The Downfall of the Will of Tobirama Senju

If you were to ask someone which of the current 7 Hokages of Naruto was the best, there seems to be a common answer that Tobirama Senju was that one, simply because he managed to incorporate many of the systems of shinobi that is used to this day. Despite what I’m going to say throughout this blog post, I am willing to give credit where credit is due. Tobirama did change the way shinobi operate, and some of his advancements move far beyond the village of Konoha. He was a true revolutionary, but I am not willing to call him the best Hokage because of one simple thing.

Growing up, the Senju clan was plagued with war, back when the concept of the hidden villages was still in its infancy. It was a world where you either killed or were killed. Through all the years of war, it was survival of the fittest, no place for connections between clans or anything like that. At least, that was the case before Hashirama Senju and Madara Uchiha met and caused a change in how society worked.

Even when forced to go to war from childhood all the way to adulthood, Hashirama never actually tried to kill his friend turned enemy and instead always strived to understand and cooperate with him. They always talked about wanting peace for their world, and while Madara forgot about that dream, Hashirama never did, and this drive to understand and help others is what would eventually become the driving force behind Naruto’s actions later on. This would lead to a new age in the ninja world, and thus the hidden villages were made and an era of peace was established, but unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

Tobirama Senju had a different way of thinking than his brother. He was a more strict Hokage, often only caring about the benefits of the village and defending it from any potential threats. His sour history with the Uchiha Clan played a major role in how he made his decisions, and constantly tried to suppress their influence despite Hashirama being extremely welcoming towards them. Tobirama may have had good intentions in mind for the people of the village, but his neverending overly cautious behavior towards the Uchiha would be the cause of arguably the biggest betrayal to Konoha in history.

While Hashirama was able to make peace with Madara and the Uchiha Clan, his brother ultimately could not share the same sentiments after so many years of war and bloodshed between the two clans. Madara could not live with this constant tension and blatant racism against him and his clan, and as such, he felt that he could never be seen as a respected member of society, especially when people looked up to Hashirama, who was a Senju himself, making him feel more isolated from everybody else. That was a huge reason as to why he left in the first place, and when he returned, it wasn’t to meet up with Hashirama and chat about the good old days.

The fight initiated by Madara only served to give Tobirama all the conviction that he needed that the Uchiha were not to be trusted. Combined with Hashirama betraying his old ways of trying to understand Madara and Tobirama’s ideology was set in stone. However, it is after his death where his ways of thinking would be taken to an even greater extreme than before. His will would be passed on to Konoha’s most secretive ninja, Danzo Shimura.

The way Danzo took Tobirama’s will to the extreme was simple. While he ultimately wanted the best for Konoha, he sees it as Konoha needing to be the one above all, and that meant eliminating any potential threats to the village. That didn’t just go for the Uchiha, but also for everyone else, whether it be another clan, an organization like the Akatsuki, or another village. In other words, he wanted to turn the village into a dictatorship.

It is this way of thinking that blindsided Danzo to the cycle of hatred that Pain constantly talked about. He saw that the Uchiha posed a threat to the village with their plan to overthrow the ones up top, but instead of trying to come to a civil solution, he ended up assigning Itachi to kill the entire clan, leading to a domino effect that would lead to his downfall. With Itachi wiping out the Uchiha, that made Sasuke vow revenge, but once he figured out the truth about Itachi’s mission, he set his sights on Danzo and the rest of Konoha. This would lead to their fight in the Five Kage Summit.

The fact that it even lead to this fight in the first place shows exactly how much of a terrible impact Tobirama’s thinking had on the village, and that isn’t even counting the other things that happened previously. The massacre of the Uchiha clan? Sasuke joining up with Orochimaru and later on the Akatsuki? Him planning to destroy the Leaf? When you look at things with the proper context and a broad view point, this was indirectly caused by Tobirama by the simple act of him not being able to accept the Uchiha as part of the village.

Am I trying to say that Tobirama was unjustified for being wary of the Uchiha? Not at all. The Uchiha and the Senju were enemies since the days he was a young boy, of course he would have the right to be wary, but there is a difference between being wary of people and being downright tyrannical towards them. Tobirama had managed to create a form of thinking all on his own, and to some extent, that particular ideology could be compared to the ideals of Indra and Ashura. Alas, it didn’t have the same staying power as either one, and it would eventually come to an end with the death of Danzo.

The resolution to the final battle between Naruto and Sasuke is many things. It’s a reunion of friends, the final big moment in Sasuke’s development as a character, and the the end of the fight essentially put a rest to the conflict between Indra and Ashura that had been going on for generations, but there is one other aspect that I think people often overlook. It proves that Tobirama’s ideals of killing any threats for the safety of the village was ultimately not the way to go, and this is not the only example, as stuff that happened previously like the Allied Shinobi Forces and Naruto’s conversations with many of his foes since Part 1 proved that if things were to truly head towards peace and a brighter tomorrow, the way to go about it is through understanding and cooperation and not through oppression and violence.

A lot of you may disagree on this particular topic, but it’s clear that this is the message that Kishimoto wanted to give to the audience. I hope this post has managed to give you a new perspective on what you think about Tobirama, so that next time somebody asks you who is the best Hokage, you may think twice and look harder at what each one has done before you make you decision.

As always, thank you all for reading.


My Favorite Naruto Fillers

While Naruto’s anime is considered by many, including myself, to be a poor adaptation due to the heavy amount of filler that it has, I have actually watched a decent amount of filler and, being the contrarian that I am, I don’t believe it all to be bad. Is it necessary? No. Is it all good? Not even close, a lot of it is still bad and sometimes downright insulting, but I did manage to find some value in a good chunk of these little side stories. Today, I’m going to be going through all the fillers that I feel you should check out. Please note that I haven’t seen every single filler because I still have some sanity, so forgive me if a filler that you liked wasn’t on here. Without further ado, Let’s begin our journey through filler hell and check out the hidden diamonds in the rough.

From the image above, you can guess the first one we’re going to talk about it the episode where Team 7 tries to figure out what Kakashi looks like under his mask. As a one-off episode, I say this was a pretty enjoyable little adventure. What makes this episode work is just the simple fact of Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura just hanging out and having fun. That is something that we don’t get to see much of, especially in Part 2. Even in Part 1, the most we see them interacting with each other is usually in serious situations, so seeing them just act like regular kids was a breath of fresh air, and the ways they try to get Kakashi to inadvertently reveal what his face looks like are pretty amusing.

This would later be followed with another filler episode from Shippuden where we actually get to see Kakashi’s face, though I hesitate to call it filler, as Kakashi’s face was actually revealed by Kishimoto himself. Regardless, you should check out that episode too as it is a solid follow-up to what Part 1 set up. A perfectly harmless episode duology that can at the very least make you smile.

Hey, remember Mizuki? No? Of course not, he was basically just a plot device to have Naruto graduate and become a ninja. Apparently though, the people at Studio Pierrot remembered him, and what did they do? They made a surprisingly decent filler arc that expands more on a character nobody cared about.

We get to learn more about who Mizuki was and why he became a traitor in the first place. We see how his relationship with Iruka was always artificial and how he had this sort of inferiority complex which lead him to going to Orochimaru for guidance. It gives us an understandable explanation for who he is and I found myself actually rather invested in this. Yeah, they actually made me care about a character I couldn’t give less of a shit about.

Now you may be wondering why he looks like a tiger in the image above. Simply put, he gets a curse seal in this filler. You might be wondering why it makes him look like a tiger, but when you look back at the other curse seal designs, this one is not really all that farfetched in comparison. That’s just a small nitpick though. Give this one a look if you get a chance.

This next one is actually one of my peronal favorites, mainly because it focuses on one of my favorite female characters in the series, Anko Mitarashi. Some of my favorite fillers are the ones where we get to dive into characters that Kishimoto didn’t go into too much detail about, and this on is no different as we get to see just how much of an effect Orochimaru had on Anko’s life. It always interested me when we first saw her with the curse seal during the Chuunin Exams, and with this filler arc, we are provided with more insight into things.

The other thing I like about this arc is the team dynamic between her, Naruto, Ino and Shino. It’s nice to see Ino and Shino, arguably the two most unimportant characters out of the entire side cast, get some time to shine, and do I even need to mention the interactions between Naruto and Anko? Those are always fun to watch. A fun side story that I’m sure you will get a kick out of before Shippuden. That and this next one too.

The Suna Support arc is the final arc of the Part 1 anime. While I think it would have been better for it to end at the Sasuke Retrieval arc like in the manga, I got to say, for an original ending, this arc wasn’t half bad. We actually get to see Matsuri actually be a character here instead of one of Gaara’s fangirls like she was in Part 2, and we actually have more of a reason as to we she admires Gaara instead of her acting the way she does because he is the Kazekage. We also get to see Gaara take up more of a mentor role in a surprisingly natural progression of his character, and the relationship between him and Matsuri serves not only as decent development for Matsuri, but also for Gaara as we get to see him try and be kinder and helping other people out more. Easily the best part about this filler arc.

On top of that, Studio Pierrot actually tries to make this feel like a finale as possible. Yeah, the antagonists for this arc are pretty weak, but we get to see everyone from Part 1 here and join in on the action, and I’m a sucker for those sort of things. Top that off with a decent transition into Part 2 and you have yourself an unnecessary, but overall decent final arc to the anime.

The Power Arc I would recommend for the animation quality alone. Seriously, this is one of the best animated filler arcs in all of Naruto, probably the best. I heard originally this was supposed to be a movie that was cut for time, and I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me, as I have seen some of the Naruto movies, and their animation quality is similar to that of this arc.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have merits when it comes to it’s story. It’s a fun adventure filled with charming characters and seeing Kabuto use the reanimation jutsu in its beginning phase was pretty cool, and I especially loved it when Hidan was brought back, as he is one of my favorite Akatsuki members. Seeing Naruto activate his psuedo KCM was nice to see, and I can see this working as a sort of calm before the storm leading up to the 4th Great Ninja War. I can’t recommend this one enough.

Finally, we come to probably my favorite of all these fillers, that being the origin of the Otsutsuki. Now, I’m just going to say this right now. As antagonists, the Otsutsuki are probably the weakest batch of antagonists in all of Naruto and Boruto. However, this filler, if it was canon, would probably be enough to change my mind on that.

We actually get a backstory for who Kaguya is in Naruto, can you believe it? Yeah, it’s there, and even though Kaguya was still unnecessary, this does try its best to add more layers to her character. It’s also very cool to see the origins of Hagoromo, Hamura, Indra and Ashura. This feels like a huge history lesson about the world of Naruto, and considering that I love learning about history, you can bet your ass that I would love this filler arc.

That about covers it for all the filler that I love in this series. Do you have any favorites of your own that wasn’t on here? Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment and tell me what you think, and as always, thank you all for reading, hope you enjoyed yourself, and welcome to the week of Naruto. Believe it.

How Yoshihiro Togashi made the Perfect Shounen

Yoshihiro Togashi is a phenomenal writer. If you haven’t seen or read any of his work, I highly recommend you do. Not only has this man created one of the best Shounen to ever exist and one of my favorite stories of all time, he has also become one of my favorite writers in general. So yeah, I have nothing but praise for the man, and it seems that many others who know his work do as well. Why is that though? Surely his work should have some flaws to it, right? Well, with this post, I will try my best to explain what makes his stories great and how they’re basically null to criticism in my opinion. What better series to cover than arguably his most famous work, Hunter X Hunter?

HxH, for those of you who don’t know, is a series about Gon Freecss, a young boy who wants to become a hunter to find his father, and as he goes along, he meets a bunch of people and goes to many places. That is the best way I can describe the premise to this series, and even then, I feel like I’m doing a disservice to it. While the goal of the series is for Gon to find his dad, the goal is not what the series is about. This is an adventure story from beginning to end, and Togashi makes full use of that aspect. The story will have Gon and his friends going to places running with dangerous creatures, a city filled with people that try to kill each other left and right, a small island that is part of a video game, a battle arena, and many other places.

Togashi manages to make this world as interesting as possible by introducing as many concepts as possible. Not just when it comes to world building, but also when it comes to the themes and messages. It has a lot to cover, from the bond between Gon and Killua, to the motives of revenge surrounding Kurapika, to the the sheer goodness of Leorio, and that is not even touching upon what Togashi has to say about stuff like morality, the human condition, and ways that the world operates. Yeah, HxH is definitely filled to the brim with content to unpack, and the series is not even finished yet, so there is good reason to assume we will get more to dissect and discuss later on.

One thing that makes this world definitely feel more alive is the huge cast of memorable characters. I can see that Masashi Kishimoto took lots of inspiration from Togashi’s characters, because like Naruto, the cast of HxH is very memorable. We already touched upon the main four characters, but there is also the Phantom Troupe, a group of people that treat each other like family and have incredible chemistry with each other. The Zodiacs, hunters chosen by the president of the Hunter Association himself, Isaac Netero, and some of the biggest players in the series so far. The chimera ants, creatures with some of the most unique and creative designs in the series and some of them are legitimately some of the best characters the series has to offer. If you told me to name 20 HxH characters off the top of my head, I would be able to do it without issue.

The last thing I want to mention is the fights in this series. Holy shit the fights in this series are phenomenal. Another thing that Masashi Kishimoto took inspiration from Togashi is definitely how he handles fights. Such an incredible mix of strategy, spectacle, narrative importance and combined with the fantastic work from Madhouse on the anime with the animation and music, they become movie quality fights. Whether it be something as small as Gon vs. Hisoka or as grand as Netero vs. Meruem, there is a fight for everyone to enjoy here. They are an absolute treat that I’m sure will suck you into the story.

I think we have established already the fundamentals of what makes HxH great now. It has an incredible cast, a well fleshed out world which creates a wonderful sense of adventure, fantastic fights and high thematic investment. That’s all well and good, but like I said earlier, there has to be flaws to a series as good as this, and you would be right. Every series has its flaws, so let’s run down the list of problems that I have with the series.

For one thing, I think the series has a problem with too much dialogue and over-explaining things. This is especially noticeable in the manga where there will be constant pages that have so many dialogue boxes to the point where you start to question whether you are reading a manga or a regular book. The anime is not much better unfortunately. The exposition dumps are still there, and sometimes I feel like the narrator can be misused in some places like the second half of the Chimera Ant Arc. I clearly remember having to take a moment to try and make sense of what I was hearing because there was just too much, and from what I’ve seen from recent manga chapters, this is still a problem Togashi has.

Another thing I don’t like is that the pacing can slow down too much for my liking, especially during the training sections. There are many moments where you are simply just waiting for stuff to happen, and when that happens, it just becomes a drag. Granted, it never got to the point where I wanted to outright drop the series altogether, but my point still stands that I wish Togashi could have made these sections more interesting. Combined with what I said earlier about how Togashi handles exposition, and this just becomes worse.

Lastly, while I think the cast of characters is amazing overall, there are some characters that I just don’t care for. I’m one of the people that actually likes Genthru, but his lackeys Sub and Bara are just plain forgettable. Killua may be a best boy, but some of his family members I just don’t like, like his obsessive mother and his annoying older brother Milluki. Also, even though I said I liked the chimera ants, they also have the abomination known as Pike as part of their group. Yeah, I think you get the point that sometimes Togashi can miss the mark when it comes to his characters, no matter how good he is at writing them.

So yeah, Togashi has his flaws as a writer. What a shock. So you might be wondering why I titled this post the way I did. That’s because, despite my issues I have with HxH, I still consider this series to be perfect. Allow me to explain.

This may be more of a personal thing, but I don’t really mind the heavy exposition when I really think about it. It may take time, but eventually I figure out what is going on, and I find it very satisfying. You can tell Togashi put a lot of effort into his world when you have to take a moment to understand what is happening, and when I think about it like that, I am able to be less critical on him.

When it comes to the pacing, yeah, it still is a slog to get through at times, but Togashi is able to counter this by giving us satisfying payoffs and making the character interactions as enjoyable as possible. Sure, the Nen training during Heaven’s Arena can be slow, but it’s worth it to see both Gon and Killua finally being able to use Nen. Yeah, the training with Bisky can get pretty boring at certain moments, but along with the interactions between her, Gon and Killua being fun to sit through, seeing Gon and Killua hone their abilities further and putting them to use during the fight against the dodgeball game and the fight against the bombers is well worth it the wait. Togashi never fails to make the wait for something worth it, both in the long and short runs.

Finally, even though there are some characters that I don’t like or care for, they are a very small minority. For every Zoldyck family member I don’t like, there are more that I do like. For every subpar lackey like Sub and Bara, there is the members of the Phantom Troupe. For every annoying thing Pike does, there will always be Tonpa. I’ll let you guys decided if I was being serious on that last part.

HxH has its flaws, I won’t to deny that, but I feel Togashi does a good job at either countering those problems, or making the pros so good where the cons become null. In my eyes, HxH is a perfect series that I can’t recommend enough. Trust me, you will not be disappointed if you decide to get into it.

Thank you all for sticking around for HxH week, and remember, enjoy the little detours to the fullest, because that’s where you’ll find the things more important than what you want.

Knuckle, Morel, Komugi, and the Bright Side of Humanity

(Spoilers for Hunter X Hunter, yada yada yada, you know what to do.)

What do you guys think about when the Chimera Ant Arc is brought up? What type of feelings does this arc awaken in you? For many people, it awakens feelings of dread and despair as they think about all the nasty things this arc says about humanity. It’s arguably the darkest arc in the series so far, but what really makes it stand out to me is not the criticism it gives to the human race, but the praise it gives instead, simply because Togashi focuses a lot on the bad side of humanity for most of the arc that I find the times where he brings up the good side to be much more interesting and memorable. The ones that I see as shining beacons of light in this depressing story arc are Morel, Knuckle, and Komugi, and with that out of the way, let’s dive in to see why I think so.

First, let’s start off the goofy-haired muscle man himself, Knuckle Bine. When he first appears, Knuckle can seem a bit too passionate about his fighting and doesn’t seem to respect other people all that much with his strict and commanding personality, but it quickly becomes clear that he is ultimate a softy at heart, even though he barely shows it. It’s mainly shown with his interactions with the dogs that he is a very caring person, and this never lets up for the rest of the arc.One of the best scenes that involves Knuckle is when Meleoron is invisible and spying on Knuckle and Shoot to form a solid opinion on them. At first, because of Knuckle’s short temper, he is uneasy about trusting them, but once he sees Knuckles compassion for smaller creatures for the first time, he has a change of heart and is willing to put his trust in Knuckle’s hands. This scene mainly works in two ways. The first is to show that the chimera ants are willing to cooperate with humans, and the second is to show that humans are not inherently monsters like many people seem to believe. Truly a case where you have to look deeper and not judge others by first impressions.

Knuckle had to have gotten his tendencies for human decency somewhere, and that is where Morel Mackernasey comes in. Unlike Knuckle, he has a more relaxed personality, although he does have a small threatening aura that we will cover soon. He doesn’t show his own form of compassion as much as Knuckle, but it’s clearly there in two key scenes.

The first one I’m going to cover is when the one where Gon is released on the hospital during the Election Arc. You can basically feel all the happiness and relief that he feels when he shows Leorio that the boy is well. It clearly shows that he cared for the boy as much as Knuckle and the others did. He can be heavily emotional whenever he wants to, and to see this man who barely ever openly cries for others actually do it is very heartwarming to see.

That scene is all well and good obviously, but there is one scene that I think is even better, and it also happens to be my favorite scene in all of HxH. I’m not got to talk much about this scene because I already covered it in my previous post, so go there if you want to know what I think about this scene in more detail, but if you already have read it, you know that I’m talking about the death of the chimera ant queen and the rebirth of Kite. When I first saw this scene, I expected Morel to try and hurt Colt, making the conflict between the humans and the ants, and to be fair, he does make a threat to Colt, but the vow that he makes afterwards makes a much bigger impression. The vow that he will protect Colt and Kite no matter what might say something about what Togashi thinks of humanity. While he may have plenty of bones to pick with it, he may also believe that the species is capable of empathy, cooperation, and charity, and that alone makes me believe that Togashi doesn’t think humans are inherently bad.

Now, do I think that Morel and Knuckle are the best representation of the good of humanity? Absolutely not. As much as I love both characters, they are not saints by any stretch of the imagination. As I said earlier, Knuckle can have a bit of a temper and Morel will not hesitate to kill somebody if he sees them as a threat. They may be good people, but they aren’t saints by any stretch of the imagination. No, that honor goes to one of the bestest best girls of the entire series. That girl is the one and only Komugi.

Why did I choose Komugi out of all the others? Simple really. From the moment she is first introduced to the moment she dies, she has never once done anything even remotely wrong. If I could describe Komugi, I would describe her as the personification of innocence and good will. Never once has she held any sort of malice towards anyone, and that is what makes her the perfect character counterbalance the misanthropic themes of the Chimera Ant Arc, and she also ends up being the main reason that Meruem ends up turning from a fearsome monster to a kind soul.

One good example of Komugi’s innocence and compassion for people is shown when Meruem rips his arm off. When he says to continue their game of Gungi, Komugi rejects this, as she wants Meruem to be fully healed before they continue. Obviously this shows that she values the lives of others, but what makes it even more astounding is that Meruem pretty much forced her to play with him. Even when she is trapped against her will to play Gungi matches over and over until the king wins, she still shows much care for him, even though she has no reason to. That is just pure goodness right there.

Another scene that I really like with her is the conversation that she has with Meruem concerning a move that she created for Gungi. We get to learn a lot about Komugi’s past and how she had to play Gungi in order for her family to live a stable life. It’s not necessarily a scene where the brightness of humanity is shown much, but it does leave someone to wonder how Komugi can be such a cheerful girl despite her poor past. I like to see it as her determination and surprisingly strong will kicking in, showing that she is able to keep on going to achieve her goals and keep on smiling even when she has no reason to.

In fact, that is one thing about Komugi that I really admire. She has no reason to be kind to Meruem, no reason to be smiling when she has not lived a good life, and yet she does those things and so much more. It is quite admirable the level of selflessness that she exudes, and she never asks for anything in return. When I said that she is the personification of innocence and good will, I wasn’t joking.

The final scene with Komugi that I want to talk about (And I think you all know where I’m going with this) is the last scene with her and Meruem. For a while, it’s just them playing Gungi with each other, but it slowly turns into this depressing scene where Meruem and Komugi just end up withering away. It is very tragic, and yet, I can’t help but feel that it was a happy ending of sorts for both of these characters. Here we see Meruem, who is now a fully changed person, and Komugi, who was the one responsible for showing him the light, together in their final moments, both of them feeling nothing but love for each other and content with how their lives ended. If this was Meruem from the beginning, then this scene would not be as beautifully sad as it is, hell, I don’t even think it would have happened, but it is because Meruem changed for the better that this scene happened, and who was responsible for this? Who showed him the ways of kindness, selflessness, innocence, respect and love that brought him to the state that he was at the end? His one and only friend in the world, a human girl by the name of Komugi. The person that showed him the value that humans can have and the good that they can be.

This isn’t even talking about all the other instances where Togashi shows the good nature humans are capable of. We see it with the friendship between Gon and Killua. We see it in the family dynamics of the Phantom Troupe. We see it with other characters like Leorio. We see it in the final episode of the 2011 anime with Ging’s conversation with Gon and his final words at the end. For as much as Togashi doesn’t like about humans, there is also plenty that he is willing to shine a light on and praise.

Humans can be very vile creatures. We are capable of stuff like hatred, violence, and corruption. At the same time though, they can be a wonderful species too, capable of things like love, charity, and cooperation. If there is anything that I feel Togashi is trying to say with HxH, it is that we have the capacity to be great and we can overcome the darkness within our hearts, and if fictional characters can do it, I see no reason as to why we can’t either.

Thank you all for your time and have yourselves a good one.

The First Half of the Chimera Ant Arc is Brilliant

(Obviously spoilers for the Chimera Ant Arc of Hunter X Hunter, so turn back now if spoilers aren’t your thing.)

I notice that whenever the discussion of the Chimera Ant Arc of Hunter X Hunter comes up, people seem to talk about the second half more than the first. Not that it isn’t understandable, since the second half is filled with most of the memorable moments and possibly the richest thematic exploration in the series. The second half deserves every bit of praise that it gets, but I feel that the first half is often overlooked when I personally think that it succeeds in a different way. While the second half focuses on developing the characters and showing how the arc represents the themes of humanity, the first half is much simpler and it uses that simplicity to its advantage. Today, I’m going to be running down what makes the first half a fantastic precursor to what’s to come.

What makes this first half great in my opinion is how it goes about introducing the chimera ants. At first, we don’t really think much of them, as they appear incredibly small, harmless and are taken down with ease by Kite, but Togashi plants the seeds of how much of a threat they are to our protagonists by a simple warning from Kite to Gon and Killua. Not long after this, we see the chimera ant queen for the first time and we immediately begin to question our expectations as she begins to feed on other creatures, which results in her giving birth to this strange lobster looking monstrosity, and what happens afterwards? Her new servant brings her food in the form of two human children, Kurt and Reina, and after this, Colt is born. The first humanoid chimera ant that we see, and also the point where we start to see that these are no mere insects.

From here, the story becomes one huge round of escalating stakes after another. We have it set in our heads tht these ants are not to be taken lightly, and we continue to see that as the story goes on, and this is where I want to speak about why this is my favorite part of the first half.

Have you ever imagined what a zombie apocalypse would be like? It would honestly be pretty scary if we let something like that happen. A rapid growing disease that can get around very easily as humanity slowly falls apart and a new dominant species takes over is a horrifying thing to think about. This is what I feel the first half of the Chimera Ant Arc is for the most part. Just one huge zombie apocalypse, only what I find even scarier is how easy it is for the ants to evolve and adapt to their situation against humanity.

When I say they adapt quickly to their situation, I really fucking meant it. Whenever the humans try to use weapons, the ants figure it out and try to use their methods against them. Then the hunters get involved, and for a moment it seems like humanity may have the upper hand, but eventually the ants gain the ability to use Nen. It gets to the point where the greatest of the greats need to be brought in, including Isaac Netero himself, but then comes the birth of the Royal Guards. Togashi keeps on giving the humans one advantage only to make it all meaningless when the ants get a bigger advantage.

Experiencing this for the first time was intense and a little frightening. Yeah, Togashi actually managed to make me scared of what would happen, and you want to know the funny thing about that? I was spoiled about what would happen by the end of this arc and this statement still held true. The fact that Togashi even managed to pull that off should show his massive potential as a writer.

The strategy in the fights that HxH is known for is also escalated here, going from just mere fights to all out war between the two species. The fights that involve Gon, Killua, and Kite are just a smaller part of a bigger whole. We get to see both sides of the conflict as they each try and gain the upper hand, and when even get to see characters that went as far back as the Hunter Exam get in on the action. I think the biggest example of all this is how the Phantom Troupe is incorporated into the arc. It may just be for a short while, but seeing them join in on the fight shows that this is a war where practically everybody is involved.

This part is more about the Chimera Ant Arc as a whole than just the first half, but the fact that so many people, from the Phantom Troupe to the Zoldyck Family to the Chairman of the Hunter Association and so many more are here really emphasize that this is supposed to be treated as this epic climax for HxH. There are other factors that play into this as well, as the chimera ants are the strongest antagonists the series has had so far, the score of the anime and imagery are at their most memorable, and we also get some of the most exciting and heartwrenching moments that the series has ever had thus far.

When I said at the beginning that the first half doesn’t have as many emotional and memorable moments as the second, that wasn’t entirely true. There are some moments worth remembering like when Gon beat Knuckle, when Killua broke free from Illumi’s control, and when Gon saw Kite for the first time after Pitou killed him, but there is one scene in particular I want to talk about. Talking about the second half for a moment, what makes that part of the arc so memorable, at least to me, is the lengths that Togashi is willing to go to show every aspect about humans, both good and bad, and prove that we are not so different from the ants. The seeds for all this was planted from the start in probably one of my absolute favorite moments of HxH ever.

During the death of the queen, Colt’s character takes a turn that I wasn’t expecting at all. The way this scene is portrayed at first is somber, but by the end of it, it becomes hopeful for Colt. After watching his queen die and him not being able to do a thing about it, Colt ends up breaking down in tears. That is, until he discovers a baby chimera ant and he vows to protect it with his life, partially in service to his deceased queen and partially because of him remembering who he was as a human. Like the little boy protecting his sister. Then, something interesting happens.

Morel walks up to Colt wielding his giant pipe and for a moment, we think he is going to do something terrible. However, he does something that made my heart melt. Instead of outright killing them both like we expect, he instead vows to protect them both, albeit only if they promise never to hurt humans ever again. He says this all with a proud smile on his face and tears in his eyes, and seeing the look of happiness and astonishment on Colt’s face is something that I will never forget watching for the first time.

This scene says and does so many things in such a short amount of time that it’s honestly incredible. Colt showing his humanity for the first time and the underlying darkness beneath Morel’s warning is a perfect showcase of what the arc was to cover later on, it made Morel one of my favorite characters, it made Colt one of my favorite chimera ants, there is just so much about this scene that I love that it’s hard for me to put into words. It is a perfect example of Togashi at his absolute best and not only is it my favorite scene in the Chimera Ant Arc, but also my favorite scene in all of HxH. Yeah, I truly believe it is that good.

The first half of the Chimera Ant Arc should really be talked about more. This could be just me, but there is a lot to love here. It does a great job at establishing the the threat of the ants, it has incredible feelings of tension, it sets up a lot of the themes and messages that would be explored during the second half, and it has one of the most underappreciated scenes in the entire series. I hope I was able to shed some light on what I like about it and hopefully get a conversation going about it too.

Thank you all for your time.

The Past, Present, and Future of the DCEU

The Detective Comics Extended Universe, or DCEU for short, has gone through a bit of a rough history to say the least. As of late though, it has been going through a bit of a redemption with films their recent films. What changed though? That is the question that I want to tackle with this post today, so strap in boys, as we are heading to the world of aliens, gods, and rich vigilantes.

With the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in full force after the success of films like The Avengers back in 2012, it would only make sense for DC and Warner Bros. to try thsir hand at an interconnected universe with an ongoing narrative. After all, DC was successful with their animated series that had a very similar structure to the MCU, and a year before The Avengers hit the big screen, Warner Bros. had a massively successful franchise with the Harry Potter adaptations, the last film of which managed to rack in over a billion dollars worldwide. So yeah, considering that both of these companies had experience with the same thing Marvel was doing, it should have been a cake walk to do, right? Well, as we all know, that was not the case, so let’s begin with the film that started it all, Man of Steel.

Obviously it would be a good idea to start off with Superman to kick things off, he is the most recognizable DC superhero. However, maybe giving this movie to Zack Snyder was not the best choice. Superman was never much of a dark superhero, so I just can’t understand why Snyder chose this direction to take the character in. While I was watching the movie, I was constantly asking myself if I was watching a Superman movie. Yeah Superman could get dark when it wanted to, but Superman was always optimistic, charismatic and fun. That was how I and many other people saw this hero ever since we were little. All throughout the movie, I constantly asked myself when the fun stuff was going to start, and I’m not talking about the action, that was a part that I thought Snyder handled pretty well if you turn your brain off to all the endless destruction. I’m talking about when Superman would start acting like Superman. Then he snapped Zod’s neck and I knew that I was in for a whole different ride. At the time, I just accepted that fact and forced myself to like the movie, but the more this extended universe went on, the more I began to turn against my former opinion, and that all truly began with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, released just 3 years later, and unfortunately, not to very kind reception to put it lightly.

So yeah, this film happened, and it did not settle well with critics and audiences. It was at this point that things were made extremely obvious that DC and Warner Bros. were doing this more to make a profit than to make an actually good product. What was the problem with this movie? Simple. It had too much to handle. This isn’t just Batman v Superman, this is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice after all, which means this films has to set up Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor (In one of the worst, if not the worst portrayal of this character to date.), Doomsday, and the rest of the Justice League. Yeah, needless to say, Snyder and company bit off a bit more than they could chew with this one.

On top of having too much to handle, most of these things don’t even work. I already talked about Lex Luthor a little and his eccentric personality that could rival that of the Joker, but there is also Batman, in one of the most brutal portrayals of the Caped Crusader, and it almost feels like I was watching the Earth 2 version of Batman instead of the original. Why does Doomsday have to be here? Why couldn’t they have saved him for another standalone Superman movie? Also, the way they went about introducing the Justice League was completely out of nowhere. Do I even need to go into the stupid scenes like how Doomsday was made, the scene in the courthouse with the jar piss, or the Flash time travel sequence? I think you get the point, this movie just had too much to handle. Now we move on to Suicide Squad.

I’m going to be completely honest here everybody. I completely forgot this film even existed. It is that forgettable. Even when these films areat their worst, there is usually one thing that I can remember about them. This film though? It has nothing of value to add, to this universe or to the conversation about this universe. Back then, it was probably the most disconnected film out of all the ones we had so far. Hell, I even forgot about Jared Leto’s Joker, and when you make a decision as bad as that one and I throw it out of my mind without a single care, you know you messed up big time. Let’s just move on to Wonder Woman now.

Now this was a pleasant surprise. A DC Extende Universe movie that was actually praised. Providing a good origin story for Wonder Woman as well as having a superhero actually act like a superhero and not an antihero, this film proved to people that, yeah, DC and Warner Bros. still had the potential to make things work. Okay, making things work would imply that this was the beginning of this extended universe, more like making up for past mistakes. However, this was only one film out out of four that people actually considered good, and even then it had problems when it came to stuff like the villain and the third act of the movie. Could DC prove people that they could still be good with their movies? Of course, but Justice League was not really the best way to go.

With director Zack Snyder back in the helm, at least that was the case until Joss Whedon had to take over because of personal issues, we are back with another film that, while not as bad as BvS or Suicide Squad, was still not very good. The problem is this film could have actually have been good or at the very least decent if it wasn’t for the rushed feeling of the movies prior. This left Justice League to build upon what they established rather than having other movies do it. Not to mention the fact that it sets up and leaves a bunch of empty plot threads like the stuff with the Lantern Corps at the beginning, the mother boxes, and eventually Darkseid’s introduction through Steppenwolf. Do I even need to talk about the Superman CGI mouth meme? I think you all heard this stuff at this point, so let’s go to Aquaman.

Aquaman is a pretty basic movie when it comes to writing. It’s not bad, although I felt Black Manta was absolutely wasted in this movie, but the rest of the movie is your standard superhero origin story. However, what this movie lacks in compelling writing it makes up for with the technical aspects and how the director, James Wan, was able to use those aspects to make the movie more enjoyable and give it more of its own identity. This film has some of the best cinematography and camera work I have ever seen from the DCEU, the fights are very well choreographed, and Jason Momoa does a pretty good job at selling the character of Aquaman. If Justice League made people lose hope in this universe after Wonder Woman, then this film brought some of it back, and this would only improve with Shazam.

Shazam, in my opinion anyway, is the best DCEU films thus far. Zachary Levi is able to capture how a kid who gets super powers would act in an adult body, it has a fairly interesting villain, and probably the best part is the central theme of finding a family in the most unlikely of places. This movie is like the opposite of Aquaman. While the technical aspects here are pretty basic, I feel this film’s writing is strong enough for it to get by without them. It is here that DC and Warner Bros. found themselves a winning formula, and on a side note, the Joker movie seems to be getting just as much, if not more praise than Shazam.

So we finally come to the present, and at this point, the DCEU is in a place where it does seem to have some faith from everybody. Does this mean that things will be able to get fixed all the way? Unfortunately, a lot of the early movies of this universe have done some permanent damage that I don’t think it will fully be able to recover from. However, there is one possibility I can think of, though I don’t know how well people will go along with it.

For those of you unaware, the Flashpoint comic storyline is what led to the DC Universe being rebooted and becoming the New 52. Currently, there is a Flashpoint movie that is in development, or at the very least a standalone Flash movie, but if it is anything like this comic, then I see this as a golden opportunity for this universe. If this universe is rebooted, this will give the studios a chance to start fresh. I don’t see why they shouldn’t when actors like Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck are no longer playing their respective characters, and seeing as how their versions of the characters didn’t resonate well with people, this also means the studios will have a chance to give us these characters as people love them. I still want to keep the versions of some of the heroes we have now, so I say they just change the stuff that didn’t work while keeping what did work. So basically like a sort of soft reboot.

One more thing I want to add before I leave is how I think the DCEU should work if this is the route they are going with. Films like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam, and now Joker are all disconnected from each other despite being in the same universe. In the age where we have to consume so many movies in order to understand more movies, I think this will be good for DC and Warner Bros. not just as a good way of separating themselves from the rest of the crowd, but also a good way to market their films and give them more mass appeal. They can still have their Justice League crossovers, but they have shown that they don’t need to rely too much on connectivity between films to be good, and I can think of many ways they can make the big crossovers accessible for general audiences too.

At the time that I’m writing this, Avengers Endgame has been released for months now and for many people ended their journeys with the MCU. Now I think it’s time more than ever for DC to make their mark on the film industry, and this time, I feel confident that they can make something truly amazing. If the films we have been getting are an indicator for the future of the DCEU, then I am really looking forward to what this universe will bring to the table in the world of comic book movies.

Thanks for reading everybody. See you all next time.

Kabuto Yakushi’s Lack of Self

The best way to describe Kabuto Yakushi’s character is with one simple question. Who is he? The answer is quite unclear for the majority of the series. From the moment we first meet him, we know nothing about who he is, and the more that is revealed about him only adds to the mystery of how he became who he is. People don’t seem to like Kabuto, and while I don’t think he is as good as other characters, that doesn’t mean he has no redeeming qualities, and I want to run down why I think he is at the very least an interesting character in this post. Let’s jump head straight as we try to figure out this man.

When we are first introduced to Kabuto during the first part of the Chuunin Exams, we appear to have a good understanding of who he is. He is smart, knows a lot of info about others, and he also gives off the impression that he is not a very good ninja, seeing as how he straight up tells us that he failed the exams 7 times in a row. Nothing too out of the ordinary, at least not yet. This stays true until he strangely denies the opportunity to face off against challengers in the preliminaries. Well, it wouldn’t be too long before we figure out the answer.

Once he is revealed that he works for Orochimaru, you start to wonder what role he will play for the rest of the series, as a character with as much build-up and a shocking twist like that would probably have a bigger role than simply being a lackey. Unfortunately though, for the rest of Part 1, he is just that. Despite him having a memorable fight with Naruto and helping Orochimaru in his fight with Jiraiya and Tsunade, he doesn’t really do much for the latter half of the Chuunin Exams, and he might as well have been non-existent for the entirety of the Sasuke Retrieval arc. This problem would be rectified in Part 2, but not immediately.

What’s interesting about Kabuto when we are first shown him come back during Part 2 is that he is revealed to have been a double agent for the Akatsuki. While this is soon confirmed to be just him putting up a facade, this gives us an indication as to what to expect from him later down the road. The mystery behind who he is starts to unravel just the slightest bit. It is around the halfway point of the Itachi Pursuit arc where we get to see more of who he really is. So who is he really? Simple. He is just a nobody that associates with others and nothing more.

I feel this is the reason why people don’t like Kabuto, and it’s an understandable reason even if I don’t share the same views as others. Why should we care about someone that was only ever seen as a tool for others to use, and even still being used as one? Kabuto is exactly who Haku was talking about back during the fight for the bridge in the Land of Waves. He is only meant to be used by others and nothing more. However, I feel that his lack of character was a good point for Kishimoto to build off of in order to make him a more interesting person, and come the war arc, we get exactly that.

While he was a big player when it came to the first half of the war, it’s near the end where we see what Kabuto has become once he injected himself with Orochimaru’s blood. We see that he didn’t just use Orochimaru’s blood, but also the blood of others on himself, and what we get when he has his fight with Itachi and Sasuke is who the man truly is and always has been. He is a confused and mangled up amalgamation of everyone else that came before and after him. He truly is a nothing character.

With Itachi putting him under Izanami, we finally get a dive into Kabuto’s mind as he slowly drives himself to madness fighting a battle that he can’t win. This is where everything about Kabuto is revealed.

As a child, he was separated from his village and lost all his memories. He was found by an orphanage and was raised there, where he also made a new family for himself. This was most likely the point where the bespectacled lackey was able to live a normal and happy life, thanks in part to the kids he interacted with and viewed as his own family and especially his adoptive mother, Nono Yakushi. Experience all this for the first time actually put a small smile on my face, since I always saw Kabuto as a bad guy throughout the entire series until this point, and seeing him act so innocent made me wish this was the Kabuto we got and the one we got to know more about.

Of course, as we all know, this peaceful life was not to last, as the young boy was willing to become a ninja when the village of Konoha was searching for new recruits. This was how he became a spy in the first place, and I wanted to talk about how him being a spy contributes to his overall character. As we have established at this point, Kabuto is a nobody, and the seeds for him being a pawn were set in place the moment he chose to work for Konoha. His life as a spy should be seen as a warning of what was to come for the man. He posed as every sort of ninja you could think of, and he continued to do that for years to come. However, it was during one mission that his life would take a dramatic change.

Think she was an enemy ninja, he accidentally took the life of Nono. While doing his best to heal her, she simply says that she doesn’t know who he is because she heard that her son was killed. She was technically incorrect, but when it came to Kabuto’s mindset, she was on point. Once he hears her questioning words, he begins to question who he even is, which opened up the perfect opportunity for Orochimaru to manipulate the young man into working for him. This mental breakdown completely destroys the original Kabuto, and what we are left with is who people like Haku strived to be. An empty shell. A mindless zombie. Simply put, a tool. The perfect ninja.

Once he finally realizes this during his time in Izanami, he finally breaks free of the hold that Orochimaru had on him. It is the point where Kabuto can start anew as a reborn man. We see this when he chooses to help out Sasuke. He could have easily left the battlefield, but instead he chooses to help with the fight against Madara.

Kabuto is who I feel Haku would have become had he still have been alive. He was a young orphan who eventually met someone that gave him purpose in life after his previous life fell apart, and after a fight, he finally learns to just be himself and learn to not live for others. He was a tool that became human. Now in Boruto, he is a caretaker at an orphanage taking care of the Shin clones, just like his mother before him. He managed to become a new man and gave himself a reason to live his own life.

Is he as well thought out as Haku? No, but he brings an interesting alternative just like every other foil in this series. Is he a god tier antagonist like Orochimaru, Pain, or Obito? Not even close, but he should not be thrown in the trash either. If you don’t like Kabuto, I hope this post made you seem him in a more sympathetic light. If you give his character a chance, you may find at least one interesting thing about him.

Thank you all for your time reading. I will see you all next time.