「テキイ×ト×ケツイ」 (Tekii x and x Ketsui)
“Hostility x and x Determination”
Not more damn analogies, Enzo!
When literalism fails you, a writer must look elsewhere for means to get their point across. Togashi-sensei, Koujina and Madhouse keep pushing me, forcing the linguistic equivalent of Chimera-paced evolution in the effort to communicate how mind-bogglingly good this series is. And since Togashi himself turned to baseball for help back in Episode 89 (not to mention naming a bunch of the “Chimera Ant” cast after pitches) why not follow his example?
Here’s my reaction to this episode – an episode which, by the way, I’m certain will be met with a fair share of complaints from some viewers. Togashi is like a pitcher with a 100 MPH fastball. There are quite a few pitchers with great velocity, but not all of them are great or even good pitchers. What makes the great ones is the ability to mix it up – the keep the hitter guessing with a variety of pitches. There are a lot of hitters who can get the timing down even on a 100 MPH fastball if they know it’s coming, but when a pitcher is good enough to use that pitch only as a knockout blow, it’s that much more devastating.
Well, last week’s episode was definitely a 100 MPH fastball (curiously, the eps ending in “6” seem disproportionately to be the blockbusters). I don’t deny that would have been a great ep under any circumstances, but it’s Togashi’s versatility and ability to constantly keep the reader/viewer guessing that made it the all-time classic it was. And as always, Togashi backs up one pitch with a completely different one. He gives us a knee-buckling offspeed pitch to follow up the heat – a subtle and dark psychological musing that challenges our preconceptions about not just Hunter X Hunter, but storytelling itself. I know I’ll be in the minority in saying so, but I think I actually loved it just a hair more than last week’s.
For starters, we get a dose of the political satire that Togashi has slyly inserted into this arc numerous times. He paints a dark picture of “seeds” ready to bloom throughout the world because 80% of nations refused to destroy their existing stocks of the “Miniature Rose”, and tells us of terrorist attacks killing 100,000 people and 5.12 million lives having been lost to the device. This is here for its own sake, no doubt, but make no mistake – it’s also an important part of the larger, narratively insurgent theme of “Chimera Ant”. This is in part what Netero’s final words to the King were all about, and part of a larger assault by Togashi that demands we re-examine our assumptions about this story both on the small and large scale.
The scene then turns back to the ruined palace, where Gon continues his staredown with Pitou and the other members of the Hunter party are coalescing. There’s a brief encounter between Knuckle and Pouf’s clone, the import of which is simple – whatever hope their was for a non-violent conclusion was destroyed with the blooming of Netero’s rose. That was part of the choice Netero made, and even Knuckle – surely the most conciliatory of all the Hunters party – can see that there’s no longer any chance to talk things out, even if he doesn’t know exactly what’s happened. Out in the wastelands, Pouf and Youpi have seen what’s happened, and immediately understood its import.
No moment in this arc is wasted – that should be clear now – and the critical callback here is to the conversation between Morel and Killua in Episode 85. That was a fascinating scene in so many ways, the introduction of Morel and Knov. Knov’s own words are foreshadowing to his future mental breakdown, making him sound hollow and arrogant (though I only realize this now) and Morel’s lecturing to Killua was quite controversial with viewers. But in light of events this week, I think they should be recounted in full, because they ring eerily true:
“Bozu… The minute you start talking about who can win in a Nen fight, you’re wrong… You can’t make assumptions based on the amount of aura displayed. The battle can turn at any time – that’s what fighting with Nen means. But regardless – you must always fight 100% certain of victory! That is a Nen user’s spirit. The moment you were overwhelmed by the opponent’s aura and fled, you were disqualified.”
There’s irony here simply in the fact that at the time, Morel seemed arrogant and Knov reasonable – but in hindsight it was Knov who was speaking vainly, and Morel simply telling Killua the hard truth. Would a 13 year-old Morel have been able to understand that lesson? No – but that’s a side issue, the main one being just how right he was. The scene between Gon and Pitou is the living, breathing proof of Morel’s words. Pitou’s aura may – hell, there’s no may about it – be stronger than Gon’s. But can anyone question that Gon is completely in control of the situation? He’s dominating Pitou in every way, dictating everything that happens – because of his absolute, unshakeable belief in himself and what he intends to do. He sees through every deception, he’s many moves ahead on the board – and despite Pitou’s advantage in Nen, he’s unable to change the dynamic. Gon owns him, despite being weaker in terms of pure power.
But this being Hunter X Hunter, even as fascinating as all that is, it’s not everything. For this Gon, dominating Pitou with the pure strength of his will, is a pretty terrifying figure. He betrays not an ounce of sentiment even as Komugi – who’s clearly a human, blind and terrified – wakes. Gon sees through Pitou’s stalling and orders a halt to Doctor Blythe immediately. When Pitou starts to request time for “after-care” Gon interrupts with a simple “The next time you try to delay me, I’ll kill her.” And whatever thoughts of betrayal run through Pitou’s mind, they’re immediately overwritten by the impulse to just do what the boy says.
There’s a question hanging over everything, of course, and it’s a remarkable one: would Gon truly kill Komugi if Pitou crossed him? It’s easy to say no, and that’s my instinctive answer – but Pitou certainly believes otherwise. And really, can we be sure? This is a main character like no other in an arc like no other in a series like no other, and even the uncertainty is a shocking thing. It’s a very strange scene, when Pitou finally relents and joins Gon to race towards Peijing and the waiting Kaitou. By this time the remaining members of the team have gathered and are watching (with Meleoron invisible, cautiously being held in reserve), somewhat taken aback. Gon declines Knuckle’s offer to apply Hakoware to Pitou with a chilling “I trust Pitou…” and an order to “keep watch” on Komugi until he and Pitou return. Effectively, he orders that Komugi be taken hostage in order to keep Pitou in line. His final words: “I’m sure Pitou trusts me…”
This is some seriously dark stuff going down here. When Ikalgo asks Killua if he’s really OK with not following them, Killua replies “It’s OK – that was the plan all along. If I were to get captured, it would give Pitou the option of demanding a hostage exchange.” There have been many memorable lines of dialogue in this arc, but few more so than Knuckle’s internal monologue here: “Seriously… What have they been through, for their minds to work this way?” It sums up the situation and the series itself so perfectly – it tells us exactly who Knuckle is and why he’ll always be different from Gon and Killua, and it tells us just how atypical as “heroes” Killua and especially Gon are (and how Togashi has brilliantly flipped the impressions we’ve built of both of them on their heads). Again, it’s fascinating to try and decide how to view this situation. Is Komugi truly a hostage – would any of the others harm her, if Pitou betrayed Gon? Would Killua, most especially? It’s a disturbing, disquieting scene – Komugi, surrounded by the “good guys” in the cast who should be her rescuers, shivering in terror of them as she wishes only for the company of the Chimera Ant King.
Togashi and Koujina have one more curveball in the arsenal, one more assault on our emotions. Youpi and Pouf rush to the scene of the explosion – now a crater full of molten rock belching toxic smoke. Pouf is breaking down badly but Youpi is focused, enraged. He takes command, ordering Youpi to search the surrounding area as he descends into that very embodiment of Hell to search for the King’s body. And he finds it – a blackened, fossilized mass that looks curiously like an ancient Buddha statue. I’m not going to speculate about whether the King is as dead as he looks, but what stands out in the moment is the raw, terrible grief of Youpi and Pouf. Such is the nature of this arc that whatever has come before, we cannot possibly deny the sincerity of it – this is genuine, heartfelt mourning over someone these two strange and terrible creatures loved unconditionally. And that grief will now, surely, turn to rage and a desire for vengeance. The wisdom of Chairman Netero’s plan cannot possibly be judged yet – on every level it’s still being tested. Morally, ethically and strategically this arc offers us no easy answers, but a seemingly endless banquet of food for thought.
I do not get the first part actually. Did Chairman Netero actually use the Nuke-like bomb or is it actually part of his skill ?
Nevertheless, it is quite a good episode. Gon merciless side has his charm too, though I still prefer his naive + cheerful side.
Yes Netero actually used the nuke. Hence all the time spent explaining how common it was, and how many it had killed. It emphasizes how badly screwed the king truly was. He thought he was building up an unstoppable army, and that he himself was invincible as proved by his battle with Netero. The only question would be how long it would take him to win.
In truth the only question was how long would it take for humans to decide to just use up a little of their stockpiled weapons and just nuke whatever area he happened to be in.
Thanks for explaining 🙂 Wow, it is more philosophical than I thought.
gay episode next week
Nice name you got there.
Gay, said someone named NarutoKyuubi69.
I don’t suppose, that if this is supposed to be like a Nuclear Bomb, then it would only be natural for the King to die, even if he did survive, due to radiation?
depending on the type of radiation, he might grow bigger and greener instead
All that he needs now, are some robots that he can eat with his tail.
or maybe he could become immortal. Vandal Meruem?
Can’t bugs survive radiation? He’s basically a giant overpowered bug.
Yeah I think Meruem had a lot more to worry about the explosion blast energy and impending molten rock lava than aftermath radiation.
‘Rose’d/Roasted Meruem looks like a totem of a prehistoric grandma.
episode was pretty good, though seemed like more of a setup for what’s to come (def not a bad thing).
holy crap, the King’s been turned to ash from the looks of it. Youpi has now resolved to kill everyone. and we get to see Pouf’s true form…? Reminds me of the Fly!
watching Ikalgo running around is always great. something about watching him mill around with his tentacles I find very entertaining.
I think my opinion of Gon really went down once he threatened Komugi and turned her into a hostage. It shows how much Kite’s situation has affected him and developed his character, but not in a good way, since he’s now willing to threaten an innocent person out of revenge. I think it’s a good move as it definitely makes his character a lot more complex (assuming his threat is real), but my opinion of him has lowered as he’s been acting very selfish in this arc.
I’m not entirely sure the miniature rose was a nuclear bomb as some have mentioned. its history sort of raised more questions than it answered, as it made it seem like numerous bombs had gone off in the past, enough to more than likely cause global damage if it was indeed nuclear. also if we’re to use real world examples for bomb manufacturing (I know, not really applicable), small dictatorships wouldn’t be able to mass produce these. small nitpicks, nothing serious.
@Enzo – loved the baseball analogy, very apt about using the off-speed stuff to buckle the knees. I would like to add that what also separates great power pitchers is control/location of pitches along with mixing it up with the fastball. Cliff Lee is a great contemporary example.
ITA, overall this episode was better than last week’s since it gave us more dynamic and depth than just the fight, though personally I give the slight edge to last week since it contained more of what I find really interesting (tactical mechanics).
For me my opinion of Gon didn’t exactly go down, but this definitely changed the way I view him too, though I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. I would say that maybe, the Gon now is more… badass(?) and less child-like. I think it’s a good thing to see a different Gon from time to time, and it’ll make him more interesting, but I too miss the cheerful little guy from last time. I hope he goes back to being more normal after this, but for now I want to see him kick some ass =x
I never really considered how the use of the bomb would make it now almost impossible for there to be peace between the species, until I read this review :O Thanks Enzo & people for helping me realise and understand some things better!
All I’m helping you understand is my opinion and my interpretation, of course – but I do appreciate the kind words, thank you.
while I liked Gon in his more cheerful iteration, it makes sense for him to develop in this direction because of his experiences we’ve seen; he’s simply growing up. and it’s saying something whenever a show makes a character more nuanced by mixing in qualities that add layers to their complexity that will cause conflict with the viewer’s opinion of the character.
And a shounen to boot.
I don’t know if I like the change, but I like the fact there is change. I enjoy seeing characters grow up, but I feel bad for Gon too ;_; I can’t imagine how horrible he must feel
Rereading your previous post again made me wonder if Ikalgo can regrow his arms/legs/tentacles… I hope he can, because the severed arms bother me a little…
I’m of the opinion that Gon has always had a bit of a dark, psychotic element to him. It’s just showing itself more now than it has in the past. The kid has always been a bit screwed up, but he’s hid it behind the playful little kid exterior.
That how I see it too. Gon has always been a little twisted. Did people forget what Genthru said about him and that guy was a self proclaimed psychopath.
Gon has always been a little irregular, though I wouldn’t classify him as a psychopath. Seems more like he’s a bit sheltered, still a little immature, while being more mature than others in many ways. But he also follows his own principles, as opposed to conventional morality. Greed Island was a good example in how he treated Gethru and his cronies who were pretty much mass murderers but chose to heal them (I really disliked Genthru specifically – I didn’t think he made an interesting villain, but that’s another topic altogether).
I don’t know why Pouf’s transformation reminds me of a drag queen washing off the makeup.
Speaking of baseball terms, I feel Togashi still has a few Steve Nebraska fastballs left.
Not all main charcters have to be “good” and Gon just proved that. He’s been pretty selfish since the beginning. He gets what he wants when he wants it. I actually believe that Gon would have sacrificed Komugi to get his revenge on Pitou.
absolutely, MCs do not have to be “good”. troubled or dark MCs or anti-heroes have always made for more interesting protagonists.
though Gon, even when being selfish in past story arcs, was never outwardly malicious towards innocent people. he may have acted irresponsibly at times that may have indirectly lead to malicious acts (leaving dangerous enemies alive for example), but he never outwardly threatened anyone like this. it’s definitely an intriguing turn for his character development.
If Hisoka saw Gon like this, he would probably bust few nuts
This whole episode was like a slew of ironies to the face. The first that immediately sprung to my mind was that the King, whose actions threatened to kill 5 million people, was stopped by a bomb that’s ALREADY killed 5 million people.
ohh. I didn;t think of it that way.
Heh, I missed that too – good eye.
I am not sure that I’m correct, but from what I understood initial plan of hunters was to blow off a bomb in the capital city when ants called meeting of all people, because it was the best opportunity to kill the king. In other words, Netero was ready to sacrifice 5 millions people to kill him, only later this plan was changed (don’t remember details why) in the way that Netero had to duel and try to kill him, so detonating bomb was left as a last resort. It was never considered that the king could agree duel Netero at nuclear bombs testing site (and he only agreed to duel somewhere else, because he didn’t want to hurt that girl). I believe that author try to show that there is no right or wrong when fighting for survival of humanity, there is only price you’re ready to accept and friendship, love, kindness, etc… are considered as weaknesses which could result defeat.
Netero should have busted out a boombox and played this http://youtu.be/V83JR2IoI8k before he exploded.
The moral of the story is that Humans are more evil than other live beings. lol Netero trolled Meruem BIG TIME with the nuke.
That’s not the King! That was the Chairman! Left arm clearly missing, IMHO.
I Finally caught up with this series and it has really shocked me how masterful
the story telling has become. There are so many layers, but the most striking
is Gon’s apparent reversal – I honestly believe he would never sacrifice Komugi,
but if Pitou knew that, that would play to her advantage. She absolutely has to
believe that he would attack the person most precious to her King in order for his
plan to work — and he pulled it off amazingly well, IMHO. She can’t suspect him
of bluffing even 0.01%. In a way of irony, Gon’s used his amazing reputation and
character of honestly to pull off the ultimate troll against Pitou.
Pitou’s an amazing character as well, and excemplifies the difference between
(on my soap box) the subtle but profound difference between dedication and
devotion to her King.
I gotta say this is one of the rare series where I feel myself rooting for the “bad guys”;
not that they’ll win, but that they’ll repent. I think there are many hints in the writing
to suggest this, and given the original country was a drug-producing cartel scab on
the world, will somehow reconcile with humanity and reside in that country and do a
much better job than their previous drug lords.
Just a guess….