Whenever the Phantom Troupe show up in Hunter x Hunter, they have the uncanny tendency to steal the show. They may be remorseless psychopaths who think nothing of slaughtering innocents and dragging children into their ranks, but they have a weird sort of familial bond that gives their snarling banter and unrestrained mayhem a sort of charm. Save for Mummy Boxer, of course, who spent most of the series under wraps (not sorry).
The Chimera Ant arc has been the least Phantom Troupe-centric yet, but also the most sprawling in scope. After episodes of established side characters getting butchered or corrupted, seeing a familiar cast not only survive but utterly annihilate a chimera ant colony is super cathartic.
The difficult thing with fights involving characters as overpowered as the Phantom Troupe is making the enemy a fairly credible threat, without downplaying our protagonists’ abilities. Otherwise, it’s just watching character masturbation that progressively grows more and more unnecessary. Now, there is no question that the Phantom Troupe will win, even from the start. We’ve seen them indiscriminately and effortlessly pick apart the best that the world’s organized crime syndicates had to offer, so a group of second-tier chimera ants certainly isn’t going to challenge them. Still, even from the start, it’s evident that their strength lies not on the abilities themselves, but in how they’re utilized. The Phantom Troupe are all superbly skillful, while being believably powerful.
All of the fights are entertaining, but the most interesting is one that happens mostly off-screen—that between Kalluto and some poor fucker who gets diced with paper. Kalluto is arguably the weakest of the troupe, but he’s able to use his power to keep his prey at bay, while slowly cutting him apart. Most of the Troupe toy with their kills before actually finishing them off, but only Kalluto goes a long way to draw this phase out. Each of the fights that aren’t rushed are memorable, but only Kalluto’s can outdo summoning miniature planets and suns out of thin air, just by virtue of being more chilling. Once again though, the entire Troupe steals the show, and I felt a twinge of disappointment as the plot actually resumed.