12 Days of Anime, #4: Hunter x Hunter Breaks Me

I’m not really much of a crier. This used to be pretty much a hard rule – basically nothing would move me to cry, regardless of how personal or how tragic. This has started to change over the last few years, starting with Katawa Shoujo and my reintroduction back into anime. And I’m actually grateful for this – my favorite media is the stuff that makes me cry, and I wish I did it more often. It happens rarely enough that I can still easily say any show that makes me cry is among my favorite shows.

Well, Hunter x Hunter made me cry. God damn did it ever.

I’d gotten behind on the show this year, with my heavy watching/writing schedule and the somehow more immediate demands of seasonal shows letting it fall to the wayside. So when I went on vacation this summer, I had a good twenty or so episodes to catch up on, comprising essentially the entire last third of the Chimera Ant arc. Just me, some good whiskey, and that wide expanse of beautiful, heartrending HxH. Few shows get to build off the platform of a hundred plus episodes of character development, and even fewer take advantage of it in the way Hunter x Hunter does. Chimera Ant is sad and uplifting and personal and universal and basically everything at once, and when that arc was done, I curled up on the couch and cried like hell. I loved those characters, goddamnit. That arc let me know them utterly, and then it took them away. You’re a cruel thing, Hunter x Hunter, but I love you for it.

But that’s enough about me. This is a Twelve Days post, so let’s count down twelve iconic images from this tremendous arc. Vague spoilers ahead, so tread carefully if you haven’t watched it!


#12: Beautiful violence as the attack begins.

Hunter x Hunter

#11: Shoot finds peace on the verge of death.

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#10: One of many shots of Killua desperately running. No character works harder this arc. He has everything at stake.

Hunter x Hunter

#9: Pitou goes through poignant transformations in this story, but she remains a terrifying animal throughout.

Hunter x Hunter

#8: Gon is denied his goal among the scattered Gungi stones.

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#7: And Gon is lost.

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#6: Pouf may be the closest this arc comes to a “villain,” but even he is an endearing, poignant figure. He does what he thinks is best.

Hunter x Hunter

#5: While Palm’s journey is pure righteous fury and catharsis. Among all the difficult questions, some characters just get to represent the glory of humanity.

Hunter x Hunter

#4: The battle of Meruem and Netero, as beautiful as a fight can be.

Hunter x Hunter

#3: What humankind can do.

Hunter x Hunter

#2: Killua can’t save his friend from himself.

Hunter x Hunter

#1: And of course, one final moment of peace.

6 thoughts on “12 Days of Anime, #4: Hunter x Hunter Breaks Me

  1. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I ended up watching Hunter X Hunter largely because you kept talking it up. So first of all: thank you for that.

    Second: god damn, Chimera Ant was a journey, wasn’t it? One of the most ambitious and powerful things I’ve watched in a long time. I fell in love with the show long before CA, but the moment the perspective switched at the invasion of the palace and the ants suddenly went from being the invading evil to the defenders of their home desperately trying to ward off the invading monsters that wanted to kill them, I knew something special was happening. And it just kept getting better from there. There are so many great sub-stories in that storyline: Killua pulling the pin, Gon losing himself, Pitou growing up, Meruem and Komugi (cue waterworks).

    Damn, I really miss this show.

    • Yeah, I could easily rattle off a dozen “favorite” narratives in that massive web, from Palm’s shift to Youpi learning to respect his opponents. How can a story be that dense and yet also that personal? It was a beautiful thing.

  2. I’ve been following you for a long time Bobduh, I think ever since AbcbTom retweeted you talking about Gatchaman Crowds and I saw that you sometimes wrote about Hunter X Hunter. I really enjoy reading your essays week in reviews and actually got a friend to watch HxH by linking your chimera ant arc essay.

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