Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hunter X Hunter 2011 - 53

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I can honestly say that almost none of that went as I expected.


Before I launch into my usual weekly praise for H x H – I’ll warn you, it’s coming – I want to single out Sawashiro Miyuki for some praise here.  Not because I don’t still have issues with her ridiculous overexposure and not because I don’t still find most of her performances fall in a very narrow range – I have no reservations about the arguments I’ve raised – but because fairness compels that I point out that her Kurapika is quite different than most of her recent roles.  And because, coincidentally, this episode really showcased what a fine job she’s doing with the character.  The reason Kurapika marks a break from the usual Sawashiro of late is because it’s such a restrained, quiet performance – simmering, rather than boiling.  And because of that, she’s able to disappear into the character – Kurapika (well, and Apo) are really the only two major roles in the last couple of years where I’m able to forget for a moment what seiyuu I’m listening to.  Full credit where it’s due – this is a superb, if atypical, performance.

As always there was a tremendous amount of stuff going on here both in terms of plot and character, and it takes some time to make sense of it all.  Epic was the best quality the York Shin Arc had in my view (I’d still take Heaven’s Arena by a whisker, on the whole) and this ep was epic in a quieter but no less impactful way than the last one.  Lots of developments surprised me, and some of them seem to demand further exploration.  Let’s start with this one: unless I’m very much misreading the situation, it seems to me that Zeno Zoldyck openly admitted that in a true fight, Chrollo would have killed him.  While that’s a bit stunning in its own right, it does lead to the interesting question of why Chrollo didn’t try to kill him.  I can think of a few possible reasons:

  • Prior agreement with Illumi
  • Prior arrangement with Zeno
  • Something else altogether

The whole scenario with the Zoldycks is fascinating to start with – how beastly must Chrollo be to have Zeno admit he’s no match in a true fight?  Some of the details of the whole arrangement still elude me – it seems as if Zeno and Silva were actually trying to kill Chrollo before the Ten Dons were officially dead (it’s a shame Illumi’s arrival was spoiled by the preview last week) – but it becomes even more of a riddle when you factor in Chrollo’s “Don’t touch the ambulance” order when Neon was being taken to the hospital.  Here, only one possibility seems obvious – compassion – but that also seems pretty out of character for Chrollo.  There’s something going on here that runs deeper than what we’ve been shown – the circumstantial evidence is that Zeno and Silva were going all-out, even if they did know about Illumi having been hired.

In any event, the depth of Chrollo’s deception was pretty stunning in the final analysis.  Not only did he kill the Ten Dons (via Illumi – a Spider hiring an assassin, who’d have figured) but faked the deaths of most of the troupe via Kotolopi’s “Gallery Fake” ability – the same one he used to steal every item in the auction, including the red eyes of the Kurta.  In the end Chrollo followed up his display of savage brutality with a tour de force finale that was almost delicate in its elegance.  It’s hardly a wonder Hisoka is so fascinated with a man that can defeat the strongest Zoldyck in a fight and dream up a deceit such as that one.  It’s also pretty convenient, I have to say, how well the Spiders’ abilities match up with each other given how membership in the group is decided – but then, maybe part of Chrollo’s genius is the ability to see how to make all those disparate talents fit together.

Once again, the overriding sense with Kurapika is that this is a truly tragic character, a fundamentally kind person driven by fate to a path of misery and destruction.  Though he could hardly have known it (could he?), Chrollo couldn’t have devised a better revenge against the man who killed Ugovin.  He took away Kurapika’s vengance, leaving him empty and directionless, forced to bid on the eyes of his dead relative for the sybaritic pleasure of his boss and his spoiled daughter.  There was so much surrender in Kurapika’s face in this episode – the act of taking out the contacts at last seemed deeply symbolic of a young man whose spirit has been crushed and soul left empty and hollow.

Never, then, has Kurapika more needed Gon and Killua – whose very appearance, as it often does, completely brightened the mood of the episode instantly.  Of course we know he’ll eventually find out the truth – and it was very interesting that Hisoka tried to get the news to him, only failing because Kurapika was on the phone with Gon at the time – but at the moment Kurapika sees no reason to keep going.  Reuniting with Gon, Kil and Leorio could give him enough to soldier on for a while, losing himself in their irrepressible antics and in Gon’s own quest.  Where Kurapika’s quest was inherently negative and backward-looking and Killua’s is always about what he doesn’t want to do, Gon’s is positive because of his fundamental nature.  Move forward, get stronger, fight evil, find his father – his spirit is unquenchable and he seems incapable of being dispirited or discouraged.  That’s what Killua has latched onto him like a life preserver and thrown himself into helping Gon, because it’s something he can focus on besides his own painful past – and Kurapika might just be able to as well.

That, of course, may just be what Greed Island has in store for us.  But things in York Shin surely aren’t quite done yet – Leorio and Zepile still have put their own comparatively modest but nevertheless useful skills to work to help Gon get his copy of Greed Island, and the truth of what’s happened to the Ten Dons may come out sooner rather than later.  And then there’s Hisoka, always the wild card – never quite throwing himself in the Troupe’s plans, still intensely interested both in Kurapika and especially Gon and Killua.  A world where Kurapika knows the truth is a much more fun and interesting one for him, and he’ll find a way to make sure Kurapika learns what happened if events don’t beat him to it.  And the next time Kurapika goes to do battle with the Spiders, it will likely be with his friends at his side.


Edit: Not paying close enough attention to the OP, I failed to note that it was a special "Phantom Troupe" version, apparently to coincide with the third trailer for next year's "Phantom Rouge" film.

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Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia: “Kotolpi”
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36 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Plus, that is exactly why he ordered not to touch Neon's ambulance.

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    3. That makes sense, but they didn't give that explanation anywhere in the series, did they?

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    4. I removed the content, BTW, because I don't remember that explanation being offered in the ep, as I said. That he was trying to steal their abilities - and that he couldn't steal Zeno and Silva's - yes. But not the condition you ascribe to it. If I'm wrong and I simply missed it, my apologies - point out exactly where it was revealed and I'll happily restore it.

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    5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    6. Well, if it hasn't been revealed in the anime it's a spoiler - not everyone (me included) has read the manga or seen the 1999 version.

      Edited post:
      But if I'm not mistaken, the Zoldycks have mentioned something about Chrollo using the stolen abilities and how hard it is to steal them. It's obvious he has to fulfil some conditions to do so.

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  3. Actually, and I don't think this is a spoiler, Zeno meant that if Chrollo ever got serious, then the result of the one-vs-one match up would be much more unpredictable. Never underestimate a Zoldyck.

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    1. Exactly. Zeno was a lot more ambiguous in the manga.

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    2. Actually, I just checked the manga and the translated speech is exactly the same, almost word for word. "Me, of course. Unless you decided to actually try and kill me." Even Zeno's facial expression is pretty much identical.

      Now I do agree that can be interpreted two ways - "If you decided to fight with your full strength, you'd win" or "If you decided to fight with your full strength, it would be anyone's guess who'd win". I guess at the time it seemed to me he was indicating the former, but the other interpretation is just as feasible.

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    3. Im guessing, what Zeno really meant, was that if Chrollo wouldnt want his abilities, he would win in a fair fight. But what Chrollo really wanted was to own the Zoldicks, techniques.

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    4. You are missing the point. Zeno Knows that Chrollo wasnt figthing seriously because he wants to steal his abilitys. And that also means that Zeno wasnt fighting seriously.

      If Chrollo dedices to fight seriously Zeno will do the same. Then the fight would be closed, ant the winner would be determined by a narrow margin.

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    5. Zeno was fighting seriously. He was even willing to die to kill his target, and the Zoldycks don't fool around while they do their job. Chrollo was trying to capture them alive, so it makes sense he wasn't using his full power. Zeno had been hired to kill Chrollo : not using his full power would have been foolish.

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    7. Careful there, we are still on York Shin. Let's keep the discussion around the events that have occurred in the last 53 episodes, rather than jump ahead.

      Without getting too much into which one is stronger discussion, I think that the line's purpose was meant to show just how strong Chrollo really is. I mean it went without saying since he was the spiders leader, but getting to hear it from one of the stronger characters in the show admitted it as well, either admitting that Chrollo was the stronger fighter or even putting him as his equal (''It could go wither way if you got serious'') just cements that into hard fact.

      I really don't think there is much use trying to speculate about a possible second fight between Zeno and Chrollo, because for all we know the second time they meet Chrollo might end up losing because the situation isn't in his favor or anything of that sort. It's just how it is in this show, brute force alone can't do much without a mind to utilize it effectively, and the best laid plans can go awry do to bad luck.

      Whatever Zeno thinks of Chrollo (Equal or Stronger Than Me) he isn't a prophet.

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  4. You seem to be assuming that the York Shin is over, or at least nearly over. That all we have left is the denouement before moving on. Without giving too much away, all I can say is that the best is yet to come.

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    1. No, it's quite clear there's some serious work to be done here still, as I said in the last paragraph, but this is certainly a transitional episode within the arc itself (which seems like a logical reason for the 1999 series to use these events as a stopping point).

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    2. I keep on going back to the same thing you wrote since it still rings true

      ''This is a serious convergence of destinies we’re looking at here – numerous plot threads each of which, on their own, could be the headline of a pretty epic mini-arc.''

      And really, it's for this reason that why even though it ended before the arc's conclusion, the '99 series managed to still make it come across as a credible ending. I mean if you think about, there were a lot of plot lines that managed to conclude in this episode (and the next) alone, so in a sense it made for one stylish finale even there were still several other plot threads left to be concluded.

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    3. "You'll lose half your limbs", right ? Or something like that.
      That prophecy is really the one plot point that screams out the arc is not over. Did the 99 anime not include it ?

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    4. Not in the original TV series, no. It was eventually completed in the OAV series that also animated the Greed Island arc that follows (I don't think this is a spoiler, as it's been mentioned multiple times, at least by title).

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  5. It's just that Chrollo wanted to steal the Zoldyck's abilities that's he fought without the intent to kill. He couldn't steal an ability if the person using it is dead because that person wouldn't complete the requirements needed to steal the ability. It was also hinted in the episode that the person who he stole the ability from must remain alive. That's why Chrollo didn't attack the ambulance. You can see in the preview that Chrollo was using neon's ability. So he can't kill neon because he already stole the ability. I'm not sure about that but it's just a guess.

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  6. ''Epic was the best quality the York Shin Arc had in my view (I’d still take Heaven’s Arena by a whisker, on the whole) ''

    You still wanting to hang on to Heaven's Arena even after all this time amuses me to no end :P.

    I mean don't get me wrong, I like Heaven's Arena plenty (then again, I like every arc in this series so) and there was a lot of cool stuff in there and I rank it high among the HxH arcs overall, but even then I still think that York Shin is simply on a different level altogether. This isn't knocking down the previous arc by any means, but as I had told you before, this arc is widely loved by Hunter fans for being truly awesome (in the sense that it will literally inspire awe in you).

    I know you probably already are aware of all of that, but if at this point this arc is only a whisker away from Heaven's Arena when it isn't even over, then boy oh boy I want to know what are you going to say once we start to hit the climax and shit starts getting real. Again.

    Other things to comment on:-

    -I agree about what you wrote about Sawashiro. When she was announced to be Kurapika's voice, I was unsure about what to think, but after a while I was sold that she would be able to do a great job once episode 9 hit and we got a taste of his serious side after turning Majitani into goo. I will say that I am more tempted to credit the character being unbelievably complex and the context and situation of the story being fascinating as the main source for why we are able to simply forget about the actor behind Kurapika.

    -Not much to say about Kurapika that you haven't mentioned (and to be honest I sort of said my piece on him back in the comment section in episode 47) but I will say that the juxtaposition presented here in Kurapika's character, the reaction to seeing the target of his revenge taken away from him, and reclaiming the first of his clans men eyes makes it pretty clear to me about what sort of person Kurapika really is. There is no doubt that he is a tragic figure, but there is no doubt that it's the situation he finds himself stuck in that made him become such a figure.

    -Re: What Zeno said about Chrollo.
    I think that it is pretty clear that the Zoldycks are freighting, so when the two most accomplished of the family take the time to comment and compliment the leader of the Spiders can be testament on how much of a monster Chrollo really is. I mean he managed to come out alive in both encounters didn't he? That said, I don't think that Zeno would be no match to Chrollo so much that in a fight where Chrollo is serious, Zeno would be forced to go all out and fight to his full capabilities ... which might put him at a disadvantage with someone like Chrollo with his ability.

    As is the things in this series, things are never cut clear when it comes to how these sort of things will pan out. Zeno might think he will lose if he and Chrollo go at it for real, but what if Zeno gets motivated enough to overcome what ever advantage Chrollo might have, or what if they fight in a situation where Zeno has the upper hand?

    ''faked the deaths of most of the troupe via Kotolopi’s “Gallery Fake” ability – the same one he used to steal every item in the auction, including the red eyes of the Kurta.''

    Talk about salt in the wound ... not only did Kurapika go through all that humiliating process, but they had to be fake too ...

    ''but then, maybe part of Chrollo’s genius is the ability to see how to make all those disparate talents fit together.''

    Bingo. As you can guess, Chrollo isn't only freighting due to how monstrous his battle capabilities or how varied his nen is. No, what is really most frightening is that he managed to bound together an entire group of 12 of quite possibly the most dangerous and powerful criminals in the world, and make them all follow sets of rules he laid down and not only get them to obey them to the letter without question but also build up a sense of comradeship between them all.

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    1. Speaking as someone who's read all 340 chapters of HxH thus far
      I too also prefer Heavens Arena to Yorknew. Well actually to best
      explain it I would say that comparing the two arcs:

      1999 Series. Heavens Arena > Yorknew
      2011 Series Heavens Arena > Yorknew
      Manga Heavens Arena = Yorknew

      Now as you can probably see, Yorknew in neither adaptation has
      lived up to it's manga counterpart and each for different reasons.
      Both adaptations have made Yorknew my least favorite arc at least
      when it comes to the adapted versions. I think the arc is great
      in the manga but imo both Greed Island and Chimera Ant Arc far
      surpass it and Heavens Arena is equally enjoyable to it though
      for different reasons.

      My issue with the 99 Yorknew is that Kurapika is too "cool" and too "tragic". The Troupe was in a way too plain. And overall the atmosphere was just dull and frankly boring to me.

      My issue with the 2011 Yorknew is that there is too much focus on Kurapika and the Troupe and not enough on Gon and Killua and Leorio.
      Now I think the parts with Kurapika and the Troupe are done excellently and I think they got that part of the manga down pat
      but it's not as good as the manga because Gon, Killua and Leorio's
      role gets reduced and there is a lesser ratio between them and
      Kurapika.

      Basically one of the things that I love about Yorknew in the manga
      is the balance of the dark story of Kurapika vs the Troupe and the light story of making money for Greed Island with Gon.

      Kurapika is an awesome character. But quite frankly I don't want to just wallow in his despair. I like tragedies. But I don't want melodrama. That's why Gon and Killua are the perfect foil in the manga because no matter what situation they are in they bring a certain energy to the story. They could be discussing tax returns
      and somehow those two make the most fun you could ever have.

      That all said I think episode 54 might be one of Guardian Enzo's
      favorite episodes yet. :)



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    2. Gon and Killua already dominate an extreme portion of this anime. I think it's nice to finally see Kurapika get some attention.

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  7. Excellent review as always. I don't know if it was just me, but the direction Madhouse took in the secene where Kurapika threatens the Mafia guy while in Scarlet Eyes Mode made it lose all impact. Not only does the close up of Kurapika's face not look as frightening as the 1999 version or manga (Which I implore you to at least see Enzo cause it is very frightening indeed), but the music playing ruined the mood. Other then that though, nothing about what Madhouse did with the series (Which only has a small part left untill it finishes the 1999 version) was bad. They were extremely faithful to the manga, so any faults it had compared to the 1999 series were not the faults of the directors.

    As for why the Zoldycks didn't hold back in their fight against Chrollo, I assume it is due to the what they said about their jobs. They take it very seriously. Since the 10 dons (Their employers) are now dead, they no longer have a need to do their job and see no need in fighting just for the sake of fighting.

    As for why Chrollo decided not to attack Neon, I won't spoil that. But it will be answered next episode. Also, York Shin arc is far from over. About 70% done, but there's still very much more in store.

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  8. That piece of music ruins a lot of scenes for me... it sounds too uplifting and upbeat for a scene that I feel should convey fear and uneasiness. For me, even total silence when the red-eyes appeared would have made that scene have much more impact.

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    1. I can imagine that track (which is entitled [in English] "Sprint" ) as being upbeat. But uplifting? Not so much. Uplifting sounds too
      much like it should make us feel warm and cozy inside. I dunno
      maybe you feel that way. But when I hear the track it's more like
      a feeling of great anticipation and taking the first step into the great unknown. Which is why I say the track works EXCELLENT for a character like Gon. Take for instance when Hanzo was about to break his arm and the track Sprint plays. This is a huge pivotal moment in Gon's character. Will Gon give up or push forward at the cost of his own arm? As an audience invested in Gon we don't want to see him get hurt. But we also don't want to see him fail. The moment of truth draws near and each drum beat is like the pounding of our hearts. That is the way I feel when I hear the theme.

      And actually that is why I agree with you in that it does not fit
      with Kurapika's scene. Kurapika's threat is something I've always
      seen as a descent. Sprint makes the heart pump faster but the Kurapika scene should make the blood run cold. Especially with the rest of the episode (minus the Gon and Killua parts) being rather depressing. The track "Sprint" isn't happy or uplifting imo
      but it's one that should make us cheer for the protagonist and
      while Zenji is very unlikable it doesn't seem right to cheer
      for Kurapika. Not like it would be to cheer for Gon vs Hanzo.

      But then again, I'm cheering for kid to allow his arm to be broken.
      So I suppose that's rather twisted of me. Still the track just
      seems out of place for Kurapika. And really for most of this arc.

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  9. The only reason I can speculate why Chrollo didn't actually go all out is because of the conditions for his move-stealing abilities I guess. I can only presume he needs his target alive. I'd love to be surprised, though.

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  10. so what's your verdict on danchou now enzo? =3

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    1. Terrifying and charismatic. I dream of the day I can see he and Hisoka go at it with their full strength.

      Compare villains like Hisoka and Chrollo (and Zeno for that matter) with the Scooby-Doo villains we see in some anime, and you can see why this grotesque parodies with "Hate me!" stamped on their forehead drive me crazy. Lazy writing is lazy - give me a villain with some subtlety and charm any day.

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    2. "I dream of the day I can see he and Hisoka go at it with their full strength."

      *LIKE*

      ;3

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  11. Zeno did not say that Chrollo could beat him if he went full strength, he was saying that Chrollo would be on an even playing field with him and the winner would be unpredicatable. Sorry just had to correct that.

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  12. Finally caught up :)

    So this is where the old tv series ended and I'm glad you found this episode epic and impactful although in a somber way. Saw posts/reviews from hardcore shounen fans say that they feel disappointed/cheated since they're expecting a clear cut "winner" from the Zoldycks-Chrollo fight only to find out that they're basically messing around. When will they realize that HxH is NOT a shounen battle manga but a shounen adventure manga? =/

    Another thing that amuses me is how new fans interpret that little exchange between Zeno and Chrollo. However, I want to bring out these points:
    1) The Zoldyck's family business is assassination. Zoldycks clearly view killing as a job - nothing more, nothing less. They're both assassins and businessmen.
    2) Silva and Zeno both mentioned that killing Spiders is not worth the money they get paid for because of how difficult it is.
    3) Chrollo hired Illumi to take care of the 10 Dons. He became both the target and the client. If Chrollo being a target is not a worthy endeavor, perhaps treating him a client is much more profitable.
    4) "Customer satisfaction" and what it entails in the business sector.

    Also, ugh! Why do other people need to spoil stuff? The reasons why Chrollo left Neon alone will be tackled in the next episodes. We'll just have to see whether MH will make it subtle or outright tell us.

    You nailed why Chrollo is dangerous as a leader of a powerful group.

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  13. Fun fact: Kurapika's contact lens holder is normal sized, but anime drawings need him to have irises as big as a one dollar coin. The use of contacts lampshaded the irrealistic stylization in manga-esque drawing style. It made me chuckle.

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  14. Are you talking about the part of the OP where they show all spiders one after another? Thats been part of the OP for a while now.

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