Hello, friends. Let us gather in a circle. I’ll wait while everyone gets set up. Now let us all join hands and reflect.
And by “reflect,” I mean “cry for hours and help each other gather the shredded pieces of our hearts.”
Allow me to wistfully sigh for a moment. I almost don’t know how to react to an episode that is both so heartbreaking and uplifting. We can all speak about when the ALL GO FOR TEARS light sounded off in our heads, but for me, it was when Meruem calmly explained that he knows he will die soon and simply wants to spend his remaining time with Komugi. Like, it’s not just the sadness of the scenario, but that Meruem accepts his fate without complaint and wants to make the most of what he has left. It’s Meruem knowing with absolute certainly what brought the greatest joy into that short-lived existence and doing nothing but that until the end. It’s the simple purity of grabbing onto something that moves you and hugging it right into your heart. Empathy can be hard and confusing, but making a human connection is a wonderful thing. What would we all do if we knew we were all going to die soon? Hopefully we have that one thing that gives us the greatest possible joy.
Meruem’s self-awareness also made my poor heart feel pained. Right after Meruem says that he’ll be joining the Royal Guard soon — which is already THE MOST CRUSHING THING!!! — the King mentions not being worthy of their loyalty. There’s no betrayal of emotion, but god, it must be terrible to feel that way. Meruem’s instinct all along as the leader of the Chimera Ants was domination. The Royal Guard followed Meruem for different reasons, they too were Chimera Ants at the core. They supported Meruem in that mission. Whether Meruem actually failed or not, that feeling is there. Discovering that humanity is simultaneously wonderful and a betrayal (from a certain point of view). And the worst part is, having a grasp on that humanity would allow Meruem to be all the more aware of that pain. But much like the inevitable death, Meruem accepts it rather than dwells on it. What has happened cannot change. All one can do is move forward as best they can.
For a brief moment, I wondered if Meruem was being selfish. Meruem’s En provided all necessary knowledge. It is known that not only will Meruem die, but also that the poison is contagious. In a vacuum, one could condemn Meruem for knowingly putting Komugi in a situation that will almost certainly end her life. It is a death sentence without consent. But Komugi doesn’t see it that way. She’s a bright person, but she has also lived a rather bleak life. She was born in squalor. Her family’s well-being was predicated on Komugi being unnaturally good at a game. It’s like your family would starve if you didn’t beat anyone and everyone at Black Ops or whatever. Komugi loved the game, but I don’t know if she ever experienced the true joy of playing it before she played Meruem. (Or, if she did, it had probably been a long time.) For however scary Meruem was, eventually Meruem treated Komugi as an equal. They were partners enjoying a game. Komugi obviously played a large part in Meruem’s change, but Meruem likewise brought great joy to Komugi’s life. She could concentrate on the one thing that made her truly happy without reservation. She could feel like someone who deserved some measure of happiness rather than someone who society craps all over 24/7.
So I dunno. I could sit here and judge a selfish action, or celebrate a pair who bring out the best of each of their humanity. This empathy thing is fuckin’ hard, y’all.
(But for real, though, it was all ONIONS AND DUST in my room when “Komugi, are you there?” and the title of this post got thrown around. THE LAST REMNANTS OF MY HEART HAVE BEEN DESTROYED.)
Believe it or not, other things happened in this episode. This part led to the first moment of heartbreak from Meruem, but Palm was equally powerful here. There’s a struggle — not wanting to believe that someone who is such a monstrous figure to humanity has changed at all, but knowing deep down that it’s true because she can sense the feeling behind Meruem’s words. It’s a moment of great irony: As a human, Palm cannot help but distrust what Meruem presents, but the Chimera Ant side of her knows that Meruem embracing that humanity is not a bullshit act. It gets to the point where the godlike figure who beheaded Ants for any perceived slight after ripping through the Queen’s womb is ready to kneel and show humility if it means those final moments can be spent with Komugi. GOD, THIS WHOLE SCENE. It tightened the show’s grip on my heart before later parts ripped it out. Even Palm can’t handle this. She has the reaction that Pouf would have like, “OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU ARE THE KING NO I CAN’T HANDLE THIS”
Then there’s the end of Netero’s story later on, which both made me angry (which is meant to happen) and was sadly fitting. He gives his life to save humanity, and he’s barely a footnote in the news. He of course didn’t fight for that sort of glory, but the whole thing is dehumanizing and makes him seem like an expendable property. Just another case of the humans being a bit less human than the monsters they set out to destroy.
I also love the characterization that gave to this little guy, who I think I remember from waaaaaaaaaaaaay earlier in the anime. But yeah, I love the contrast between the dehumanizing staffer talk that frustrates Morel along with the subtle cues that show he truly cares about Netero (the whole “if the dudes on top find out about all this, they’ll drop a heap of shit on you” with the obvious implication that he doesn’t intend to let anyone know about all this). He’s doing this shit because he’s a cog in the machine, and certainly not because he actually WANTS to, but he doesn’t let it overwhelm his humanity. It’s a small thing that made the tears while watching Netero’s will mean a bit more. I dunno, I feel like this small scene sketched a surprisingly strong character.
ANYWAY, damn, that is a lot of words about one episode. And I don’t think I touched on nearly anything. (For example: The sad end of Pouf’s life and the implication that all those people are dead as shit, too. Yeehs.) So talk away people. Or just cry. Cry a lot.