When Gon was a baby, his father, Ging, brought him to Whale Island. He was left there and was raised by his father’s cousin, Mito. For all of Gon’s life he was told that his father was a famous professional hunter. Fueled by his desire to find his father and learn more about him, Gon decided that when he was old enough, he was going to become a professional hunter as well. At the age of twelve Gon is old enough to take the hunter exam, but Mito does not want him to go. He makes a bet with Mito that if he catches ‘The Master of the Swamp,” a fish so big that nobody can reel it in, he can take the exam. Of course he catches it, only after a week of trying. So Gon goes off to take the rigorous and physical hunter exam, in order to find his father. As the whole story unfolds, Gon discovers that finding his father does not prove to be easy. He meets many people along the way who become his friends, including his best friend Killua. There are maybe six or seven arcs throughout the series of Hunter x Hunter, each throwing different challenges at Gon, and all coming before he meets his father. You find out a lot about Gon, his personality, his values, and more. Gon is a very determined individual. When there is something that he needs to do, he almost always gets it done. If he is not able to do it, or if he slips up in some way, he takes it very personally. That is another thing about Gon: he cares a lot, not only about his missions, but about his friends as well. If he becomes close with someone, he will do anything for him or her. On multiple occasions he risks his life for his friends or for the greater good of the world. Gon is what I consider an unconventional hero. He is only twelve years old and not exactly following the traditional hero story. Even so, Gon is in fact a hero in his own way and using some theoretical frameworks, I will explore some specific examples that really highlight his heroism.
As we learned from Peter Barry earlier in the semester, “narratology, which we can define more closely as the study of how stories make meaning, and what the basic mechanisms and procedures are which are common to all acts of story telling” (Barry 214). Barry talks in this chapter about different theorists and their own contributions to narratology. The one I can relate Gon to the most is the section about Gerard Genette. This section poses different questions about how a story is told, and the one that is most important to mentions is this, ‘How is the narrative focalized?’ Focalization is essentially which viewpoint the story is told from. There is external and internal focalization. Internal focalization focuses on what characters are feeling, that you would not know otherwise. The example that I will talk about from the show really highlights this aspect of narratology. There are many examples in the series of Hunter x Hunter that are important to making meaning in the story. The one I want to highlight was when Gon goes to Killua’s house to rescue him from his family. Killua comes from a family of famous assassins and during his whole life he has been under the control of his family. Growing up he went through tremendous amounts of torture so he could become stronger. He has also been brainwashed by his brother Illumi, so that he will never forget where he came from and the things he learned. During the last phase of the hunter exam, Illumi is revealed as one of the contestants taking the hunter exam, he is just disguised. As Killua prepares for his fight that would make him a hunter, Illumi manipulates Killua into killing his opponent; therefore, Killua fails the hunter exam. Killua then returns to his home where he believes he belongs. When Gon finds out about Killua, he decides to go get Killua back. He and his two other friends, Leorio and Kurapika, head to the Zoldyck estate only to find out there is a gate which requires four tons of force to open. Gon and his friends weight-train seemingly endlessly in order to open the gate and get Killua. They eventually become strong enough to open the gate, and then face an apprentice who has been ordered to keep everyone out. Gon spends a whole day trying to get past her but is knocked away over and over again. Gon shows extreme tenacity and eventually the apprentice acknowledges Gon’s concern for his friend and lets them go to meet Killua. Gon and his friends face one more trial before being allowed to see Killua. The butler plays a game with them, in which Gon has to use his extremely good eyesight to figure out which hand is holding a coin. Gon successfully completes the game and earns the butler’s approval. They see Killua and are finally reunited and eventually go off on more adventures. I believe the reason for all these trials and this particular arc is to show how compassionate and caring Gon really is. He will go to extreme lengths to help out his friends and will stop at nothing to be with them. When later in the story Gon faces more brutal trials, this episode reveals to you how Gon is really feeling. It gives meaning to what is happening to him and really makes you care and get attached to him, because you can feel his suffering and pain. A representation of what I think is internal focalization within the show.
Again Peter Barry earlier in the semester taught us about structuralism. Structuralism means “the belief that things cannot be understood in isolation – they have to be seen in the larger context of the larger structures they are apart of” (Barry 38). As Barry dives into structuralism there is one thing that caught my eye. He talks about details from the story being seen in a larger context, and then the larger context is seen as a network of ‘pairs’ that has some kind of meaning. I would like to look at the Chimera Ant arc of the Hunter x Hunter series through this structuralism lens. At first you wouldn’t think much about the gravity of the Chimera Ant situation. It is not just a battle between the Hunters and ants; it is also a battle for humanity and for revenge. The Chimera Ant arc is one of the last things to happen in the series. They appear in the region of NGL, and start wiping out all humans. The Chimera Ants are eating humans and also feeding humans to their queen, who gives birth to a Chimera Ant king and three royal guards. Gon, Killua, and Ging’s former apprentice Kite, are the first three hunters on the scene. They go into NGL to find out more about the Chimera Ants, the ant king, and to find a way to stop them. When they first get close, they realize that they severely underestimated the power of the ants. One of the royal guards, Pitou, notices them from miles away and immediately springs to attack, severely injuring and then killing Kite. Gon and Killua escape, but when they eventually returned with a larger group of hunters, they were devastated to find out Kite had been killed. Because Kite was Ging’s former apprentice and was close to him, Gon had grown attached and considered Kite a friend. Gon, of course, took his death very personally and considered it his fault, saying that he was not strong enough to defend Kite. At this point, the ants have pretty much enslaved the rest of the humans in NGL and planned on using them to figure out which ones are strong enough to eat. The group of hunters devise a plan to separate the royal guards from the king. Netero, the leader of the hunters, takes on the king while two small groups handle Pouf and Youpi, the other two royal guards. Gon takes on Pitou, the last royal guard and the one who killed Kite. When Gon first sees her, she is healing the king’s human friend, and he allows her one hour to heal the friend. After the hour passes, he is so furious about Kite’s death and the fact that Pitou turned Kite into a soulless killing machine; he loses his mind. Gon uses all his anger to turn himself into an older version of himself and uses all his potential and strength in this one moment. He brutally kicks around and kills Pitou, avenging his dead friend. Turning himself into his final form does not come without a price. Gon is severely injured and is put on life support in the hospital, potentially costing him all those years he gained to make himself stronger. Without understanding the full context of this arc, you would not know what Gon sacrificed in order to avenge his dead friend and help save humanity from potential extinction. Again this was not just any battle; this was a war of great significance within the show. Gon once again shows his heroism for his friends and/or for the greater good. The way I related this to Barry as I was talking about before, was not only the details of this war seen on a full scale, but the pair of life and death. Without Gon and the hunters to stop the ants, the world would have been wiped out and death is the only thing that would be known. But because of the heroism displayed, they save the world and bring forth the chance at more life.