23 CommentsHunter X Hunter / By Shinmaru /

Hunter x Hunter 44 – Chains of Judgment

Christ, I forgot how gross these bastards are! Yuck.

I love the Shadow Beasts. They’re exactly the type of Nen users I would expect to be employed by the Mafia. Just a group of gross, frightening dudes who can intimidate anyone who somehow has the heart to stand up against the entire Mafia. Most people would be frightened if they saw a naked worm guy, a fat dude who can manipulate leeches, a short hairy guy, and a shark-toothed motherfucker walking up to them. It’s amusing to note that all the Shadow Beasts’ powers can be used to torture in some way — the worm can drag fools underground, the shark has venom, the hairy guy can make his hair into spines, and the leech dude has his eggs that hatch in your urinary tract. That is the most horrifying of all; I bet I’m not alone in being terrified of those leeches in the Amazon that worm their way into a dude’s urethra.

Total Mafia material.

Of course, even with those crazy powers, they’re still not wild enough to stop Uvogin. The animation in this episode is a bit better this week, though it’s still not at the level I would have liked for this. It definitely has too many speed lines and still frames; I can only image how eager the staff was to take advantage of Uvogin’s paralysis in the middle of the episode! But whatever. The actual content of the episode is fine. The battle really shows how much thought Togashi puts into this shit. For instance, the Shadow Beasts’ powers aren’t weird simply for the sake of weird. As shown in the battle, they actually play off each other well and use their powers in combination to incapacitate strong opponents. These are fighters who literally appear in one episode and die, but there’s legitimate thought put into their abilities.

And Uvogin is of course not just a big, dumb brute. He knows his powers inside and out and has total mastery of Enhancer abilities. Even when the Shadow Beasts get the upper hand on him, Uvogin keeps a cool head and uses what he knows he can use to strike back. The worm drags Uvogin’s arm underground? No problem, Uvo just punches the fuck out of the ground. Leech dude empties disgusting worms into Uvo’s wounds? Who gives a shit, Uvogin will just bite off a chunk of his face. Shark dude’s venom keeps Uvo paralyzed? Not an issue; Uvo just spits a chunk of skull at high speed through shark dude’s face. (A skull defeats a skull.) Hairy guy’s hair prevents him from being physically attacked? Just shout his brains to mush. It’s all brute physicality on Uvogin’s end, but it’s intelligently implemented. I appreciate that about Uvogin — he doesn’t just mindlessly beat foes to death. He’s a smart, quick thinker.

Then we finally get a deeper look into Kurapika’s Nen power, although not the whole picture. I assume the rest will come later, though it doesn’t matter for the purposes of what I’m writing about now. This is the moment in the original series that totally sold me on the amount of thought Togashi puts into Nen and how he plays around with the typical shonen concept of heroes getting a power boost. The brilliant part about Kurapika’s power is that it’s simultaneously overpowered and underpowered. It’s overpowered in that it dominates a member of the Phantom Troupe, no matter who that person is. Even someone as ridiculously strong as Uvogin cannot escape from Kurapika’s chains. That is the end result of what Kurapika has poured into his power.

However, it’s also underpowered due to the sacrifices Kurapika must make to gain this strength. His chains can be used only against Spiders; against anyone else, the power backfires and kills Kurapika. It’s an excellent way to get across the extreme focus Kurapika has on the Phantom Troupe. Literally nobody else matters to Kurapika. If he is not totally equipped to battle anyone else, it doesn’t matter to him. He wants strength enough to gain vengeance against those who slaughtered his people. That’s it. The oath he swears to strengthen his Nen says so much more about Kurapika than any amount of brooding could ever do.

It’s such an awesome concept. The power allows Kurapika to be strong when the story needs him to be, but not so strong that he completely breaks the plot. This development would be utter bullshit in just about any other shonen series; however, because the rules of Nen have been laid out so thoroughly, it’s actually really easy to accept Kurapika’s power.

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23 Comments

  1. Posted August 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    How much do you know about Hunter x Hunter?

    Togashi is extremely thoughtful when he creates things in HxH. Basically everything got its own system that is fully explained. Every arc. Everything.

    • Posted August 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      I’ve watched through the Greed Island OVAs.

      • Posted August 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        Then you know how crazy Greed Island is, right? (in the manga, at least, there were tons of information)

        Without spoiling you with details, I can say that in the latest manga arc, he took a typical shounen troupe and made it TOGASHI COMPLEX™. It was an extremely good arc too. Wish the anime will reach that far.

  2. hint
    Posted August 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    great episode, just didn’t like the way they showed how that Kurapika’s chain abilities works. Those texts meh.

    • Posted August 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I’m with you there. They might have worked earlier in the series, but they clash too much with the more serious tone of this arc.

  3. Posted August 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I look forward to watching this show more and more each week. This is how shounen should be.

    Also, I find that this Kurapika arc is far more gripping than the Gon/Killua arc with the tournament

    • blackice85
      Posted August 20, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

      Same here, I really look forward to each episode now, which is funny because originally I thought it was a bit boring lol

    • Posted August 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. This is far and away my favorite arc of what I’ve seen of Hunter x Hunter.

  4. Embok
    Posted August 20, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    “This development would be utter bullshit in just about any other shonen series; however, because the rules of Nen have been laid out so thoroughly, it’s actually really easy to accept Kurapika’s power.”

    I’m not really understanding this at all. I mean, I don’t really give a shit because I watch shounen for interesting arcs with cool fights, but I did still think to myself ‘oh boy another one shot powerup’. I don’t recall anything that we’ve been shown so far to make this seem a logical extension of the Nen system. How does one physically place a restriction like that on themselves? How does it differentiate between the Phantom Troupe and everyone else?

    It’s just as absurd as anything from any other shounen series. Which is totally cool. I just don’t see why you’re claiming otherwise.

    • Billish
      Posted August 20, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I agree actually, the restriction stuff is one of few problems I have with the written story – though I always just look past it. If it happens again at a major point in the story (hehe) it may change my opinion a little. Also, had they included Kurapica’s buildup training scenes that were… original to the 99 series with the crazy chain and blood hallucinations it would be more acceptable this time around.

      I will say that in this case it’s much less of a ‘one shot powerup’ at least relative to other series (Naruto comes to mind) in which the ‘restriction’ itself actually makes sense. There is more explanation to come, if my memory serves me. Also, I love thinking of the choice Togashi had with this considering Hisoka. Hisoka was not a spider because he was not tattooed. Following that idea, had Kurapica used his power on him…

      • Posted August 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I remembered more training stuff than I saw here. So that was all anime original? Interesting. And, yeah, the possibility of Kurapika using his chains on Hisoka has always been on my mind from the moment I learned about them.

      • hxhfan
        Posted August 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        “So that was all anime original? Interesting.”

        lol, yeah. these additions by furuhashi to improve the story is one of the reasons i consider 1999 superior over the manga :)

      • XXL
        Posted August 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        Eh. I haven’t seen the original anime, but rest assured that Kurapica’s training and the nature of his abilities will be dealt with soon-ish. Don’t underestimate Togashi. Seriously.

        Also, what the fuck doesn’t make sense about the restriction rules? You obviously haven’t been paying much attention to the manga if you think it doesn’t make sense. Or maybe the old anime screwed up in explaining it? Superior to the manga, feh.

        (I’ve gotta continue the old anime at some point so that I’m not just talking out of my ass all the time.)

      • hxhfan
        Posted August 22, 2012 at 1:56 am | Permalink

        @XXL
        I think Embok is a 2011-only viewer. What he’s simply saying is that based on what is laid-out SO FAR (and 2011 follows the order of events in the manga closely), Kurapica’s power seems to HIM like an asspull. That’s why I said the 1999-only filler worked well in making it easier for other viewers to accept Kurapica’s “power-up” because it showed the difficulty he went through.

        I don’t know what Billish means by “problems”, and I have no idea if he’s 1999-only or if also read the manga. It will be enlightening if he explains.

        Anyway, don’t take it like I’m saying 1999>>>>manga. Just you know, 1999>manga in many parts because of Furuhashi’s direction, but they’re very close. Look-up Ging’s taped message in 1999 and compare it to the manga. Look-up Kuroro vs Zaoldyecks. Look-up Killua vs Illumi. Look-up Gon stealing Hisoka’s plate. Look-up Kuroro reading Neon’s prophecy, etc etc etc.

        I actually agree with the many comments you have with 2011. That’s why I thought you’d also be able to appreciate what 1999 did if you ever get around watching it.

    • Posted August 20, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      If you remember the training scene in episode 39 in the remake, Kurapika’s teacher goes into extensive detail how restrictions and covenants play into the Nen System. Just for a picture reference look at the

      Hunter x Hunter manga chapter 83 pages 5-end(has already been covered in 2011 anime the flashback sequences).

      In the equations you have the AP, DP, SP points which equate to how much person damage someone will take/do. The restrictions and covenants which you said found confusing are another variable “MP” which can boost/multiply damage done or damage reduced AFTER the original equations are done. Kurapika’s pledge basically makes is “MP” SUPER FUCKING high but ONLY AGAINST THE PHANTOM TROUPE. So he’s basically on a boss when he goes against Phantom troupe members. Otherwise his MP makes him weak against anyone else who isn’t a phantom troupe member.

      That’s what Shinmaru was getting at, Kurapika only gets the kind of one shot power ups that characters in other shonen series would keep permanently, against the Phantom Troupe. That’s the problem a lot of bloggers with shonen, in other series the main characters meet a new rival who’s more powerful than them so the MC trains and powers up to get stronger than him, defeats him. Then the cycle begins anew in the next story arc, YuYu Hakusho, Dragonball Z, and to an extent Fairy Tail have this problem where main charcters get power ups out of nowhere.

      The Nen system is why I like this show so much, there are set rules and intricacies that doesn’t allow the one shot power up syndrome. And even when characters in this show do, there is a HUGE PRICE(when other shonen don’t have the it) as shown by Kurapika but also

      SPOILERS SPOILERS

      another character uses the restriction/covenant system to defeat a HARD ASS villain but pays the ultimate price in the Chimera Ants Arc.( Not saying because do not want to spoil for people who haven’t read or are waiting for anime to show this in future)

    • Posted August 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Hybridblood’s explanation is more or less what I was getting at, but I won’t let myself off the hook that easily — I definitely jumped the gun a bit and was a bit too eager to write about this stuff because I enjoy the concept so much. Even with the teaching in ep39, the leap to unbreakable chains and how Kurapika could conjure them is not so obvious. Nobody new to the series is going to get what’s written above from what this series has presented so far. Instead, it’s going to appear like a one-shot power-up. There should be more information to come that will clarify the nature of Kurapika’s power a bit more; I probably should have waited until then to write about all this. Oh well! That’s on me.

      • Posted August 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        You’re definitely right Shinmaru, after rereading my explanation it seems way too confusing and mathy the way I worded it(my grammatical errors weren’t helping also :P).

        Togashi’s systems are just so complex compared to other series it can sometimes be hard to distill the information given and explain it in an easy/digestable manner to someone who might not be as familiar to the series.

  5. Billish
    Posted August 20, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Great episode besides some cutting corners with dialog and animation and the fact that that worm guy was blasted to shit. It’s even noted by machine gun hand guy (I can never remember his name): “Poor chap, not much left of him”. Also, worm guy’s line in the end about the shadow beasts having a chance (they have no chance) was stupid and pointless, especially since it was a continuity error. For me this was also the point in the 1999 series after which I knew they had me. It’s just… so stylistic and so well written! If only they had extended Kurapica’s training episodes to include the chain and blood hallucinations would it make these coming episodes even darker.

  6. Lanf
    Posted August 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    This feels like the HxH I’ve been waiting for (having not read the manga nor watched the original series). I never really liked Gon much, and now he’s out of the picture, the show just seems fantastic and utterly brutal.

    • XXL
      Posted August 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      The manga is fantastically brutal from the get go. This is exactly why I loathe this adaptation. Utterly ruined the amazing tone/atmosphere that the manga had.

      Then again, the tone of this chapter feels more clownish than really brutal. The director, again, has no fucking sense of atmosphere, emotionality, or SUBTLETY. None. What. So. Ever. It’s amazing how they take stuff from the manga frame by frame yet managed to get the tone so utterly wrong.

      Okay, so the head biting part and the leeching part was nicely done. I just wish they didn’t feel the need to keep HAMMING EVERYTHING UP IN ALL CAPS AND EPIC FUCKING WORDS SPLATTERED ACROSS THE SCREEN ALL THE FUCKING TIME I mean subtlety. It’s a thing that exists, though the director seems to believe otherwise.

      That right hook from Ubogin was dragged out way too long, is the main gist of what I wanted to say. You could’ve achieved a better effect simply by utterly mangling the earthworm’s body instead of having him magically pop up with all his limbs intact at the end, but that’s too much for the little kiddies to take, eh?

      I had to go back to reread these beautiful, beautiful scenes in the manga to soothe my wounded soul. *sob* My Yorkshin arc… my beautiful Yorkshin arc…

      • Posted August 21, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        Worm lost his arm in the anime so your point about his limbs being intact is moot >.>

        Also though they have been lightening up on the censoring compared to the Hunter Exam this is still a SUNDAY MORNING tv show in Japan. Not a late night show so there’re bound to be changes.

      • Styx
        Posted August 22, 2012 at 2:34 am | Permalink

        I think you’re overreacting a bit. You’re absolutely right, the direction of the 2011 adaptation is pretty hammy. By your standards, probably a little too hammy. Coming from the director who oversaw ‘Rainbow’, I’m not really surprised. That series got a lot of slack for being overly melodramatic and I see shades of that in Hunter x Hunter 2011. The ‘bold-text ability’ shout-outs are pretty jarring for someone who’s already familiar with the material, I agree with that. I just don’t feel like it’s as big a deal as you’re making it out to be. I mean, you could take a page out of your own book when it comes to reactions. A little subtlety would be nice! Just some thoughts from a fellow Hunter x Hunter fan.

        Also, Hybrid’s definitely got a good point. We’re really lucky to even be getting this much content as far as violence is concerned, especially considering how they handled the censorship in the Hunter Exam Arc. All in all, I thought the episode was pretty good, and I’m still looking forward to what’s to come.

      • Oni Hibiki
        Posted August 22, 2012 at 3:15 am | Permalink

        Eh, from what I’ve seen he always overacts. But whatever it’s his opinion.

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