Or as calm as anyone could possibly be before going on a suicide mission.
I love these sorts of “restful” episodes that ratchet up the tension by reminding the audience of the stakes through preparation for the final conflict. Both sides are guessing at the movements and aims of the other. Each has a piece of the overall picture, but not the entire landscape, so they poke and prod and shift their pieces, hoping to gain some slight advantage before what is to come will come. The King’s group knows what the Hunters want, but not when they will strike. The Hunters know when they will strike, but they are not totally sure of where their prize will be.
It’s hard to say who has the advantage at the moment. The King’s group may have more brute strength, which necessitates the trickiness on the part of the Hunters group. Have they been tricky enough? They have many pieces to play: the entrances Knov planted, Meleoron’s power (which will probably be key in isolating the King), and their true ace in the hole — the fact that none in this group will be the one to fight the King. It’s a group of battlers consisting entirely of decoys. Springing the trap with Netero at the right time will probably be the trickiest part of this whole endeavor. He can’t be brought out too soon; otherwise, the Ants will know immediately that Netero is by far the most dangerous opponent, and that protecting the King from him is the highest priority.
Everyone’s got something on the line. Knov up here is trying as hard as he can to help in some way and make up for not being able to help his comrades in battle. Shinichiro Miki continues to kill it as the emotionally broken Hunter. It’s crazy how he’s basically using the same tone of voice as his Mikisugi in the homeroom teacher disguise, but the circumstances give the same voice a subtlety that makes them totally different. The Mikisugi voice is an obvious put-on, another layer to a self-described Nudist. The Knov voice is a once-proud man desperately trying to gather what little strength he has left to contribute to a cause. Hearing that tinge of the pathetic in his voice after seeing so much of the calm, composed Knov earlier in the arc legitimately hurts.
So many concerns in the air. Morel has spent so much time fighting off tough Ants and obscuring the purpose of the Hunters’ plot that he’s nowhere near full strength. It’s clear he expects to die in this fight; indeed, he’s come to accept it as long as they can do what they’re setting out to do. Gon is focusing on Kite, and Killua is there to help Gon. I’m sure neither one of them is thinking about dying. They’re a bit young for that. Shoot has his old jitters, though no doubt those will subside since there is no real ambiguity in this battle from where they stand. Knuckle is realizing that, as well. There are good Chimera Ants, and there are also those who use their power for ill. (I am of course curious about what Knuckle would think of the King’s burgeoning change of heart.) Ikalgo wants to help his new friend who gave his life better purpose. Meleoron is steeling himself to use his power as best he can.
That nervous tension. So many views and desires coalescing into one purpose. Everyone has their own reasons for fighting, but there’s one goal in mind. They must defeat the King — some way, somehow — or this will all be a failure. Above all, though, I’m just super eager to see how the mechanics of the plan actually play out. No doubt Killua’s thought that everything will go to hell the day you decide to do something will end up true. Something will happen to throw a wrench into the plot. The improvisation in the ensuing anarchy will be fun to watch, especially as it relates to isolating the King.
And yet again, this octopus remains the most moe octopus.