「クンの策略」 (Kun no sakuryaku)
On a certain level, episodes like this – as fun as they are to watch – are kind of nightmarish to write about. While I do think the endless comparisons between Tower of God and Hunter X Hunter are overstated, they can be useful at times. Especially early in each series, where Kami no Tou so resembles the “Hunter Exam” arc in many ways (if Togashi had introduced Nen about 30 chapters earlier). But where Togashi was always obsessed with subtext, right from the start, one gets the sense that early SIU is more frequently content to honor the game for its own sake. And that doesn’t lend itself to a whole lot of analysis and deconstruction.
With that said, there certainly is subtext in ToG, even this soon. I’m always interested in watching the dynamic between the three core team members play out. Already we can see Rak (where are he and his silent partner getting the magically replenishing chocolate bars now, exactly?) is displaying an almost reverential tone about Khun’s strategizing (which is itself a tipoff that Gator is much cleverer than he lets on). Bam finds himself rooting for Khun’s Team A, even though their victory would come at his own expense. And Khun’s dedication to Bam seems to stronger than ever (as witness the results of this contest).
Yes, you never underestimate the Blue Turtle – he plays the long game as well as anybody. There’s lots of stuff this week regarding Khun’s strategy that one can pick up on if they’re paying close attention. Above and beyond that, it’s clear that he’s effectively toying with Quant, a ranker – which would really be the equivalent of a Hunter candidate toying with an examiner. But it’s true that we see how rankers are perfectly fallible, especially when it comes to judgment – Quant and Lero-ro both come to the wrong conclusion more than once as Team A’s test plays out.
Team B, by contrast, seems rather rough around the edges and disorganized. Naturally enough when Endorsi indicates she wants to take charge no one is keen to stand in her way, but their strategic approach seems to be rather haphazard. Not to mention the infighting – which Endorsi seems none too concerned about. There’s no indication that there’s a hidden agenda at play here as there was with Team A (though the strongest of the strong have no fears about moving on anyway). Still – they do have a wave controller on their side…
Closing things out (almost) is a rather interesting conversation between the momentarily sidelined Serena (Nabatame Hitomi) and Hoh. Serena offers Hoh her backstory, and it’s a rather harrowing one – but most interesting is her expression of doubt that she can casually eliminate the people she’s befriended in order to climb the tower. “That’s always been our relationship, hasn’t it?” Hoh asks. “We do it to climb the tower. No matter what happens, no hard feelings.” There are clearly many ways to go approach this quest, and the aspirants bring their own predispositions with them when they choose to attempt it.