Oh no, it’s Terminal Anime Disease! He’s got only a few hours to live!
Well, it didn’t take Hunter x Hunter all that long to hint at the sort of shenanigans I thought would appear eventually, and then all but confirm what is happening without outright stating it. Even a dope like me could see where everything is going when Youpi conspicuously coughs and then has blood drip out of his nose not that long after. (Will say, though, that the first instance of blood drippage is at least decently subtle since one could plausibly think, “Well, Youpi is just super crazy/angry right now and that’s why the blood is flowing!”) When blood flowed from Meruem’s nose, that’s when the, “OK, they’re definitely sick somehow” thought hit me. From there, it’s not all that difficult to connect it with the bomb: That’s the only thing that has truly disrupted the Chimera Ants and involved the King, Youpi and Pouf was that bomb.
That Netero is a wily rascal, ain’t he? He went all out on the preparation of this plot. If I’m remembering correctly, he had that bomb implanted before the mission even began, so he was always open to the possibility that someone would be stronger than him and that he’d need to kill it no matter what. Netero was prideful enough to goad Meruem into battle to test his own strength at max power, but he also wouldn’t let his pride be humanity’s undoing. Safeguards upon safeguards: first, a bomb to blow everything to hell, and in case that isn’t enough, then everything is poisoned just to get that extra bit of death going. Pouf and Youpi will be a bit too dead to appreciate the irony that their concern for the King ended up killing them both.
As for the quality of shenanigans? It feels sort of cheap, but overall it’s plausible enough for me to buy without getting NERD OUTRAGED. Considering the alternative — Gon or whoever gets some permanent bullshit power-up that enables them to defeat the King — I’ll take this 100 times out of 100. It fits much better with the themes and tone of the Chimera Ant arc, as well. Humanity isn’t victorious by rising to the occasion and establishing dominance over evil monsters. It wins by being sneaky, cruel and acting out of a sense of vengeance. Ugly feelings propel the way to survival. The Chimera Ants aren’t entirely innocent, themselves, of course. There ain’t nothin’ good about this scenario. That said, I’m the last person who’s get on Palm and Ikalgo’s case for this. Shit’s fucked up, but honor doesn’t mean much if you’re dead. They’re doing what they can to stay alive when face-to-face with someone who can kill them by blinking.
Sure, anyone would like to be a nice person and not use Komugi for the purposes of saving their own skins, but from where I stand, Palm and Ikalgo don’t have much of a choice, given their options. At least they’re trying to keep her safe.
At least this episode has one heartwarming moment when it’s revealed that Ikalgo and Welfin used to be bros. (Albeit, bros who worked for someone who operated an entire country as a drug running operation.) Part of the genius of this whole “humans can be reborn as Chimera Ants” thing is that it can lead to ironic moments like this where people who fought each other later find out they had once been best friends or whatever. A classic scenario with a weird twist. That’s Hunter x Hunter in a nutshell, yeah?
I also want to say how interesting I find it that a character who is so key to many others — Gyro — has existed mostly in flashbacks and the thoughts of others. I expected him to pop up in a Chimera Ant body at some point, but nope. It’s neat that such a background characters has evolved into a myth of sorts. He was the leader of this crazy nation at one time, and now he’s gone. Vanished. But he still might be alive! It’s also interesting that, again, the mythical figure of this arc literally ran a country whose existence hid a major drug operation. Heroes are the best!