18 CommentsHunter X Hunter / By Shinmaru /

Hunter x Hunter 52 – Enter the Zoldycks

Ah yeah. Now this is one battle I know many fans — new and old — were anticipating. As soon as you saw the Zoldycks step onto the scene a few episodes ago, you knew they would enter the fray at some point, and you also had to know that Chrollo Lucifer would be the only worthy opponent.

As has been my pattern throughout my viewing of the remake, I couldn’t help but want to compare the execution of this battle with its sister scene in the ’99 anime. After watching this episode, I immediately rushed to view this scene and found a few interesting things of note. I won’t link the relevant episode of the ’99 series (62) here, but it’s incredibly easy to find should you do so. The relevant portion is all at the beginning — just don’t watch past that if you’re a new viewer!

First the opening skirmish, starting from the opening blur of movement to when Chrollo slices Silva’s arm with the Ben’s knife: Surprisingly, it’s the ’99 anime that most emphasizes the fluidity of movement. It’s a perfectly choreographed scene carefully constructed to show immediately how difficult it is for even a strong fighter like Chrollo Lucifer to to keep up with Silva and Zeno Zoldyck. From Silva’s initial kick to Zeno’s chops to Silva’s punches to Zeno’s energy blast and Silva’s double foot stomp, any cuts made are quick and subtle enough to give the impression that the camera is following the fight in one fluid motion. It’s excellent editing that emphasizes the teamwork between Silva and Zeno. This is a father and son fighting together — two utmost professionals who know each other’s moves perfectly and how best to play off the partner with their own repertoire.

The remake, meanwhile, is more deliberate and careful in its framing of this opening portion. After the initial blur, the first thing we see if Silva building up speed with his run and then launching a kick at Chrollo. The shot slows down just a bit, and then Zeno lands and strikes at Chrollo, forcing him to leap backward. Silva is ready, running at the spot Chrollo lands and striking him with a massive punch that Chrollo barely blocks. The power of this punch knocks Chrollo toward Zeno, who is ready with a blast and energy that sends Chrollo flying, although he is still able to keep his guard up. Once Chrollo lands, Silva is ready with the double stomp, which Chrollo barely dodges and springs back up to stab at Silva with the Ben’s knife.

These are the exact same attacks, but the way they are spaced and edited gives an entirely different impression in the remake. The moves are given more room to breathe; they are divided into discrete portions, almost like vignettes within the battle. They still depict the teamwork between Silva and Zeno, but more than that, they display the heft and power behind their moves. There’s time for the moves to build and be executed. The trick here is that we see the moves at “normal” speed, but the experienced viewer knows in the back of their mind that the moves are being executed at lightning speed. There’s also great thought put into the editing here: There are very few quick cuts, so the moment Chrollo dodges Silva’s double stomp, leaps up with the Ben’s knife and stabs at Silva has greater impact. It’s a sudden, violent strike, and the editing strategy emphasizes that.

Neither of these approaches is better or worse; they are simply different interpretations of the battle’s opening moments.

There’s nothing that differentiates the talky portions much, so I’ll skip that. The second half of the fight is where, I think, the remake comes out on top. In the ’99 anime, the animation in the beginning portion is good enough to stick out, and it complements the usual cinematic tricks the original series needed to pull out more often to make up for the relative lack of raw animation power. Often times these tricks are used to great effect, such as the beginning of this fight and the fight between Gon and Hanzo in the Hunter Exam. Other times they draw attention to what the ’99 anime couldn’t quite do, such as the second half of this fight and the fight between Hisoka and Gon at Heavens Arena.

The movements in the ’99 version are stiff and unnatural; in particular, the shot where Chrollo initially dodges Zeno’s Dragon Lance doesn’t feel quite right. It is awkward, almost as if Chrollo falls to the side rather than leaps out of the way. There are more still shots and use of slow motion to draw out time while Zeno narrates his battle approach. The slow motion does Zeno’s Dragon Lance a disservice — it doesn’t appear to be agile. Also, the part where Silva talks about how Chrollo has kept his eye on Silva the entire time feels a bit silly, because, to the viewer, Silva has not moved an inch while Zeno has kept Chrollo occupied. The final strike is OK: When the dragon hits Chrollo, it feels appropriately powerful, and Zeno’s sprint toward Chrollo is nicely animated and framed. His strikes, however, look a bit weird, and the angle he’s viewed at while Silva leaps into the air with his energy blast is bizarre.

The remake, meanwhile, is not a total animation powerhouse during the sequence, but it does use the space of the fighting area much more effectively. Chrollo runs around the room and dodges the Dragon Lance for much of this portion of the fight — that fact alone makes Zeno’s attack seem much more agile and dangerous. Zeno’s facial expressions during the fight are delightful, too; he’s totally unhinged, an old man who loves the thrill of battle and strives to crush his opponent, even at the cost of his own life. The Zeno of the ’99 anime comes across as honorable; the Zeno of the remake is fucking crazy. Both interpretations fit his request to Silva to kill Chrollo when subdued, even if Zeno must die with him.

Another addition is the viewer seeing Silva running when Chrollo puts away his book. It’s important to note that the camera catches him in the act of running rather than beginning a run; this detail indicates that he has been seeking an opening the whole time out of shot of the camera. The remake also includes something the ’99 version cut — a brief flash to the first time Silva and Chrollo faced each other. It’s a nice touch that enriches the battle by giving the viewer an entirely new conflict to imagine. Everything else flows nicely: Silva suddenly powers up and distracts Chrollo just long enough that Zeno can move in for the kill. Zeno locking Chrollo’s leg and striking Chrollo looks more natural, if still a bit silly.

In my head, the ’99 anime originally won out, but I understand now that’s because I am heavily biased toward its aesthetics — I love cel animation, and the earthier art and deeper, richer colors of the original appeal to me more than the cleaner, more elegant art of the remake. However, when it comes to the approach and execution of this battle between Chrollo Lucifer and the Zoldycks, the remake wins out. I will say, though, that both battles are damn good. This fight is an exemplary example of the Hunter x Hunter approach to fights. In pro wrestling, the ideal match will end with a clear winner and loser but with both coming out strong. The winner will need to pull out all the stops to win; the loser will remain resilient until the very end.

That’s how this fight unfolds. Even though Chrollo clearly loses to the Zoldycks, he doesn’t look like a chump. They had to approach him with an intelligent strategy and perfectly executed teamwork to subdue him. Remember, these are the greatest assassins in the world — it took them both to take down Chrollo, and he didn’t even use his greatest abilities. However, Silva and Zeno don’t look cheap for teaming up on Chrollo. They’re clearly tough bastards. Everyone wins!

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  1. Posted October 22, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Interesting comparison of both fights! I was really surprised when you said the first part of the fight, you thought the 99 version had more fluidity. I thought the opposite saying the 2011 version has more momentum and energy. The camera angles and with Silva running coupled with the music make me think of a rubber band stretching to its limits until the first blows.

    I like the colors of Silva’s Nen Suns in the 99 more but the charging and shots the remake chose had my adrenaline pumping all the way through the Hunting For Your Dream Outro

    At least for HxH I prefer the clean artwork of the remake but there shows where the traditional coloring is awesome as well. The anime adaptation of Yu Yu Hakusho comes to mind funny enough.

    • Posted October 23, 2012 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      It just seemed to me that the ’99 series put all of its animation power into the first portion of that fight. Overall, though, I agree that the remake has more energy, especially as the fight goes on.

    • XXL
      Posted October 23, 2012 at 4:58 am | Permalink

      Hrmm, this was my first time watching both versions, and I do have to agree with Shimaru’s assessment of the initial exchange. It’s the rapid cuts that really sell the fluidity. The rubber band quality that the new version tends to have only really starts paying off towards the end with its most climactic actions – in the beginning, it just makes the fight feel a tad slower and less exhilarating than the 99 version. Okay, so they dragged Silva’s big balls out for just a smidgen too long, but the clarity in which they sold the moves made the entire fight incredibly exciting and easy to follow.

      Silva in mid-run was an amazing directing choice, I have to agree.

      • Posted October 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I think both styles of the opening portion are good; just comes down to what you prefer. Gun to my head, I’d say I like the ’99 version of the opening skirmish a bit more. That kind of quick movement always makes me swoon.

  2. Taka
    Posted October 23, 2012 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    I thought was a bit interesting was how they didn’t explain Silva or Zeno’s nen powers. I assume they are both transmuters like Hisoka but for a second there I thought Silva might be an enhancer till be busted out the double spirit bomb. It sort of portrayed their abilities as larger than life even for the HxH universe. I felt like the wimpy common criminal who stumbles on a kamehahamehaing DBZ ubermensch. The versatility and subtlety of other nen abilities (Like Chrollo’s, Kurapika’s, or even Uvogin’s) was completely removed, their tactics weren’t dependent on the actual nature of their nen abilities but on how well they could read their opponents actions. I think it was done that way on purpose though.

    • Oni Hibiki
      Posted October 23, 2012 at 2:46 am | Permalink

      Zeno is definitely a Transmuter not sure about Silva.

      I think the direction of the 2011 anime helped it a lot. This is the case where good directing can make up for the animation not being totally 100%. Great review.

    • anonymous
      Posted October 23, 2012 at 3:04 am | Permalink

      Wow, this was a very insightful comparison you typed up.
      Also, arguably most importantly, an unbiased comparison. That’s something that’s sorely lacking in online discussions comparing the two anime adaptations of HxH. An excellent read.

      After giving it some thought I would have to say that I’m with you on your conclusions. Both are great adaptions of a great fight in the series. Though I must admit that I was slightly let down by MH’s animation of this fight, particularly with its beginning. The animation for Gon vs. Hisoka and Kurapica vs. Uvogin was excellent, and I was hoping this moment would receive the same treatment. Either way, it was still very good, just not great.

      I’ve always assumed that Silva is an emitter, simply because his final attack is him throwing his aura at Chrollo and Zeno.
      Zeno, to me, is definitely a transmuter, like you said. His dragon attack definitely exemplification this.

      • Posted October 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        Thanks! I think people have been a bit harsh on the remake, and I do love the direction of the ’99 series, so any opportunity I have to examine both in detail is one I’ll take!

        And, yeah, in terms of pure animation power, Kurapika/Uvogin might be the best fight in the series … either that or Hisoka/Gon. I’d probably pick the former just because the amazing portion lasts longer.

    • Posted October 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I like the way the battle plays out with the fighters all trying to counter each other and trying to put each other in a position where a mistake will be made. In a battle with fighters of this caliber, it’s most believable to me that the first mistake will be fatal.

  3. matrixEXO
    Posted October 23, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Shinmaru, I’m getting tired of waiting to see a pic of Hisoka’s Shining Member. Let’s start a cult called HSMC (Hisoka’s Shining Member Cult) to worship his shining member. Also, a website dedicated to brainwashing people who do not worship it into worshiping it.

    • hint
      Posted October 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      I know when he is going to show.

    • Posted October 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      All in good time. All in good time …

    • XXL
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      May I join this cult? :D

  4. hint
    Posted October 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    For me the cleaner thing makes the surroundings more noticeable thus the background or the characters surrounding art was lacking, on the contrary the old HxH shows this fight inside a dark room so it gets your attention only on the fight and silva´s double kamehameha appeared to be more detailed there. anyhow, one more awesome ep.

  5. Xyopq
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    The DVD release needs you announcing over all the fight scenes. To make them more epic.

  6. hxhfan
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    Side-by-side comparison:

    • Posted October 25, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      Ooh, nice.

    • Posted October 25, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Haha, yeah, wish I’d gone looking for that when I was writing this post, though I think what I spat out was better for examining both versions so closely and so separately.

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