Before Knuckle revealed his deeper reasoning for letting Youpi go (which makes sense in context, even if it’s not a choice a lot of people would make), I reacted to him like he was a good guy wrestling character getting duped by the bad guy even though the audience is like “NO YOU FOOL” the entire time. He’s even shocked when Youpi is all “lol sucker bye” as if Youpi wasn’t going to ditch them the entire time. His stated mission is to protect the King! He’s got no time for the soldier ants. Knuckle, you silly, even if your decisions make sense within the context of your sense of honor and justice.
Anyway, before I get to the rest of this post, I just wanted to mention that I will be at Anime Boston again this year. It’s Friday through Sunday (though I’m arriving tomorrow to settle in), and I’ll periodically broadcast my whereabouts on Twitter because I can’t go a few minutes at conventions without telling people about the dumb things I am doing. (Rest assured that I never do anything intelligent at cons, and neither does anyone else.) I actually wasn’t going to go again, because flying across the country is expensive, but I was lured by the promise of JAM Project. In case you care, I will also be at SakuraCon in a month, because flying to Seattle is much less expensive than flying to Boston.
Back to this episode. The continued emphasis on shifting opinions regarding the Ants once their humanity is glimpsed continues to be interesting. Usually in this sort of situation, the hero holds back on killing/standing their ground on this hostage situation is because they don’t want to become “like the villain.” It’s a black-and-white situation. Here, though, even if I’m reacting like, “NO KNUCKLE WHYYYYYYYYYY,” he’s not letting Youpi go for precisely that reason. It’s a different twist on the idea: Morel’s condition plays into it — as the narrator makes clear by pointing out the mental connection between Morel and Shoot — but it’s Youpi’s words from before that push Knuckle more in the direction he takes. Youpi sees and fights Knuckle and his comrades as equals even though Youpi is vastly more powerful than them. There’s a sense of honor in him; it’s just that honor is dedicated toward protecting the King from all threats. Knuckle’s crew was a threat before. Now it’s not, so Youpi hightails it. No malice. No hatred. Just doing what he has to do.
It’s one of those classic “if we found ourselves on the same side we probably could have been friends or rivals” type of situations. I don’t know if Knuckle necessarily senses good in Youpi, but the fact that he doesn’t view him as bad even after ripping Shoot to pieces and nearly killing Morel speaks volumes. It’s that code of honor that is the essence of Knuckle’s humanity. It’s that same sort of humanity Knuckle feels in Youpi. What really pushes this idea is at the end when Knuckle decides to stay and says that Youpi isn’t the only Royal Guard around. If it had been Pouf in Youpi’s position, would Knuckle have given Pouf the same consideration? Maybe not. (Obviously it’s a different situation, because the leverage of Knuckle’s APR is absent.)
It’s an interesting complexity. The smart thing with the limited information that they have is to hold ground and beat Youpi when he eventually runs out of Nen. That’s what they’ve been waiting for the whole time. But people don’t always do what is “smart” or the statistically most rational thing. Emotions come into play, whether we want them to or not. Knuckle has proven time and again to be an emotional dude. He judges based on feeling. This makes sense to him.
And as it turns out, it doesn’t matter too much since Netero is able to isolate the King, so the Royal Guard won’t get to him quickly anyway. If the King wins and decides to destroy them, well, that’s probably going to happen, whether the Royal Guard is around or not.
Poor Knov. Poor, poor Knov. ;-;