I was skeptical after the last episode handled the initial part with Kanaria, and I still think it was condensed to the detriment of that character, but this episode makes this arc kind of awesome. It’s to the point where I actually sort of like it now instead of thinking of it as a boring road bump before the best arc in the series.
There are a couple of important ways in which the remake’s approach improves upon the way the arc is depicted in the original series. The first is Kanaria’s story. In the original, Kanaria’s interaction with Killua forms a simple, human story: Killua is a lonely kid, and Kanaria happens upon him one day while working, and they get to talking and become friends of sorts. It works to humanize Killua and Kanaria, but in a weird sort of way, that actually hurts them, because these are two characters who are not meant to be humanized in that sort of way.
Personally, I’ve seen enough anime (and enough episodic fiction in general) that I don’t immediately sympathize with one-off characters, especially when I sense that the writers are crafting a story in such a way to tug at my heart strings. I mentioned this in my previous post: I could recognize the craft behind the writing and presentation, but the story is just not strong enough to make me care about the character. So there are these emotional chips being cashed that the episode doesn’t quite earn from me.
This episode, though? Totally works for me. The connection between Killua and Kanaria makes total sense when you take into consideration how the Zoldyck family runs things and chooses its servants. Killua isn’t a lonely boy in the traditional sense; he’s a kid raised to be an assassin, and is therefore quite the fucked up individual. That’s where the original missteps. Humanizing Killua comes off as bizarre due to his upbringing and everything he goes through beforehand. It just does not jive with his development before and after. It’s like the series is making excuses for Killua instead of accepting who he is. However, the remake understands Killua more, and shows that he forges connections through his awesome assassin skills. Seeing Kanaria kick some ass makes me more sympathetic to her, as well. I could feel that connection she has with Killua that much more.
The second way in which the remake improves upon the story — which ties into the improvements with Kanaria’s story — is through subtraction. In the original, the attempt to humanize Killua continues when he goes to see his father. It’s shown that Killua is deathly afraid of Silva, and that going to see him is an arduous task. Understandable in a way, because the two of them don’t have much of a relationship, and Killua is afraid of his brother, so why wouldn’t he be afraid of his father? What I think the original is going for is surprise upon seeing Silva actually be warm to Killua and approve of Killua’s desire to make friends with people. But I dunno . . . it makes sense when you view Killua as a normal person, but again, he is decidedly abnormal.
Here he’s just taking his punishment from Milluki like it’s no big deal, putting the fear of god into his mom and talking with his pops, with whom he has little interaction. Personally, I think this does make sense: Killua has such little interaction with his father that he has no real reason to be afraid of him. Maybe he’s wary, but I don’t think Killua is the type to fear the unknown. If he were, he’d be a shitty assassin. Illumi, however, has a strong hand in shaping Killua’s life, and thus it can be assumed that they see a fair amount of each other. Killua knows exactly how strong Illumi is and the lengths to which he’ll go to keep Killua in line. He cuts a more directly frightening figure.
So the humanizing through fear stuff is cut out here, and what we’re left with is the bizarre father-son bonding session that ends in a blood oath. Everything that is awesome and fitting to Killua’s character is kept in. Maybe the remake goes a bit over the top in showing that Silva is a bit off his rocker, and that he views Killua’s journey more as something to shape him into someone worthy of leading the Zoldyck clan rather than something that would benefit his son in an emotional way. But, yeah, I greatly prefer this approach.