The Morality of Gon Freecss (Hunter X Hunter)


Expectations subversion is an interesting concept in anime. It can lead to jaw-dropping or engaging story developments but without the twist having been preceded by hints establishments or foreshadowing, it can come off as contrived. and without it contributing in some way to character development or storytelling it can be dismissed as cheap shock value and when it comes to the undisputed, best shounen series of all time, just kidding not really… most of left field narrative developments are very deliberately crafted to avoid these pitfalls one of the most iconic moments in the entire series Gon’s dark transformation and destruction on Pitou is absolutely legendary but it never felt like an ask-full due to the darkness that was manifesting in Gon beforehand and extending from that, Gon’s descent was never inconsistent with what have been established in his characterization from the beginning Togashi’s a master in creating this legendary moments to shock the audience by subverting their expectations of the story or character development but at the same time, he lays them a trail of clues within the narrative along the way to that subversion that foreshadow it Neterou’s darker turn is a great example and the tone of the entire series is one as well but in my opinion Gon is the prime example of this he is criticized as a lackluster or mediocre protagonist that times for his simplicity but just as complexity does not necessarily equate to quality simplicity is not a bad thing provided that he isn’t bland especially when it contrasting with the layered personalities of the series and in Gon’s case the straightforward mentality of a child dropped into a setting that can be as dark as the world Hunter Hunter can lead to some pretty hypocritical morality and by extension plenty of fascinating storytelling Gon is generally good natured, kind and caring His pure honesty is endearing He’s Killua’s saving grace He’s likable to no end and I consider his refusal to hear about the true identity of his mother because of his love for Mito to be one of the most touching little moments in the series at heart, he’s an uncomplicated kid but there is a dark underbelly to Gon as a result of the simplicity a side that forms a dichotomy of his personality making him a true subversion of the classic happy-go-lucky shounen protagonist as kind and good as Gon is he’s completely selfish, inconsistent, hypocritical and in some cases, lacking in morality there’s the most evidence in the Chimera Ant arc but there are little cues throughout the story alluding to this that are easy to miss on the first watch, yet hard to miss when you look for them Here, I’ll be diving into the fascinating and dualistic psychology of Hunter Hunter’s Gon covering the exact reasons that led to his dark transformation and why he’s far less righteous than he actually seems anything regarding to his relationship with Killua will be saved for another video the first thing to establish here is an important distinction when it comes to Gon He cares so much about what is good and what is bad but not about what is right and wrong and this is a subtle distinction but it makes all the difference when it comes to our main character right and wrong are usually agreed upon concepts from the non-pedantic general populace murder is wrong active kindness tend to be right and etc. there are subtle differences between right and wrong as you shift from culture to culture but regardless, it’s essentially a moral code instilled in oneself as a result of society’s impression of morality right and wrong are usually taught to us throughout childhood in attempts to make us outstanding, virtuous members of society good and bad while usually synonymous with right and wrong are not actually the same thing a person’s perception of what’s good and bad has to do with what they believe is okay and acceptable or bad and unacceptable and while a lot of times this is completely equivalent with right and wrong good and bad are different beats while one’ s opinion of good and bad, maybe equivalent with their opinions of right and wrong at example being that murder is bold, wrong and bad and charity is bold, right and good that is only because we have been conditioned to deeply believe that what is good, is what we have been taught as right but eliminate one’s concept of right and wrong and their perception of good and bad is entirely dependent on their biased opinions which is very dangerous and likely to manifest in some very questionable morality and often times, this is the case with Gon he frequently makes moral decisions based on what he thinks is good but his idea of good is not only completely alien from traditional morality but also completely selfish essentially, he accepts anything that benefits or interests him and rejects anything that doesn’t help him or upsets him without sparing a thought from much else however I don’t want to give off the impression that Gon is some sort of cold robot because as anyone has experienced the series’ goal tends to, he isn’t in fact, most of the time he’s good natured as I said earlier he’s truly willing to go to insane lengths for those close with him but a big factor when it comes to Gon is inconsistency he just doesn’t care on the slightest about the deaths of unfamiliar people during the test yet he helps those on the boat to the hunter exam with their sea sickness there’s such an inconsistency on behavior here and my thoughts on it are that Gon’s twisted morality is a primal and instinctive thing only showing itself when the stakes are high when consequences of certain situations and the personal cause of helping to him and his friends are heightened Gon is less concerned with morality and moreso with making sure that he and those close to him survive and this is an important point personal costs and personal gain If someone helps Gon, he is much more likely to excuse their acts if they oppose him, or prove to be an obstacle, he berates them for an extreme example take a serial killer in handcuffs and put him in a room with Gon If all the killer does is sit their with his mouth shut Gon will probably think of his crimes as disgusting and get extremely angry but if the killer says that he has some valuable information about Nen and is open to conversation Gon is very likely to overlook his crimes due to curiosity he blatantly ignores misdeeds that someone he has gotten to know or who was useful to him has committed because he’s too immature to understand that people can be shades of gray and the way that he decides whether they’re black or white is incredibly selfish and subjective this is very much the mindset of a child which is appropiate Gon is narrow minded and unpracticed in life he’s never experienced true loss or proper grief either which is an extremely important aspect to him Gon is undeniably innocent he’s curious and cares about himself and his close friends so someone as interesting, they’re good if someone is beneficial, they’re good if someone is detrimental, they’re bad If someone is neither beneficial or detrimental then it depends on the situational costs and benefits of acting Now related to this, when it comes to his tendency to grow close to people Gon has a very interesting quirk that sets him apart and that he grows attachment through exposure to a person, regardless of the nature of the person but I’ll leave that point there and get back to it later so regarding Gon’s morality the TL;DR of what I have said so far can be summed as such firstly, Gon has very questionable and sometimes absent morality in high stakes situations this is because he decides people that are good or bad based not on morals but whether on he likes them or not which is often clouded by selfish reasons such as if they’re interesting or useful to him and his close friends whom he cares about very much and what’ll do nearly anything for there’s also the fact that Gon has never experienced loss before which is key this all contributes to the idea of Gon’s mentality being that of a immature, undeveloped kid which is understandable and consistent, and finally all of these elements are important for understanding why Gon is such a dark character at times and what led him to losing control against Pitou now, to sum this points might seem a bit out there and unreasonable but if we examine Gon’s actions and reactions throughout the story the evidence slowly builds up for all of this and more starting from the beginning, Gon’s comprehension on morality was undoubtedly affected by Ging or more specifically, Ging’s absence Gon grew up thinking of his father, a man who left his son to pursue adventure as his ideal, perfect role model without thinking that he had done anything wrong perhaps this instilled the idealogy of going for what you want regardless of consequence within Gon maybe that taught him that his needs are far more important than anything else planting the idea that what is good is what you like independent of everything and everyone No matter what the effect was GIng’s treatment of Gon left an impact and caused his son’s sense of what is okay in this world to be skewed from what is generally accepted as the story really gets going it becomes apparent that Gon doesn’t really have much sympathy for anyone outside his circle of friends people die all around him during the exam in various brutal ways but Gon doesn’t bat an eyelash unless his close friends are endangered but while it is a human thing to naturally care more about the death of someone close to you than the death of a fellow test taker Gon was literally unfazed you can argue that his fellow test takers weren’t fazed either but all of there non-reactions can be justified Killua’s childhood revolved around murder so he would naturally not care whereas Kurapika and Leorio had already been exposed and educated in the rough realities of the world but Gon having grown up on an island where life move slowly and the most exciting thing to happen is someone catching a big fish or spawning a rare wild animal is unaffected by death despite having never had the environment to become used to it there’s something significant in that fact there’s also an interesting dynamic when you look at Gon’s outlook towards Tonpa who makes no attempts to hide that he loves sabotaging others and enjoys watching people fail and die taking the test which angers many characters but Gon reacts differently and continues treating Tonpa like a friend despite how awful a guy he is simply because his actions haven’t negatively affected Gon personally and because his ironically proved to be of some use to the group so here, a guy who’s backstabbing, morally bankrupt, and villainous is someone deemed to be okay for Gon why? because he’s interesting, beneficial and thus far harmless to Gon and his friends themselves regardless of the wrongdoings he’s done to other people I suspected that this would not have been the case if Tonpa succeeded in poisoning them because in that scenario he would have been bad in Gon’s eyes but since this never materialized Gon was fine with keeping Tonpa around and even grew a little attached to him due to pure exposure Gon continues to show little moments of strange and at times, almost cruel behavior during the tag challenge, Ponzu helped Gon, Leorio and Kurapika to escape the snake infested cave and in all fairness, Gon does carry her out which was what he promised but after getting her out of the cave Gon decides to leave her vulnerable and passed out in a forest full of dangerous creatures and people who are fully prepared to kill each other in addition to that, he took her tag and ruined her chance of becoming certified to give it to Leorio who was arguably less prepared than she was to become a hunter he was probably thankful for her actions but she had outlived her usefulness and she was not within his inner circles so who cares what happens to her ignore the cheerful music of the 2011 anime and the ironically light-hearted tone that is pretty messed up sure he gets her out, but after that he’s either ignorant or unwilling to repay a potentially life saving favor with simple protection now take the situation and compare it far down the line to when Gon goes out of his way to make sure that Zepile is compensated for helping him and Killua out during the Yorknew auctions they’re completely comparable situations both Ponzu and Zepile are relative strangers that help Gon in various degrees both have been useful to Gon and the time has come to reimburse their kindness but while Ponzu is left in a pretty terrible position Gon is very preoccupied with trying to repay Zepile the main difference between these two situations the stakes carrying around an unconscious Ponzu is unneeded dead weight on such a perilous island while her success meant that Leorio likely wouldn’t have pass the exam and Gon could not have that whereas with Zepile, Gon and Killua are having a low-key afternoon and there are no great rush to do much of anything and helping Zepile is not only low cost but potentially mutually beneficial the personal cost is much higher for helping Ponzu so her safety is not of great concern for Gon on the subject of Zepile, it’s interesting that almost immediately he can see exactly what makes Gon unique in this world he reflects that Gon does not care about right or wrong and that his reaction to crime is not meant with judgement but with innocent curiosity and only after he praises whether he likes the person or if he has an emotional investment in their wrongdoing or not does he decide whether he thinks their actions are acceptable Zepile says that Gon opens his mind to anything that impresses him, right or wrong and this praises tended with positivity in this scene but quickly changes as Zepile notes of the inherent danger in this sort of attitude which again foreshadow the darkness of Gon the Yorknew arc sheds a great light on Gon’s contradictions and hypocrisy despite he’s somewhat reduced importance in the arc and the beautiful irony of Gon as a character can be summed in his own words when he chastises Nobunaga he had initially excused the Spider’s exploits because he assumed that they were emotionless which in itself is questionable but upon seeing them feel for the loss of one of their own he loses it and suddenly now he blames them he hysterically asks how the Phantom Troupe can even begin to feel pain and grief for the death of someone close to them when they kill so many others how can you only care about morality when those you care about are involved how about caring for every life rather than a select few Gon is correct in saying that this thinking is hypocritical but fails to realize that this is exactly how he thinks probably the most impactful question here How can they kill someone that has nothing to do with them can’t really be applied to Gon just yet but will keep that in our back pocket for now if we continue moving chronologically what is widely considered to be one of Hunter x Hunter’s least impactful arcs actually ends up providing us with an encapsulation of Gon’s selfish and contradictory morals while into Greed Island Biscuit organizes a sort of training program for Gon and Killua wherein their task with defeating a bounty hunter named Binolt over the course of two weeks during this time the two learned quite a bit about strategy and tactics and they’re much improved by the end but the most important factor here is Binolt he’s a mass murderer and a cannibal a truly cruel, sadistic and absolutely disgusting man he is arguably worse than any character that we have seen in the story thus far but compare the way that Gon acts toward Binolt with the way he acts towards Nobunaga the difference is plain to see Gon absolutely laze into Nobunaga and the troupe here but is friendly towards Binolt who has committed acts just as bad or even worse than the Spider why such a stark difference in attitude between these two situations well, Gon says the best himself Binolt has helped him and Killua make progress he’s been useful to them, so Gon likes him he’s a terrible human being, who cares we spent two weeks with him and he taught us some cool, new things but Nobunaga on the other hand he’s captured us he’s out to get revenge on Kurapika come to think of it, he’s killed countless people, what an awful person the order of thought here is so important and this is always the case for Gon before deciding if the person is good or bad, he makes a judgement on how they affect him and his friends personally Binolt is a worse person than Nobunaga but the key here is that he’s useful while Nobunaga is a hindrance and the deaths caused by the Spider, matter more than Binolt’s murders because Gon does not choose to feel sympathy for the deaths of people he’s not associated with unless his own selfish innocence and twisted moral priorities allow him to as Biscuit says he has a very pure nature his judgement on people is entirely predictable and transparent echoing his experiences, instead of right and wrong as we continue to progress through the story the Chimera Ant arc is where we get to the real end result of Gon’s contradiction but before jumping into the big moments I think there is some significance in Gon’s first ever kill during his journey with Kite and Killua to the nest Gon kills his sentient being for the first time in his life a low ranking armadillo-like Chimera ant named Baro after brutally killing Baro by crushing his shell Gon quickly moves on and doesn’t spare a thought for his first kill what would usually be a major and sometimes pitiable event in a twelve year old’s life ends as a mere distraction for Gon this doesn’t really change much about his character and to an extent, it’s understandable but it just serves to ramp up the darkness surrounding him even more it doesn’t matter that it was Gon’s first time killing a living being Baro was an obstacle that needed to be removed don’t get me wrong, I would have killed Baro too but Gon’s reaction or rather, his lack or reaction, is pretty unnerving moving on to the iconic confrontation itself there are several elements that play here Gon’s darkness had been steadily building in anticipation of finally getting the chance to save KIte and everything breaks loose the sky-high stakes mean that Gon’s contradictory morality is once again at play his initial fury upon thinking that Pitou was lying is replaced with a childish, aimless rage causing him to lash out when Pitou was unresponsive and even pleading to his demands some minor care for Komugi as an innocent party is completely eliminated when Gon stops viewing her as a living and breathing person but instead, as a precious bargaining chip to get him what he wants and here, Gon has become what he despises a person willing to disregard the life of an innocent because of his own priorities the very type of person that he criticizes Nobunaga and Pitou for being Gon can’t handle the idea that Pitou killed Kite but cares for someone else he’s curious yet again because of someone showing shades of gray his narrow-minded and innocent view of the world, only accommodates black and white so when a complex moral situation comes around he finds himself completely out of his depth in one of the most heart breaking lines of the show Gon, in seeing Killua’s cool head in such a high tension situation states that Killua has it easy since it has nothing to do with him and this sums up his whole psychology here he tells Killua to basically mind his own business because he wasn’t as close to Kite as Gon was as if it is impossible to feel for the life of another just because he weren’t close to them and this could beautifully mirrors Gon’s earlier hatred with the Phantom Troupe compare his anger with the troupe’s lack of care that their ending the lives of strangers with the fact that he believes that it’s understandable to not care about those that you aren’t close to and you see the true hypocrisy of the boy in order to get what he wants Gon is entirely willing to kill Komugi is there really much of a difference at this point between Gon and some of the villainous characters we have seen throughout the story one might think that Gon would try and act here out of care for Komugi but if you been paying attention then you know that that’s not even a priority at this point he only refrains from cold murder and is only willing to let Pitou heal the girl after he’s reminded that he needs Pitou if he wants Kite back And in this, we have packed the textbook example to prove that Gon’s sense of morality stems from his subjective thoughts of goo and bad rather than the classic examples of right and wrong this was not only completely foreshadowed but absolutely essential in reinforcing Togashi’s ideas in the Chimera ant arc about perspective, morality, and their relation to darkness in humanity maybe most importantly of all with regards to Gon’s over the top behavior here is the fact that he’s never experienced proper loss people look at how traumatized Gon was by Kite’s death and think of his reactions as unjustified or convuluted especially taking into consideration the fact that the 2011 anime doesn’t properly flesh out his relationship with Kite but take a look at his twisted idea of morals and apply it to the fact that he had never truly lost someone close to him and Gon’s reaction becomes completely understandable he have always been optimistic and believed that things would turn out okay but once the sliver of hope that Kite can be saved was eliminated Pitou was useless he hated her before because of the hypocrisy and her killing Kite compared with her healing Komugi but she had use before but now, all of that is thrown out the window and Gon becomes a force of nature, hellbent on revenge he’s so narrow minded he doesn’t care about the faith of humanity or what’s going on at the castle or the fact that he still has friends upon friends to fall back on in this moment, he cares about nothing but vengeance he doesn’t even have regard for life and the cycle is completed as the young man who once tried to convince Kurapika to not give in to his darkness gives in to his own darkness in the end and especially retrospectively Gon comes across as unstable, and maybe even slightly psychotic but it needs to be stressed that is an intentional move from Togashi Gon has no qualms about ill-natured and murderous people because when they don’t hurt him, he enjoys what they add to his life it may sound insane but in a mind of a boy completely devoid of traditional morality this makes total sense what’s interesting is that there isn’t really anything wrong with Gon per se he’s just a genuine child and he acts as such children are selfish and believed that everything should revolve around them they love to learn,, they’re narrow-minded, they’re entitled, oblivious and cheerful kids think the world is simple and kids don’t have morals they don’t care about ethics or different perspectives as long as they’re happy in the end this is who Gon is, just a kid with all these characteristics however, this is not a familiar concept in anime and in creating a character who believes that the world will bend to his will as all kids do Togashi has crafter a nuanced and somewhat creepy character just by making him a genuine child this in itself is a huge reason as to why Togashi is a master at his craft he takes a truly simple, realistic concept of a character drops him into a fictional world that will test him and runs with it kids are eventually taught about discipline and seeing things in different ways and learning the nuance from right and wrong but during this vital developmental stage Gon is instead off exploring a dangerous world drop a child psychology into a dark world full of death and the results are what we have here Gon is not a bad guy but in anime the subtle differences between a flawless shounen protagonist and a realistic kid like Gon, can be shown in the most palpable ways possible Hunter x Hunter is probably going to end as a story without a distinct hero but regardless, at this moment, Gon is far from and he’s really resembled the hero of the story he’s simply someone who only gets involved with disputes if there’s something in it for him or those closest to him he doesn’t care about the good of mankind or saving the world he cares about his own motives which only ever concern him and in a medium saturated with selfless intentions and altruism those motives manifest in such selfish ways that it makes Gon a fascinating and very human character to follow don’t be afraid to leave your thoughts on what I have said here in the comments below as well as anything about Gon in general that you like to say like I said, I’ll be covering different aspects of Gon in the future uploads but I find his morality to be among the most interesting things about him cheers once again to everyone for watching and supporting my channel as always, you can show your support by commenting giving this video a good old like subscribing to keep up to date with my content or even contributing a dollar to my Patreon if you want to go an extra mile stay tuned for more Hunter x Hunter very soon and I’ll see you guys next time

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