Youpi is pretty damn scary, but Gon with that look in his eyes is quite fearsome, as well. Two monsters getting ready to duke it out. Or so Youpi would think.
What can I say? This episode takes some of the most abused shonen storytelling devices — endless bouts of narration and stretching moments into a ridiculous time frame — and still wrings as much tension as possible from the events. That high adrenaline with everyone operating at peak intensity is as good an excuse for the slowness (in terms of in-show time used) of the action as any. The narration I’m not quite as hot on. It does provide good information every so often (the bit about Youpi’s biological makeup and how it plays into his psychology and reaction time is particularly informative), but it also falls into the trap of explaining things that are fairly obvious just by actually watching the episode (Pitou bulking up her legs to launch herself toward the King at greater speed).
I’m generally forgiving of this sort of thing, because I think that when used well, this sort of narration can provide an extra oomph to the tension (see: Kaiji), but nobody likes being told about what they can see plainly for themselves, yeah? Kids aren’t that dumb. (I wonder how many kids actually stay up to watch Hunter x Hunter?)
But enough of what meager things I didn’t care for in the episode and, ultimately, nobody wants to talk about, anyway. How about this?!?!?! Not gonna lie, my heart tightened up when I saw this. Even without the emotional context, it’s such a crazy powerful image. Those blacks, whites and greys contrasting with that crimson blood. That black mask on the King. The drip of blood just before everything comes into frame. That slow pull back. THE SILENCE. So fucking good, SO FUCKING GOOD. If this isn’t on my 12 Days list this year, it will be because it got usurped by something equally good or better from this show, or because I am a massive idiot and forgot because that’s what I do. Considering how great this show is and what a total dumbass I can be, either possibility would not be shocking.
Anyway, going back to the above image for a moment! I didn’t think about this while watching the episode because I was too swept up in EMOTIONS, but while staring at it just now, I couldn’t help but be struck by its stark resemblance to that old standby subject of Christian art, the Pieta. For those who don’t know, the Pieta is the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Jesus Christ after that whole business with the crucifixion. Have a look at Michelangelo’s sculpture of the Pieta for visual context. Different artists tend to render the pose in varying ways, but it’s the same basic idea all around.
So … is the story moving Komugi into Christ Figure territory? It’s not as if it wouldn’t make sense in the context of the story — Komugi comes from humble beginnings, seems to think only of other people, and her kindness has a dramatic effect on the King, softening his heart in extraordinary ways. (Though the process remains incomplete for now.) What better way to seal the deal than by having her “die” and be resurrected? (Hopefully she is not quite dead yet. Pitou has displayed aptitude for raising the dead, but that didn’t turn out so well for Kite.) Whatever its literary application, it makes for a hell of a striking image. I could stare at that shit all day.
Really, what I am saying is that Komugi is our Lord and Savior, and we should all worship at her altar right now. Drop whatever silly gods you do or don’t worship, get on your knees and pray to Komugi Above. Amen.
But enough of that, here’s Youpi being creepier and more terrifying than before. Eyes everywhere makes monsters so much more disgusting. I think it’s the feeling that they could be looking at you no matter where you are in relation to them. I wouldn’t want Youpi checking me out wherever.
Ugh, there’s just too much good stuff going on. I can’t be rational about it anymore. I loved the story looping back a bit just before the Dragon Dive busted through the roof, leading to a nice “WAIT OH NO” moment just before it actually happens in this episode. I love Shoot gathering his courage and running headlong at Youpi. I love Knuckle getting in that sneaky invisible punch and confusing the shit out of Youpi. And I’m damn well going to love Netero and the King THROWING DOWN OH MY GOD. Not a good sign for Netero that his sympathy for the King has grown a bit, though …