This episode, guys. Yeesh. I thought the tension last episode while Knov started his sneaking mission was good, but god damn. Everything in Knov’s part of the episode shows the physical and psychological toll of going against these super-powerful Chimera Ants. It’s easy to forget, since they’ve mostly been hanging out and playing games and whatnot for a while now, but these are some fucking scary creatures. Even having only observed them from afar, Knov knows that if he’s caught, he has no chance of surviving. That’s it. Every move has to be precise. Every precaution must be taken. Knov has to be as aware as possible while simultaneously diminishing his own presence as much as he can. I imagine that physical paradox must be what be what makes Knov so exhausted and on edge as he makes his way into the palace.
The mood built is so good. All the general shots of Knov serve to build a general sense of claustrophobia, even during the parts where he’s outside gathering his thoughts. (Being surrounded by trees bearing soon-to-be Chimera Ants will do that.) I also like the narration; it’s often a cheap way to build tension, but it works for me here. The way Knov goes through the plan step-by-step as he approaches the palace seems as if it’s as much for his benefit as it for the audience — he’s trying to calm himself down and keep focused on his goal, trying to keep the fear of failure out of his mind as best he can. Shinichiro Miki sells this perfectly; his whole run this episode has to be one of the best vocal performances in the entire series thus far. The subtle fear and distress in his voice do so much to push the tension that much further since before now Knov had always been so cool and calculating.
And, of course, I would be remiss to not mention everything after Knov experiences Neferpitou’s terrifying aura firsthand. His total breakdown is heartbreaking, but in a weird way it’s also a testament to how strong Knov is — he still has enough courage to place the final portal and get out of the palace before Neferpitou senses him. But damn. The fear in Knov’s eyes. His disheveled appearance. The way his voice teeters on the edge of total defeat. It makes me wonder how the others will react when they get a taste of that same fear. Knov wonders how Gon and Killua can carry on after being enveloped in that feeling of despair, but aside from being generally crazy, I think Gon and Killua can push forward because they are so young. Knov and Morel are set in their ways and patterns. They know their limits better than anyone else. Gon and Killua? There’s still room for them to grow. They don’t look at their own strength and wonder if it’s enough to defeat the Chimera Ants — they just get strong enough to do so.
At least Knov gets a cool moment before his breakdown. Good to know his portals aren’t just for sneaking around. I wonder if this ant’s head just plopped into one of Knov’s rooms, or if it disappeared to some other hellish dimension? Knov keeping as quiet as possible while sneaking the ant’s body away is cool, too, and I like the touch of leaving the shoes behind so that they don’t create tracks that can be followed. Knov is thinking of everything!
Part of the plan seems to be in place, thankfully. Palm is the other part of the plan. I was a bit confused after the conclusion of the previous episode, since it seemed to indicate that Palm might be acting on her own to help out in some way, but no, her presence is also part of the plot. Good for her. I’m not entirely sure how she’ll be able to get close to the King and his cohorts without getting brutally murdered, though. Considering how they noted that the time during which Neferpitou’s En was down would be the perfect time to launch a plot, they’ll probably be extra careful about anyone wandering near the King. His new playmate will probably be the only person allowed to get close to him at all.
That’s a bridge to be crossed when they get to it, though. Palm still has to escape, after all. (She is a good actress, by the way. Who would actually blush when face-to-face with that creepy government stooge?) There seemed to be a lot of focus on the drink Palm provided, but that almost seems too obvious a way to knock out that creeper. Then again, I suppose she could Nen it so that there’s nothing to be detected in the drink itself? Who the hell would want to live in this world, again??
Nothing much else to say. I just thought this was a cool shot. I also like this guy’s weird suburban world that he has crafted for all the women he’s imported via human trafficking. A creepy clash there.