Hunter x Hunter is undoubtedly one of the best written manga/anime of this generation. What’s interesting is how the author tries to capture a sense of deep-rooted realism in a world full of fantastical powers and improbable societal structures. Thus, even Gon and Killua’s friendship, which in a way has been a solid foundation amidst the chaos of their world, had to reach a breaking point. Ultimately, it is a departure anchored on the concept of diverging paths. Despite their intimacy and all they went through, the point has come when their paths cannot continue side-by-side. In the end, people grow out of our lives.
Interesting discussion here.
There is an obvious bias in the narration that suddenly focuses exclusively on Killua, and more precisely on Killua’s feelings for Gon, in contrast to Gon just being seen as a dangerous berserk madboy. It is difficult not to become more attached to Killua than we used to be to Gon.
Until the Chimera arc point, their relationship could be thought as symmetric : they both share the same level of complicity and intimacy with each other. From the BerGonserk point, we understand that it was much more asymmetric than could be thought initially, with a pretty much unmatched depth of the attachment / attraction / love from Killua towards Gon (which we would rather call “deeply romantic” than “unhealthy”). We are (cruelly) reminded of how different Gon and Killua’s characters fundamentally are.
The ‘blame’ question is a tough one to solve from an objective point of view. Killua’s tendency to interiorize all his feelings for Gon is clearly not a healthy basis for their relationship (but the more extreme the feelings, the more difficult it becomes to talk about them…). One of the striking things in Gon’s berserkification is that it is due to something that happens to Kaito, i.e. a buddy he barely knew compared to Killua. Yet, Gon remains able to bluntly exclude Killua from his world just to take care of Kaito. As n! did not fail to notice, Gon is not entirely in a trance state when dismissing Killua : he precisely knows that what he says will hurt Killua. And the meaning of his words is basically : “Killua, this is my world, in which you have no part to play and no right to intervene” (all this being said in spite of the remarkable contrast in proximity and intimacy between Gon / Kaito and Gon / Killua).
Killua was wishing to silently get closer and closer to the inmost depths of Gon’s very being (no pun intendend, but if you insist…), entirely dedicating himself to Gon, while Gon has a more distant relationship, and seems to express equivalent friendship towards Kaito (judging from his extreme reactions, leading him to a suicide attack) and towards Killua. That is not to say that Gon does not care for Killua, but that he cares in a more conventional approach of “friendship” — the asymmetry being naturally painful for Killua.
One last word regarding Killua’s poor ability at expressing his feelings : it cannot be said either that this arc gives him many chances to tell what is on his heart. First, because this is clearly the arc where Killua is confronted with very special feelings for Gon (stalking him when Palm tries to date him, investigating Gon’s past about dates, etc.), and it naturally takes time to analyze and put into words what all these details mean. Second, because of the intensity of their mission, Killua had no real occasion to tell his feelings between two battles. From the BerGonserk point, Gon is made unreachable. After his revival, Gon is only desperate on the fact that Kaito turned into a girl…
(Gon’s reaction here.
The very W T F moment of the arc outcome.)
The sole moment where some discussion may have happened is the one point where the reunion scene with Killua is skipped. From what we guess from the parting scene, it does not seem to have been an in-depth discussion, but then Killua may be much less prone to talk after the bitter experience of the asymmetry of their feelings. Would he have explained everything at this point that Gon would probably feel awfully guilty. But would he start sharing the same attachment to Killua as Killua feels towards him ? Probably not : Gon should have felt it before any discussion. And for Killua, this is probably the only question that matters. Culpabilizing Gon probably seems both useless and inappropriate to him, since Gon is already aware of his indecency, and has witnessed Killua desperately coming to his help during his suicide move against Pitou.
Well… Shall we admit we personally sympathize with Killua much more than we do with Gon ? ;-)
(Without forgetting another major penalty for Gon : he threatened to kill Komugi. No need to add any comment on this…)
Ohhhhh, I like this debate. :)
I agree on most points here, especially the one about Gon losing points for threatening Komugi (and I’m still not convinced that he wouldn’t have asked Killua to kill the hostage if Pitou had tried to run instead of fighting, but that’s another conversation.)
But there are two points I’d like to argue.
First, that there was time before the invasion to de-escalate the situation.
The first time Gon explicitly cuts Killua out happens weeks before the invasion plan is set in motion. We have no idea what happened between that point and Gon getting his Nen back, but there was a lot of time. And judging by Killua’s ‘weird’ behavior once they entered East Gorteau and he insisted they separate, he was already bothered by something. It’s not verbalized at this point, so it’s hard to tell if he understands it himself. But there was a chance there.
His meeting with Ikarugo and the whole ‘friends don’t thank each other’ exchange suggest that he’s at least coming closer to a conclusion aboout his relationship with Gon that he’s not going to like. From his waking up in the hospital to the beginning of the invasion, they have at least a couple of days spent in close quarters. The situation is tense at this point, but there’s nothing to do but wait and talk. Another chance, missed. And it’s not like Killua has much in the way of illusions regarding how the fighting will turn out. Chances are they’ll both be dead by the end of the night. In those circumstances, he chooses to ignore the problem instead of clearing the air, and misses his last chance to make Gon notice that he’s shutting out his best friend.
My second point is about the missing apology scene, in which I think they did hash a lot of things out. Because this whole thing has been terribly painful to Killua, but right before they separate he makes a joke of it and looks positively gleeful about making Gon fall on his knees in apology; which I don’t think he’d be capable of if he was still carrying most of that hurt. And in the later snapshots, there doesn’t appear to be any bitterness left over. So my impression is that Gon’s apology, or the discussion that ensued, was good enough that they managed to keep a shred of what was there before. The best friend rapport seems to have melted away, but the separation is amicable enough and they keep in touch afterwards. So my take is that it was a lot deeper than… any conversation they’ve ever had before, come to think of it.
(There’s also the horrible possibility of Gon’s apology completely missing the point —as it was wont to since he seemed to believe that the only thing he did wrong was that one time he said something bad, which uhm NO— and Killua dealing with it by making Nanika take the hurt away, so that he’s back to pre-Whale Island levels of caring when they say goodbye. But I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t use Nanika’s power that way. Probably.)
Thanks for continuing the debate !
To reply to your two points :
1) I agree with you on the fact that there was time before the invasion. However, what I meant is that I don’t think there was enough time for Killua to both understand the (new and intense) feelings he experienced and to be able to phrase them into words in an appropriate situation.
In this analysis, I’m taking majorly into account the fact that the “free” time Gon and Killua may have remains extremely relative, since they are on the field of a very dangerous mission, the consequences of which should not be minimized. For instance, troubling Gon’s heart by expressing more and less unclear feelings could result in Gon being unable to carry out his mission properly. Even if in Killua’s view, the invasion has next to zero chance to succeed, it is clear that if he had talked at this point, any unexpected behaviour from Gon (that may cause his death) would have resulted in Killua being seen as the sole source of the disturbance, and in Killua not forgiving himself about that.
Without even theorizing much about it, Killua must be aware of this fact. And I’m reaaaaally suspecting that in Killua’s romantic mind, dying together with Gon during their mission would be not so bad an outcome… ;-)
What Killua probably did not expect at all, however, is the reaction from Gon at the painful point of the invasion. In my opinion, knowing in advance that things could turn out like they did could have motivated him to talk beforehand. Otherwise, it was not unreasonable to think there would be plenty of time for it if they were to achieve the mission without dying.
Actually, the reasoning here is difficult as it tries to negate the omniscient reader position that we all have, and that biases our analysis from the simple fact that we have a global view on the story, and we know how everything ended up, which is obviously not the case of Gon or Killua. And pretending not to know what one actually knows remains necessarily artificial.
2) On the second point, I think we have just not read the scene in the same way. What you are saying on Killua’s joke and Gon’s knees is factually true, but the scene is presented on a humoristic tone, which led us to consider that Gon was rather metaphorically on his knees (as a way to say that he is still super sorry). Moreover, I can’t manage to consider Killua’s joke as really sincere : given how much painful it was for him (pretty much like a stab in the heart), I can’t see him lightheartedly joking about it in a sincere way. The potential remaining bitterness is difficult to evaluate. If it appears somewhere, it is in the last shot of their parting.
But what is most striking, I think, is the distance that can be felt during all this scene, in spite of Killua’s joke. The times of sheer complicity and exclusive intimacy between them has vanished. And I imagine two scenarios on the missing scene that may lead to such a result : the one which I previously explained, in which Gon sincerely apologies without really realizing why it was so painful to Killua; or the one you mention, in which they both talk about everything they have on their mind, in which case something still appears ultimately broken — a mere consequence of their asymmetric relationship, that is.
And to sum it up in a few words : in both cases, we have lost any optimism regarding their current relationship, and we are not exactly confident on how it may evolve in the future (if there is one…)