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There is quite a bit to be said about Hunter X Hunter–and don’t worry, we’ll get our chance to talk about it all eventually. For now, though, we’ll have to focus on the last thirty-seven episodes, 111 through 148, which aired in 2014; and about thirty of which happen to the best of the entire show. Suffice it to say that up until episode 111, this series was riding at a strong eight to a light nine for me, and I’d expected to give it the number seven spot on this list; but then the arc which started this year very quickly rocketed the show up to a ten for me, and to the number one spot. I also would easily consider Hunter X Hunter in its entirety to be the best long-form shounen action adaptation ever created.
I’m telling you this because the rest of this video is going consist of nonstop MASSIVE SPOILERS for the last two arcs of the series–so if you have any interest in watching it, this may be the time to turn back. (Mind you, I was spoiled for most of this stuff myself before watching, but then again I usually am). Hunter X Hunter is available for legal free streaming on Crunchyroll, so consider giving it a shot before you come back to this video. Cool? Everyone gone? Only Hunter X Hunter fans left? Alright.
Dude. DAT CHIMERA ANT ARC, THO. Even though I’d been continually warned about how the Chimera Ant arc would basically cut away from the entire rest of the story to focus on another thing for seventy episodes, I don’t think anything could’ve properly prepared me for just how jarring that transition would be. It took a while for the Chimera Ant arc to win me over, but around the time that Netero’s team came into the picture and started fighting the ants in earnest, it started to grab my attention. Where it really got me, though, was with the castle-storming arc.
I would love to have seen the faces of the Jump editors when Togashi told them that he’d be setting volumes of material in the span of about two minutes of action, or that it would consist mostly of dialog, or that he was going to take ten hiatuses and turn in half-finished drawings; and I’m glad he went through with it, because the result is something truly unique and interesting, which Madhouse brought to life beautifully in animation.
The castle storming arc is basically one big experiment in chaos theory–like watching someone break a pyramid of billiard balls in slow-motion at four different camera angles. Every single millisecond of action experienced by each character has an effect on everything else that’s happening, and all of it is analyzed for us in detail along the way. Persistent feelings of tension, confusion, desperation, and struggle blanket the entire first ten episodes of the arc, so that every single movement has us wondering what the consequences might be for these characters that we’ve only just grown to like and understand.
And to my bewilderment, the biggest developments in these characters all happen right in that two minute span. The earth-shattering realizations had by Shoot when he achieves a sort of rebirth in battle, or Pitou as she finally relates to the need to protect the weak through a single glance of her king, or Youpi as he discovers the feelings of respect in his battle with Knuckle; all of these were fascinating, and the simple idea of conveying this rampant character evolution as the result of such overpowering circumstances across such a little time frame kicked major ass.
I don’t think I could possibly go into every single line that I loved from this arc, but a definite highlight was the moment where Netero deliberately decides not to converse with Meruem for fear that they might actually come to an agreement. This was such a complex moment in terms of morality, emotions, and the positions of both characters that it really got me pumped for their battle, as all I could think about how hard it would be to want either of them to win. And that battle was truly the stuff of legends, spanning perhaps the most gratifying episode of the series.
On the other end of the coin was Gon’s horribly depressing beatdown of Pitou. Once again, it’s hard to feel good about this victory, when we know that the ants have so much potential to grow, and when Pitou has just improved so much as a person; yet Gon’s rage and lack of control are completely understandable, and while his victory feels inevitable, it feels as much in the saddest possible way. The moment when Gon criticizes Killua as unfeeling, and Killua, hurt to his core, simply accepts it because he needs to be strong for Gon, was downright heartbreaking.
And don’t get me started on how the arc ends. After Netero’s death and the winding down of all the battles, the episodes become increasingly desperate, and there’s a profound sense of loss from knowing how many fighters are out of commission or at risk. And then, in one final mind game, that moment when Meruem regains his memory and goes straight to Komugi… NNNNG. Their last scene… THAT LAST SCENE THO. Did you cry? I totally didn’t cry. Not at all.
Shaiapouf was a magnificent asshole, Ikalgo’s arc was pretty fun, Welfin was an oddball at first but got a surprisingly satisfying resolution, Morel and Knuckle made great support characters, Knov coming back after aging like fifty years in fear was fucking awesome, and Palm looked way cooler post-transformation. Everything was amazing and perfect and I was on the edge of my seat for like twenty-six episodes straight.
By the way, if you watched this show while it was airing, I cannot recommend highly enough that you rewatch this arc in one sitting. The entire thing flows together really well and is a lot easier to keep track of when you’re watching it all at once. My brother Victor watched it while it was airing and said that it could be frustrating a lot of the time when you’d be hoping for Gon to finally fight and end up with an episode of Welfin monologues; but when we watched it all at once, he said that it improved his experience greatly and flowed a lot better. Also, I don’t know if it helped, but I was drinking the entire time, and god damn that was a good night.
The hunter election arc was pretty good, though while I thought Killua’s little… sister? Brother? Thing? was adorable, I didn’t care much for the sub plot about Illumi chasing Killua around. I feel like every time Togashi tries to incorporate Killua’s family into an arc, he can’t really create any drama since all of them are so goddamn overpowered, so it ends up feeling like a waste of time. Still, the election stuff was pretty fun, what with Pariston being such a complete fucking bastard–and getting to have Ging around and have him finally meet Gon was nice.
The final episode with Gon and Ging was pretty damn cool, and I really feel like Ging’s line about enjoying the little detours was Togashi’s way of explaining the entire ethos of his writing. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Ging was like his self-insert character. My brother and I agreed that this wouldn’t be a terrible place to end the series for good, since Gon essentially reached his goal, Killua’s character arc has basically gone everywhere that it can, and Kurapika and Leorio seem to have essentially made it on their missions. Still, I won’t be totally satisfied until we see what’s going on with Chrollo, and until Hisoka finally gets to fight Gon, but considering that Togashi is on hiatus again, and that the current arc of the manga is entirely about Ging, I’m not getting my hopes up for anything. I’ll take what I can get for now.
So anyways, that about wraps up my thoughts on the last thirty-seven episodes of Hunter X Hunter, and I hope it was at least somewhat cathartic for those of you who love this show as much as I do. I look forward to talking about it again in the future, and I’d love to know what you thought of it down in the comments. Thanks for watching my entire top twenty anime of 2014 list, and stick around on my channel, because I’ve got much bigger and better plans in store for 2015. Seeya then!