assassin says they aren’t being paid enough to take them out. Given that the assassin in question is his father and the target a member of the Phantom Troupe, this is quite a germane example – the extent of which will only be revealed later in the ep.

The scenes that follow are really stellar, some of the best in the entire series (and that’s saying something). I even love the conversation between Nobunaga and Machi in the courtyard as they sip Heinekens (Spiders really dig Heineken), aware that they’re being watched but not sure by who. The Spiders are presented in an incredibly low-key manner generally, and this just makes their ruthlessness and violence that much more jarring. These are all very, very smart people – in this instance Nobunaga (like Killua) extremely analytical and Machi (like Gon) with instincts as sharp as a tack. The tension between them is palpable, reflecting the uneasy balance that always exists between inside the Troupe among these elite killers – indeed, even Leorio is aware of it despite his relative lack of Nen training. There’s also a keen respect and even loyalty among the Spiders, seemingly (with one obvious exception) and we can see it in the way Nobunaga talks about Uvogin not being “just a dumb wall of muscle.”

The game is on when the pair of them leave the plaza, and it’s time for the boys to follow. Killua, realizing he’s in way over his head, sends Leorio off to keep an eye on Zepile. Seemingly this is an attempt to tell Leorio to go down to the shallow end of the pool where it’s safe without completely crushing his feelings – but my favorite part of this sequence is Killua’s reaction when Gon tells him of his remarkable act of tailing Hisoka unseen for a day during the Hunter exam (an act completed before Gon had any Nen training, it must be said – wow) – he bops him on the head and says “It seemed appropriate.” Then begins an incredibly tense sequence as the boys tail the two spiders through York Shin using Zetsu to hide their presence. Killua is a live wire through all of this, constantly trying to decipher what’s in the mind of the Spiders, and whether or not he and Gon are being led into a trap, and the stress really shows on his face. This comes to a nerve-wracking crescendo when the Spiders lead the boys to a deserted industrial plot, and Killua must decide once and for all – is this their hideout, or a trap? Success – or near-certain death?

As great as the buildup was, the highlight comes here. Gon forgot the lesson he learned in watching the fish and birds during the exam – a hunter is at their most vulnerable when they’re on the hunt. What he did to Hisoka and Gerata did to him, Pakunoda and Phinks do to he and Killua – as the boys focused on hiding their presence with Zetsu, the other two Spiders tracked them, and not even Nobunaga and Machi knew. We then get a truly spectacular short fight scene between Kil and Phinks, for my money the best since the Gon X Hisoka epic in Heaven’s Arena – and it even uses the wonderful creepy string BGM. Killua throws everything he has at Phinks, but to no avail – at one point it even looked as if he was going to be snapped in half like a wishbone – and when Nobunaga joins his comrade the jig is up and the questions start. Gon never gets to the fighting stage with Pakunoda, waiting in vain for a chance to escape which never comes, and both boys receive the same questions – the Spiders are really interested in only one thing, and that’s the chain user. Of course, both can answer truthfully – they have no idea who that person is.

It’s a measure of how overmatched the boys are that Killua surrenders. His answer to the “Do you want to die now or later?” question is obvious, but smart – more time equals a chance to try and survive somehow. Now the epic scale of things really kicks in. Gon and Killua are paraded into the Spiders’ hideout – and of course, Hisoka is one of the Spiders present. What the heck is going to happen there? Meanwhile Chrollo has taken an interest in Neon, and is on his way to retrieve her even as her father instructs Melody and Bassho to get her out of town. As if all that weren’t enough, Nostrade reveals that the mob has called in “professionals” to deal with the Phantom Troupe – none other than Killua’s father and Grandfather – and instructed Kurapika to work with them. And just for a little extra spice, Chrollo has also expressed an interest in recruiting Kurapika to join the Spiders, taking the place of the one he’s presumed to have killed.

This is a serious convergence of destinies we’re looking at here – numerous plot threads each of which, on their own, could be the headline of a pretty epic mini-arc. What’s especially interesting is that even as their fates force all of the major players onto a collision course, they’re all but ignorant of the roles the others are playing. Neither the boys or Kurpika has any idea that the other is involved with the Troupe, the Spiders are forced to conclude the boys don’t know Kuapika, and Killua has no idea that his father is headed towards York Shin – just as Kurapika has no idea that the feared assassin he’s been assigned to work with is Killua’s Dad. And of course, the Spiders have no idea that Hisoka has a history with Gon and Killua – and they just found out that he was posing as a member of the Troupe. What delicious intrigue and suspense – bring it on, I say. If this is a studio in trouble, I hope it never gets fixed.


Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia: “Machi”


  1. I just started watching this series again when they started the Kumo arc.
    I watched the first 10-15 eps and was dissappointed with how they cut out scenes during the hunter exam and also that they reduced the violence and blood. The action scenes are less entertainig compared to the first. But other than that the overall animation is quite well done.

    Im hoping that this anime will go beyond what was previously animated and go on to the chimera arc.

    1. The fight scenes are a lot smoother and fast-paced than the original, but the censoring of the blood can be quite odd.

      Earlier when Castro severed Hisoka’s arm, the wound spilled green sparkles…

  2. At least this is a sign that they’re close to catching up wit the original anime. I watched it in its entirety a few months ago, so I probably won’t watch until they get past the Greed Island OVAs. And since it only took a year to cover the series, it should only take another 6 months to cover the 30 OVAs, if that.

    1. I find it unfortunate that people are downvoting you for an opinionated question without even giving you the decency of answering it. I would definitely say it’s personal preference. The original anime adaptation had an art style I’m really fond of, but it did branch away from the actual manga’s art style. And while the current adaptation has an art style I prefer less, I find it more effective in portraying elements like the atmosphere of the situation and whatnot than the first adaptation as well as the manga itself. (The Kurapika vs. Uvogin fight and this episode is particular had a much more dramatic effect on me. Of course, credit goes to other aspects such as the music, etc.)

  3. This is the fastest 24 minutes of anime of any show each week. This show is so good and goes by so fast each week I wanna cry in fustration when the episode ends. Its full of great characters and very well written and executed.

  4. Wew, I thought I was gonna have a heart attack while watching this episode. My heart was pounding until the end. Even though I know what’s going to happen because I’ve watched the previous version, still Madhouse got my heart palpitating like crazy. Thank you Madhouse for this!

    At the start of the episode I was like.. Damn Departure again? When will Madhouse change this Opening?

    Then at the end I was like.. AWESOME job Madhouse! If you can maintain this TOPNOTCH quality, I don’t mind Departure to go for another 20 episodes or so. Argh, my heart. :))

    Thank you Enzo for this Hunter X Hunter post on RC! I just hope the people here watch this episode first before bashing the 2011 series. :))

  5. About the kids being overpowered, I would say that it’s their potential and talent that Wing(and Hisoka) notices. It doesn’t really suggest that they’re the top of the top. They have a long way to go and this episode showed that. I would say their growth is also the ones the adults notice as it’s really abnormal that they became so strong despite being young.
    Just my take on it.

    And this episode was just intense. Their eyes when Nobunaga noticed them was just chilling.
    And this is what makes us love this arc. All of the characters are getting involved with each other bit by bit and it’s only a matter of time when they realize the connections. If the preparations for it are this good, the time when all of it converge… I say to look forward to it.

    I may be living under a rock then because I thought this talk of Madhouse and its issues are already finished. I don’t hear much of people saying its in dire straits right now. I know it was before but I thought it was resolved or something.
    Either way, if they really are in a pinch then they should have pulled the plug on this show before. Yet the quality of this just keeps surprising me. I’m really hoping they continue with this quality all throughout the arc and hope they continue to the next arc as well.

  6. I also must have been living under a rock..I really hope Madhouse manages to come out on top if such talk is true >.< I find it surprising to hear though.
    It would be so sad for them to have started HXH only to leave it unfinished.They're such a great studio too..
    On a brighter note,I loved this HxH post!Enzo = Awesomeness XD
    And not enough time to post weekly!That's nonsense I say!

  7. Given the fairly glowing review and interesting screens, I feel like I might be missing out by not watching this show. That said, I generally can’t stand action-oriented shows that have kids as the protagonists, particularly when they are shown to be be more powerful than everyone else in the cast. I think I’ll continue to sit this one out.

    1. It will be a major loss for you and you will regret it. This series is so much more then an action series. There is comedy, suspense, and many other elements all wrapped up in a great smartly written plot.

      I didn’t watch the original series when it aird because it looked like a stupid “kiddies” series. When this version started I watched the 1st couple episodes to give it a chance and have been hooked ever since. I very much regret not watching it when it aired back in the 90s.

  8. This arc is just outright amazing. All the subtle build up of scenarios converging in this great interaction, I can understand why a huge bunch of consecutive chapters from the manga held the same chapter name. I’m surprised you didn’t drop a review for episode 47, which was just as spectacular as this week’s episode.

      1. Really, I find myself vacillating towards 47 more often. I think the subtle and conspicuous details in 47 are completely familiar to those employed in 49, so I guess it was more of the thrill of the fight that has me favoring it. One of them, in particular, that superbly eerie music that started playing right when it showed Uvogin’s lifeless expression and the dirt hitting his face had me trembling with something I can’t even describe. Maybe it was the realization that an overwhelmingly monstrous character, seemingly omnipotent even, was legitimately defeated by one of the protagonists. Something like that. Brilliant material nonetheless, 49 included, so I can respect your preference. I am completely loving this adaptation and it’s a shame you don’t have time to routinely cover it!

  9. “One writer cited as evidence – and I quote – that Hunter X Hunter is “terribly directed, with clearly not a lot of money involved” and that Chihayafuru is a painfully mediocre show”.”

    That person is clearly an idiot.


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