Welcome one of what might be several Hunter x Hunter Chimera Ant Discussions. The point of today’s discourse is to show what factors played into the debacle of the Chimera Ants. Their end was decided early on, when the Queen demanded a diet comprised primarily of humans. This gave the next generations of Chimera Ants human traits, such as cruelty, greed, and individuality. In addition to human nature, a few troublesome animal instincts also held these creatures back. Let’s address those.
1. Factors Leading to Chimera Ants’ Defeat: Animal Instincts
The Queen focuses only on birthing Meruem and ignores every other issue. She lets the soldiers do as they please. If she had spent more time disciplining Squad Leaders like Yunju, and rewarding the ones like Colt and Bihorn, maybe there wouldn’t have been a breakdown in command. The Squad Leaders don’t think of humans as smart enemies, but only prey. If they had taken humans more seriously, researching them and fighting them cautiously, they would certainly have survived longer. If they had been more secretitive and selective with their prey after dispersal, some would have succeeded in starting their own colonies.
Speaking generally, there are differences between Chimera Ants and humans which, once known, make it clear how much the latter are still animals. As Kite says in episode 82, Chimera Ants have always been unusually aggressive animals. Plus, they are purely carnivorous. Even if the Queen hadn’t eaten so many of the “evil” drug-and-gun dealers from NGL, the Ants she gave birth to would still be ferocious (though perhaps less diabolical).
Consider as well that the tendencies of other organisms besides humans and insects sometimes show up in Chimera Ants. Hagya has the traits of male lions and tigers. He is thus domineering, egotystical, and eager to hunt and kill things. Though he looks like a rabbit, Rammot also has feathers and behavioral genes from the bull-headed shrike. Shrikes are territorial, predatory birds that kill by impaling small animals on thorns and wires. That explains why Rammot is so savage.
Peggi, the Captain who looks like a penguin, is one of the most enlightened and studious members of the colony, and the least aggressive. Most genera of Penguins in reality are considered quite intelligent, having complex social systems and forms of communication. Yet Chimera Ant personalities aren’t always based around their past animal lives; the Koala Captain in ep 79 is sort of an “intellectual,” while real koalas are… well, stupid. Real or fiction, koalas have nasty tempers in both cases.
Had they been more unified, cautious, and strategic, the Chimera Ants would have lived longer. But that would have required overcoming all the natural driving forces of behavior in the examples above. On top of that, they would have had to overcome human issues. I believe it was the inherited human natures that sabotaged the Chimeras more than their animal senses.
2. Factors Leading to Chimera Ants’ Defeat: Human Nature
Earlier, I mentioned the human traits of purposeful cruelty, greed, and excessive individualism (the last of which led to complete disregard for social cohesion). In the ensuing paragraphs, I’ll show how each of these distinctly human characteristics contributed to the fall of the Chimera Ants.
2.1: Cruelty and Greed
In some of my other favorite anime, there are examples of intelligent, nonhuman creatures devouring humans. In Parasyte /Kiseijuu, for example, the Parasytes are apathetic and coldly rational compared to humans. They just follow the instincts and aren’t cruel on purpose. In Hunter x Hunter, however, the Chimera Ants are unreservedly vicious. Some of that is due to human nature. Everyone has some cruelty in them. Not all underground-NGL members were “evil,” but at least a few of them had malicious tendencies, which carried over to the Chimera Ants.
There are numerous instances of Chimera Ants being cruel, spiteful, and greedy. They’re most concentrated in the earlier episodes, 78 through 84, but can be found all throughout the arc. Rammot captures a human child instead of a more “nutritional” adult, presumably because it was fun or because he wanted to eat it himself. Indeed, when Colt tells him such food would be worthless to the Queen, Rammot says he’ll just eat the child, an act which Captains are not supposed to do.
The Spider Captain bites off and eats the head of one of Pokkle’s companions, and his Squad Leader Zanzan didn’t punish him. The Koala Captain shoots a man just for taking a superior tone, and doesn’t take him to the Queen. He keeps shooting the human in the head after he is dead. A certain un-named Lizard Captain shoots at least a dozen humans for no reason and doesn’t bring them to the Queen or report them. He also shoots Ponzu and eats her entire body.
Then there’s Yunju, the snake-horse Chimera. Among all the Squad Leaders, he’s the one most open and unabashed about tormenting humans. He sets off in episode 79 to find humans to make his “pets.” With only a few Captains to help, he massacres every single person in the NGL D2 drug factory. Most were taken to the Queen, but Yunju ruins a few by stomping on their heads and smashing their brains. As we see in episode 82, at least two of the humans became his “pets”– stripped naked, starved, drugged, and forced to behave like dogs. Eventually, Yunju kills both of them and laughs about it.
Purposeful cruelty is seen in the way the Chimera Ants treat humans, even dead humans. Greed can be observed in cases where Captains and Squad Leaders eat humans when they have no need to do so. Arrogance and greed is also evidenced by the way each Squad Leader wants to become a King (or Queen) after the dispersal, even when that’s impossible because they have no colony and no charisma. Hand in hand with cruelty, greed, and arrogance is the sense of individuality that each Chimera Ant possesses. This leads them to fight among themselves, disobey orders, etc.
Though greed and selfish desire are mostly viewed as moral shortcomings, they were and still are important survival instincts for humans. Individuality is not evil either– not by any means. It’s part of what makes humans so amazing, and different from ants, bees, mole-rats, and other eusocial creatures. Individualism is why we have fair government systems like democracy, why we recognize slavery as evil, and why each of us has such potential for creating useful or interesting ideas or inventions.
Though it’s good for humans, the desire to be autonomous is a fatal flaw for Chimera Ants. It’s a bad thing for any social animals who depend on everyone following roles in cooperative groups. (Examples: penguins, wolves, and elephants.) For Chimera Ants, here’s what would be ideal. The Royal Guard is completely unified in protecting the King. Squad Leaders worship the Queen, and exact strict discipline over the Captains. As for the Captains, they hunt coldly and economically, never talk back to superiors, and never dream of eating the Queen’s food.
The opposite happens with the Chimera Ants after they have human traits. Pouf wants to protect the King from the influence of humans like Komugi, but Pitou wants to protect the King’s feelings and thus Komugi. The Royal Guards have completely different mindsets. So do the Squad Leaders. Yunju and Cheetu enjoy bringing terror and pain to the humans, and allow their Captains (like Rammot and Koala) to do the same. Bihorn is traditional but aggressive, and thinks Captains should die for eating on duty. Colt is loyal and dutiful like Bihorn, but calmer, trying to reason with other Squad Leaders.
The divisions in the ranks start early on, around episode 79. All the disagreements and unrest temporarily settle down when the Royal Guard is born. After Meruem’s birth and his departure with the Royal Guard, the drama resumes. It ends with most of the Squad Leaders dispersing on their own. Chimera Ant soldiers are supposed to stay with the Queen as she produces more Kings, by the way. Perhaps it would be natural to disperse if the Queen died, but it would be a sad and confusing event. The Squad Leaders and Captains with individualism, however, don’t even wait for the Queen’s confirmed death before leaving. They are excited, and not confused or grieved at all.
(The exception is Colt, who had the purest Ant programming in his genes).
Now, splitting up might have worked out as a way to increase chances of species survival. If they were scattered and hidden throughout human inhabited countries, the Chimeras couldn’t simply be bombed from afar or poisoned all at once by Hunters. Yet in this case, spreading out brought the Chimera Ants to their doom faster. That’s because they had already made enemies with the Hunter Association. Skilled fighters, Nen Users, and Hunters everywhere sought them out to kill them.
Suppose that about half of the Squadron Leaders overcame their human desires to be independent. Instead, they began obediantly serving the Royal Guard and Meruem. If they had done so, the King’s options would have widened, with more manpower to take over human countries and fight incoming Hunters. With a unified army to help him, Meruem might have found a way for the species to win the war, or at least survive. As you can see, individualism played a huge role.
3. Factors leading to Chimera Ant Defeat: Meruem
I loved Meruem’s character, and watching him become more “human” was a fascinating, suspenseful, and emotional experience. But, as someone who rooted for the Chimera Ants most of the time (surprise!), I felt disappointed and frustrated when Meruem turned out to be so mild. Like Shiapouf, I wanted him to be the True King who would change the world and dominate humanity. Meruem ended up only focusing on personal interests, such as intelligent but unproductive board games.
There was more to his unusual nature: he had no ravenous appetite like the Queen, and no desire to force himself to eat just to become stronger. Meruem liked to talk to humans in the palace before killing them. He became bored and furious when there was nobody smart or interesting enough to converse with. When he met Komugi, the King found her interesting right away. His daily interactions with her slowly made him fond of the human girl– by the end, he was in love with her.
This affection for Komugi made Meruem believe that some, but not all, humans were interesting enough to deserve life. The King told Netero that he was willing to coexist with humanity– though of course, his form of coexistence still called for enslaving and eating millions of “regular” humans. Still, since Chimera Ants are driven by the instinct to dominate an ecosystem and drive competitors to complete extinction, Meruem’s suggestion was radically “progressive” for his kind.
After the fight with Netero, when the King lost some of his memories, he showed no interest in battle or killing. Instead, he became bent on one thing– trying to remember Komugi, the one who changed him. Though she may not have done so intentionally, Komugi kept Meruem from walking his “rightful” path of the merciless monarch. The blame, then, lies with both the human girl and the Ant King.
The factors explored here explain why the Chimera Ants could never have won against the more unified humans, even if they had possessed equal technology and numbers. It was sad to see the Chimera Ants lose, and watch the heart-breaking death of Meruem. Still, that was the only ending there could have been given everything we discussed. Part of me was glad that things went back to normal in the Hunter x Hunter world. I was especially pleased that the Hunters allowed several Chimera Ants to live. (The ones like Octopus and Colt who traded sides.)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this anime rant. I’ll probably have more HxH conent in the future. Well, Jya, ne!