Chimera Ant Arc (Part 2): Struggle of the King

This is it. The most legendary arc (or half of one because we did the first half last week) in the history of Hunter X Hunter. When people talk about this series, it’s often, if not always, the one that comes up first. It’s a truly legendary story.

After the King of the Chimera Ants is born, he and his Royal Guard takes over a human palace and makes plans to hypnotise and consume the country’s populace. Now, Gon, Killua, and the others must find a way to defeat the ants once and for all. At the same time, the King, out of boredom, starts playing games with humans, including a little blind girl named Komugi, who begins to change the way he views both humanity and himself.

Alright, I’ll get my biggest criticism out of the way first, since I already wrote a whole article about it. The narrator is far too overbearing in this arc. Now, I understand why the narrator does so much explaining, given how much complicated stuff happens here. But then there are scenes where the narrator’s explanations are just redundant, such as when he explains how a character feels before the character themselves have an internal monologue about how they’re currently feeling.

TL;DR: he is necessary, yes, but overbearing. The number of scenes where he should just shut up is equal to the number of scenes in which he’s necessary. Got that? Good. Moving on.

Also, I hate what this arc did to Palm. All of her personality from the first half of this arc has completely vanished here. She’s just… nothing, actually, she has no personality at all in this half of the arc. This version of Palm has no charisma or charm and her powers have become vastly less interesting. I absolutely despise this, as Palm was one of my favorite new characters in this arc.

Okay. Those are my criticisms. Now, let’s talk about all the good shit. And rest assured: there is a lot of that!

Meruem, the King, is my absolute favorite part of this arc. Not only does he sport an absolutely incredible design, but his character arc is genuinely, no hyperbole, one of the most emotional and engaging things I’ve ever witnessed in any story I’ve ever seen! Watching this unstoppable god become humble not through defeat but by opening his mind and heart is incredible! His journey to acquire humanity is, for lack of a better word, beautiful. No joke, it made me cry, like, three times.

And then there’s Gon. Who is the exact fucking opposite.

Gon’s transformation near the end of this arc is now one of my favorite transformations in all of anime, if not my absolute favorite. I love how it flips the typical genre tropes on their heads. Instead of it being inspiring, hopeful, and exciting, it’s dark and terrifying! And I love even more that he doesn’t even fight Meruem, the main villain! Fuck, dude, he doesn’t even care that he exists!

Unfortunately, this is where another problem comes up. See, this transformation is based on Gon’s relationship with Kite. Which, as we discussed last time, is underdeveloped in this version of the story. As such, it does kind of feel like Gon is overreacting in this telling of the story. I’d expect this kind of reaction if something bad happened to Mito, Killua, Kurapika, or Leorio. But Kite, a dude that Gon barely knows in this version? It doesn’t quite work.

Although the fight itself is quite incredible. And by ‘fight’, I mean ‘fucking brutal murder’. Kid fucking kicks a cat-ant-monster lady in half!!

I also love what this arc does with Netero. Up to this point, he just seemed like a typical Master Roshi-esque character. But in this arc, we get much more development for his character. Not only do we see him cut loose and go all out, but we also see that he isn’t exactly the most honorable of fighters. His clash with Meruem isn’t just one of the most hype fights in the whole series; it’s also one of the most horrifying displays of power and desperation I’ve ever seen.

Speaking of fights, this half of the arc has some pretty killer brawls! I love that none of them are straight-up fist-fights. Rather, each one is like a complex game of chess. How does a significantly weaker character use their powers or resources to defeat a monstrously powerful foe? It gives each fight a great sense of intelligence and tension that few other Shounen anime can even hope to replicate!

Ikalgo’s are my personal favorite. It’s super fun and tense watching a character defeat his opponents by cleverly utilizing whatever resources were lying around. Fuck, dude, one of his fights boils down to ‘if you kill me, I’ll kill you’! It’s metal as fuck and I love it!!

Now, as for production values. This is easily the best looking segment of the entire show. The animation is so damn spectacular that it puts some animated movies I’ve seen to shame! And god fucking damn does this part have some incredible music! ‘Hiyori Itai’ is one of my favorite EDs in any anime! It’s so good that they used it again for the Election arc!

God damn, there’s so much to talk about here! The ending is so long and thorough, giving each and every single character a conclusion to their stories in a satisfying and emotional way! Despite its length, the story is perfectly paced, never letting up for even a second! From the writing to the animation to the music, everything in this arc is so damn amazing!

If you’re still on the fence about watching Hunter X Hunter, then you need to! Even if you aren’t fond of the other arcs (I don’t blame you for disliking Greed Island), this one makes it all worth it! It’s a climb, but it’s absolutely worth it to get here!

Just make sure you set a weekend aside. Or two. Maybe three.

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