Following an attack by Neferpitou, a Royal Guard of the Chimera Ant King, Gon and Killua have managed to escape the NGL, with the fate of their mentor Kite unknown. The Chimera Ant situation begins to worsen, and following the birth of their King, the Chimera Ants venture beyond the NGL and start spreading across the world, hunting humans and establishing their own colonies. Chairman Netero of the Hunter Association forms a group of Hunters to exterminate the Chimera Ants, including the elite Hunters Morel and Knov. Gon is desperate to join the extermination team and rescue Kite. But Gon and Killua aren’t the only ones eager to join the team, and to make the cut they first have to defeat Morel’s students – Knuckle and Shoot. Meanwhile, the Chimera Ant factions continue to splinter as they pursue their own goals, and the Chimera Ant King and his Royal Guards begin to put in motion plans to create their own army.
Hunter X Hunter Part 4 spans episodes 89 to 118 of the series and is all Chimera Ant arc all the time, with its 30 episodes making up just under half of the arc’s total 61 episodes (for my thoughts on the first part of the Chimera Ant arc as well as the rest of the series, see my reviews of Hunter X Hunter Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). Part 4 has the unenviable task of continuing the Chimera Ant arc following Gon, Killua and Kite’s perilous journey into the NGL and escalating the threat of the Ants to a global scale – and it achieves this with ease.
With the Chimera Ant King and his three Royal Guards, Neferpitou, Shaiapouf and Menthuthuyoupi causing chaos in the NGL’s neighbouring country to the East, while the other Chimera Ants spread destruction elsewhere, the sense that the situation is escalating feels very real. The expanding conflict means the episodes make an effort to spend more time with characters other than Gon and Killua, which is necessary given the scope of the threat and the number of new characters becoming involved in the conflict. Characters like Morel and Knuckle have several episodes that put them directly in the action and expand on their abilities, and while these kinds of episodes sometimes fall into the Hunter X Hunter trap of turning a cool episode about magical shonen abilities into a classroom lecture, Part 4 more often than not lets the action speak for itself. There’s also a great couple of episodes that follow the Phantom Troupe’s escapades as they take on a colony of Chimera Ants that have settled in Meteor City and is a really good encapsulation of the sheer manic energy and danger present in this arc.
Hunter X Hunter Part 4 is surprisingly adept at balancing the sense of urgency of the Chimera Ant invasion with the introduction and development of new characters, all while building to the major conflict of the arc – the Chimera Ant extermination team’s attack on the headquarters of the Chimera Ant King and his Royal Guards. The episodes in Part 4 take on a steady pace, allowing time for Gon and Killua to address their personal shortcomings and improve their abilities, for the audience to become familiar with new characters like Morel’s students and the Chimera Ant King, and even for jaunts into side stories such as the Phantom Troupe episodes. The episodes even make time to elaborate on the various Chimera Ants and their differing and diverse goals, which have changed significantly following the events at the NGL.
While these episodes follow many different characters with very different objectives, the episodes in Hunter X Hunter Part 4 all feel like cohesive parts of a whole, as the narrative slowly but confidently builds towards the extermination team’s infiltration and attack on the Chimera Ant King’s headquarters. This steady build up adds to the anticipation of the attack on the headquarters, which acts as a spectacular culmination of the first half of the Chimera Ant arc by following multiple characters’ perspectives (many of them introduced in this arc alone) across the span of only a couple of minutes as they carry out their individual missions. The episodes give just enough information before the attack for the audience to know what the general plan is, while allowing for the more entertaining aspects of the plan to unfold in real time. It’s an expertly crafted sequence of events, as the well-established sense of danger and the body count already associated with the Chimera Ants makes these episodes incredibly entertaining and gripping from start to finish as the plan unfolds, and in some cases, falls apart.
Hunter X Hunter Part 4 expertly builds towards the major conflict of the Chimera Ant arc, all while delivering some excellent shonen action and giving both its new and established characters time for introspection and development. The work Part 4 does in building to the final episodes of this arc cannot be understated, as it establishes crucial characters, character conflicts and concepts that will be essential to Part 5 of the series, while not suffering from excessive exposition or just shuffling meekly into position for the arc’s finale episodes. The Hunter X Hunter series just keeps getting better and better with each passing episode and arc, and Hunter X Hunter Part 4 is no exception.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.
POT (Yoshihiro Togashi) 1998-2011 ©VAP・NTV・Madhouse