「セイゾン×ノ×キゲン」 ()

"Survival x and x Deadline"

Leave it to Togashi Yoshihiro to put me in mind of T.S. Eliot and Indiana Jones in the same episode.

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

– T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

Author’s Note: Please be very careful to avoid divulging any information about upcoming events from the manga. When in doubt, don’t post it – and even if it’s remotely possible to view it as a minor spoiler, please spoiler-tag it. Thanks for your cooperation.

I’ve seen a couple of websites report that The Hunter X Hunter "E*******" arc would be starting with Episode 137 – which, of course, contradicts the original buzz that "Chimera Ant" would be ending at Episode 135. I don’t know the truth but I really hope this info is true, because even if the shape of the final act began to reveal itself this week, it’s still hard to imagine this story wrapping up in two episodes. It’s so massive – 60 weeks by the time it ends – that it’s almost unimaginable that Togashi and Koujina-sensei would end it without some sort of postscript.

Whether it’s two episodes or three remaining, it’s an inescapable fact that Gon and to a lesser extent Killua have had an astonishingly small role in this arc. They’ve certainly been involved in most of the most overtly dramatic moments, but it’s a measure of how good this series is that it can pull this disappearing act off without losing the audience – certainly without losing me, who’s always liked H x H best when those two are at its center. In truth, most of the final cour of "Chimera Ant" has taken place with entirely new characters as its focus – and not even the entirely new characters who seemed destined for starring roles. I suppose this sort of thing would only be possible when an arc is this absurdly long – longer than many entire series – because it really allows time to make these new characters indelible. But it wouldn’t matter how much time the story had if the writing wasn’t up to the task of making us care deeply about those people.

One of the signatures of "Chimera Ant" is that it ranges from huge emotional crescendos like the breakdowns of Gon and Killua, to phenomenal action sequences like the Netero vs. Meruem fight in Episode 126, to equally memorable moments brought off in the unlikeliest of ways, by the unlikeliest of characters. One of the quietly great episodes of this arc was #123, the duel between Welfin and Ikalgo. It was positively Shakespearean, and Welfin delivered some of the most striking moments in the entire arc. "Chimera Ant" is full of overlooked gems like that one, and it seems only fitting that it should be revisited now, in an episode that acts more or less as a sequel to it as well as the place-setter for the final act of the arc as a whole.

We continue to see Pouf’s hastily-constructed house of lies begin to crumble around him. Pitou’s puppets have had their strings cut – of course Pouf doesn’t know why, and I suspect he refuses to allow himself to believe what he suspects – but that makes his job of subjugating the masses gathered outside the palace that much harder. He’s already given "6/7" of his body to the King so his scales are less effective, and what he doesn’t realize is that Komugi is much farther away than he believes. Pouf’s world is disintegrating around him and his already manic mien is taking on an increasingly desperate color.

Meanwhile, Octobro and Palm are moving forward with their plan to exchange Komugi for Knuckle and Meleoron – or at least to suggest that they’re willing to (Killua must have really done a number on Komugi – she’s still out cold). To accomplish this they employ Welfin as a messenger, and Palm naturally enough doesn’t trust him – but Ikalgo stops her from using one of her Wink Blue slots on Welfin to make sure he follows through with his orders. Welfin is already planning to bolt as soon as he’s out of sight – not willing to take the chance of having Meruem turn on him in "shoot the messenger" fashion – but Ikalgo stops him in this tracks with one simple sentence: "After you give them the message, you’re free – so go see Gyro."

I’ve said this before, but I love Welfin’s character arc. He’s fundamentally driven by self-interest, calculating at all times, and unwilling to trust. But here, at the last, Octobro appeals to the humanity in him – and it works. He’s remembered that he and Weflin were friends as humans, and even Welfin’s former name – Zaikahal – and remembered their shared loyalty to Gyro. As such he presents Welfin with the inescapable fact that the Chimera Ants are the enemy, because they’re the enemy of the NGL, their home, however dysfunctional and horrid it was. And Welfin, at last, is compelled to do something not as a means to advance his own interests, but as part of a larger cause. It can certainly be said that anyone who did Gyro’s bidding was anything but noble, but both Ikalgo and Welfin have achieved a certain nobility as Chimera Ants that they never did as humans – no small irony, and one of many at play in this episode and this arc.

Ikalgo sends Welfin to the surface with the four remaining sex slaves (Welfin releases them, telling them to take a truck and flee) and Brovoda in tow, and Welfin runs into chibi-Youpi as soon as he’s outside. Initially he carries out his orders, but he can’t help himself – Welfin is at the point now where he wants answers more than he wants safety. It’s doubtful, true, that he would have confronted the old Youpi, but this one is clearly a shell of his former self – massively reduced in every way by his gesture to Meruem, and exhibiting a mysterious blood-tinged cough. It seems Welfin didn’t get the answers he wanted, and so Youpi’s world ends – struck down by an underling he could have dispatched without an effort a few hours earlier. And with him two-thirds of the Royal Guard are gone, with Pouf’s life dangling by a hair thanks to the deception he’s perpetrated against the King.

Youpi isn’t the only one exhibiting strange symptoms. Meruem is too – blood is dripping from his nose, though he’s so consumed by the obsessive search for the memory that’s eluding him that he seems not to notice. Even as he finds a Gungi piece and some (but crucially not all) of the truth comes back to him, it’s Palm who puts all the pieces together – both for herself and Ikalgo and for the audience. At the moment she sees Pouf discover Youpi’s body it becomes clear to her just how correct Killua was – Komugi was indeed someone precious to the King. Komugi is a "double-edged sword" – the best weapon (actually, second-best) they have in the fight against the King. And Palm also reiterates what may be the single most prominent theme in "Chimera Ant" – it was that moment when the ant soldiers first discovered human prey that their fate was likely sealed. Their species was changed forever in that moment – this is why the Royal Guard can bicker over Komugi, and when she and Ikalgo can stand there as declared and devoted opponents to Meruem’s plans for world domination.

That’s not all Palm makes clear, though. She knows something Ikalgo doesn’t, and it’s why she says "We’re all right, now." Octobro is naturally puzzled, but Palm is certain – the King is going to die, within "a few hours". All they need to do is use Komugi’s presence to buy time until that happens – and that means crating her up and hiding her even deeper underground (if anyone asks I’m sure they’ll be told "We have top men working on it right now.") The intent here is clear – if Komugi is in a place that only she and Ikalgo know, she and Ikalgo must be kept alive even if Meruem is able to locate them in the love shack. It is indeed cruel, as Palm says, but a cruel deed that must be done – and just how deep and wide Netero’s vision was is becoming more and more clear with each passing moment.

It seems, then, that Togashi has not only trumped shounen convention by using a bomb as the means of taking out the top boss, but he’s double-bluffed us into believing it had failed. "Humanity’s infinite capacity for evolution (or malice)" indeed – Netero’s hand has reached from beyond the grave and, apparently, signed Meruem’s death warrant. The full scope of his plan only now becomes clear – the importance of taking Meruem to a weapons testing site in order to minimize collateral damage was not about the explosion, but the aftermath. This is the true blooming of the Miniature Rose, its sharpest thorn – and in going to Meruem’s rescue Menthruyoupi and Shaiapouf were pricked (we see that Pouf, too, is exhibiting the signs of radiation sickness).

For all the darkness and moral ambiguity of this, the darkest and most troubling work from a writer who specializes in those qualities, to have the downfall of the King seemingly come down to this is genuinely stunning. It shows a real contempt for convention and a disdain for traditional storytelling, but if indeed this is how "Chimera Ant" is to be resolved it seems wholly appropriate. How else can this story end but for this horror, surely among the most hideous examples of human foolishness and craven cruelty, to be its salvation? It’s hard and cold, even by Togashi’s standards, but that could be said of the arc as a whole. I don’t know exactly how things will play out but I think it would be foolish to look for righteous triumph or euphoria in the concluding episodes – at most, we might see a few moments of quiet redemption, as likely for the King himself as for any of his enemies. This isn’t the sort of story that should end by celebrating victories, but rather by mourning what’s been lost – and perhaps being quietly thankful that it won’t be everything.




    1. I don’t remember Miniature Rose being a nuke; there wasn’t a mention of nuclear fallout in it’s description… If that’s the case, shoutouts to the guys who have spoiling us on the low.

      1. While it may not be a nuclear bomb itself (the only other option I could think of is it being some poison bomb or something like that), it’s clearly a fictional representation of a nuclear bomb. Interestingly enough, most Japanese stories of the last fifty years all have some sort of allusion to a nuclear bomb because of how major of an event that was in Japanese history.

  1. speculation:

    is speculation allowed? just in case i will spoiler tag it.
    Show Spoiler ▼

  2. I’ve always thought that the easily mutable Chimera Ant genome probably means they’re more susceptible to radiation sickness than most animals.

    That said- the miniature rose isn’t a literal nuke, just a stand in for one, so it’s probably best not to think too realistically about what radiation sickness would to.

  3. Enzo, long time reader first time poster. I really have to say bravo throughout this whole arc in terms of coverage, phenomenal. I was never a hard core HxH fan until about a year ago and what I thought was more or less a filler arc or side story (unbelievable, yes I’ve read the manga now) turned out to be something so intricate and thought provoking. I cannot wait to see what else this series has in store. This new manga arc looks promising as well. We need manga coverage on that STAT!

  4. So we’re winding down to the end, and it looks like the King, Pouf, and the late Youpi have some sort of radiation poisoning I gather from all their nose bleeds and Palm’s inference and bomb imagery.

    On the Ikalgo and Wellfin side of things, I thought their dynamic was the most interesting side of the story, that they had been buddies when they were human. I’d love to see more of a backstory to them to flesh things out and/or a spin-off (a movie perhaps) of them going to find Gyro. Seems like that has a lot of potential for an interesting plot.

    Youpi is found dead, but not sure if by poisoning or by Wellfin. My guess is the poison, since the more I think about it, the more it makes sense for Palm to have said what she did since she saw Youpi dead.

    Poor Komugi, put into a wooden box!

    a box like Hippo
    1. Not to mention the possibility that the Royal Ants might improvise a new Nen ablity to counteract their deteriorating health like how Cheetu developed his crossbow ability out of thin air. I mean an ability like Shizuku’s (or a more sophisticated version of that) might be able to get rid of the radiation inside the body.

      Pommes Puree
  5. How come Palm is more knowledgeable about the Rose than the other remaining members of the Extermination Team? Knuckle’s response in the previous episode did not indicate he knew the King will suffer from radiation at all. Did Palm know Netero’s plan before she did her solo espionage in the palace?

    Pommes Puree
  6. Togashi~ I applaud you for finding such a smart and practical way to take down an overpowered villain. No ridiculous deus ex machina or power-ups. When I was watching this episode, Netero’s last words, “Don’t underestimate humans…” kept replaying in my head. Radiation has become the ultimate evil of this arc..

      1. Unlike most shounen, top fighters in Hunter x Hunter are far from the top in term of political power. So strategies have to be devised such that the status quo of the world is maintained.

        Technically, the chimera ants were operating as the Diego regime. Even if the palace was bombed before people started to gather in front of it, that’s still an equivalent of nuking Kim Jong-un’s palace. Many world leaders might welcome it, but that will no doubt lead to turmoil in the world politics.

        Pommes Puree
    1. Do you think Knov has access to a miniature rose? I don’t think so.

      Netero had to take a lot of time off to get the bomb installed inside him. It’s part of the reason why the Hunters lost contact with him.

      1. LOL so its a better plan to attached a powerful nen user with a bomb and sacrifice him
        than to infiltrate a palace, set-up and detonate a miniature rose and blow the chimeras to kingdom come?.

      2. You missed the point I made.

        I wasn’t talking about better ideas. I was talking about whether your “better idea” could have been possible in the first place.

        Knov does not have access to a Miniature Rose. The narrator explained that MRs are sold on black market even though the world nations had agreed to ban it. That is most likely where Netero obtained one. With Netero living for over 100 years and his position as Hunter Association Chairman, it’s not unthinkable that he’d know the access channels to be able to buy one.

        Also, the Miniature Rose was a contingency plan. Netero never intended to use it primarily and only if all else fails.

        In the complete space of time where Netero lost contact with the Hunters, it’s suggested that it’s because he was going around trying to find the bomb and then have it placed inside of him.

        Conclusion: Knov had no way of obtaining a Miniature Rose. So sacrifices were inevitable.

      3. Knov not having access to the bomb is just your speculation. If netero had access why did he went to the choice of having it attach to him as a contingency just to kill 1 chimera if they could destroy everyone in the castle. He could just easily gave the bomb to his team which includes knov and plan a way to infiltrate, set-up and detonate it in or even just outside the palace and escape through knov’s ability.

      4. 1. There’s no way a character like Netero was going to pass up this chance to test his strength vs the King.
        2. The fact Netero led the king to an isolated place to minimize the fallout means that he/the hunter council was against the collateral damage/life loss from detonating it at the palace. Netero could have raided palace alone and detonated himself.

      5. I respectfully disagree with some of Eamon’s points. The Miniature Rose is not exactly the rarest of rare item. The sub of ep 127 wrote of “hundreds of thousands of seeds still wait silently in many countries for their chance to bloom”. I don’t think the association needs the Chairman to find one; the other multiple-starred Hunters can probably do the job. Although Knov has no plan to find a Rose, he has the perfect nen ability to access and obtain one. As for the period that the Chairman lost contact with the Hunters, I think it is more convincing that he has to train in hermitic silence (remember the aura Killua fled in the jungle) rather than that he has to arduously search for a Rose.

        On the other hand, passerby’s perfect plan will ruin the ultimate battle Netero longed for all his life (chaoslimits just mentioned this). Bizeff’s sex slaves are going to be sacrificed too 🙁

      6. I’ve told you many times. Knov did not have a miniature rose. That’s why he didn’t think of detonating.

        You’re also all forgetting the point of the Palace Infiltration. Netero had given the hunters “specific orders” to lure away the Royal Guard for Netero to take on the King.

        They weren’t told to target the King or destroy the palace. It’s obviously a mix of Netero wanting to have the fight of his lifetime and that the Hunters would always be outmatched by the King in any circumstance.

        For the point someone made that Netero did not spend all his time away preparing the bomb. I may have worded it incorrectly, but I didn’t mean that from the day Netero left till he appeared above the palace all that time was spent getting the bomb and fitting it into him. Of course, I also remember when Killua came across Netero’s legendary aura. He was also likely preparing his Zero Hand back then. But I think the time before then, he spent it on 2 objectives:
        1) To obtain a miniature Rose AND fit it inside of his body and connected to his heart.
        2) To obtain the services of the Zoldycks and prepare the entire plan of the palace attack and subsequent duel between the King and Netero.

      7. for narrative purposes, this story makes sense. Knov planting the bomb underneath the compound, which I thought maybe they could’ve done as well, destroys the point of having the story we got. Practically speaking, something similar might be employed, but that would make for a short arc.

        a box like Hippo
      8. A leader’s quest for strength, he was challenging himself to face the ultimate foe and if he fails, he will commit the ultimate sacrifice. Even if it there are better options to really minimize the casualties. He was full of himself that in the end he could defeat it and became arrogant though he paid for it in the end. It was fun but not as you would say practical given the situation. Well the deathtoll will speak for itself when we see it if their plan was really successful but in the end as long as the heroes are alive who cares about the other people anyway LOL.

      9. I meant it would be more practical to plant a bomb, or drop one on the compound, as opposed to the current story arc, but that would make for an uneventful story.

        a box like hippo
      10. You’re all also forgetting about Pitou’s En. It was only a chance coincidence that when Knov first infiltrated the palace Pitou’s En was deactivated. Knov was only planning on making one portal than running away like a madman. His infiltration was for reconnaissance anyway. And after he left, Pitou’s En would shortly go back anyway.

        I.e. if they tried to go back again to plant a bomb, they would have failed since Pitou would have detected them straight away.

      11. well, if you just want to theorize about the possibility of planting a bomb, then they needn’t of planted it so close. Knov would just have needed to make the one room near the outskirts of the palace, if we are to assume the range of the bomb is that of a nuclear device judging from the explosion we saw. I don’t recall whether or not Pitou’s En extended to that point, but if it did, I guess dropping a bomb would be more practical alternative (collateral damage aside of course).

        a box like hippo
      12. Well Piout’s En went far beyond the boundaries of the Palace.

        But regardless, Knov and co. did not have a bomb. It really is as simple as that.
        So I really don’t get how you think they should have planted one in the first place.

      13. oh, Ita with what you’ve been saying, I’m just theorizing about an alternate scenario where they did have one to use since it’s been brought up (that’s what I meant, not that they ever had that opportunity, sorry I didn’t clarify).

        a box like hippo
  7. It has to be radiations. It seemed too easy for them to stand so close from the explosion without experiencing any effects. They are maybe strong but they are still living beings.
    So where is that guy who was talking to me about surviving the explosion is the same as resisting radiations? Even talk to me about Nen radiation shielding lol.
    The miniature rose, given it’s low cost, should be basically a dirty bomb with a lot of punch.

    1. Well, I cannot recall a real-world incident where the residence of the head of state is bombarded with weapons of mass destruction. But I am hardly an expert in warfare like Mr. Hippo.

      Pommes Puree
      1. haha, expert I certainly am not, just casual world observer!

        The only example I can think of is when the United States bombed Iraq, and not sure if they specifically targeted Saddam Hussein’s location, though that also depends on your definition of WMDs. A history expert would surely be a better person to ask.

        a box like Hippo
  8. I thought no one can survive missle man’s impact, so wouldn’t welfin have been able to kill him even if youpi had his power back? Really interesting how welfin reemerged to kill one of the royal guards. Looks like radiation, but I feel like that might only be part of the story, it can’t be that simple, or I could be wrong.

    1. It’s not fully stated how powerful Missile Man is. The only time for certain that we knew the opponent would die if Missile Man attacked him, was Meleoron.

      As far as we know, Missile Man could just be an attack that inserts parasites into the person.

    2. I bet Youpi at his full strength can crush the centipedes from the inside by his transformation ability.

      A mistake I saw in other forums and Youtube comments is Youpi has only 1/7 of his power left. Actually it is much less than that. Pouf sacrificed 6/7 to the King because he has 6/7 of his mass there (the other 1/7 stays in the palace as an appearance shell to deceive Gon.) Since all of Youpi was at the crater, we can assume that he sacrifices almost everything he has. 1/7 of Youpi, by the way, is still more powerful than Morel (according to Knuckle’s estimate at the great staircase, Youpi has at least ten times more aura than Morel) and might still be too much for Welfin.

      Menthuthuyoupi, fought like a warrior, died like a pest
  9. Acute radiation syndrome has none of the symptoms shown on the show.I think the a simpler version would be massive internal injuries and loss of life force compounded by the situation.


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