Hunter x Hunter 1999 vs 2011 Part 3: The Zoldyck Family

Meet Killua’s family, the league of crazy assassins.

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As the Hunter x Hunter dub enters the year of the Chimera Ants, the ever-popular head to head comparison series between the 1999 and 2011 anime returns! Finally out of the Hunter Exam arc, the shortest arc of the show commences- the Zoldyck Family arc, which gives the viewers a first look at Killua’s family, and also shows the extraordinary resolve of Gon and his friends as they attempt to rescue the former. For those who missed it, here’s the links to Part 1 and Part 2 focusing on the Hunter Exam arc.

 

The First Task of New Hunters! Find Kukuroo Mountain! Rescue Killua! (1999, Episode 32-36, 2011 Episode 22-26)

Admittedly, it’s difficult to even split up any portion of this arc, given that in both iterations of the anime, it spans a mere five episodes (which is is stark comparison to the previous Hunter Exam arc, which ran for 31/21 episodes in both anime version respectively. Add in 2011’s Chimera Ant arc, which spanned 60 episodes, and the brevity of the Zoldyck Family arc is even more pronounced.)

Despite its short length, the arc is extraordinarily important for two main reasons- the first being the introduction (at least briefly) of the rest of Killua’s family outside Illumi, who was introduced formally at the end of the prior arc; and the continuation of character arcs that see the main foursome begin to go their separate ways after this point, where outside of the Yorknew City arc, most of the viewers’ time would be dominated by the brilliant friendship and adventures of Gon and Killua, but that’s for another day.

As for the story itself, the Hunter Exam is now over; Gon, Kurapika and Leorio are officially licensed Hunters, and as such, their first unofficial job is the agreed-upon rescue of Killua from the clutches of his crazy family. After a brief confrontation between Gon and Illumi at the end of the previous arc, the location of the Zoldyck family estate is revealed to be Kukuroo Mountain, on a completely different continent and country (the Republic of Padokea, more specifically.)

Before we reach the family themselves though, the arc also introduced a number of family servants and butlers, who played a key role for the arc:

ZEBRO

1999                                            2011

    Image result for zebro

SEAQUANT

1999                                            2011

Image result for seaquant             https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/f/f3/Seaquant_face.png/revision/latest?cb=20141110065042&path-prefix=ru

 

CANARY

1999                                                             2011

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/6/6b/Canary_high_quality.JPG/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/250?cb=20120226162650      

 

GOTOH

1999                                             2011

     https://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/8/8e/Gotoh_HxH_2011.PNG/revision/latest?cb=20120401042159

Once again, the lighter shading and style of the 2011 anime is noticeable in these character models; however, only Seaquant received a notably huge design overhaul, although his headband and mustache was preserved between both iterations. Zebro’s sideburns are noticeably bushier in the later anime adaptation; Canary’s design is remarkably similar, though her hair is now black instead of reddish (and fluffier-looking), her skin is more natural looking rather than the bleached sort of look in the picture, and her outfit has had a palette swap, with the bolo tie being slightly more pronounced. The same goes for Gotoh, whose face has a bit more definition, a lighter shade, and a red clasp on his tie.

(Of story note, Gotoh and Canary return to play important roles in the Chairman Election arc, which only the Madhouse adaptation has in anime form, but for now, the focus will stay on their roles merely in this arc.)


One of the more striking differences in the Zoldyck Family arc (and there are few, this arc is actually quite similar in both versions) is Gon’s confrontation with Mike, the family’s deadly hunting dog.

In both versions, while Gon is still insistent on entering the estate despite Zebro’s warnings, he instantly finds himself filled with a kind of primal fear upon merely sensing Mike’s prescence, let alone seeing him. However, in 1999, when Leorio accidentally breaks down the fake Testing Gate doors, Gon fins himself face to face with the fearsome canine, who proceeds to try and kill him; an encounter the young Hunter survives successfully with some help from Seaquant. Mike also has a sort of burgundy colored fur in the later version as opposed to the white fur he’s sporting in 1999:

MIKE (pronounced “me-kay”)

1999                                                 2011

        https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/1/1c/Full_Mike_2011.png/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/210?cb=20150111055109

 

White or red, this is one big dog you don’t want to mess with.

While the servants do get plenty of screentime and moments through the arc, it’s the titular family that steals the show. True to Killua’s claims to Gon, and further validated by Illumi’s official reveal and actions at the end of the Hunter Exam arc, the Zoldyck clan is one of dangerous, albeit eccentric, assassins, all incredibly deadly and driven by individual pursuits often unbeknownst to other family members. Their mansion is spacious, but has the look and feel of a medieval castle; it’s hardly what one might call “inviting” despite the obvious wealth obtained from the dark trade the family specializes in.

Perhaps what reinforces this mental image the most is our first glimpse of the estate is a torture room where Milluki, the portly second-eldest brother of the five Zoldyck children, is whipping a thoroughly unrepentant (not to mention bored-looking) Killua for his venture to take the Hunter Exam.

So, here’s the members of the Zoldyck clan we see for the first time in this arc. I should note that of the family silhouettes in the picture above (which also appear in the intros of the anime), 2 of the figures are not actually seen in this arc; one makes an appearance in the final arc of Madhouse’s anime, while the other never actually has made an anime appearance (and only appears in passing in the manga, for that matter.) As it stands though, here’s the rest of the world’s most dangerous family:

ZENO ZOLDYCK

 

 

SILVA ZOLDYCK

Image result for silva zoldyck

 

MILLUKI ZOLDYCK

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/a/a1/Milluki_Zoldyck_1999_Design.gif/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/226?cb=20131022004202

 

KALLUTO ZOLDYCK

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/6/69/Kalluto_Zoldyck_2011_Design.png/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/640?cb=20140919160854&path-prefix=ru

 

KIKYO ZOLDYCK

https://i1.wp.com/student.delta.edu/allysonwilliams/project1/Pictures/Kikkyo.gifhttps://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/a/a8/Kikyo_Zoldyck_2011.png/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/200?cb=20150111053538

 

From top to bottom, you might note that the family’s designs actually are on the whole not too remarkably different, with a few exceptions, between the two versions. In fact, one of the most changed up Zoldycks between the two anime iterations is actually Killua himself, which was explored in the first part of this series,

Remarkably, Zeno’s overall design is almost a 1:1 match, if you take away the brightening of a few colors and the slightly wavier hair. His outfit, down to the kanji is almost exactly the same, with a few minor changes; the piping on his shirt is a lighter shade of purple in 2011 vs a thin line of white in 1999, and the metal collar around his neck has been made slightly rounder and shinier in the new version. In this arc, Zeno’s role of chastising Milluki doesn’t change much; he’s introduced without too much else to say here.

The current leader of the Zoldyck family, Silva’s design from Nippon’s to Madhouse’s gave him a bit more musculature, particularly in the shoulders, and his skin is paler as well in the later version. While his outfit has the same overall design in both, the blues present in ’99’s gi have been replaced with the predominant lighter purple indicative of the Zoldycks in 2011, and the belt has been changed to red from gray. Silva’ hair remains similar, though a slight bit longer in the newer version…in the story, his talk with Killua allowing him to leave the estate is quite similar in both versions, though in ’99 Killua sits in front of Silva, while in 2011 he sits next to him in his room during the discussion.

Milluki’s appearance as a fat guy doesn’t change; and his facial design is almost identical between versions. Madhouse’s show accentuates just how portly he is a bit more, where his shirt seems fit to burst; and in ’99 he’s actually wearing sweatpants and slippers at home, which is a bit different. Arrogant and overtly proud about his technological prowess while jealous of Killua’s place in the family, he’s the same guy in both versions.

Kalluto’s debut amounts to a cameo in both iterations of Hunter x Hunter for this arc. Paired along aside Kikyo, his mom (yes, Kalluto’s a boy despite appearances), he actually received the biggest design overhaul of any Zoldyck; everything from his hair to the color of his kimono was altered in 2011 (although in ’99, the black kimono shows up on him in the Greed Island OVA’s.) Despite the design differences, he doesn’t do much of note in this arc regardless of the version, only leaving an air of mystery around the youngest Zoldyck child.

As is evidenced by the many side by side comparisons, 2011’s anime once again brightened colors on the characters significantly; of interest is that Kikyo appears in a later arc for 2011, but in the Nippon Animation adaptation, this short couple of episodes is the only time she appears. The major difference of course is the yellow dress in 1999; it’s almost the exact same outfit, but now clad in the similar purple others in the family wear with the newer adaptation. As Killua’s mom, she still knocks out Canary in both versions and tries to prevent Killua’s departure from home once more, only to be defeated by her middle son’s furtive glance.


With all the major characters of the arc covered, there’s a few other changes and observations worth noting:

-In the ’99 adapation, each of Leorio, Kurapika and Gon keep working at the Testing Gate until they can open it individually (which is accurate to the manga.) In Madhouse’s version, once the trio is able to open the gate as a team, they proceed onwards to face Canary. In both cases, they thank Zebro and Seaquant for their help with training.

– I’d probably get skewered for forgetting this, but in 1999 Kurapika sports an amazing red outfit that he never wears again after this point, or in the second anime for that matter. In the latter version, the Kurta clan’s lone survivor merely wears the same outfit he had on during the Hunter Exam.

You can’t deny he’s got some style.

– During the Canary sequence in both versions, she has a flashback. However, the contents of the flashback differ, with 2011’s being far more extensive; which includes the entirety of her total victory over Seaquant’s party that tried to attack the family, and some time she spent with a younger Killua, neither really realizing that they wanted a friend… In 1999 it’s very short, showing Killua’s guarded return to the estate after the Hunter Exam, where he dropped his skateboard, which Canary propped up against a tree, along with a hand-drawn sequence that shows Killua offering the apple to her (which is true in both versions, but much more fleshed out in 2011’s context.) Furthermore, young Killua’s brief appearance in the 1999 moment was quite different from 2011’s younger Kil, who sported fluffier hair and a completely different outfit. Killua also asks her whether she wants to be his friend at a different moment; in ’99 it’s when he offers the apple; for 2011, it’s after Canary’s defeat of the hunters. He also shows off the Rhythm Echo in the later version, which Canary confirms she can use with great proficiency as well.

-In Madhouse’s version, Killua arrives at the butler’s quarters before Gon, Leorio and Kurapika, only to be intentionally stalled by Gotoh and company from seeing them when they arrive (and the coin game commences). The Nippon version had Killua still traveling to the lodge as the game was occurring, so as a result, he walked in as it concluded.

-After Gon and Killua are reunited, the latter’s skateboard is nowhere to be seen or in the plot of the Madhouse version, whereas the Nippon adaption has Killua entrust Canary with the board (given it was a part of that flashback and story I mentioned).

-The scene where the four main character depart each other is slightly different but still similar in both versions. (We’ll see Leorio and Kurapika again in Yorknew City!)


And with that, there’s a comparison of the shortest arc in either anime or the manga for Hunter x Hunter. Next installment, we’ll finally see Gon and Killua’s adventures begin with their journey to Heavens Arena, the greatest hub for martial artists in the world.


Like what you see? Is the Zoldyck Family arc your favorite of HxH? Leave a comment!

Random Episode Ramblings #2: “Duck Amuck” (Looney Tunes)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope all my readers had a great end of 2017, and I’m wishing everyone the best in 2018. And to start things off, we’re going back to a classic short that’s instantly recognizable to anyone who’s seen it… Also, it’ll answer the following question:

“Where’s the Western animated fare lately?”

Well, fret not. The second (and also long-awaited) episode review is a an absolute classic from one of the greatest animators in the history of the medium- Chuck Jones, and in turn, one of the more iconic outings for Daffy Duck, everyone’s favorite hard-luck egotistical mallard. The Looney Tunes are definitely something I’ve wanted to discuss for a while in writing, and rightfully so- the influence of this show and its characters in the history of animation cannot be understated.

Looney Tunes of course, is iconic in animation, and  for good reason. It was a pivotal show in writing the rules to the medium and featured some legendary talent that worked on it, along with unforgettable characters, especially Bugs Bunny and the aforementioned star of this episode- Daffy Duck, who in turn had an interesting history leading up to the creation of Duck Amuck.

While certainly worth an entire “What’s In a Character” piece, Daffy briefly had been the biggest star for Warner Bros. in the late 30’s and early 40’s, usurping the lead role in the common pairing he’d have with Porky Pig. He was the archetype of the lunatic-type character, giving audiences something very different in a protagonist, and on top of that had a fair bit of talent and wit. However, the latter decade quickly saw the meteoric rise of Bugs Bunny as the new main star of the Looney Tunes cast, and so Daffy in turn would find his role transformed into the eternal second fiddle and archival of Warner’s main star, bitterly hoping to be the main hero again but rarely succeeding, in large part thanks to an outsized hubris and always to plenty of laughs.

Duck Amuck therefore, was an interesting exercise in animation. Daffy had been well established and become widely known in the years since his introduction by the public; how would he fare though shoved into completely different contexts that both dug at the fundamental aspects of the form itself, and still generated a fair bit of humor? In turn, this episode delivered something that was simultaneously a deconstruction of cartoons, along with an all-time memorable Daffy episode.

“Scenery? Where’s the scenery?”

The short first starts off with Daffy armed and ready for what he assumes is a Three Musketeers parody, complete with the title cards to match, the swashbuckling hat and rapier. Unfortunately for him, no sooner does he begin his actions than does the scenery disappear, confusing the duck as he begins a episode-long argument with an unseen animator, who in turn makes it a very one sided debate…

The episode then continues to put Daffy through the paces of a variety of animated questions, all done in a fluid sequence of gags, orchestral hits and bits, and Daffy’s one sided dialogue. What, for example, happens when you take away his voice briefly? How about when he doesn’t even look like a duck anymore, save his voice? All in all, this episode proves to both be quintessential Looney Tunes but also unlike anything else in the show’s long run- where a literally unseen hand constantly and silently breaks the fourth wall. (Who the narrator is though, is a gag in it of itself. The answer might present itself quite clearly to long-times fans.)

“All right, wise guy. Who’s responsible for this?”

From my own point of view, Duck Amuck is not only brilliant, but required watching for those who want to understand the animated medium boiled down to its very nuts and bolts…all while making for a highly entertaining segment that indeed is very Daffy Duck despite it being nothing like any of his other outings. The pacing and flow of the short is superb, and the transitions (as well as those unseen questions) happen in rapid sequence, which in turn actually causes Daffy consternation, annoyance, and final outright anger at the mysterious source of his misfortune through the show.

Perhaps more interesting yet is still the fact that it’s an animated short that is about the medium itself, beyond Daffy as a front-man. The duck is self-aware that he’s in “an animated cartoon,” and loudly complains about the incompetence of the unseen artist who in turn is the animator himself- which means Duck Amuck in turn is an episode that’s also about the creativity and sorts of zany things animators can in fact do- with the template simply being “this is Daffy Duck in a Looney Tunes short. Go wild! And remember to make it funny!”

Duck Amuck’s simple brilliance continues to shine well over 60 years from its debut. In that sense, Daffy’s character survived intact in this short the final test for all animation- the passage of time- and the presentation and unmistakable presence of this classic ‘toon has succeeded with flying colors in that key regard. In fact, Duck Amuck found itself selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in the US Library of Congress- a rare honor for an animated cartoon- and only one of three episodes helmed by Jones that has that distinction. High praise, indeed.


Happy New Year! (The Bills made the playoffs!) Like what you see? Love the Looney Tunes or Daffy Duck? Leave a comment!

What’s in a Character: Nonon Jakuzure

Cute face, spunky, sassy personality: One of Kill la Kill’s Elite 4 takes center stage.

 

Finally, after many months of waiting, the “What’s in a Character” series returns, with a piece about…Nonon Jakuzure? Yes, it’s true that I wrote about Kill la Kill here, with no minced words, but I have my reasons for this highly unusual pick. She might not be the main draw of her home series, but she has a way of stealing the show on screen, whether it be through her devastating musical endeavors or just being the right mix of sass and cuteness…Without further ado…here’s Nonon!

WARNING: Spoilers for Kill la Kill ahead.


“Why?”

Choosing a character from an anime that I’ve made no bones about on its gratuitous fan-service might seem strange at first glance, but in reality, Kill la Kill does have some key aspects that work incredibly well in its favor. In particular, it has both superb character design and some pretty good character development, especially when it pertains to its key characters. While these discussions often revolve around Ryuko Matoi, the lead character, or her arch-rival/half-sister Satsuki Kiryuin, they less often fall on the latter’s faithful elite subordinates and commanders- the so-called Elite Four- and in conjunction with that, even less often on any of the individuals within that grouping. One such individual just so happens to be Nonon, and boy is she something else.

Chosen as one of Satsuki’s elites, Nonon is definitively not meek. The defining trait of Kill la Kill’s indomitable band leader of doom is her unabashedly rude, pompous and overconfident front that she juxtaposes from a position of power, hidden under a thin layer of saccharine sweetness and inauspicious cuteness. While this alone does not make Nonon’s character worth writing about, the context in which she’s deployed does to a by and large extent- and so the question of “what happens when you throw this character into unexpected binds and insane situations?” unfolds dramatically in concert with Ryuko’s challenges of Honnouji Academy’s various clubs, inevitably leading into confrontation with Satsuki’s Elite Four.

One of the truly remarkable aspects about Nonon as that she’s not a sympathetic character (at first) or even a protagonist archetype, but someone who is the right mix of sweet and sour who can become in equal part likable. There’s a clever juxtaposition of her musical motif- the band conductor- against her actual personality, which is far more spunky and not at all what you’d expect. She might like classical music, but her way of fighting is a punk rocker at heart under all the fancy trappings.

Physically, Nonon isn’t that impressive or crazily proportioned like some anime girls (including this series). She’s fairly petite, and has no defining physical features that would normally mark her as a key threat…but in a classic reversal of form, she might in fact be the nastiest and trickiest Elite Four member to fight- and her specially powered-up series of Goku Uniforms through the series emphasize a nice blending of her aforementioned motif along with disproportional power to her appearance.

Prepare to be pummeled cheerfully, jauntily and utterly one-sidedly!– Nonon, to Ryuko upon entering battle for the first time

In battle, Nonon proves to be ruthless, overwhelming Ryuko for stretches in her initial uniform before ultimately tasting defeat after a fierce battle, overwhelmed by the power of Senketsu. However, in all her on-screen battle appearances, she never backs down from a challenge, suggesting a fair bit of courage despite the bravado and attitude she possesses. As adversity mounts for her and most of the main cast with the show’s second half, her mettle is tested along with the rest of her compatriots, especially the other Elite Four members, as the truth of Honnouji Academy’s purpose and the Life Fibers come to light, and the subsequent turn to join up with their former archenemy- Nudist Beach.

Initially serving as a supporting antagonist, Nonon’s role shifts through the series while remaining steady in one key respect: as a loyal friend and subordinate to the aformentioned Satsuki, and while her loyalty is admirable, it borders on fanaticism. Her outsized sense of importance and rank meets some harsh reality as the show rolls on though, but admirably her bond with her boss/friend does not diminish.

Nonon’s temperament becomes a bit more muted after the defeat of Satsuki by Ragyo Kiruin, the latter’s mother, and her own losses that she suffered to Ryuko (although the latter point also made her hungrier for personal vengeance that never totally came.) While she briefly enjoys a resurgence of success in the show’s “School Raids” arc, the total defeat and takeover of Honnouji changes her role and position. She becomes a rebel fighter along with the rest of the Elite Four in the eccentric Nudist Beach group- guerillas dedicated to destroying the alien Life Fibers that serve as the core plot point of Kill la Kill.

 


When you boil her down to her essence, Nonon Jakuzure is a piece of work, but one that seems to get better as you continue to watch her. She’s not the main star (but you can tell on some level she wants to be); she’s bratty and cannot stand getting her way initially, but instead of simply preserving that personality statically through the show, she grows from her experiences while keeping a trademark caustic wit and sass that fits her position as the most trusted of Satsuki’s inner circle. There’s a decent, believable backstory to her as well, and it’s a simple, yet easy way to justify the roots of her actions, along with her positive trait of true friendship…Often times, a solid supporting character doesn’t need too much to fit their role well, but Nonon goes a bit above and beyond that with her well-though out design, developed personality and continued importance in the show even after her major defeat to Ryuko. Oh, and she has a kickass theme:

What does that mean?

Also, I couldn’t help but think of this as well:

(Well, she is part of the Elite 4.)


Like what you see? Any further commentary on Kill la Kill or Nonon? Leave a comment!

Hunter x Hunter’s Chimera Ant arc is finally getting an English dub

It’s about time- A brief history of HxH’s longest arc.

A few months back, I wrote excitedly about the fact that Greed Island for the first time was receiving an English dub, despite existing in some anime form since at least the early 2000’s. However, this might be even bigger…

An arc considered by many serious fans of the Hunter x Hunter manga and anime to be one of the finest not only in the show, but also across the genre, is finally on the verge of being dubbed. Very early Sunday morning will mark the beginning of the longest arc in the series airing in English on Toonami in the United States, and for those who haven’t seen it- buckle up, you’re in for a ride.

As with the Greed Island piece, here’s a brief history of the Chimera Ant arc:

2003: As the original HxH anime continued on with its set of Greed Island OVAs’, Yoshirio Togashi released the beginning of the arc in the manga on October 8th- which coupled with the frequent hiatuses of the series, would result in it lasting until April 2012- nearly 9 years!

2011: The Hunter x Hunter reboot (and the series mostly talked about) begins. At this point, the Chimera Ant arc is not complete yet in the manga, let alone the anime.

2013: Roughly a year after the manga finished the arc, the anime begins its version of it, marking the first new animated Hunter x Hunter story part since Greed Island’s OVAs finished in 2004. The arc would run into early summer of 2014.

2017: With the conclusion of Greed Island’s first ever English dub, the Chimera Ants will finally be heard in English on the Sunday of this writing (12/10/17 for posterity.)


As it stands, it’s rather difficult to talk too much at length about this very long and detailed arc without major spoilers for those watching for the first time, but the places in which the story goes during the next 60 episodes crosses the ranges of human emotions and psychology in ways shonen anime rarely, if ever does. It will be interesting to hear the VA choices for several characters, including the duo in the picture for this article, and with the shift in the story, it should really test the abilities of the dub actors to capture the same depth and intensity as the original VA’s.

Overall, there’s a lot to be excited about- and in many ways, it’s like an early Christmas present. Here’s hoping for both long-time fans and newcomers alike the English experience of the Chimera Ants is unforgettable.

Finally, here’s the very nice ending theme of the arc, but in 8-bits:

(I’ll leave the full version for the newcomers to discover. Credit to Studio Megaane for the track.)


Like what you see? Any more thoughts on Hunter x Hunter? Leave a comment!

Hunter x Hunter is getting Greed Island in English: Why that’s a big thing

Nearly 15 years after the first animated attempt of Greed Island, the arc gets an dub.

As many of you may know from reading the material on this blog, Hunter x Hunter is a big favorite on here, which earned a highly favorable review, deservedly so, and also has an ongoing series where I’m comparing the 2011 anime to the arcs it shares with the 1999 anime, and a character piece about Killua. However, this article is about the final arc both animes share- Greed Island, and the very significant event happening in the anime right now- that the arc is finally getting a dub, which is unprecedented, and frankly, long overdue between the two anime versions. Here’s a brief look at the history of Greed Island in the Hunter x Hunter franchise (and specifically the anime.)


2001: Yoshihiro Togashi begins publishing the Greed Island arc in fall of 2001 in Shonen Jump.

2002: Nippon releases the first of three OVA sets; this one completes Yorknew City’s arc, which was not finished in the initial run of the show.

2003: The first of two Greed Island OVA’s is released. The manga version of the arc concludes in October of that year.

2004: Nippon Animation releases the final round of their OVA’s, which were Greed Island’s entire arc. This would also be their last outing on the Hunter x Hunter franchise and the definitive ending to the first anime, though it was left open-ended at the end of Nippon’s interpretation for the yet-to be created Chimera Ant arc (which never happened in 1999.)

2011: Hunter x Hunter is rebooted by Madhouse, which is a complete restart on the series with no binding ties to the first production.

2012: The Yorknew and Greed Island arcs air in their entirety (not as OVAs) for the first time. The anime also begins airing the Chimera Ant arc for the first time between either version as well.

2016: Two years after Hunter x Hunter finishes its run in Japan, the English dub begins for the show on Adult Swim’s Toonami block in May. Most of the year is the Hunter Exam and Zoldyck Family arcs.

2017: The anime finishes the Heavens Arena arc and for the first time, airs the final few episodes of Yorknew (that were OVA only in ’99 and Japanese only between both series) into English for the first time, and that brings us to now (at the time of this writing) where Greed Island is underway at last.


So over 13 years after Greed Island first made its animated debut, the arc finally getting an English dub is certainly an exciting prospect as initially stated. It will be interesting to see how key characters and interactions are handled with VA work going forward, and it will continue to serve as a slow-drip re-watch for long-time fans of the series as well. It’s also going to be a pleasure to listen to the ending credit song again- REASON, which is very nice:

(Skip to 0:17).

The biggest reason to be excited however, is that this fantastic series will continue to become more accessible to Western audiences who don’t follow subs. While I’m of the opinion that 2011’s Japanese VA work is actually excellent, a great dub always takes the cake for me if I can find one, and Hunter x Hunter has been no exception; it is well worth a look in English as it goes forward, not only for this arc, but for the four completed arcs already released (and it’s officially surpassed the released material of the 1999 dub) as well as the particular work already put in by the English cast.


Like what you see? Are you a fan of HxH and love this arc? Leave a comment!

 

Random Episode Ramblings #1: “Not What He Seems” (Gravity Falls)

A while back, a certain reader of mine requested at some point that I take a look at individual episodes of some shows. I considered the proposal and ultimately decided that it’d make another good series to write that would keep me going for a while…the only hard part being that I had to parse down to singular episodes I really liked. Most of the time, I usually am thinking about shows in their totality because I’m writing the graded reviews that are a major focus of this blog, and I also know other bloggers already do this kind of analysis…but I’m here to put the “AniB spin” on it. (I suppose I can grade episodes too!) So here’s the first episode I’ll talk about: “Not What He Seems,” from Gravity Falls.

There are any number of individual episodes worth talking about from Gravity Falls, the critically acclaimed Disney show that I talked about a while back, and it remains a personal favorite of mine, but I’ve decided to discuss a keynote episode of the show that brought together the best of its episodic and overarching storytelling blend, which in turn delivered on a great deal of buildup from the very first episode of the show (Tourist Trapped). It’s an episode that reveals in one explosive 22 and a half -minute package the truth about the journals, the culmination of a great deal of character development for Stan Pines, who I also wrote about in a character analysis piece, the actual purpose and reason the Mystery Shack exists (and it’s not just as a dumpy tourist trap), and finally, the explosive reveal of the mysterious “author of the journals,” in what is still an incredibly-well choreographed and animated moment.

 

It goes without saying that Not What He Seems is a Stan-centric episode, but beyond that, it’s how he ties into the entire current of mystery underpinning the entire show. While I talked at length about Stan’s role in another article, part of what makes this episode so memorable is the buildup to it. At the end of the prior episode- Northwest Mansion Mystery, Fiddleford McGucket’s fixed laptop shows a doomsday clock; since the finale of season 1 (Gideon Rises), the audience is aware of the massive portal underneath the Shack, and that the other journals were in the possession of Stan, who hid his double life working on said portal…until now.

The cold opening begins with Stan working in the basement again, apparently using toxic waste to fuel his endeavors. It also showcases another reason this episode stands out- the absolutely stellar animation. After the intro, the episode starts innocuously enough like so many other Gravity Falls episodes before it- as Stan decides to join in on some mischief with fireworks and then water balloons- and then, the facade is broken as the government shows up.

Watching Dipper and Mabel formulate an escape plan and then discover the uncomfortable truths about their “Grunkle Stan” before he had a chance to tell them is both genuinely uncomfortable and tense- a testament to the staff that such emotional sentiment was built up to this episode. In true Gravity Falls style though, there is still some unexpected moments of humor that work- and in this case, it’s delivered by Soos, whose well-meaning, albeit ham-handed attempts to protect the Shack and Mr. Pines bring just the right amount of levity to an episode where “serious” takes precendence over “humorous.”

The final 5 minutes of the episode however, is genuinely some of the best stuff you’ll ever see in animation, as the buildup come to a (literal) earth-shattering conclusion that brings many narrative threads to a head at a critical moment. Stan escapes from jail in a very cool scene (and Durland and Blubbs are playing pinata in the corner, haha), the twins have made their unsettling discoveries in Stan’s personal office (fake I.D.s’, newspaper clipping of his “death”, and a lot of doubt) and Soos shows up to protect the vending machine in the Shack’s gift shop, where after a brief reunion and struggle with Dipper and Mabel, the trio discovers the secret behind the door.

I’ll pause here for a moment to really take in the work on the drawing in these scenes. The creative team did an absolutely terrific job evoking “apocalypse,” from the reddened sky and sun, to the town literally tearing apart at the seams, and the portal itself, its massive energy surge threatening to warp the fabric of existence and send our characters into an unknown oblivion. It’s true that the writing made most of this episode and Gravity Falls on the whole, but Not What He Seems is taken to another level by the art itself- just look at this still panel:

“Grunkle Stan…I trust you.”

The decision to have Mabel make the final decision in such a key narrative moment was a crucial writing decision. Shown to be the “fun” sibling, with an insecurity towards growing up (and grown-up affairs), she is asked a hard question rooted in very real implications, a roaring rift gate potentially ready to unleash the apocalypse, and a difficult comparison: was Stan the “grunkle” she came to know over the course of the summer, or the strange man of double lives and false aliases her and her brother came to find? This line of questioning would be difficult for an adult, let alone a 12 year old girl…and she went with “trust” as an answer. Was it smart? In the long-run narrative, yes it worked out, but logically without further information it was not…but from a character-building perspective it was a perfect decision. Simply put, it showcased Mabel’s greatest strength- her ability to emphasize and give the benefit of the doubt to mostly anybody, was also her greatest strength, and that sometimes, the biggest decisions in our lives are not always as cut and dry as we want them to be, or pressing a giant red button, as Dipper would have been wont to do.

So “my brother, the author of the journals,” appeared. Ford’s official debut served as the conclusive finish to many questions in the show, and while his emergence from the portal is a massive turning point in Gravity Falls, it is secondary to everything else that happens in this amazing episode. The next episode in the show (A Tale of Two Stans) explained a great deal of backstory, but Not What He Seems served as a mid-season finale to end all mid-season finales. Alex Hirsch even described at one point that the episode was likely slated to originally serve as season 2’s endpoint, with a final season focusing on what the final 9 episodes did instead, but the result was still brilliant in setting the table for the sprint that was the end of Gravity Falls, but also as a stand-alone episode.

There’s probably plenty more I can say about Not What He Seems, or Gravity Falls as a whole, but it’s even better to go back and watch it again. And if you read this far and have never seen the show or this particular moment, do yourself a favor and watch it. It’s one of the best shows this decade, and in this author’s opinion, the best Western animated show of the same time period. Honestly, there’s more than one episode from the show that could make the cut for this column, but in the end, one of the most influential episodes in the show both as a standalone piece and pertaining to its role in the overarching story gets the nod as a stellar work of animation.


Like what you see? Want more Gravity Falls material, or episode reviews? Leave a comment!

 

Hunter x Hunter 1999 vs 2011 Part 2: The Hunter Exam, Pt.2

Welcome to the second part in a series of pieces about the Hunter x Hunter franchise; more specifically, a in-depth analysis between Nippon Animation’s original adaptation of the show, from 1999, and the more recent brilliant 2011 adaptation from Madhouse. Today’s focus will continue where the first part left off, detailing the remainder of the Hunter Exam arc and its characters. (If you missed Part 1, here’s the link. Also, to reiterate an important point from the overall introduction of the series- this is NOT about “which series is better”- that’s a different conversation and a totally subjective one at that.)

 

The Hunter Exam Phase 2- Gourmet Hunters, Picky Palettes (aka Menchi) (1999, Episodes 9-10, 2011 Episode 7)

Immediately you’ll notice one of those episode discrepancies that’s noticeable in the overall episode count for this arc between Nippon’s adaptation and Madhouse’s. While 2011 only spends one episode with this specific phase, 1999 takes a little more time with it…and there’s a probable explanation for it, concerning the judging of food and Menchi’s pickiness, which I’ll get to. But first, our examiners and one other very special character make their debuts here:

MENCHI

1999                    2011

Image result for menchi 1999 http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/4/4c/Menchi.png/revision/latest?cb=20140707091212&path-prefix=fr

BUHARA

1999                   2011

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/f/f0/Buhara_1999_Design.gif/revision/latest?cb=20131021224324 http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/0/0b/Buhara_2011_Design.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20131021224247

CHAIRMAN NETERO

1999                   2011

http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/2/26/Netero99.png/revision/latest?cb=20120804203417  http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/9/9f/Netero.png/revision/latest?cb=20140828073047&path-prefix=fr

In a notable change in appearance, Menchi’s hair is blue in 2011 but pink in 1999. Even more curious is that this change mirrors that of Machi, the Phantom Troupe member- she had blue hair in 1999 and pink in 2011. Go figure. She keeps the same hair style and that fiery sense of pride about being a Gourmet Hunter though.

Buhara is mostly the same, save that 2011 may have made him even slightly more massive, and to accentuate this, gave him a very ill-fitting yellow shirt. The first version of Buhara from 1999 had a far more form-fitting blue shirt, but either way, he still likes to eat a lot.

Finally, the eccentric chairman of the Hunter Association makes his debut on the request that the phase needs saving from Menchi’s overly discerning palette (and don’t worry, we’ll get to Beans, his trusty secretary, a bit later.) While the general design of Netero is nearly the same in both versions, the aesthetic is completely different: His hair is gray rather than mostly white as in 2011, and the newer version swaps the beige coloration of ’99’s robes for the flowing white garments, accented with blue edges and cuffs.

So as for the actual phase itself, there’s a variety of slight differences here, with the major plot points left intact. Here’s a bit of a rundown:

The food tasting test in the 2nd phase starts with the capture of the Great Stamp, a vicious carnivorous pig living in the swamp forest the applicant finished running through. In 1999, this beast is black-colored, but pink in 1999. Same weak spot though- right on the forehead.

-Both series are noted for Menchi’s unreasonably high standards for the cooking the applicants are asked to do, but in 2011 the only dishes she tastes are the pork from the aforementioned Stamps, alongside Buhara. In 1999, Buhara alone tastes the pork (and passes everyone); Menchi instead asks for everyone to make sushi, which goes disastrously, to great humorous effect. The ’99 version in this scenario is actually more faithful to the original manga.

-Also exclusive to 1999 is Menchi’s demonstration “of what it means to be a Gourmet Hunter.” She runs off into the wilds, uses her knives to nab a rare ingredient from an animal (a rare moss from a rare bear in the mountains), comes back and showcases the fruits of her labor via a rice dish. This was in response to the accusation of Todo the wrestler that “Gourmet Hunters aren’t real Hunters!” In 2011, she accomplishes the same goal of placating Todo with the retrieval and cooking of a spider eagle egg, the same task used in both versions to eventually pass the applicants onto the 3rd stage of the exam.

The Airship: Ball Game x Family Revelations

The “in-between” 2nd and 3rd stages of the Hunter Exam take place in both versions, but once again, 1999 has an additional element present that simply does not exist in 2011. There is a filler character- one named Anita, an applicant who failed the 2nd phase of the Exam and stowed away on the airship. She holds a grudge against the Zoldyck family for killing her father, but Killua eventually reveals to her the truth that he in fact was a notorious drug dealer. As part of her bit plot, the examiners on board also realize she is the stowaway that they’re looking for, and so her little side-plot adds an extra element to this slight pause of the Exam.

More famously, this section of the arc is noted for revealing the first substantial amount of information about Killua and his family, the first serious conversation that he shares with Gon since their introduction in the tunnel portion of Phase 1, and finally, the ball game Netero challenges the boys to. While very similar in both versions, there are some slight differences:

-Anita watches the game in 1999. As she doesn’t exist in 2011, it’s solely between Netero and the boys.

-The ball Netero uses is yellow with a black stripe through the middle in 2011. 1999’s has the same design, but is white with a red stripe.

-In 2011, Killua unveils his Rhythm Echo assassination technique at the start of the game causing Netero to remark about his mastery of the art (“What a dreadful child!”) In 1999, Killua never uses any such technique, instead relying on speed and agility to try and take the ball. When Netero bounces it off his face, he remarks it “was a pass [to himself.]”

It should be noted in both versions, Gon uses his boot as a tactic to try and get the ball, and the boys both dive for the ball, only to have Netero use his Enhancer abilities to get there first. Killua gives up at that point, while Gon continues on, his goal switching to get Netero to use his right hand, which succeeds. Gon then passes out. Finally… Gon wears a white t-shirt here in 2011, and a blue one in 1999; Netero has white pants and a dark shirt on in 2011 while he wear olive-colored pants in 1999. Killua essentially has the same outfit in both versions.

Here’s a video of the 2011 version to illustrate the scene. (Guess what- it’s the English dub!)

I know it didn’t work, but the Rhythm Echo technique looks really cool.

Phase 3: Tenuous Teamwork in Trick Tower (1999, Episodes 13-17, 2011, Episodes 8-12)

I’ll start here by comparing a certain chatty ninja side by side here, as well as the latest examiner, Lippo:

HANZO

1999                                                          2011

http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/f/fa/Hanzo99.png/revision/latest?cb=20140808122037&path-prefix=fr http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/f/ff/Hanzo.png/revision/latest?cb=20140808122119&path-prefix=fr

LIPPO

1999                                                              2011

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterx/images/e/e4/Lippo_1999.png/revision/latest?cb=20120131195812 http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/b/be/Lippo_%282011%29.PNG/revision/latest?cb=20120108064856

Hanzo is remarkably similar in both his appearances; easily the biggest difference is the red scarf he wears in 2011 around his neck area. His wrapped forearms and ankles are gray instead of white in 1999, and his shoulder “pads” are slightly rounder in 2011. Finally, his eyebrows are slightly more stylized in his more recent appearance.

Lippo also maintains most of his appearance. He’s a short man, with the main distinctions between his two anime iterations being the color of his mohawk (black instead of purple in 1999) and the tint of his sunglasses (orange instead of clear). Either way, he loves watching the intrigue of Trick Tower unfold… especially Majority Rules.

It is during this stage the main four characters of Hunter x Hunter are together for the longest period of time alone (along with Tonpa), and the most famous part of the tower challenge is the 5 v 5 challenge match between applicants and prisoners. A few things to note here:

-Maijitani is pale-skinned in 1999, and blue in 2011. Either way, he gets anchor-punched by a vengeful Kurapika who sees the fake Phantom Troupe tattoo, and threatened by Leorio over the edge in both versions.

-Gon’s win in the candle challenge, as well as Tonpa’s surrender and Leorio’s weakness for women are replicated in both versions quite similarly, and the team loses 50 hours either way.

And since we’re talking about a big moment for Killua as well, might as well throw in Johness as well:

JOHNESS

1999                                                        2011

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/5/5b/Johness_99.png/revision/latest?cb=20120716080447 http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/7/70/Johness_tries_to_kill_killua.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120615110051

Notably, Killua’s assassination of the mass murderer slightly differs: In 2011, after removing Johness’ heart, Killua holds it out tauntingly until his adversary collapses, “giving it back” in his dead hand afterwards after he had begged for it. In 1999, it’s decidedly more brutal as Kil opts for crushing the heart in his hand as Johannes looked on. Definitely a bit more graphic for sure.

The last big moment for Trick Tower occurs in the final room, where Lippo had set a trap for the time-starved applicants (they only had 1 hour left to finish at this point:) The long path or the short path to the finish, with a catch-22: The short path could get to the bottom in under 3 minutes, but only 3 of the 5 would have been able to go, while the other path allowed passage for all 5, but was stated to take 45 hours. In both Nippon and Madhouse’s animes, Gon’s idea to choose the long path and break through the wall to the short path in order for all 5 members to pass is inspired by Leorio and Tonpa’s bubbling dispute and the latter’s use of a heavy battleaxe, which smashed the floor tiles. What differs is how they show this final act: In 1999, the act of breaking through the wall and the journey down the shaft to the finish on Killua’s skateboard is shown as it happens; in 2011, it’s shown in a flashback after the group emerges from the passageway with no time to spare (and Leorio and Tonpa jousting with each other.)

The “Bonus” 3rd Stage- Shipwrecks, Treasure Hunting, and Teamwork (1999, Episodes 18-20, 2011 N/A)

Perhaps the single biggest divergence between both versions, the Nippon Animation adaptation has a mini-filler arc that sees the Exam applicants in a “bonus 3rd phase” that in turn actually gives us some interesting character interactions and some depth to side characters that in turn, actually adds some heightened emotional tension to their outcomes in the 4th phase of the Exam that follows. Interestingly enough, it also is the first time Illumi is revealed in his true form for the 1999 anime, when Kurapika, drifting into unconsciousness during the 20th episode (they’re in a cyclone), sees the eldest of the Zoldyck children take the wheel of the ship (though he does not know his identity as Killua’s brother yet.)

A Most Dangerous Game of Tag- 4th Stage on Zevil Island (1999, Episodes 21-25, 2011, Episodes 14-18)

The 4th stage really puts the abilities of the applicants to the test in a “real-world setting,” and so we’ll give a cameo appearance here to the man who tracked Gon as he followed Hisoka: Geretta. It’s also time to give a nod to Ponzu, known for her big poofy hat full of bees:

GERETTA

1999                             2011

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/1/19/Geretta_1999_Design.gif/revision/latest?cb=20131024014258 http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/5/55/Geretta_2011_Design.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20131024014217

PONZU

1999                                    2011

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterx/images/3/33/Ponzu_1999.png/revision/latest?cb=20120110114449 http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/2/20/Ponzu_with_her_bees.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20130519143354

Another character who’s remarkably similar between the two adaptations, he’s definitely got a unique flair and some skill with a blow-dart gun, but stands no chance against Hisoka…but then again, who usually does?

Ponzu underwent some heavy changes. Her hat is bigger in 2011 and yellow with a white brim; she’s got a pink shirt but cream-colored pants and a lighter blue shade of hair. In 1999, the hat is smaller and pink-colored, as is the rest of her outfit. (She still faces the same dilemma in both versions though, with the cave and Bourbon’s snakes.)

Killua’s scene where he screws around with the Amori Brothers and Hanzo goes largely the same way in both adaptations, with some minor differences. Kurapika and Leorio team up to take down Tonpa and the monkey tamer in both versions- however, in 1999 Kurapika sets the monkey free from his master, and Tonpa makes his last stand trying desperately to get a badge as time expires rather than staying tied up the whole time. (And thus ends the legend of the Rookie Crusher…until next year.)

Finally, there’s the entire issue of Gon’s quest to get Hisoka’s badge and confrontation. Notably, the process to learn the skill of casting his fishing rod at the precise moment goes about the same in both versions, but when he follows Hisoka’s bloodlust, it’s at dusk/night in 1999 as opposed to day in 2011. Nippon’s version also shows Gon stewing over his first real letdown/scare in the series after Hisoka clocks him; the 2011 anime doesn’t really linger on the scene as much. Still, the badges will be held onto for another day…

Finally, the Ponzu escape scene happens much the same, and with that, the 4th phase concludes, leaving only 9 applicants left for the last stage after the grueling tests (though according to Killua, he doesn’t think so.)

The Final Phase: Tournament Showdown (1999, Episodes 26-30, 2011, Episodes 18-21)

Finally, the end of  the Hunter Exam is upon us, and with it, three final characters get a profile:

BODORO

1999                   2011

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterx/images/6/61/Bodoro_1999.png/revision/latest?cb=20120201032023 http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/e/e5/Bodoro_2011.PNG/revision/latest?cb=20120110031330

POKKLE

1999                   2011

http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterx/images/5/58/Pokkle_1999.png/revision/latest?cb=20120109105919 http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/0/0a/Pokkle_HxH_11.PNG/revision/latest?cb=20120323055002

ILLUMI ZOLDYCK (AS GITTARAKUR)

1999                   2011

http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterx/images/6/69/Gittarackur_1999.png/revision/latest?cb=20120109105917 http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/e/ea/Illumi_Gittarackur_HQ.PNG/revision/latest?cb=20120108073227

Pokkle actually has a similar appearance, but his clothes colors are different and more muted in 1999, and his hair color’s brighter in 2011. He still passes the 4th phase in both versions by using a poison arrow to incapacitate his target.

-In 1999, Leorio, Pokkle, and Hanzo initially believe the final test is going to be a written exam. While Pokkle insists on studying fairly, Leorio lines his clothes with cheat sheets, while Hanzo conspires “to steal the answer sheet.” Regardless, all are wrong when Netero reveals the tournament instead.

-Also in Nippon’s version, Gon and Killua share another friendship moment when the former reveals his technique for gaining Hisoka’s badge; Killua in turn practices with Gon’s fishing rod and masters the the skill rather quickly, much to his friend’s dismay.

-The building in which the final exam takes place in appears to be the same in both versions, but the lighting of 1999’s makes it seem far darker inside than 2011’s, which is very bright by comparison.

-Notably, Kurapika and Hisoka face off first in 1999, unlike 2011 where Gon vs Hanzo takes place. It is the only full-length fight between the two series that only is shown in full in Nippon’s adaptation, whereas in 2011, it is Satotz’s recollection of the fight to Gon, only showing that Hisoka “said something” to Kurapika and conceded the match to the latter.

Gon and Satotz have the same discussion after he’s KO’ed by Hanzo in both versions. However, because the order of the Hisoka-Kurapika fight and Gon’s bout with Hanzo were swapped in Madhouse’s adaptation, Gon never sees the fight in this version, whereas he’s present for it in 1999.

Speaking of the Hanzo fight, it’s interesting to see how hard it is for Kurapika and Leorio to restrain themselves during the fight, as they’d become quite attached to Gon. Kurapika’s scarlet eyes actually appear here, one of the very few times it happened outside of Phantom Troupe -related incidents and a sign that he cares very much for his friends.

-The tournament bracket in both versions is directly inspired from Togashi’s first manga, Yu Yu Hakusho, where Team Urameshi is forced to fight their way through an uneven bracket to win the Dark Tournament. Unlike that scenario though, Hunter x Hunter’s tournament here has it so only one applicant will not pass if the tourney reaches the final stage, which it does not, because…

-Killua’s confrontation with Illumi is actually remarkably similar between both versions. In 1999, it was impossible to realize that he was actually influenced by Illumi’s needle implanted in his brain (as that version never reached the Chimera Ant arc), but aside from that, Killua’s burning desire for a friend and his internal conflict come to a head (which both anime do a nice job of.) Leorio also bursts in and comes to the defense of Killua, reminding him “You and Gon are already friends!” in entirely the same way both times.

-Finally, here’s Killua’s despair and the untimely murder of Bodoro from 2011:

Needless to say, Gon is not happy. Not happy at all. He want to know where his new best friend is, and whether it’s Nippon Animation or Madhouse, he isn’t stopping until he gets answers…and he know just who to ask.

With the Hunter Exam over and the licenses handed out, Gon obviously has some unfinished buisness with Illumi Zoldyck. The 3rd part of the series will focus on his journey to save Killua and paying the family a visit at Kukuroo Mountain with Leorio and Kurapika. In other words, get ready for the Zoldyck Family arc- 1999 vs 2011 style! In the meantime, check out the 2011 show review or this character piece on Killua for your reading pleasure.


Like what you see? Is the Hunter Exam your favorite arc of Hunter x Hunter? Leave a comment!