I had ambivalent feelings, walking away from the ‘Chimera Ant’ saga. It wasn’t that I disliked HxH; I was just frustrated that these appealing characters weren’t in a plot they deserved.
When that happened, I realized my reluctance was a result of one part of the shonen formula. Specifically, when the first dozen-or-so episodes are basically a P&R campaign to make you like the characters so much, you’ll feel a sense of obligation to them, and will keep watching even when the rest of the show isn’t working.
So here we are. Even after I said I was done with HxH for good, I’m still curious to check up on Gon and Killua. And the funny part? This one episode is a fairly neat distillation of Togashi’s approach to the series on the whole....
- We open with a thorough breakdown on the multi-tiered voting process which the Hunters’ new leaders are being elected through. Whether it’s a placement exam or a demonic martial arts tournament, there is literally no elimination process (for lack of better term?) whose minutia doesn’t hold Togashi’s deepest interest.
- We check in on a muscular, old woman with sharp pig tails and the power to turn into a PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE cast member. Again, I have to think that that Togashi amuses himself by coming up with the silliest gimmicks for characters, and testing how seriously he can get viewers to take them.
- We reach a rising action with Killua and the zombies on the road that puts the kid in an intense moral conundrum. And it seems to dramatically hinge on the semantics of the situation. While the blow-by-blow tactics can get old, Togashi has a real talent of putting the heroes into tense conflicts where they have to make real, hard decisions (even when the situation sounds boring on paper).
(And if this girl Killua's so affectionately protecting isn’t meant to be his girlfriend, then she can stand right next to Biscuit in the hilarious, cooties-averse tradition of eternally-potential love interests in shonen).
Did I think this episode was actually any good? Well, like I said, that question’s almost irrelevant, now. The show is it what it is, and it’s amusing to appreciate the consistency of that.
It was nice to see Gon and Killua again, though...
Watch "Sun X and X Claw" and decide for yourself.