Original Airdate: February 12th, 2012
Toonami Airdate: September 10th, 2016
Hello everyone, and welcome to yet another recap of Hunter x Hunter. On this episode, we begin delving into one of Togashi’s favorite tropes in shonen. That’s right, we’re going into a MOTHER FLIPPIN TOURNAMENT MINI-ARC STARTING THIS EPISODE! Anyway, let’s just talk about the episode.
So as I was saying, the final phase of the exam is about to begin, and as you may already know, it’s a tournament. However, this time, there’s a little bit of a twist. Instead of the winner of the fight preceding and the loser dropping off, it’s been reversed so that the applicants only have to win one fight in order to officially become hunters and the loser gets to move on and continue fighting until they beat someone, meaning that there is only one applicant who is unable to pass. Netero then reveals the brackets, which makes one applicant question why some applicants have more chances to win than others, and he explains this by saying that the applicants who did better had more chances at winning. When asked how they were able to rank the best applicants, Netero responds by saying that they were looking at three main factors when deciding who was the best: physical strength, mental acuity, and overall impression. He then goes on to explain the rules, which basically just boils down to “if you cheat or kill your opponent, you’re disqualified and the exams end there”. Gee, I wonder if that means someone’s going to end up dead by the end of this…
Anywho, the first round of the tournament finally begins, and it’s Gon vs Hanzo. As soon as the fight starts, Gon tries to make his first move, but Hanzo is able to out-speed him and knocks Gon right on the floor, to the point of distorting his vision. While he’s down on the floor, Hanzo tells Gon to give up this fight, or he’s going to continue beating him until he surrenders. Gon, being the persistent boy that he is, refuses to listen to Hanzo’s treats and continues to take the beatings. After a while, the other applicants start to show concern for Gon, with Leorio even attempting to intervene before the guards stopped him and told him that Gon would be disqualified if he interferes. After Gon gets up for the “god knows how many”th time, Hanzo tells him that he’s going to break his arm, and whadya’ know, he did just that! After breaking Gon’s arm, Hanzo starts this big exposition dump about his secret ninja training and all that other pointless garbage, and just like any smart protaginist, Gon finds the strength to knock him down while he’s expo-dumping. Hanzo then gets back up, and threatens to chop off both of his legs if he doesn’t surrender. But Gon responds to this by being a smartass and saying that if his legs are cut off, he’ll bleed to death, thus disqualifying Hanzo. This looses the tension in the room, but this causes Hanzo to go even more extreme with his threats and threatens to kill Gon if he doesn’t surrender, with the logic that he’ll be able to take the exam again next year, even if he kills Gon. Even after all of this, Gon still won’t surrender, and tells Hanzo about how he wants to meet his father after he becomes a hunter. After realizing that there’s no getting through to Gon, Hanzo forfeits the match and lets Gon have the victory. However, Gon wants to work things out so he can win the fight on his own, but Hanzo punches him into unconsciousness and declares that he’s forfeiting again, thus ending the episode.
Hunter x Hunter has had some damn good episodes up to this point, but I feel like this is where the show really started to stick out as something unique from other battle shonen out there. First of all, let’s talk about how it pretty much deconstructs the tournament arc by reversing the structure of the tournament. It’s certainly unconventional and normally wouldn’t fly in any other series, but in this case, the structure works because it allows the arc to get over faster and it makes it so that Gon is able to stay in touch with his friends even after the exams are over. Plus, I love how Gon is able to defeat Honzo by refusing to surrender and being kind of a smartass about it. It builds Gon’s character and shows how he can still be a joy to watch even in the toughest of situations. I give this episode 9 clenched fists out of 10