「タテマエ × ト × ナマエ」 (Tatemae × to × Namae)
“Pose × And × Name”

Time is definitely an elastic concept with Hunter X Hunter.

Among the many things I must credit Togashi and Koujina-sensei with, it seems one is temporal manipulation, because there’s no way in hell that was 22 minutes. In terms of real-time it seems as if this might have been one of the more stretched-out episodes in recent weeks, but just as those episodes that only covered 15 seconds did, this one felt like it was over as soon as it started. Compounding that is my own like of time at the moment, forcing me to rush through this already-delayed post when I feel like I should spend hours writing it. This episode was unbelievably deep.

And tense. Boy, was it ever, even by this arc’s standards. I suppose we need to start by talking about Ginga Banjou, the 65 year-old seiyuu stalwart who had the unenviable task of stepping into the late Nagai Ichirou’s shoes in portraying Netero starting with this episode. I won’t say “replace” because you can’t replace someone like Nagai-san – but the show, as they say, must go on. For my part there was definitely an initial disconnect – how could there not be? But the highest compliment I can pay Ginga-san (and the writer and director) is that by the end of the episode I wasn’t thinking about the change, only the moment. Ginga’s Netero isn’t an impersonation of Nagai’s, which is a good thing. He projects just as much stature and power, but to my ears with a bit of a harder edge – there was a whimsical note to Nagai’s Netero that I didn’t hear in Ginga’s (yet). That said, the situation hardly called for it. It’s a sad moment for Hunter X Hunter, but despite that I think this ep showed Netero is in good hands with Ginga-san.

Ginga could hardly have asked for a tougher moment to take over – talk about needing to hit the ground running. This was a watershed episode for Netero’s character, not just the first time we’ve seen he and the King in many weeks but the first time (apart from “The Last Mission”) where we’ve seen him display his true ability. If you were thinking the same about the King, you’d be mistaken – but how could it be Togashi without a major event surprising us? Apart from defense, the King showed none of his real power, and things – as usual – took a very different direction that the one we might reasonably have expected.

There’s only a very brief look-in on the scene between Gon, Pitou and Pouf – and during it Gon utters not a sound. Pitou tells the truth, making sure to include information new to Gon to keep him focused on the narrative and not Pouf. Pitou accomplishes two things here – tipping off Pouf as to the King’s general whereabouts (“He left through that doorway”) and making Gon waver – just a bit – in his certainty that he’s got the enemy figured out. We’re seeing this motif play out over and over – each side being forced to reconsider the nature of the other. It’s driven by the incredible mental and emotional evolution of the Royal Guard and even the other Chimera Ants – their outlook changes as they develop, and that development changes the way the Hunters and their allies see them.

We know, of course, what Shaiapouf will do here – send a little of himself (6/7 in fact, needing only 1/7 to maintain his facade for Gon) to search for the King. On the way he spots Menthuthuyoupi on his own (quite deliberate, it seems to me) way to do the same. There occurs what can only be called a tense staredown between the two of them – Pouf is pretty freaked out that both of his colleagues seem to have changed substantially (“You’ve grown up” he mutters to Youpi), and of course, no one has changed more or more quickly than Youpi. Youpi is afraid, too – afraid of how quickly his perspective is evolving, and how much less certain of things that makes him. He agrees with Youpi’s resolve that what they must do is immediately go to the King, but it’s clear that the relationship among the Royal Guard has been fundamentally altered, likely for good.

That tense staredown is nothing compared to the one between Netero and the King, though. Here we see the depth to which Komugi has changed the King – “You humans were as mere livestock to me, but now I see that there are some humans worth keeping alive.” He ranks Netero among that group, offering to spare his life – an offer Netero obviously cannot except – and not only that, refuses to fight him. This is the fascinating and unexpected nature of the showdown Togashi has given us – the King sitting down and refusing to fight, leaving Netero to try and goad him into battle rather than engaging in a frank philosophical discussion. There’s no seeming possibility that this could be a ploy by the King – such trickery simply seems utterly beneath him. He sees no point in fighting someone who cannot defeat him, and no has no desire to kill someone he deems worthy of sparing and of possible future value to him.

It’s hard to overstate just how strange and compelling this encounter is. Netero curses internally at the “newborn brat” in front of him, and indeed, that’s exactly what the Chimera are. He uses the same thought process we saw Youpi use only moments before – he must act quickly because if he doesn’t, his own resolve will waver. The King’s words are cold, seemingly emotionless, but cut straight to the point. What the sense in preserving a world where children starve because of a line on a map, while scum live a life beyond the dreams of avarice while doing nothing to deserve it? “I shall crush that madness, and create a world so fair that equality has no meaning. I have learned what power is meant to be used for… To protect the weak that deserve to live. Power is not meant to be used to torment the defeated!”

Wow – just wow. This isn’t simple anymore – but the truth is, it was never simple. The seeds of what we’re seeing now were planted months ago, near the beginning of this arc, but to think that they would bear such fascinating fruit as they have is truly remarkable. Netero is, by his own admission, in a difficult position. He’s a peaceable man by nature and he’s been asked to do dirty work and take the blame for it, yet he sees no means of accommodation with the enemy before him. He plows ahead before his resolve can waver too much, and we finally see the true nature of Netero’s Nen ability – the “100-type Guanyin Bodhisattva”. This is the result of the years of devotional silence and isolation we saw depicted many weeks ago – the fruit of a lifetime of mastering his own thoughts and emotions and grooming the strength inside him, a terrible and awesome power. And it has so impact on the King whatsoever, apart from a bit of a bloody lip.

In all my years of watching anime and reading manga, “You will only influence me by using words” may be the most fascinating battle cry I’ve heard. This is a showdown like none other, a complete rejection of shounen convention and a direct challenge both to the heroes and the audience. Netero is resolute – he’ll fight rather than talk, and we’re asked to root for the man who chooses violence over dialogue against the monster who’s changed so much in so little time and now refuses to fight. The wily old Hunter has one more trick up his sleeve – he knows the King’s name, and the King may only be able to learn it from Netero if in fact the others who know have already been killed. This information Netero uses to coax the King into fighting – the challenge to defeat Netero without killing him, in which case he’ll tell what he knows. For the second time in a few weeks, Madhouse and Togashi have given us a long-awaited showdown that’s both confounded and exceeded expectations in every way – and the though of waiting a week for what feels like a few seconds of reward is sheer torture.




  1. With this episode, I more or less understand the title of the ED song, “Hyori Ittai” (Two Sides of the Same Coin).

    And to be honest, if only Shaiapouf wasn’t depicted there, I would cheer for the left side of the screen during the ED even more than the right side.

  2. Good animation but still horrible pace.
    This series will be good but not nearly perfect, because of this huge mistake.
    Pacing is such an important matter in an adaptation.
    Damn these japanese, can’t make a single series perfectly done. As if they don’t want to destroy the manga creating the perfect anime.

      1. I’d have to say if the manga is also paced the same way, then it was a big narrative misstep.

        I just caught up on the last nine episodes, and watching them in bulk reveals how much of a mistake that risk was. It’s one thing to display a few character motivations or events in this elongated capacity, but it’s entirely another thing to have every character’s motivations on display like this (not to mention the superfluous voiceover explanations). it comes off as hand wringing at best or an attempt at turning the material into filler at worst. yes, it might have been how the manga was done, but that doesn’t mean it was a good idea.

        an example that stuck out was when Pouf went over all the possibilities of what Morel could’ve done even though he had already escaped the smokey jail. that just felt completely unnecessary. narratively speaking, there’s no point in going over that since that’s no longer a concern.

        having said that, I enjoyed the first few episodes that were like this and many of the character’s internal thoughts were done really well – Knuckle almost dying was one of them – but it’s tiresome to see every action and thought displayed and explained, especially after the fact (like the Pouf scene I mentioned). it’s no longer effective, and quite frankly I’m starting not to care anymore what happens.

        a box like Hippo
      2. it may be just my own view but a perfect adaptation from a manga not make a perfect anime, since the pacing of mangas generally make the animes really slow paced, this is the same problem with a Attack on titan last year, one thing is to read all that dialogue and another is see it on real time.
        i think that they should do what a good director does with a movie from a book, a pragmatic adaptation

      3. @Secsuey, AoT did indeed have a lot of pacing issues early on, but I felt they fixed them in the second half of the season and had a much brisker pace.

        My worry since having started HxH, is that it would creep towards One Piece territory in the way it stretches out arcs, and for the most part, up until the latter half of the Chimera Ant Arc that is, it hadn’t done that. I hope this isn’t a trend that will continue in how it presents its conflicts as that just killed One Piece for me (among other things).

        though I am a little worried about the power disparities and gulfs among the characters (another issue One Piece had). it just seems like they made the King too powerful. Netero clearly outmatched Pitou, but the King is so powerful, his attacks barely phased him. Where can it really go next? I liked HxH because it didn’t do that so blatantly, but after York Shin, it started to have those issues. I guess I should just be satisfied with having seen a great run up until then.

        a box like Hippo
      4. I don’t really think there is any room for changes to increase the pace, without skipping events from manga, that is. And that wouldn’t work because every single thing, act, narration, etc. in this arc are tied with each other, so leaving some of them out will harm all the character development and if you know what I mean. And besides, every episode continues adapting 3-4 chapters so it’s still fast. It’s just that Togashi built this arc to be so “slow”. Plus, the manga has been on hiatus for like ever so the last thing the studio wants to do is to rush.

        I guess one cannot force another to enjoy this kind of approach, but I still do like this arc, a lot.

      5. there’s always some editing that can be done. some (not all) of the voiceover narration is extraneous, as it’s explaining material we already know or have seen, so they could do without some of it.

        I really didn’t find Pouf’s internal monologue about what Morel could’ve done to trap him to be especially insightful. That seemed pointless since Morel already made his mistake. It would make more sense to show Morel going over the other possibilities since it was his error.

        The scenes with Welfin I’m not even sure are needed. Of course, we haven’t seen where it’s leading up to, but watching him go through the motions and going through his thought process too is where it drags a little. His scenes could be shortened a touch.

        of course, this is just my opinion, that the story could use a little tightening. that doesn’t mean huge alterations, but just minor tinkering.

        and I did enjoy this approach at first, but after 12 or so episodes in a row like this, it grows less effective as a narrative device. that could very well be that they aren’t meant to be watched in bulk. I also understand they’re running out of material, so they’re in no rush to burn through the story, but there are probably better ways to stretch it out. Like maybe at the end of the arc, just pad it with a filler arc that’s not canon just to buy some time. One Piece did that from time to time.

        a box like Hippo
      6. well, I’m drawing a conclusion based on their sole encounter. Pitou’s biggest mistake was her inexperience, and even if Pitou’s power came close to rivaling Netero’s power that simply wouldn’t be sufficient enough to close the inexperience gulf, so Pitou is outmatched at this point. Netero at this stage is the more experienced and powerful Nen user, and he has numerous past combat experience.

        a box like Hippo
      7. Actually, it’s Netero’s power that “come close” to Neferpitou’s, at best. The Royal Guard and Meruem are designed to be the strongest living beings in the world of HunterxHunter.

      8. “Actually, it’s Netero’s power that “come close” to Neferpitou’s, at best. ” – well if this is coming from somewhere other than the anime, then sure. I’m just going with what the anime has shown or divulged (that or I missed something).

        But if that is indeed the case, then where would someone like Ging rank? Or the Phantom Troupe? or the Zoldychs? how about Hisoska? that’s the problem with the whole the King and his guard are the most powerful in the world. Are they just the most powerful in their reality? or just for plot purposes? because if they end up showing someone more powerful than the King in a later arc, then that just ends up making their power system all the more like your DBZs or OPs or Narutos. you just keep getting more and more powerful characters that their power doesn’t mean anything.

        a box like Hippo
      9. As I am entering in spoiler field, I will refrain myself and say what I always say to my friends: let the author tell his story and you will not be disappointed. Togashi avoids very well the main tropes of shounen!

        However, it’s also true that the series is so close to the hiatus of the manga, that most of your questions are never answered. =(

  3. I was thrown off a little when Netero spoke, I completely forgot that he was getting a new VA. I think he sounds a little too serious now, his previous voice was a little bit … playful? If you know what I mean. Regardless, I do think it’s a good thing that the new VA didn’t try to imitate the previous one, or something like that.

    That aside, in the King vs. Neterou stand off, Togashi yet again chooses a wide variety of colors, things aren’t just black and white, and similarly to the previous confrontation of Gon and Pitou, one isn’t even sure who is the ‘bad’ guy and who is the ‘good’ guy now…

    1. That’s exactly why I told that Nagai was the perfect fit. He’s now lacking that playfuless in his voice. It’s not so bad cause the moment was tense and Ginga is great on it’s own but still it’s a shame.

    1. Naturally. The way you imagine something will be like will never, ever, ever be like what you experience for real. Though this is good, because when something exceeds your expectations, you feel like you’ve witnessed a wonder of the Universe.

      However, in order to experience this frequently, you require to follow 2 rules:

      a) Know what you’re getting into, and
      b) Lower your expectations.

      In short, the opposite of what media tries to do. Media tries to hook you in with a juicy preview and only reveals what they want you to know: that the feature they’re showing you has the potential to be completely awesome. Which, as we all know, is false. Wanna avoid disappointment? Check the people involved, check what else they’ve been involved in. Learn about the source material a bit, or learn about the author in case it’s original work. Read the synopses available in different places and check what genre tags are attached to it.

      That way you’ll know not to expect all fights and no talking from a show that’s tagged as “psychological”, from an author who likes to write character-driven plots. I mean, sure, Hunter X Hunter is a Shounen Jump manga. But so was Death Note…!

  4. The episodes are good but need to be better paced, They add unnecessary information/dialogue for no reason, like for example in one of the episodes this is what happened

    Gon and killua were running, and it became very slow motion, killua turned to kill an ant

    In this split second, Killua began to run towards the ant in case the ant had spotted them, although blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

    Then killua heads back after 10 minutes of un-needed dialouge

  5. Hmm… it’s hard to see how Netero can win now. The King is just infinitely powerful.

    But this is hxh, where the winner wins generally with strategy rather than strength. Still difficult to see Netero emerging from this alive.

  6. I have learned what power is meant to be used for… To protect the weak that deserve to live. Power is not meant to be used to torment the defeated!

    That is a line that only a Hero will use and the antagonist is saying it!(Sorry but i can’t call this being a villain anymore, I should he has killed a lot of innocents but….)

  7. For a long while I was totally for the slow, detailed pacing. It added a lot to how I viewed the ants and the less developed characters. But at this point, only getting 15-20 seconds per episode is painful and I have to say, I’m not enjoying it as much.

    I get that that’s how the manga is and everything, but mostly, and I think it was mentioned before, some of the speech and voice-overs and inner monologues and narrations and flashbacks, feel aggressively convoluted and pointless, i.e. Pouf going through all the possible ways Morel could have attacked him etc…

    Even this week, with Net smashing the King over and over again, each time he hit it just fell to the same conclusion – “lets just chat”. I’d argue it just isn’t necessary. The reviewer seems to have been propelled so high with an objectively strong start to the arc,that some flaws, that would be mentioned if it was another anime are ignored.

    Still love hunter x hunter though, and will probably never stop watching it until it stops or I die.

    1. That’s one of the highlights of HxH. Taking stuff that would devalue other shounen series (slow pacing, cliches like Big Damn Heroes and asspull superpowers) and somewhat turning them into epic, enticing resources.

      About the ones who complain about the slow pace, I wonder what they think about LOGH.

  8. I think the pacing complainers are forgetting one major element since the raid began: the narration is detailing every second, every minute of their actions. It’s not meant to be a typical shounen battle where the characters fight their respective opponents like DBZ, Bleach, and Naruto. This is a raid operation, the mission is to take down the King and his royal guards. Sure it may seem long and drawn out, but by the end of it all, you’d be surprised by how long the mission actually took. I think that is what Togashi is trying to convey, that what was planned does not go as planned, that anything can happen quickly before you know it.

    1. I prefer the way HxH writes their story arcs. They’re compelling, well-written, and very consistent. In fact the action has very little to do with why I find it so compelling. My favorite arc for instance was the York Shin arc, and a lot of that was due to the explanation and misdirection of the second half. The tension and build up was outstanding. The main fight between Uvo and Kurapika was good, but it was the lead up to that which was fantastic.

      I could see why people might have found the end disappointing, but it really chose a bold direction and followed it to its logical conclusion, which was a much more emotionally satisfying conclusion than if they had one last big fight. so just because I’m criticizing this current arc’s pacing, certainly does not mean I do not appreciate what type of show HXH is. I get this is more of a fan site than a discussion site, but I’m surprised any criticism is viewed as blasphemy.

      a box like Hippo
      1. The blogger opinions may have some influence over this. See, Enzo puts HunterxHunter in a whole different level of anime (and that the series belong there is not far from truth, imo).

      2. I certainly agree with that, as I tell people to watch HxH as it’s so well-written it’s on quite another level…but that doesn’t mean it’s immune from criticism. in fact, putting it on such a high pedestal increases the scrutiny all the more because something of this caliber demands it. it’s set a very high bar for itself.

        a box like Hippo
  9. The development of the king and his guard easily made the Ants one of my favorite antagonist parties. The king sounding like he is truly doing good, not wanting to fight, just gives that scene much more power than ‘just a fight’.

  10. There was something I was going to say about last weeks episode, but I wanted to wait til this one aired, and now feels like as good a time as any to say it:

    These last few episodes have really changed my opinion on the King and the Royal Guard, with how much they’ve changed since the invasion, especially with Youpi and the King. They’ve all grown from the usual antagonists you’d expect in this arc to, well…actual people, if that makes sense. Pitou is begging Gon to let him save Komugi, Youpi has developed a personality beyond just killing everything in sight, and the King…all that I can say is that I hope that they all survive. That’s how much I like them! Pouf on the other hand is still neutral to me.

    The King may have the wrong methods for achieving equality, but his heart is in the right place. I wish Netero would just accept he doesn’t want to fight, but on the bright side, at least we can finally see what the King is made of.

    I honestly have nothing against the pacing the anime is going through, it’s the narrator describing the characters thoughts. Is much rather here what the characters themselves are thinking, which thankfully has been happening, otherwise this would feel more like a fanfiction to me.

    1. I feel your pain here, but let me just say this in Netero’s defense…

      Yes, it’s good that the King has changed from “Humans are cattle, kill and eat them” to “some humans deserve to live”. But who is it that makes the decision which ones? The King, of course. Can you envision the King accepting any scenario where he’s not the one at the top of the totem pole? Where he’s not the one deciding who lives or dies, and what equality should look like? I don’t think Netero can – which is why he feels he has no choice but to finish this. Even packaged in a more idealistic way, the King still represents a complete social and evolutionary upheaval that Netero and the H.A. cannot possibly accept.

      Note: This is strictly MHO and not based on reading ahead in the manga. Please religiously avoid any and all manga spoilers in the comments, thank you.

  11. Let me also just say this in Meruem’s defense…

    That’s what words are for. That’s what discussions, and conversations. I mean, obviously, there was no guarantee that Meruem would listen or open himself up to anyone, but that risk always comes for any discussion. Still, Netero had just as much a chance to influence, and to convince Meruem. A conversation wasn’t really taking away.

    If Netero feels that the conversation arrives at an unsatisfactory conclusion –> Meruem refuses, or he’ll still insist on a world upheaval, then Netero will have to act on his disapproval. I just don’t see how fighting should be anything but a last resort.

    1. But what Netero is trying to avoid is a talking where he would be charmed by the ideals of the King. You see, he is the President, he cannot be so gentle or wave in a situation like this. What his superiors expect is simply for him to take care of the problem he was ordered to eliminate.

      There is also the matter of his pride as a warrior involved.

    2. Even though Netero is strong/skilled enough to be left alive, there would be hundreds of millions sacrificed as food. Someone in Netero’s position cannot possibly accept that; it would be the same as Netero allowing everyone below the Kings standard to become livestock.
      Somewhere deep down, Netero could probably accept the King’s outlook and that’s why he cannot allow himself to reason with the King.

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