HxH 49: Baiting the trap

Hunter x Hunter episode 49 review

HxH 49

I was going to use the ever-old “it’s a trap!” as the title here, given that my only other usage of it was on the old blog (thus refreshing my chance to use it again), but I don’t want to kill the meme. In any case, Gon and Killua fall right into the Phantom Troupe’s trap here.

This is where there’s some inconsistency with Killua’s character. He has been described as an expert assassin who’s killed hundreds of people. At the Hunter exam, he killed a person who was clearly going to pass the exam – so someone on the Hunter level – without even trying. But all of a sudden Killua’s gone from world-class assassin to damsel in distress (literally, since he has a voice actress).

If you think this is just because he’s facing the Phantom Troupe, that’s actually not the case. In fact, it seems like Killua just keeps on losing power as the series goes on. In the Greed Island arc, Killua is forced to go through super-hard training, and even then, he’s not any more powerful than Gon. And in the Chimera Ant arc, he’s relegated to backup behind other Hunters. So in essence, Killua actually has his power decrease as the series goes along. The assassin thing gets thrown out the window.

Now that Gon and Killua are captured, they’re being interrogated about “the chain user.” But – and this is a very important plot point – neither do they know Kurapika uses chains, nor do the Phantom Troupe know Kurapika’s name. Thus Gon and Killua can answer truthfully that they don’t know him. This is an extremely important thing, and also a very clever twist that makes me wonder what happened to the author after this arc.

What do I mean by that? Well, as I’ve said on the podcast (you really should be listening!), Hunter x Hunter falls off a cliff after this arc. It takes nearly 60 episodes to finally introduce a character who changes the game (literally about that “game” part). This Yorknew City arc is very clever and pays close attention to details. The idea that Gon and Killua would not know that Kurapika is the “chain user” is really clever because it allows them to survive interrogation. In other series, what would happen is that the heroes would just pull out a sword, start slashing, and that’s that. “Boring conversation anyway,” you know? But here, we actually see Gon and Killua have to tell the truth.

What’s great about this episode is that the master plan that Gon and Killua were planning was one-upped by the master plan of the Phantom Troupe. They’re really good villains, you know? They tricked Gon and Killua into following them, when they were really being followed the whole time. There are so many things about this episode that subvert the typical shounen series route, things that make this arc so good.

And we haven’t even talked about Kurapika yet. He’s still with Nostrade and Neon. Just wait until he gets involved in this thing. This is going to get really good.

Character of the episode: Killua

Episode rating (out of four stars): ***1/2