Hunter x Hunter shows a special appreciation toward animals and nonhuman creatures all throughout its course. Today we’ll look at some examples and discussion about this topic. The show’s treatment of animals come first. Maybe it sounds strange that a show about hunters has such a positive and healthy view toward animal life. But a Hunter in this universe isn’t necessarily a hunter of animals. They hunt many things, like new places, new information, old ruins, fortune, treasure, artifacts, and more as they explore the vast world.
Some of these individuals are hunters in the literal sense of the word. Doubtlessly, Hunters are needed to help control populations of dangerous beasts. There are also many who work in research and protection of animals and creatures. A great example is the research team in the chimera ant arc. They work with Kite studying chimera ants, and they recount the beloved story of how Kite saved a species of goose that they loved dearly. Or, like Pockle, some Hunters seek to discover new species.
Now it’s clear that Hunters are, in general, interested in and respectful of animals. The same goes for other nonhuman creatures. The Hunters allow many dangerous and deadly species to survive in controlled populations. We can see examples in the Hunter Exam Arc, wherein would-be Hunters travel through a swampy, forested area crawling with deadly creatures. As for intelligent nonhuman creatures, it seems like they have life alright as well. The magical, shape-shifting beasts called Kiriko are respected as Hunter testers and never regarded as freaks or lower life forms just because they are a different species.
Also in the hunter exam arc, it’s true that the hunters do take out an entire hoard of the carnivore pigs, killing over a hundred of them. But it’s stated that there are many in that area, so it’s likely the population of these large carnivores needed to be cut down. Plus, all the meat from the pigs was used for food. It wasn’t wasted.
Several times in the series, it is stated that good Hunters get along well with animals. For our examples, we have Gon, Kite, and Knuckle. Gon grew up in nature, spending all his time wandering around Whale Island, and learning all the animals and wildlife. As a result, Gon’s instincts are superb, and he is fond of animals. He can even communicate with them on some level. But that only goes for wild animals. Those who are like Mike in the Zoldyck arc, trained to follow another’s orders, can be frightening. Gon prefers fishing when hunting his meat, but he will kill other animals if the need arises.
At the beginning of the chimera ant arc, Kite saves Gon and Killua from being attacked by carnivorous chimera ants. Long ago, Kite also rescued Gon when he was about to be killed by an angry mother Foxbear. To save Gon’s life, Kite had to kill the animal. This is seen as a negative thing, to the point where Kite hits Gon. With both the ant nest and the foxbear, Kite laments the fact that he must take life. This suggests a respect for and harmony with wildlife. In a flashback of his youth, Kite got along with all the animals in his town, and was able to train them to help him. His friends included stray dogs and birds of prey. Kite is a Hunter beloved by animals.
Another example is Knuckle, a Hunter and a student of Morel. He has a tender heart despite acting like a delinquent punk. In the field where he’s meant to fight Gon, Knuckle makes friends with a stray puppy. After that, more and more dogs come by, and the man can’t resist petting them and feeding them. The stray dogs in the land of NGL are also “attracted” by Knuckle and keep following him around. Knuckle is one of the Hunters most moved by seeing Colt and the Ant Queen; even if Colt was part of a destructive species that had taken human lives, Knuckle accepted him quickly.
There are many other examples of characters who get along with animals, such as the girl who has trained neurotoxic bees in the Hunter Exam Arc, and the man who trains and loves many dogs in the Yorknew City Arc. For now, however, let’s move on the other major area of discussion. That would be, of course, the chimera ants. How does the show portray these nonhuman “monsters” and how do the human characters perceive them?
Most people regard them with fear, but Hunters who can use Nen stand a chance. They rightfully see the ants as a threat to humans. The chimera ants have to be dealt with; there’s no getting around that. But they aren’t hated because of being different creatures. Most of the Hunters who fight the chimeras seem to acknowledge them as fellow thinking beings. As mentioned in the case of Knuckle, the Hunters accepted the chimera ants who surrendered and agreed not to eat humans. At least ten chimeras are still alive by the end.
I’m going to seg-way here a bit regarding the scene where the Queen dies and Colt is left to protect her last tiny child. Morel is not among my favorite characters in this arc. I disliked him the first watch. By the second, I grew to like him, mostly because of the impact of this one scene. Morel points his weapon at Colt and tells him to promise not to eat humans. “If you can’t make that promise, get out of my sight immediately. But if you give your word, then no one will lay a finger on you, as long as I’m around!” He sniffles at the end, revealing that he’d almost been moved to crying by the Queen’s death and Colt’s dedication. He’s offering his protection to an ally, regardless of species and potential issues. How can I not love Morel after that?
Let’s explore this a bit more. Here are a few other cases where these fascinating creatures are treated with respect. Just as with Colt, chimeras like Meloreon and Ikalgo are accepted by the Hunters– not just as valuable allies for the battle, but also as friends. During the attack on Meruem’s palace, Knuckle is able to reach an understanding with Youpi the Royal Guard Chimera Ant. It surprised me how he didn’t want to keep fighting Youpi afterward.
Following the death of Meruem, some chimera ants like Brovado and Reina were allowed to return to NGL to live as they wish in nature. Even an ant like Koala, who killed many humans, was given a second chance, although he’s under the supervision of the Hunters. As you can see, the chimera ants were treated with respect even when they are enemies who must be eliminated. Nobody seems to enjoy having to kill the chimeras. (In my view, only Netero really keeps belittling these creatures and comparing them to “superior” humans. I don’t grieve for that old man.)
Without even directly addressing the topic, Hunter x Hunter shows over its course the background theme of respecting other life forms. In reality, we obviously don’t have creatures like the kiriko or the chimera ants, but that’s not the point. Rather, the point for us in the real world is to treat all life with respect, acknowledge our enemies’ strengths and efforts, and be graceful and accepting of people who seem very different from you.
In addition, it was important to show this theme because it’s one of the strongest redeeming qualities of Hunters, setting them in contrast to the villains. They are mostly a self-interested, self-ruled lot, leading to many of them becoming less than admirable. But they obviously have some great values in them, too. Villains throughout the series, including the Phantom Troupe and Genthru, lack any respect for lives other than their own. So we can tell our heroes from our villains thanks to motif of treating other creatures well. In closing, as lifeforms who share a planet, we have much more in common with others than we might think.