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Shonen Showdown 6-24-2013

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Double bull-rushed!

Hey everyone! It's that time of the week again, the time when you can see weird glowing red bull-octopi charge each other like there's a war on! It's Shonen Showdown!

We've got our horns locked in combat this week, with the latest update from Fairy Tail and Naruto Shippuden, alongside a real shocker of a Hunter x Hunter episode and a genuine, true "Arrrgh! Kubo!!!" moment in Bleach! Get on below and join in the fun!

Anime

Chris Walden

Hunter x Hunter Episode 85


I don't think I've ever felt this stunned by an episode of anime in the six or so years I've been watching them. Backtracking a little, we knew that Neferpitou was going to be strong. We also have some nice set-up via Killua regarding Kite's strength. Seeing Kite lose an arm so easily didn't seem like a massive shock, as quick as it did happen. Hell, we've even seen it before in Hunter x Hunter courtesy of Hisoka, and it doesn't seem that his great strength would have been hindered too much by something like that. 

No, regardless of strength, it was pretty clear that Kite was going to die during this arc. There was foreshadowing in this particular episode by way of power-comparison flashbacks and the passing over of Ging's hunter license. Judging by the chimera ants we'd seen before Neferpitou, it was already apparent that either the King or the King's Guard would take him out and give Gon and Killua a reason to fight and get more powerful.

However, even with all of this, the show still managed to make my heart sink with that final parting shot of Neferpitou and Kite's severed head. This powerful guy, the one we'd figured would die, was absolutely dominated by this chimera ant, and we know there's more to come. It was horrifying. Seeing Kite's lifeless head legitimately made me sick to my stomach. I don't think anime has ever made me react that way to the death of a character, let alone one we barely know. 

I think this is due to two things. The first is that we have absolute proof of how strong Kite was. We could measure him up to other characters in the series, so we knew this was the strongest character we've seen thus far (save possibly Netero, but we've not had him demonstrate as much). The other is the chimera ant concept. Kite could deal with the basic ant troops no problem. He made a general leave a fight that would be impossible to win, then tracked him flawlessly at a great distance. We were still worrying about the potential of generals with nen abilities to even consider that one of the King's guard could turn up. 

It was sudden. It was shocking. It was probably the most horrifying thing I've seen animated in a long time. Hunter x Hunter is fantastic. 

[Hunt for this show on Crunchyroll!]

 

Josh Tolentino

Naruto Shippuden episode 318


Naruto Shippuden continues its path of pairing cast members with dead people in backstory-filling flashbacks and unfinished-business-finishing battles. This time the subject is Killer Bee, and an encounter with Fukai, the previous Eight-Tails Jinchuriki and the Raikage's best friend.

That said, not much new information is revealed besides the implication of Orochimaru in the rampage event that killed Fukai, as well as the father of Bee's own best friend, Motoi. This really only matters if you've been paying attention to Bee's origin story (and are willing to accept this stuff as canon), but for what it's worth it provides a vague explanation for why the Eight-Tails only has one horn. 

And, ehm...that's the only real takeaway here. Let's move on, and look forward to seeing Kankuro on the development block next, shall we?

 

Manga

Kristina Pino

Fairy Tail Chapter 336


Well, things wrapped up kinda nicely in this latest chapter, didn't they? Lucy reveals that the gates need to be broken in order to make Rogue from the future disappear, and Natsu happens to crash down on it with a dragon as he pummels through Rogue. Rogue also mentions that Frosch just has like a year to live, but that's probably going to come up again... I mean, dialogue like that is pretty deliberate. I don't see why everyone would ignore that information. 

Nothing from Jellal or the others, though. Maybe next time we'll see the aftermath of Ultear's action, and whether she's truly dead. If so, this'll be the first, I believe, for this manga. There've been a few fake-outs (like Tenrou) - twice now we've seen the prospective aftermath of the death of a beloved character (Erza and Gray), and Lisanna wasn't ever dead; but this would be the first true death if Ultear didn't survive her spell that turned time back a minute. I have a hard time believing that she only had a minute left to exchange, though. Maybe it's more complicated than that?

 

Josh Tolentino

Bleach chapter 542

KUUUBOOO!

I really do hope this is Ichigo's final final form, because it's kind of hilarious to recall how his power levels have progressed, in retrospect. Since the beginning, we've gone from a Big Sword (his first sword) to a BIGGER Sword (Zangetsu), then to a medium-sized sword (Tensa Zangetsu) to no sword (Final Getsuga) to a small sword (his Fullbring sword), back to a BIGGER Sword (post-Fullbring Zangetsu) to a medium sword (post-Fullbring Tensa Zangetsu), and now to DUAL-WIELDING (the Zangetsus). 

Oh, Bleach, never change.

Truly, we have crossed some kind of threshold, propelling our main character into the company of Captains Ukitake and Kyoraku, the only other canonical Soul Reapers to dual-wield swords (Hisagi does scythes, which don't count, apparently), and the top-tier badasses of the Soul Society crowd at the moment. Heck, if Ichigo's new power level raises the bar enough to prompt those two to reveal their bankai by the end of all this, I'll call it an unqualified win.

I do, however, appreciate the symbolism here, as it's a rather blunt acknowledgement of the dark truth behind most shonen action series: that despite all the heroes' hogwash about the Power of Friendship and Unity, most battle shows are all about conveying singular prowess upon an individual. Heroes and protagonists never make it through the gauntlet without the help and support of their friends, but ultimately, the last boss is almost always fought one-on-one. 

In this case, Ichigo vows never again to treat his powers, be it the Old Man Zangetsu that represents his Quincy ability (and his smaller, butcher-knife off-hand sword) or the Hollow Ichigo that bonded to his Soul Reaper power (making the big-ass main weapon), as beings separate from himself. He'll never again ask them for aid or attempt to befriend them, or call upon their will...because that would be pointless. After all, he and his full suite of abilities (which I fervently hope includes more than one special move) are one and the same. 

Harsh as that might sound, it's blessedly true of the genre, and surprisingly honest considering the sentiments this type of actioner usually relies on. Good on Bleach for that bit of candour.

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 


 


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