A more frightening aura than even Illumi or Hisoka? At this point, I almost believe it. Morel downplays Killua’s analysis of Neferpitou’s power due to Killua’s inexperience, but those are intensely personal comparisons Killua made. Illumi’s aura is such that Killua automatically flips into PTSD mode upon feeling, and Hisoka is, well … Hisoka. For someone to inspire more terror than those two is not a feat to be taken lightly. And Neferpitou is still but the first of the royal guard! There are still two warriors yet to come who are likely to be just as frightening. And what of the king when he is finally born?
Regardless, we’ve come a long way from the beginning of the series. Remember the very first episodes — how full of adventure and life they seemed? Gon was going out to see the world and become a Hunter just like his dad! New friends! Fun around every corner! There were many rough times, but there was always the feeling that with the help of friends, Gon and, eventually, Killua could always make their way through it. The times were probably at their lowest during the Yorkshin arc, and even then, Gon and Killua had such support, and they in turn supported their friends. Everything turned out about as well as it could. They grew, their friendship grew, and they had a story they could tell one day when they’re grown and need to inspire someone.
This, though? There’s nothing fun about this. No adventure. There’s been nothing but horrible foreboding since the arc began. When Gon, Killua and Kite were ripping through the weaker Ants, we the audience knew the others were gathering in strength in the lair. I’m sure you all were there with me in expecting the worst when Kite took out Ging’s Hunter License and handed it to Gon to give to his father when the two finally meet. At the exact moment Kite took that out, I was waving my hands at the screen and shouting, “NO, KITE, PUT THAT BACK IN YOUR POCKET!” He may as well have taken out a gun and shot himself in the head right there. But that’s the moment everyone watching should have known something terrible was coming.
Every arc has had some part where Gon and Killua get stomped and are reminded that as strong as the two of them have become, there are nonetheless terrors that exist that they cannot hope to defeat without more work. The Chimera Ant wake-up call hurts the most, because this time it really feels as if one or both of them could die. During the Hunter Exam, Hisoka was only interested in fighting and killing those who could actually challenge him. Same for Heavens Arena. In Yorkshin, the Spiders saw more value in Gon and Killua as hostages, and Nobunaga even tried to recruit them. In Greed Island, Gon and Killua had Biscuit backing them up, and she probably could have defeated Genthru herself given favorable circumstances. But this is different; even with a strong protectorate in Kite, Gon and Killua come up against something so awful that the idea of hope disappears instantly. Neferpitou appears out of nowhere and lops off Kite’s arm; it’s a jarring, brutal action, and the malice exuded overwhelms the boys. They can’t do a thing.
A lot of times I tend to pooh-pooh this level of intense darkness, because it often feels silly, but I think it’s done well here. It’s not simply because the world of Hunter x Hunter has always had this darkness lurking in the background (why else would Hunters exist if the world were not so dangerous?), but because the emotions this darkness inspires feel quite right. The despair and defeat Killua feels during this scene hit me in the gut. Even when Morel and Knov look down on Killua and condescend to him because they believe him to be an inexperienced child, he doesn’t react at all. Why? Because at that moment in his heart, he has accepted that as the truth. That scene fucking hurts. It is horrible.
Only Gon, with his relentless optimism, is able to snap Killua out of that funk. Will this world bend to Gon’s optimism, too? It doesn’t seem likely. Gon honestly believes Kite to still be alive, and given what we know, I am guessing that will be true in the most terrible way imaginable. What better way to twist the knife than to have Gon and Killua face off against Kite reborn in Chimera Ant form? It won’t happen right away, of course, but I have no doubts we’re seeing that down the road. Beheading such an awesome character in an offscreen battle and doing nothing with him afterward is just not cool.
Despair with me, friends. ;_;