Anime Vice News

HUNTER X HUNTER #51-54 -- What Am I Even Watching, Now?

Ep. #51 + 52 + 53 + 54 -- Watch & Learn. It's the Phantom Troupe show...?

No use in leaving any remainders whilst dividing the rest of this arc, no? If there are eight episodes left of “Yorknew,” I might as well just finish it off in a couple four-episode chunks. I... don’t know… if I’ll be able to keep that pace for the next arc, but I’m anxious to tie this one off. Brace yourself!

Considering how much screen time the Phantom Troupe takes up in this stretch, I have to guess that Togashi has benefited from being as pragmatic about his creative urge as I’ve inferred Oda to be. A mangaka’s obviously got more varied characters, premises and themes than he has time to play with, right? Business sternly favors branding, though; and to build a brand, you’re better served by putting out a single series continuously instead of starting up different titles.

So, how does a sensible cartoonist get around such a bind without going stir crazy?

Well… he basically just goes ahead and does all those varied series under the same title.

This is to say, I can very easily picture a PHANTOM TROUPE series that has nothing to do with HUNTER X HUNTER. Certainly, the Nen stuff and web of vendettas all fit in with the series’ mythos, so far - - but all these gloomy, complicated yakuza machinations are such a far cry from the boyish fun of previous arcs that they might as well be a whole universe away. It’s not a gradual transition that feels that natural, mind you. Hell, it’s so abrupt that the series has to abandon its peppy fanfare for one episode’s outro in favor of the Troupe’s dire orchestral theme!

Nearly 20 hours of screen time logged, and I’m still continually confounded by this show. Please don’t ask me to explain who was double-crossing whom (and by what means - - eesh), during that whole virtuoso assassination montage. I could barely keep track myself.

Maybe we aren’t even supposed to know. It’s always been about the characters, not the plot specifics, no? And to that end, I’ll give legit compliments to the show for “getting mature” about how Kurapika reacts to the Trouper’s ‘deaths.’ We see countless quests for vengeances in these types of stories, but they all push forward the conceit that revenge is ever satisfying. It’s actually quite powerful to see this kid grappling with the emptiness he feels, now that he’s technically gotten payback, but it wasn’t his doing.

The show’s always been about living by your principles and stated intentions, right? Well, watch this guy suddenly have to make good on his lofty talk about reclaiming his people’s precious heirloom, when all along, deep down in his (chained-up, Nen-bound) heart, he really just wanted payback. As far thematic points go, those are some concrete terms with real weight.

Watch "A × Brutal × Battlefield” and "Assault × And × Impact" and "Fake × And × Psyche" and "Fortunes x Aren't x Right?" and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode.

About the Author

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk
Donwunon March 10, 2014 at 8:11 a.m.

Yeah, this was a sweet seinen deviation from what you see normally and honestly when i originally saw this back in 2002 or 03 (can't remember) i was very impressed!

Honestly this is why i love anime...it mixes things up and for me that's what makes things interesting.

As you mention Tom, you really just don't get enough mangaka playing with themes and ideas like this anymore, we just have too much of the same shouneny / fanservice stik......(insert anime is not as creative as it used to be ramble here)

Even in the next arc where the focus goes back to Gon and Killua it is still very thought provoking and cool

ON ANOTHER NOTE

by the power of dragonballz :oP - I just saw the first HxH MOVIE: PHANTOM ROUGE - which apparently is a scrapped chapter Togashi discarded which ties in to the end of this arc.....and i'm sorry to say it is a VERY big disappointment

I can see why Togashi totally scrapped this from the series as although it does bring a little bit more info into Kurpias past - the movie mostly wavers between Killua having some very contrived and previously resolved* issues with friendship and a very lame attempt to have the phantom troupe fight the hxh team again

I love hxh but the movie is bad. Not terrible i guess but completely skippable. I shoulda listened to the reviews

Anyhow...time for me to catch up on the more recent episodes...as i've been waiting for it to finish so i could benge it

Well done on the catchin' up Tom....it wasn't that painful was it :P - I'm assuming we'll get a vice pit episode of your thoughts in summary soon

jj_jacksonon March 10, 2014 at 8:22 a.m.

You know whats the funny thing about this arc. People say its the best arc of h x h but it barely has gon and killua in it lol or the focus shifts. So ill agree with your the phantom troupe should have their own mini series since people liked it so much im sure it would be successful. honetly im more in favor of the chimera ant arc but than again thats just me.

sickVisionz moderator on March 10, 2014 at 8:59 a.m.

A Phantom Troupe series could be interesting but I don't know. Just based off of the show, they have crazy designs and powers, but they seem kind of bland and pretty aimless. If something was dedicated to them, it'd have to do a lot to make them interesting characters rather than just cool looking characters.

@jj_jackson: This is my favorite arc. Kirupika is a more interesting character to me than Gon. Gon is like the bog standard generic happy-go-lucky ultra naive good guy that every main character in shonen is. Kirupika and Killua spice things up so I'm glad when they're the focus and Gon either isn't there at all or has to share the screen with one of them.

@Donwun: That movie is pretty forgettable. It was billed as being about Kirupika but he was hardly in it at all. It also could have had more action imo.

Lurkeroon March 10, 2014 at 9:10 a.m.

If you think Togashi is secretly writing different types of series through the guise of HxH you will not be surprised when you see what Greed Island is.

rubberluffyon March 10, 2014 at 9:15 a.m.

The world of Hunter x Hunter has always been kinda fucked up, it's just always been in the background. Dozens of people died during the Exams, there's a tower for fighting where people get crippled/killed and people bet money on it, the home of famous assassins is a tourist destination and their guard dog eats any trespassers and no one cares, and in this arc they pretty much show that the mafia runs the economy.

@sickVisionz:

No way, Gon is a messed up dude. He's probably the most dangerous/crazy/insanely selfish person in the series, and there's a lot of evidence to that.

sickVisionz moderator on March 10, 2014 at 9:26 a.m.

@rubberluffy said:

@sickVisionz:

No way, Gon is a messed up dude. He's probably the most dangerous/crazy/insanely selfish person in the series, and there's a lot of evidence to that.

Other than dangerous in the sense of really strong and crazy in the sense of he'll fight someone stronger than him (both of which are bog standard shonen hero traits and not what I would be talking about if I used the words crazy and dangerous) I haven't seen any evidence of him being crazy, dangerous, or selfish.

Kino88on March 10, 2014 at 9:28 a.m.
Yup, this stuff was quite a shift in tone to say the least, Good times,
katmicon March 10, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.

I loved the phantom troupe arc, but also hated it; it made kurapika seem so awesome that the idea that we would never see him again made the series somewhat depressing. One could say that the phantom arc proves what the best series in anime are, those shows that do not need the involvement from the primary characters to be absolutely amazing.

zaldaron March 10, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.

having seen a good bit of his work in other shows not buying that he can give anything much thematic weight. Especially not anywhere close to what we are getting out of kill la kill or say madokka. This is shonen after all which is all about power ups, fights, training, and power ups. (and 200000,000000,00000 long episode shows)

jj_jacksonon March 10, 2014 at 1 p.m.

@sickVisionz:

But you know kurapika is in a sense the same type of character too. theres always someone looking for revenge in alot of animes and mangas. but i guess the thing that sets him apart is that he actually has the intelligence to not lose his mind in the anger and hatred. he thinks clearly and i would consider him a good person.

killua is prob my fav character. And people can say gon is your typical earnest honest head strong hero but in the words of white beard i kinda like fools like that so hes still one of my fav characters.

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