When it comes to HunterxHunter arcs, people tend to share the same opinions. The first is that Greed Island is the worst. Up until recently, I didn’t agree with that. The second one, which I also disagreed with, is that the Chimera Ant arc was the best. As you likely guessed from the title, my thoughts on that haven’t changed.
Now, before you come to burn my apartment down, let me make it clear: I like this arc. A lot. It’s long as hell, but the story it tells is easily one of HunterxHunter’s best! It completely transforms the tone of the show, to the point that it feels like an entirely different story! It has some of the best writing, visuals, and music in the whole series! I understand the hype completely and buy into it just as much!
If it weren’t for one problem, I’d love this arc just as much as everyone else. But this one problem really bugs me. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t let it go.
Why won’t the narrator just shut the fuck up?!
Seriously, this dude never crams it! He’s always there to overexplain everything! What the character’s thinking or how their ability works! It got to the point that I was screaming at my screen for him to just shut his fucking trap and let me watch the damn show!
But I’m a fair man. I’ll acknowledge that, at times, it is a necessity for him to explain certain things. Some of these characters have powers so ridiculous and convoluted that explaining them really is the only way to help the audience understand.
Then there are scenes where that’s clearly unnecessary. Take, for example, the moment before Netero’s final attack against the King. He tells the King his name, then charges up one last desperate blow. The narrator chimes in, explaining that the King didn’t have any time to process the new information because he’s too busy staring at Netero’s building power.
Here’s the thing. We can see that happening. Y’know. With our eyeballs. That we use to do stuff like read or watch TV. Or in this case, both. We can kind of figure out that the King is too busy being afraid of Netero to revel in his name. We can tell that he’s afraid just by looking at him. That’s kind of the whole point of a visual medium like this one.
Moments like this are positively riddled all throughout this arc. Whether you need him or not, the damn narrator will always be there, overexplaining every. Single. Fucking. Thing. How am I supposed to get emotionally invested in a scene when someone is sitting over my shoulder explaining what’s happening to me?!
Having a narrator explain it all is a clear sign of a writer’s lack of confidence. Sure, it’s how books do it. But books are nothing but words! You need to have that! The whole point of a comic or a show is that you can show the audience these things without having to explain it! If you write in a godly voice to explain it, you take the audience right out of the story!
Plus, it comes across as condescending to the viewer. What, you think I can’t figure it out just by looking at them? You think I’m a dummy?! I can read body language and facial expressions! That’s been the basis of human communication for our entire existence!
What really gets me is how the show did so well before in not overexplaining things. Before this arc, it respected the viewer enough not to go too much into too many things. When it was explained, it was always done so by the characters, so it made sense within the context of the story.
Take, for example, the Hunter Exam. Leorio is falling behind, exhausted. Seeing this, Gon stops and looks at him. Neither of the two say anything to each other. The narrator doesn’t explain anything. Then, steeling his resolve, Leorio screams and charges ahead, declaring that he will become a Hunter.
Even without words, you can figure out what’s going on. Gon’s stare can be interpreted in many ways. “I’m waiting for you.” “Is that all you can do?” “You can keep going.” All of which aligns with Leorio’s next actions. We know that Gon is silently encouraging him. No one needs to explain anything to us. We watch. We figure it out. And we’re completely immersed in the story.
But for some reason, they forgot how to do that when the Chimera Ant arc started. Either the writer thought this arc was just too smart for audiences or he didn’t have any confidence in his abilities. Either way, it pisses me off. The decision to add that damn narrator took me out of the story so many god damn times that it was maddening.
Which is a shame. Because I must stretch: the story of this arc is absolutely amazing! I just wish the damn narrator would shut his trap and let me enjoy it!