40 CommentsHunter X Hunter / By Shinmaru /

Hunter x Hunter 134 – Humans Are Jerks

hunter-x-hunter-rodney-king

So if Hunter x Hunter wasn’t heavy enough for you yet, the first couple of minutes of this week’s episode pound home the point that humanity, while capable of good, also acts pretty shitty quite frequently. You’ve got general things like polluting the environment, segregating the sick and poor into cramped communities while the rich bask in the glories of modern urban life, wars, etc. There’s also call outs to specific events like the above photo, which to me immediately recalls the Rodney King beating and subsequent Los Angeles riots in 1992 (the image afterward reminds me of that, too). There’s also this image, which is an undeniable reference to this photo from the Vietnam War, one of the 20th century’s most famous images.

Shit’s definitely rough, but it’s also important to put the “We are no different from the Ants. No, we are far worse” comment into context. It’s striking at the fundamental difference between humans and Chimera Ants. Ultimately, the Chimera Ants are structured to do what they do. What Meruem plans is of course horrible from our perspective — at best, humanity gets to live in a zoo; at worst, genocide. But what Meruem plans is building the Chimera Ant society on a larger scale. Even with humanity spliced in, Meruem is still operating as prescribed by nature. Humans have a different sort of will altogether. They’re driven by selfishness and selflessness in equal measure; they’re capable of wonderful acts of good and horrifying acts of evil. We engage in great charity while denying vast swathes of people basic civil rights and dignity. I’ll refrain from getting too political here, but suffice to say anyone who pays attention gets several reminders per day of humans being wonderful and humans being cruel assholes.

We see the wide range of humanity during the invasion. Killua doing everything he can to keep Gon sane. Gon acting in the name of vengeance when he’s at his lowest point. Knuckle readily sacrificing himself Shoot. Netero fighting to save humanity even though he knows full well those at the top will throw the Hunters Organization under the bus at the first available opportunity, but also saving humanity via an inhumane weapon. We have the capacity to think for ourselves and make choices based on any number of variables that may mean the world to us or nothing at all — and what each person values may be vastly different than others. Look at the brief scene of people celebrating their opulence before being blown up by the Miniature Rose. We can look at it from the point of view that that’s terrible, because many people died. And it’s true: it’s terrible when anyone dies, no matter the number. But that also divorces the act from a large part of its humanity. It’s not an action without context. We see the inherent cruelty of the situation beforehand: people celebrating the wealth they’ve built while many suffer on the outside. From the perspective of those who did the bombing, it’s probably a bloody cry for help and attention — a call for someone to see the suffering they willfully ignore every day.

hunter-x-hunter-welfin-hairless

To me, the Chimera Ant arc long ago ceased being a matter of “right” and “wrong” and “deserved” and “not deserved.” Any one of those perspectives could be argued from anywhere. I mean, look at the above screenshot. Welfin arguably sells out his colleagues to save his own skin. Anyone who didn’t know the context would be mad as hell. But what would anyone else do in that situation? I’d like to be a brave hero, sure. But it’s been established that these Chimera Ants are scary bastards. This is clearly recalling Knov crapping his pants and getting the hell out of the fight at the first touch of the Royal Guard’s aura. It takes a special class of person to stand up to that — a person, we’ve seen, that might not act absolutely “good.” And even as fear strips Welfin of his dignity, he still keeps a small, precious piece of it by decrying Meruem and pledging his loyalty to Gyro (which, of course, may be misplaced loyalty).

Gah, there’s just so much in this episode. Meruem torn between human curiosity and Chimera Ant superiority and rage, Pouf’s increasingly desperate attempts to shield Meruem from the truth of Komugi and his despair at the King embracing humanity (a despair, by the way, I can scarcely take pleasure in given how troubling this whole arc is; Pouf’s body and ideals are dead, and the will to fight is lost, but it’s not triumphant in any way), disturbing images like that faraway shot of Youpi twitching out before he dies … lord.

hunter-x-hunter-rose-bloom

One thing I want to comment on before I end this post. The montage of the rose’s aftermath shows that various animals are susceptible to the rose’s poison, so it’s easy to make the leap that it would work on Chimera Ants, as well. But I think it would be an interesting twist if the Chimera Ants’ adoption of human genetics made them more affected by the poison — another hammer to the “humanity is the downfall of the Chimera Ants” nail. I don’t know how possible/believable it is to create a poison that specifically targets humanity, and if I remember correctly, the biological makeup of Chimera Ants is pretty fucked up and inhuman, anyway.

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40 Comments

  1. gedata
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    this post is too serious, I was hoping you’d crack a joke at New Welfin looking like a piece of clay modeled into a wolfman

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 18, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      YOU’RE TOO SERIOUS

  2. Jaysus
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Welfbro… you’re such a bro.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 18, 2014 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      I want to hug him. :(

    • Jaysus
      Posted June 18, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      I spoiled it when he first appeared, saying he was best ant. No one believed me though.

  3. shytende
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Hey, next time is the final episode, right ?

    One things I liked is the cruel irony of the rose motif.
    Especially when Pouf was basking on Meruem’s glory and power.

    • Kenjeran
      Posted June 18, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      Final episode of this arc. Supposedly. But then I heard the next arc will start at 137.

      • Shinmaru
        Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I believe it was confirmed they intend to adapt the next arc. After that, who knows?

  4. lapster
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always felt like Hunter x Hunter’s world has a bit of a nasty edge to it. The start of this episode really helped hammer that home for me. There’s always been this sense that the world is in a bit of a bad shape, Yorknew city kinda built on that by showing how much influence the Mafia has and introducing Meteor City. The Roses really show how screwed up the world is though. That such a weapon exists and gets used fairly frequently doesn’t reflect favourably on humanity.

    I’m amazed that Welfin has survived this long, he seems to have a knack for not getting murdered in seemingly impossible situations. I hope he makes it through to the end though, I’m super curious about Gyro now.

    Seems my speculation about Beelzebub was off, Meruem got Spirit Sense instead. Alas we won’t get to see adorable mini-Meruems.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 18, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      Fantasy aside, I think Hunter x Hunter’s world really is a reflection of our own. Our world certainly has no less a nasty edge to it.

      Not gonna lie, my first thought when you brought up adorable mini-Meruems was how hilarious it would be to see them flying around and then dying all at once. I’m a terrible person.

      • lapster
        Posted June 18, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

        I’d agree on that, the weapons we have in real life are pretty terrifying. And people do all sorts of terrible things with them. I guess the really scary bit is from those people’s perspectives it’s justified.

  5. Kenjeran
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Never thought an episode which only consist of 3 talking heads would be this tense.

    • Adreme
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 12:27 am | Permalink

      I was just saying to someone earlier I have never seen an episode where so little that I enjoyed so much.

      • Kenjeran
        Posted June 19, 2014 at 3:55 am | Permalink

        Oh yeah, now that I remember, this episode remind me of certain episodes from Zetsuen no Tempest, complete with its tense atmosphere.

    • Gan_HOPE326
      Posted June 21, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Well, there’s the famous Symposium of the Kings episode from Fate/Zero. But then again, that has some Greek Hoplites Kicking Ninja Ass action.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      That’s what happens when what’s being discussed has meaning and consequence that have developed organically in the story!

  6. K Robert M
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    Palm before her operation was completely off her rocker, selfish, impulsive, violent, totally unreasonable with very little empathy. I simply cannot picture that Palm saying the things she now says. I’m just going to have to pretend that the surgery managed to fix some of her issues, whether it was by design or accident. Or maybe she’s always been someone who suffers from extreme mood and personality swings, and we are simply seeing the two extremes, weeks apart.

    • Danger
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:28 am | Permalink

      I always interpreted it as her being in 24-7 comic-relief mode up until she started infiltrating. When shit got serious, however, she got serious. Of course, your disturbing implication is a possibility, especially knowing Togashi. If that’s the case, however, I can only see it as an upgrade.

      • Someone Else
        Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:37 am | Permalink

        If you remember correctly, during Palm’s conflict with Killua she says herself she doesn’t feel anything. She however remembered her emotions after her talk with Killua about Gon so I guess K robert M is correct

    • Gan_HOPE326
      Posted June 21, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Pouf’s operation’s objective was to disconnect her memories/knowledge from her emotions. Guess he picked the wrong subject: in her case her emotions were SO STRONG and dominating in her personality, the operation only managed to bring her back to being a normally balanced human being.

  7. Posted June 19, 2014 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    And it gets better ;_;

    I never thought Madhouse had it in themselves to animate those first minutes. I’m so glad they did. Now there is nothing to worry about.

    … though, I’m still heavily bothered by how they handled the first arc in comparison to this <_<'

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      What bothers you about the first arc? I remember people thinking it was too light, but really, I think the contrast between the beginning of the series and this arc makes the Chimera Ant arc all the better. The peaceful days of being a Hunter and making dad proud are gone.

  8. R1CK_D0M
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    >”All that tech and still no actual planes.”
    -My first thought when watching the opening scene

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      PLANES ARE FOR SUCKAS

  9. C
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Fridge Horror time. The poison spreads from those infected by it and Pouf had just spent an episode covering an entire crowd with his scales.

    • Gunslinger
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Are the scales actual physical items or Nen creations?

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Yikes …

  10. Squaresphere
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted add, the infamous picture from the vietnam war has a HUGE backstory that no one really bothers to go research.

    If you actually dig deeper on the pic there’s even more story behind it that belies what you see on the surface (TLDR: the photographer wishes he never took it because people came to the wrong conclusion on what lead up to it). It’s VERY like Togashi to chose this image if he actually knew the background.

    http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/03/the-story-behind-the-man-who-was-killed-in-the-famous-saigon-execution-photo/

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if the history was a big part of choosing that particular image.

  11. rubberluffy
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    And in keeping with the duality of human’s capabilities, the opening showed all the horrible things about humans, but Welfin and Meruem showed the positive things. Forgiveness, hope, loyalty, love, and the strength to keep living. A wolfman in a thong and a bugman with a hat-head. Yep.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      A wolfman in a thong is my greatest possible representative.

  12. SP
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Off-topic: Just read your ‘Sister Princess’ review over at the Nihon Review. Death by laughter ensued

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Haha, thanks. I really did not like that show.

  13. Nagisa33
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    That’s it! I just can’t wait any longer after this post. (Thank you) I’m starting HxH today! Also, what’s going to happen now with the sudden appearance of chapters? Will there be enough material to act as a buffer zone before as it quickly catches up?

    • Posted June 20, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      … haven’t you spoiled yourself too much now? ^^”’

      And no, there won’t be enough material. The anime would catch up in a few weeks and end in the middle of nowhere, as Togashi is currently setting up the new story (which seems really cool).

      The anime will end with chapter 339.

      • Shinmaru
        Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Pretty much. Don’t know how many episodes will be needed to adapt the next arc, but it will probably stop (temporarily?) after that.

  14. fordalels
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Just as I said at RandomC: I wanted Meruem to put an end to Pouf in a brutal and gory way, but I guess a psychological slap is way worse for assholes like him.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. I mean, Pouf’s going to die anyway. Physically destroying Pouf doesn’t do much. Losing all faith in Meruem, though? That’s far more destructive. Pouf’s physically and spiritually broken.

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