Netero: 110 years old and throwing around the Royal Guard like it’s nothing. Never look down on someone that old in a shounen series. They’ve lived that long for a reason. (And that reason is they can kick your ass whenever they damn well please.)
It’s amazing that Hunter x Hunter can spit out such a great episode where relatively little happens. Let’s break it down: Netero and Zeno Zoldyck (TEAM OLD MAN!!!) drop in from the sky and stir up some chaos, the other team of Hunters sneaks into the manor and runs into Youpi, and there’s an extended flashback to underscore how ridiculously powerful and focused Netero is. All in all, not much progression.
But the execution! Slow motion is overused in general, but it works really well here to show both the heightened senses of all parties involved in this assassination attempt, and also to demonstrate the otherworldly power of Netero’s Nen ability. The speed of Netero’s movement is emphasized twice in this episode: the first time when the narrator mentions that Netero is able to set up and unleash his attack in the time between when Neferpitou sets up and starts to use her attack, and the second time when in Netero’s (relative) youth he is able to do his 10,000 punch ritual in under an hour and breaks the sound barrier with his fists. It’s that context that gives actual impact to the slow motion and makes it more than a neat stylistic device.
Netero is almost like a wrathful god, except you can’t really visibly piss him off enough to know if he’s wrecking your shit because he needs to get something done, or because you really have enraged him. He’s had that inner peace for a long time; Netero’s backstory and appearance has a lot of obvious Buddhist stuff going on that even an ignoramus like me can notice. (Netero seeking enlightenment, his meditative poses, the elongated earlobes that are a part of Buddhist iconography and so on.) I won’t embarrass myself by trying to comment on that with any depth, because I lack the knowledge to do so, but it does lend him an air of godliness to me (though there’s probably a better way to describe it). So much of Hunter x Hunter is about people trying to master their abilities; this is someone who awakened his true ability long ago and turned it into routine. And not the bad kind of routine where he lazily sleepwalks through the fighting moves he knows; rather, it’s the kind of routine where Netero can whip this shit out as an instant reaction. That’s the value of experience.
And remember, when he first appeared on the scene in this arc, Netero said he’s roughly half as strong now as he was at his peak. I can’t even fathom that. Also, we know Netero is strong because his flashback is like a martial arts origin story in short form. I can’t be the only one who was like “OHHHHH SHIT” when he busted out one of those sonic boom punches.
Even Neferpitou’s scary face isn’t intimidating enough to scare Netero.
I am a bit surprised that Netero and his hired hand, Zeno, took such a direct route to the front. As I wrote before, I figured it would be up to the main Hunter group to foment chaos inside the Chimera Ant headquarters and split up the Royal Guard so that Netero would have an easier time of laying the smack down on the King one-on-one. But I suppose this works, too! They need to actually get to the King in the first place, so I guess an all-out surprise assault to get in there and draw him out works as well as anything. Netero doesn’t seem particularly interested in wasting time with the Royal Guard, anyway.
Meeting Youpi so early is definitely a surprise for everyone, and not a particularly welcome one, but they would have run into the Royal Guard at some point, anyway, so better to do so when they can get the jump on them in some way. Youpi’s probably surprised enough that one or two of the team can take him on and distract them while the others scramble elsewhere. If I had to bet, I would say Morel will take him on since he was the one most like “Yo, I’m ready to lay down my life here, it’s cool.” Who knows, though? I didn’t watch the next episode preview this week since several people on Twitter told me there’s a gigantic spoiler in it, and I don’t want to risk seeing that.