Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hunter x Hunter 2011 - 16

[HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_10.34_[2012.01.21_23.22.34] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_15.19_[2012.01.21_22.27.27] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_21.32_[2012.01.21_22.34.19]

In the battle of epic island arcs, Shounen Sunday vs. Shounen Jump, Fairy Tail vs. Hunter x Hunter, Madhouse takes the lead over A-1 Pictures with the best episode of H x H and one of the best anime episodes of a young 2012.

That was just about the culmination of everything this series has been building up to so far.  With that kind of pressure it’s mighty hard for an ep to stand up to close scrutiny, but pretty much everything there was spot-on for me.  I’m sure we’ll hear some complaints about it from the 1999 purists, but there’s not much I would change.  It was the crucial episode of the series for both Hisoka and Gon, and they both passed the dramatic test with flying colors.  Not only that but the episode featured the best art direction of the series so far and superb pacing.

Hisoka remains a fascinating figure, the one person in this series you can’t take your eyes off of.  Good heroes are rare and so are good villains, but good anti-heroes might be the best characters of all from a dramatic standpoint, and Hisoka’s one of the best.  There’s no denying his cruelty, but there’s an odd sort of honor to the guy that’s cut from the mold of the classic shounen anti-heroes.  The first confrontation of the episode – with Leorio and Kurapika – was only the appetizer, but it was interesting in its own right.  Kurapica and Leorio’s reactions were pretty much predictably in character, with Leorio ready to plow ahead into a hopeless fight and Kurapica playing the rationalist to the end. 

More interesting was watching Hisoka and watching Gon (watching Hisoka).  Gon had to face the epic decision of whether he would intervene on behalf of his friends, or stick to the plan and go after the tag.  We’ll never know what he would have decided – of if that decision would have been different if it were his best friend Killua facing Hisoka  - because Hisoka did something very intriguing by not killing Leorio and Kurpika.  Kurapika’s argument did make sense, but surely Hisoka would have carried the day easily if he’d cared to, and agreeing to Kurapika’s terms left him one point short of his quota.  Clearly, though, Kurapika’s stoicism and cleverness piquéd his curiosity, and so he played along with them.

But that’s when things really took off, as we got one of the best and creepiest anime scenes in a while.  Hisoka stood still as a statue, allowing a blooderfly to land on his finger, and slowly his blood lust came over him in a way we haven’t seen yet.  It was very cleverly done by director Koujina Hiroshi, in a manner better seen than described – absolutely chilling and thrilling.  Meanwhile Gon was observing all this, and a terrible fear came over him unlike any he’d felt before.  I mentioned it last week, but it’s only in Hisoka’s presence that we truly see Gon’s childish vulnerability come out, and he truly acts like the little boy he is.  It’s the fear, but there’s something else too, something that ties into his aim to be a Hunter, and this will come into play later in the episode.

The practical implication of Hisoka’s deal with Kurpaika is that Gon has lost his chance to steal his tag while Hisoka attacks his victim, but it’s clear to Gon that Hisoka will surely sate his bloodlust on whoever he meets next.  So Gon climbs for a better view, scopes out the victim and the likely meeting place, and gives us a good demonstration of his hunter skills, blocking out everything but the two targets.  He also shows the fear and excitement that he worries will give away his position, but he manages to surprise (very much) Hisoka, and steal his tag just as he’s making his kill.  But while Gon may have learned much from his hunting practice, he forgets the lesson he should have learned from the bird – the hunter is always being hunted – and Gereta takes him down with a stun dart as Gon is fleeing with Hisoka’s tag.

The main course – or dessert, if you like, anyway the best part of the meal – is still to come, and it’s the final meeting between Hisoka and Gon.  Hisoka kills Gereta of course, but he doesn’t take back his tag.  Gereta was his target, and with the tags he got from Kurapika and “Gittrackur” he has enough points – so he let’s Gon keep both the boy’s tag and his own.  Both man and boy really show what they’re made of here, with Gon  - theoretically paralyzed – angrily telling Hisoka he doesn’t want his charity and Hisoka refusing to take his tag back, promising that he won’t kill Gon until he’s grown enough to be worth killing.  When Gon manages to fight through the poison and rise, despite the fact that it would immobilize most grown men for ten days, Hisoka is even more intrigued – but still refuses, telling Gon that the lad “owes him one” before knocking Gon out with a serious left hook and promising he won’t accept the tag back until Gon can do the same to him.

Heh.  In an age when anime has largely jettisoned the male lead and even the male character, I guess it’s fitting that we have to reach back to a 14 year-old shounen manga for an old-school series full of things that used to be mainstream in anime.  It’s great to see a story full of GAR and mind-screwing, a straightforward yet complex tale of guts, glory and ruthlessness.  The way this episode set up the series-long duel between Gon and Hisoka was truly epic, with Hisoka showing his darkest and scariest mien, yet still acknowledging that Gon might be the rival who could challenge him enough to make life interesting.  As for Gon, he was painted in a (relatively) realistic light here, anxious and not in full control of his emotions, no match for Hisoka yet – but wholly extraordinary in every way with his animal instinct, cunning and courage.  I’ve enjoyed the ride up to now, but with this episode Hunter x Hunter took its game to a vastly higher level.

[HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_10.05_[2012.01.21_22.22.14] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_10.26_[2012.01.21_23.22.43] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_11.00_[2012.01.21_22.23.09]
[HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_15.41_[2012.01.21_22.27.50] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_15.47_[2012.01.21_22.27.56] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_15.51_[2012.01.21_22.28.00]
[HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_16.07_[2012.01.21_22.28.16] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_16.11_[2012.01.21_22.28.20] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_16.23_[2012.01.21_22.28.32]
[HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_16.37_[2012.01.21_22.28.46] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_16.55_[2012.01.21_22.29.03] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_17.41_[2012.01.21_22.29.50]
[HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_18.16_[2012.01.21_22.30.24] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_18.47_[2012.01.21_22.31.22] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_18.52_[2012.01.21_22.31.27]
[HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_19.44_[2012.01.21_22.32.19] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_20.18_[2012.01.21_22.32.53] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_20.44_[2012.01.21_22.33.31]
[HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_21.06_[2012.01.21_22.33.53] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_21.28_[2012.01.21_22.34.15] [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 16 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_21.39_[2012.01.21_22.34.27]


12 comments:

  1. What really gave me goosebumps was that final scene where we see Gon hiding in the tree. It just shows a completely different light to the energetic boy we've been acquainted with for 15 weeks.

    This was a brilliant episode, the act direction, the ruthlessness-- I kept thinking how this is something you won't see in many mainstream shounen titles these days. The way Hisoka throws Gareta's corpse right in front of Gon, the careful planning of time and location-- I was really in awe of how this episode unfolded.

    Thanks for covering this Guardian Enzo! Your insights have always been interesting to read and they're my favorite HxH posts. I'm sad that not many people are covering it but quality posts like these are just such a treat!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mira. There's a reason I took so many shots of Gon hiding in that tree - those facial expressions are memorable, and very revealing about what this whole experience has done to him.

      Delete
  2. hey enzo why don't you do an experiment? try watching the 1999 series just to get an idea what the old fans are bitching about and to get a glimpse of what you're missing. come on, just one episode :p
    you can watch it in this link: http://www.veoh.com/watch/v1782916NjCYfxmr?h1=Hunter+x+Hunter+episode+23 (low quality but it'll do)

    don't mistake me: i really like this episode and it's definitely one of the best in the series so far. but the 1999 series simply excelled and is in fact better than the manga.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I see that as a slippery slope. I can't pick and choose a few eps of the old series if I want to give it a fair chance, and I don't have time to watch it start to finish. So in the end, I'd be wading into the middle of the controversy for reasons that don't justify doing so. If anything, maybe I'll check it out once this series is over and done.

      Delete
  3. Correction, it's A-1 Pictures who is doing Fairy Tail.
    Second, "and agreeing to Killua’s terms left him one point short of his quota", it's Kurapika, not Killua.
    Last, it's a left hook that Hisoka threw, not right.
    Nitpicky but yeah ^^;

    And beside the part where Gereta's body was returned while in the manga it was the head and in the 1999 version Hisoka just wore his hat, this episode was just perfect. Everything from Hisoka's bloodlust to Gon's attack to the punch to the face. Awesome.

    FT's episode was a tad better for me though, mainly coz it was Erza and it had a stream of awesome music rolling throughout the episode. Didn't mind the power of friendship thing one bit there coz I read about it before.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @ Anon
    and is in fact better than the manga.

    Oh boy.I really wished you didn't go there. On a whole, I think the manga surpasses any adaptation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also have to agree that the beginning of the manga was clearly lacking and the anime makes up for it. I would say the anime is better (for the most part) through Heavens Arena. They're then comparable afterwards. Togashi always has a rough time starting series. Even the beginning of Yu Yu Hakusho was changed around a bit because of this.

      Delete
  5. Hi Enzo!
    As a watcher of the 1999 version and a avid reader of the manga, this was one of the most satisfying episodes by far in the 2011 version. As you already mentioned: the pacing, the way they depicted the thrilling blood lust from Hisoka, was brilliantly displayed. I especially loved how the music fits in this chapter. I'm really glad your enjoying HxH!

    (I've actually been reading your blogs for a long while *and I love your Natsume Yuujinchou posts as well! <3333 * I've just been too busy to say anything though. But please keep up the good work! )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tai - the best sashimi in the world...

      Heh. Thanks very much for commenting, and I'm definitely enjoying this adaptation though #16 was an order of magnitude better than any that preceded it.

      Delete
  6. Still nowhere near original series level. Dropping this and watching 1999 is the only right thing to do. It's not nearly dark or ruthless enough. Not to mention old Hisoka seiyuu is even better, the masterful score and all the characters are more fleshed. Gon particularly is flat as hell compared to 1999, where he in addition had this impeccable charm combined with this animal instincts and true talent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Damn, and I thought I was enjoying this show. Thanks for clearing that up.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, you're right about it being not nearly as dark or ruthless enough and the part with the old Hisoka being a better seiyuu, but I think that the 2011 version still has some points.

      I've already started downloading the 1999 version up until episode 23 (that is Episode 16 of 2011) because of the scare of SOPA. The site were I'm downloading uses Megaupload and other direct download links.

      I watched the 2011 and 1999 version simultaneously (literally two windows) and I noticed that the phase in 1999 was way slower than the 2011. Feels like a bit dragging actually. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of 1999 and I've watched it over and over until last 2 years ago. But still, I like the writing of 2011 more than 1999. Especially in Ep 16 was the best so far.

      Just try to watch the 2011 version and treat it as if it's like a new anime that you're watching for the first time. That was what it felt like for me. A new anime. So the 2011 works just fine with me. Enjoying it.

      Delete