By law after Gary Oldman in The Professional, every villain must pretend to be a conductor at some point.
How many ways each week can I write that Hunter x Hunter is excellent? I had fallen hard for the series long before this point when I watched the ’99 version, and yet it still found new ways to up the ante and become more incredible. That feeling has not diminished now that I am watching the remake. I’d more than likely feel the same way if I read the manga even after seeing the story played out twice in animated form. This the feeling of watching a well thought out, tightly plotted story play out, expertly manipulated by someone utterly confident in the strings he’s pulling.
Take, for instance, what could be the weak point of this episode’s writing: the massive coincidence that Chrollo Lucifer, of all people, is the one who happens upon Neon Nostrade. It is indeed a huge convenience for the plot; that simply cannot be denied. However, I and the several people who watched the episode with me, accepted it at face value and didn’t react in any substantial except for, “Whoa!” at the reveal that it’s the Bossman himself who picks up Neon. Why? I can’t speak for them, but for me, the Spiders have been built in such a way they can do these things. They have access to information that lets them know what Neon looks like. They’re spread out across the city looking for her and anyone connected to the Nostrade family. I’m sure none of them expects to actually find her — after all, wouldn’t someone of such importance be under lock and key? — but they’re all sharp-eyed enough to recognize her immediately should they happen upon her.
So is this a huge contrivance? Of course it is. Is it executed that way? Not at all. In fact, the confidence Chrollo exudes almost suggests that this was part of his plan the entire time. He’s improvising, of course, because happening upon Neon is an enormous stroke of luck, but you wouldn’t know it based upon his attitude in this episode. That’s also the confidence Togashi exuded while penning this whole arc, I bet.
The characterization of Chrollo is really fascinating, too. I wrote a bit last week about how some of the Spiders reacted to Uvogin’s death and how that contributes to their characterization. Chrollo’s single tear for Uvogin, to me, contributes to the framing of Chrollo as the perfect leader for the Spiders. He leads by example, even when none of his comrades are around to see it — he genuinely cares for their lives, and only their lives. The moment we’re seeing here is the point Chrollo realizes, yes, Uvogin is truly dead. It really hurts him. Even though he is the leader of the Spiders, he sees himself as no more important than anyone else. When Gon asks Nobunaga why he can cry so much for his friend but think nothing of killing another person, well, it’s because the Spiders have created a world where they need care only about each other and nobody else. They do everything for each other and only each other. Only someone like Chrollo who cares deeply for them all could inspire such powerful, disparate individuals to gather.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t write about the excellent requiem scene before closing out this post. It’s awesome to see all the Spiders in action — Franklin, Feitan and Phinks using their abilities to wreak as much direct havoc as possible, and Machi and Shalnark working from the shadows with their powers to confuse and destroy the Mafia. And, of course, Pakunoda blasting away with guns. (Side note: she’s arguably the ballsiest member of the group. Obviously she’s physically adept because she’s a Nen user, but her interrogation ability is her main Nen power. She really is just getting in there and blasting away at the Mafia with a pair of pistols.) This scene and the heist at the auction house are really the only opportunities we’ve received to see the Phantom Troupe in action as a group. It’s pretty damn cool.
Also, those fucking Indoor Fish! Honestly, I totally forgot about them, and the scene at the end surprised me and creeped me out as much as it did the folks with whom I watched the episode. What a frightening concept. And the image of that dude with large chunks of his body bitten away, going insane as he wondered when he would be allowed to die . . . really chilling. Yikes.