Hunter x Hunter 18 – I Wanted To Be Useful

Why are you so frustrated?

With the recent announcement that Bleach was going to enter its final arc this year, people have been asking: “Is there going to be a new series worthy of joining the Big Three?”

I don’t have such concerns. I’m convinced that when an anime and manga giant like Bleach ends, there will always be something out there willing to step up to the challenge. That doesn’t mean you should ignore Hunter x Hunter though. I always thought that if only HxH didn’t have such frequent hiatuses, it’s be one of the Big Three. But then, the series has gotten progressively depraved darker and it’s audience has aged. It’s not as accessible.

This episode was a fantastic reminder on how this is currently one of the best shounen shows to premiere this decade (2010 – 2012) though. Shounen manga is stained with such a terrible reputation it’s sad that people are more than willing to avoid it at any cost. I myself have dropped relatively enjoyable shounen manga because they have the tendency to become repetitive and drag along. Hunter x Hunter isn’t like that at all, every new arc — heck every phase of this exam were vastly different and focused on different things. It’s just that good.

Gon, Kurapika, Leorio, Ponzo and a dead Bourbon are trapped inside a cave with venomous snakes. Half of the episode takes place in a cave and the scenario itself is very well written.  There’s a lot of talking involved but unlike most shows, the dialogue doesn’t bog down the pacing. There’s no irrelevant information shared between the characters. Everyone stays relatively calm.

Gon really shined in this episode. He uses his quick thinking to come up with a solution, but this isn’t a solution without risks. He searches Bourbon’s corpse for a possible antidote and finds it. While this was probably a huge risk, it was a logical to keep one to be used as a bargaining chip. The problem is that this wouldn’t be entirely possible if done alone and even with the antidote, they still had to figure out a way to get out of the cave.

It takes five minutes for the sleeping gas to take full effect and another five minutes to escape. So unless you can hold your breath for that long and carry that many people on your back, it’s not that easy at all. No ordinary human being would’ve been so capable, so this solution was possible all thanks to Gon and his strength.

SHOUNEN LOGIC.

The 99 series shows that after they get out of the cave, Leorio takes Ponzo’s tag from her while she’s asleep. The 2011 follows the manga and shows Gon taking it from her right after they leave the cave. I liked this alteration because Gon manages to help Leorio pass without entirely breaking his promise to Ponzo. He got her out of the cave, but in exchange he took her badge so Leorio could qualify. Again, he sidesteps the usual morals that come with most shounen and actually does something practical and logical.

The second half is more focused on the interview Chairman Netero conducts on the candidates. I liked how fast this was delivered without losing it’s edge. There’s some real tension between Hisoka and Netero, but you can tell that even our psychopathic clown is no way in league with Netero. The way things were done here was really good, but my favorite part is where Gon tells Kurapika what happened with him and Hisoka. Gon isn’t the same kid from the first episode, something inside him has changed. Having to face the reality that he isn’t good enough, Gon cries out of frustration. He admits that he was out searching for Leorio and Kurapika because he felt like he needed to be useful to someone else.

A good friend understands.

I wouldn’t go far as to say that Hunter x Hunter is a deconstruction of the shounen genre, but what I appreciate is that rather than Gon screaming and transcending new levels of GAR to recover, he actually goes out and tries to reaffirm his purpose by helping his friends. The characterization here is surprisingly indepth. Yes, the development of these characters remains slow but this is because it’s designed for a long running series. Unlike other shows of similar length, it doesn’t introduce Character A only to give him/her a backstory that stays irrelevant for the next 50 episodes. No one has yet to act out of character, and they are steadily revealing more of themselves as the series goes on.

Next week looks promising as usual.

If it’s any consolation…to those new to the franchise, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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8 Comments

  1. Another good episode, I enjoyed that. I always thought HxH was Togashi’s attempt at a quintessentially “shounen” manga (until he got bored of the formula at some point). And I actually think that Gon is classic shounen in many ways, especially if you compare him to Urameshi Yuusuke and Prince Baka. It’s true he’s got some dodgy morals (so did Goku etc) but he’s also very Friendship! Bravery! Victory!. Also, I think HxH probably was one of the Big 3 prior to the hiatuses since I doubt Bleach has ever overtaken HxH in book sales.

    [On another note: I don’t have twitter so I thought I’d comment here re: Blue Rose being legal. She may be legal but she will never end up with Tiger because the producer’s know that their core audience are fujoshi. Tiger will remain forever alone hung up on his dead wife, and hence good doujin fodder. :P]

    • Yeah, the first few arcs of HxH felt really shounen. Amusing, to say the least. Everything about Gon’s design and personality screams shounen. Although I have to say, if there’s one thing in common with those three protagonists, it’s that they tend to be unbelievably stubborn.

      Also, is it just me or does Ging remind anyone of an older Yusuke?

      It seems that HxH doesn’t do very well with Shounen Jump rankings but it’s volume sales outdo pretty much most of what’s on SJ. The TV anime is also doing really well.

      Re: Note
      FFFF. I think I’ll have to agree with your thoughts, I can’t imagine Tiger ending up with anyone just so the fans can keep shipping!

  2. I really want to see Netero battle someday. It would be pretty awesome. I bet the old man has some awesome skills.

  3. Really looking forward to the next episode. It will be delicious. I just hope they don’t drag it out, and if they do, hopefully in an interesting way.

    • I’m interested to see how this plays out. Next week should be pretty good! (I hope anyway, if they do drag it I hope it’ll be awesome.)

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