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Explaining Hunter x Hunter’s Chimera Ant arc is a ceremony of passage

Listed here are some very out-of-context issues that occur within the Chimera Ant arc of the 2011 anime Hunter x Hunter, which is now streaming on Netflix. An octopus named Ikalgo decides he’s the BFF of one of many important characters. A lady whose energy includes wrapping her very lengthy hair round herself fights a child in a dictator’s mansion. A nuclear blast culminates in a resurrection scene that doesn’t really feel like somebody getting back from the useless, a lot because it resembles a cannibalistic orgy. (You actually should see it to consider it.) The protagonists meet a pacesetter who apparently spent, like, two years standing in a single place and punching the air ten thousand occasions a day. A mutant ant harnesses the ability to whisk his opponents to a pocket dimension, and he makes use of it to pressure them to play tag with him. There’s this absolute brick home of a person, whose energy is mainly vaping. And that’s simply scratching the barest floor.

Hunter x Hunter’s Chimera Ant arc is probably the most notorious storyline in all six seasons of the present, to the purpose the place even anime followers who’ve by no means watched the collection could have heard of it, as a result of it’s so divisive. Some individuals adore it and say it’s the best factor to occur to anime. Others despise it with a burning ardour. It makes up virtually half the collection, clocking in at 61 episodes. And it’s precisely as batshit as promised — maybe much more, if that’s doable.

Twice now, I’ve watched individuals attempt to clarify this arc to somebody who barely watches anime, and each occasions, I wished to evaporate on the spot out of embarrassment for the way utterly unhinged the story sounded. Making it that far into Hunter x Hunter requires a excessive tolerance for completely out-there plot components, however Chimera Ant actually assessments that restrict. I’m saying this as somebody who adores Hunter x Hunter, who wrote a 35,000-word fanfic for it, who cosplayed her favourite character, who purchased a clock with the principle characters on it.

When most Hunter x Hunter followers attain the midpoint of the Chimera Ant story, they’re hit with a burning need to elucidate the sheer what-the-fuckery to somebody, to elucidate how this gory, completely wacky plot works cohesively, regardless that a number of the particular person items are so wild that they’re embarrassing to debate out loud. It’s mainly a ceremony of passage to elucidate this emotionally taxing arc to individuals who’ve by no means seen the present. Sadly, since I watched the collection in quarantine, I by no means really bought an opportunity to bear this sacred ceremony. However with the Chimera Ant arc lastly added to Netflix, it’s now my time.

[Ed. note: This post contains a lot of spoilers for Hunter x Hunter, particularly season 5.]

kite, a tall man with long white hair, running with killua and gon trailing

Kite, my beloved
Picture: Madhouse

Hunter x Hunter takes place in a world the place Hunters, licensed people with superior preventing abilities and the power to wield the in-universe magic system (“Nen”), trek internationally looking for treasure, glory, and different harmful issues. The principle character, Gon, is a typical wide-eyed, big-hearted anime protagonist, whose one objective in life is to be a robust Starvation identical to his father. His greatest buddy, Killua, is the center son of a household of well-known assassins, however he simply desires to sit back with Gon, and doesn’t care about becoming a member of the household legacy. (There are different characters, however this arc is generally about these two, so I gained’t wax poetic about my absolute fave, Kurapika.)

The arc kicks off when Gon and Killua encounter Kite, a Hunter who focuses on dealing with harmful wildlife. He was additionally Gon’s father’s protégé, and as soon as, when Gon was little or no, Kite saved him from being attacked by a wild animal. Kite’s newest mission includes investigating a doable infestation of Chimera Ants, and since Gon simply helps out everybody, he volunteers to hitch Kite’s quest.

The collection makes use of “ant” within the loosest sense of the phrase right here. Certain, the Queen Chimera Ant seems to be just about like an enormous ant, and her first units of offspring are bug-like. However these creatures are known as Chimera Ants as a result of they tackle the hybrid look of regardless of the Queen final ate. At first, she simply devours common animals, however then she discovers that people make tasty treats — and after consuming them, she produces highly effective offspring that undoubtedly appear to be DeviantArt fursonas. Fairly quickly, her youngsters begin turning into stronger and extra highly effective, after which additionally begin hungering for human flesh. So they begin searching increasingly individuals, destroying complete villages and killing people in more and more horrific methods, like gunning them useless with highly effective streams of water, or probing their brains for info.

a pink woman wearing a bikini with a scorpion’s tail

Picture: Madhouse

a humanoid spider shooting web out of its bottom

Picture: Madhouse

a humanoid cheetah running through smoke

Picture: Madhouse

a blonde man with wings, a muscular red man, and a smaller catlike person bow

Picture: Madhouse

This seems like a recipe for riot, besides that this specific arc takes place in a rustic dominated by an eco-terrorist group that has forbidden any contact with or expertise imported from the remainder of the world, so nobody is aware of what the hell is happening. The corruption of this authorities and the way it suppresses its residents is, like, a D-plot at greatest.

Finally, the ants notice in the event that they eat Hunters, they will wield Nen, making them much more highly effective. The Queen retains consuming people and giving start to new rounds of soldier ants, every successive era growing in standing, till she lastly births the Royal Guard — three elite, highly effective ants — after which finally, the King, probably the most highly effective ant of all of them.

Whereas that is all happening, Gon, Killua, and Kite make it deeper and deeper into ant territory, with the intention of taking out the ants earlier than the King is born. However they’re attacked by Neferpitou, one of many King’s extremely highly effective Royal Guard. Kite tells Gon and Killua to run, as a result of they aren’t sturdy sufficient to combat Neferpitou. They make it to security, however that exact episode ends with Neferpitou fortunately sitting below a tree with Kite’s severed head — which ultimately will get stitched again onto his physique.

Gon and Killua meet up with the chief of the Hunter Affiliation, Netero, and two prime hunters, Morel and Knov. The three adults are planning to take down the ants — and forbid Gon and Killua from coming till they’ve correctly skilled and might greatest Knov and Morel’s apprentices in battle. Whereas the ant plot goes on, Gon and Killua primarily have a protracted coaching arc, attending to know the apprentices — Knuckle, who hides his smooth facet below his powerful exterior; Shoot, a coward; and Palm, who has an obsessive crush on her mentor, Knov. The coaching assessments Gon and Killua’s relationship. Gon has the non-public need to retrieve Kite, and desires to develop into as sturdy as he can so as to take action. Killua, in the meantime, simply desires to be by Gon’s facet — however he’s realizing that isn’t as straightforward as he thought it could be, contemplating Gon’s martyrlike tendencies.

solid color blocks of determined faces

Picture: Madhouse

Whereas that’s happening, the Ants transfer to a different nation — this one additionally dominated by a dictator, although the brand new place is much less ecoterrorist and anti-tech, and extra stereotypically dominated by a despotic, rich tyrant suppressing the decrease class. The Royal Guard and King ants take over the palace, maintaining the human ruler alive to allow them to use him as a puppet, and hatch a plan to ask all of the unsuspecting residents to the palace on a nationwide vacation, to allow them to type out which of them they need to eat, and which of them they need to rework into Ant troopers (which they determine they will do).

They’ve to attend a bit, in an effort to mobilize their forces and corral the complete inhabitants, so the Ant King decides to bide his time by mastering each board sport in existence, as a result of why not? He challenges the highest gamers of every sport on the earth, rising bored and stressed —- till he meets a frail, blind girl who performs the fictional navy technique sport Gungi higher than anybody. The King can’t beat her, and he begins to comprehend that there’s a couple of approach to be sturdy, and that humanity has worth past being a tasty deal with.

a pale, blind woman faces a green, reptilian man, who holds a heavy tail up to her throat, between them is a board game

Picture: Madhouse

Gon, Killua, Netero, Morel, Knov, Knuckle, Shoot, and Palm hatch a plan to infiltrate the palace and take down the Ants. The arc mainly culminates on this epic showdown, which not solely assessments our heroes, however the villains as properly. This represents a turning level for Gon and Killua’s relationship, as Gon throws himself into getting Kite again, it doesn’t matter what the associated fee — even when which means pushing Killua away. In the meantime, the Ant King begins to query his function, which ruffles his Royal Guard, who cut up over whether or not they need to honor his new objectives, or remind him about what issues. Oh, and in addition, there are some fairly rattling epic fights, although the final chunk of episodes does that anime factor the place one 20-minute episode spans about two minutes inside the present.

The Chimera Ant arc is A Lot. It’s So A lot. It’s Many Issues, All Taken to the Most Excessive. Hunter x Hunter doesn’t draw back from the nitty gritty: One arc sees the gang rescuing Killua from his abusive murderer household, whereas one other has Kurapika infiltrating the mafia to avenge his fallen clan. However the darkish plot components of the Chimera Ant arc sink quite a bit deeper than the earlier storylines. A lot of the earlier arcs have sufficient stability between drama and lighthearted moments to maintain the characters going. This arc, nevertheless, represents a degree of no return for a number of the characters — it’s the finish of Gon and Killua’s story, primarily.

However the Chimera Ant arc isn’t a drag due to its size and content material. It’s extremely well-crafted, actually tapping into the collection’ deepest feelings. It’s the darkest arc of the anime, and it’s actually the goriest. It offers with themes of what it means to be human, of discovering energy in sudden locations, of the boundaries of friendship and loyalty, and the potential of getting misplaced within the want for vengeance. It has beautiful and intriguing combat scenes, and compelling characters. And it actually assessments the bond between Gon and Killua. Someplace alongside the road, it evolves right into a poignant, tender love story. And regardless that it’s set in a fantasy world, it integrates real-life political points like totalitarian governments and Japan’s lingering nuclear trauma.

gon and killua looking determined, with neferpitou looming behind them

Picture: Madhouse

Even a couple of months after watching this arc, and even after (lastly!) explaining all of this, I nonetheless have blended emotions about it — I don’t adore it, however I can’t deny how evocative it’s. The ultimate scenes of Chimera Ant are gut-punching, and completely well worth the 61-episode construct up. They may not exist with out that many devoted episodes, or with the quantity of blood, despair, and brutal homicide, which undoubtedly threw me off intially. It ricocheted me to epic highs and deep lows. I did, certainly, blast by it at lightning velocity — not simply because I used to be warned to, however as a result of I needed to know what occurred subsequent.

It’s the fruits of Gon and Killua’s story, and it actually pushes the boundaries of the Hunter x Hunter universe, regardless that not one of the different main characters seem in it. And it units up the collection’ ultimate episodes, that are a bittersweet denouement, a marked change from the gung-ho pleasure the collection begins with. Hunter x Hunter is a journey, and never all of it’s completely satisfied. However Gon and Killua find yourself in locations that make sense — even when that may solely occur after 61 episodes of preventing murderous, mutated ant-people.

The final two seasons of Hunter x Hunter — which embody the Chimera Ant arc — are actually accessible on Netflix. The total collection can be accessible on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

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