Does Gon die in ‘Hunter x Hunter’?

Hunter x Hunter is one of the most popular anime out there. Created by manga artist Yoshihiro Togashi, the anime is set in a fantasy land where mythical beasts roam and criminals are rampant. To combat the chaos, there are the Hunters, individuals who possess immense physical strength as well as the ability to manipulate their life energy, nen, to wield extraordinary powers. Togashi’s main character, Gon Freecs, is reckless and impulsive, often putting himself in life-threatening situations, but how close to death does he truly get?

We predominantly follow the story of Gon as he sets out to become a Hunter and one day meet his father, the elusive Hunter, Ging Freecs. Gon is a young boy from Whale Island who believed his father to have been deceased until Ging’s former student, Kite, informs him otherwise. Once Gon learns of his father’s existence, discovering he was abandoned due to Ging being a Hunter, he does everything in his ability to follow in his footsteps in the hopes of finding him. He takes the Hunter exam at the age of 12, the same age as Ging was when he passed.

Here, he meets fellow candidates Leorio, Kurapika, Killua, as well as the creepy yet formidable Hisoka. He forms a strong friendship with Killua, a young boy of a similar age, who comes from the Zoldyck family of assassins. He ends up passing the Hunter exam and gains his license. He goes on a variety of adventures to find his father, (known as arcs within the manga and anime), but he isn’t always the main protagonist and some arcs focus more on other characters than Gon. With each adventure, he grows stronger and learns how to use his nen. He discovers himself to be an ‘Enhancer,’ someone able to enhance the physical abilities of his body — in his case, his strength.

Though Gon has many childlike features, such as his boundless enthusiasm, his naivety, and straightforward approach to almost everything, he does also contain a dark side. He often puts himself in life-threatening situations to take on opponents that are much stronger than himself and he often pushes himself too far, causing severe injury to himself. He also has a great reserve of anger for those he perceives as a threat to his friends and others. All of this comes to a head in Episode 131, “Anger x and x Light,” where Gon is willing to sacrifice all that he is in order to exact revenge, “I don’t care if this is the end… So I’ll use everything.”

In this episode, Gon realizes that he isn’t going to get Kite back from the Chimera Ants. He understands that he is gone —murdered — and his body used as a puppet by Neferpitou. He goes into a deep state of denial initially before descending further, willing to let an innocent girl become collateral damage to his rage. Gon forces his body beyond its limits, sacrificing all the nen he would ever have in his lifetime to become strong enough in this one moment to take on Neferpitou, which he does in a scene that is more akin to a straight-up annihilation rather than a fight.

In doing so, he pushed his body too far and Gon is only stopped from completely destroying himself by Killua. Once the battle is over, Gon is left in the shell of his former self, unconscious and on the verge of death. He is taken to the hospital, where the doctor exclaims that he has never seen a 12-year-old boy in such a horrific state and that the only thing keeping him alive is life support. Killua, desperate to revive his friend, uses his sister’s enormous and inexplicable power to bring Gon back, although not without a side effect: he is unable to access his nen.

A recovered Gon finally gets to meet his father atop the World Tree, where Ging tells him that there is a big wide world out there and that Gon should take the time to explore it by himself. Gon is a character that has used his natural abilities and raw talent to access shortcuts to power. In a year, he learned everything that should have taken him more than a decade to master and put himself at risk in doing so. Though the anime paused here, the manga has moved forward albeit at a snail’s pace. With Gon out of commission, Togashi focuses on other characters, but it is unlikely we have seen the last of the spiky-haired lad.