That is, if he can even be called such. You can argue he is really the main character of the Ant arc. He's certainly far more prominent than Gon or Killua in this arc.
The character he reminds me the most of is Grand Admiral Thrawn from Star Wars. In Meryem's own words, he is not God but he's probably the closest thing to it. He's not perfect but you won't find another individual that's closer to perfection compared to him. I feel that the Rose is a direct intervention by Togashi to prevent Meryem from actually winning, since otherwise his defeat is impossible. Pufu went through the effort of setting up a puppet state and having human contacts, so he is clearly aware of politics and the general state of the world, but somehow he never realized a weapon like Rose exists, even though it's apparently a widely available weapon at the national level. In a world without the Rose, there is no conceiveable way Meryem's plan could have failed, even including Komugi which is a very considerable handicap Togashi gave to Meryem in an attempt to even up the odds.
As an aside, Komugi does far more harm than good in terms of battle strength for the Ants side. If Komugi was never around, then Novu would not be able to set his teleporter so close to the palace. That means Netero will fight the combined power of the 3 Royals plus Meryem and he'd have no chance at all. Even if we allow him to use the Rose, that would mean pretty much everyone gets blown up when Netero dies inside the palace (I assume the Rose can cover the entire palace), and the poison will spread to the mindless citizens outside the palace, so Meryem would be defeated and the entire nation's population would be wiped off the face of the planet and every major Hunter that participated would be dead. I'd consider that to be a pretty resounding defeat for humanity if this is the ultimate outcome.
One thing that really intrigues me for Meryem is that while he is by far the most powerful character in the world of HXH, he is surprisingly indifferent to the thrill of battle. It's true at his power level any kind of fighting would just bore him, but he doesn't seem interested in even the potential to be surrpised. It's true he praised Netero's power, but he is also completely uninterested in fighting him until Netero offered his name. Without it, I don't think Meryem would ever be interested in a one by one.
Another quality that is unusual about Meryem is that he does not value the thrill of battle over life. Indeed, the only reason he agreed to move to a different battlefield with Netero is that he wanted to convince him to relay the terms of his surrender back to humanity. From Meryem's point of view, there's no conceiveable way his world conquest plan could fail, so he is offering this gesture so that less human might die if they accept a surrender. When Pufu was fighting Killua with his clones and not doing too well, Meryem immediately offered help. Remember, this is a clone with 1/14 of Pufu's full strength (1/7 size, 1/2 penalty for remote control) fighting Killua. The power level of the characters involved are a joke compared to Meryem's power at that point, but he was willing to enter battle against such trivial foes because he sensed Pufu's frustration. He is not someone who is going to watch his followers die.
The Royals and Meryem are really a team. During the invasions, the Royals are effectively separated from each other and Meryem, and despite their overwhelmingly stronger powers, we actually see more cases of the Royals panicing or having a mental breakdown compared to the Hunters. The Royals appear to be all vulnerable mentally without Meryem's guidance. It's a shame we never see Meryem participate as the leader in battle, though given his superb leadership and the fact that his presence clearly calms down even the most mentally unstable of Royal (Pufu), it'd probably be overkill. Originally, Killua planned how to handle a formation that involves Meryem in the middle of the throne room with the 3 Royals surronding him. This scenario never actually happened, and I think it's because if it happened, there is no chance to break this formation apart. Sure, they can get one attack in successfully with Meleoron's power, but Meryem will just tell the Royals don't panic, and will easily find the weakness in the attack with his perception.
Actually, Meryem is your ideal hero if you are actually interested in winning by the virtue of being good as opposed to relying on Deus Ex Machina bailouts. He can bring out the best in all others under his command. He won't let his friends die for no reason but he also knows when sacrifices are needed. If you normalize everyone in HXH to identical power levels, I'd say Meryem plus 3 Royals would beat any 4 other characters, because he is the only character who can turn 4 individuals into an invinicible team.
I guess the only mistake Meryem ever made was that he can't be on the side that is not allowed to win if the story of HXH is to proceed. I don't consider failure to account for the Rose, whose existence managed to elude all the Ants, can be considered a flaw.
However, there are some points that have to be noticed. First of all it's the three stages of Meryem:
1. The spoiled kid mode
2. Mother's love mode
3. Dying mode
Each of these modes are more empathic or rather human(e) than the other. As we saw the dying mode even admitted that perhaps a life as a human would have been better.
The spoiled king mode, is just as Netero said it a child or more specifically a child with too much power. He's not dumb, but his learning and he doesn't really care what happens to those who stand in his way. It's neither a form of intimidation nor a way to spread his reputation, it's just Darwin's law, if your weak(er) you are going to die. That's more or less why Komugi survived because she was stronger than him in one aspect. A typical villain would have just killed Komugi and then proclaimed himself as the greatest. Then again a typical villain wouldn't have been that interested in being the best in every single thing. During this stage, according to me he felt the feeling of love, as when he didn't understand the feeling that Komugi gave him.
The Mother's love mode and the dying mode, learned the value of life and that taking/damaging a life isn't really necessary even if your stronger, this type of thinking was also due to the absence of a memory. He even allowed the game that Pufu proposed, something that he would have never done in the "spoiled kid" mode. Eventually at the current dying stage he dreamt of being human as I wrote above. These forms are also the ones were he recognizes the weight of his guards as people who care for him and not just pawns used due to his own laziness and in his current stage he even says that he wasn't worthy of them.
Now, is he evil or rather a villain?
Well, first of all we have to take notice of what he actually wants to do. He wanted to eradicate all humans and in after facing Netero he wanted to put humans into concentration camps were the best of the best would be selected as either food or soldiers. This reminds me of a really bad dude in our history...
The interesting part though is that he's just acting as we do but the problem is that he's opposing humans so in that reason he's obviously a villain since he's an enemy of mankind and even if those humans are fictional, your still rooting for mankind. This arc had a (there were definitely more) quote that I really liked because it really made his actions legitimate and "acceptable". It's when he has taken over the castle and those show girls are begging for their lives, that he replies: "Are you stupid? Do you spare the lives of the cattles that are screaming in terror?" This line further introduced the weight of Darwin's law in this arc. The most evolved and strongest survives. However, since we are humans we can't accept it and we still feel sorry for those girls even though Meryem is acting in what could be described as normal behaviour.
So, is Meryem evil? Not necessarily as he's following the laws of nature and instinct. (It's also a question of definition, in the eyes of the ants he's regarded as a messiah, their leader, saviour etcetera but in the eyes of the humans he might appear as an entity of evil)
But is he a villain? Hell yeah! He's an enemy of mankind...
Another topic you brought up was the rose, if I'm not mistaken you said that it was like a deus ex machina, no? I can't agree with that as well, since it's symbolic in two ways. The most badass scene ever is this one: http://www.mangareader.net/207-47612...apter-298.html
Whatever nature brings forth, be it the finest or the rarest(as in out of reach) we have an incredible ability to evolve for the sake of destroying or mastering that material/animal. That's IMO, the first symbol that the rose has, even if we are physically one of the least "special" our instinct has an ability to master and destroy and if one individual fails another will replace him until they succeed: http://www.mangareader.net/207-47303...apter-297.html
The poison is more or less a metaphor for mankind, in that it evolves and adapts until it's purpose and goal has been reached. Two wonderfully portrayed truths about mankind, beautifully explained by Togashi!
Meryem is also portrayed as a true king especially from the pre enlightenment era. So, why not make him go down as those kings are usually brought down, by either betrayal, sacrifice, poison or love and in my opinion the last two are directly linked to Meryem's death.
So far as the Rose is concerned, it's not so much I have a problem with using the equivalent of a nuke to wipe out Meryem or poison. The problem is that Meryem and Pufu are portrayed as some of the most knowledgeable/smartest characters in HXH but neither had any idea the Rose even exists. You'd think given their intelligence, they ought to know about it and plan for it. After all, Pufu pretty much planned for everything else that could've happened. Given the Rose's wide availability (seems like every third world country in HXH has some of them), you'd think Pufu would have at least prepared to launch whatever Rose stockpile he had available as retaliation.
I actually have no problem that Meryem may be too proud to not even consider the possibilty of someone using the Rose on him. The real problem is Pufu, who seems to want nothing more than the complete destruction of humanity. It's hard to see how someone with his intelligence and motives will somehow miss out the existence of a weapon of mass destruction. I don't expect Pufu to come up with an anti-Rose plan, but he strikes me as someone who won't hesitate to launch his nukes if attacked. I suppose it's because Pufu clearly had no qualms against MAD that he had to magically not be aware of its existence. I can see Meryem saying don't be ridiculous and waste more lives, we already lost. But Pufu? He's going go down with all his nukes. In fact, the Rose poison pretty much gives Pufu the ability to commit mass genocide. All he has to do is split himself and fly as far as possible to maximize the poison damage. If Pufu was at full strength, who knows how far his clones could've reached before he fell to the poison?
Also, if they were going to use the Rose, why not just use it while the Ants are holed up before Meryem's birth? There is literally no civilian anywhere near the nest, and most of NGL seems to have been wiped out by the Ants already anyway. NGL is also a country where information is heavily suppressed and it has virtually no technology, so why not just send in a bomber to drop a Rose at that point? I guess this point is easier to argue 'it wouldn't make a good story', but I have a hard time accepting Pufu would not have a MAD plan drawn up against the Rose. I don't think it'd be impossible to reconcile this, though. The simplest way would be Meryem refuse to launch the nukes, since he is not someone who cannot accept defeat.
Meryem's character changes and wavers between several extremes throughout the story, but I picked on the qualities in him that is roughly constant. For example, even when he was just born, I think he'll still step up and dispatch an intruder if he senses one of his Royal is in danger. Also, whatever his inner conflicts are, Meryem keeps that to himself and doesn't let it get in the way of his duty. Netero said that Meryem is wavering between "The King" and "Human" during the negotation. But note that although Meryem can't quite decide what is his true purpose, the terms he offered to Netero were clear and unwavering.
I think Netero called Meryem naive in the sense that he actually thought it was possible to just talk about how the humans should surrender and be put into the equivalent of concentration camps. I don't think Netero even doubts the fact that Meryem could conquer the world. His point is that if it was so easy to arrange for a bloodless surrender he wouldn't need to strap a bomb on himself. But I don't think Meryem offered those terms because he was naive. It was more like "You can accept these terms now or you can accept them when my army utterly crushed your pathetic nations."
We're probably supposed to root for human since the reader is, well, human, but obviously from a neutral point of view, the Ants have just as much reason to survive. The Ants have been losing badly, and if not for some lucky breaks they could've already been wiped out. If Pitou wasn't born at the moment he was, Kite could've taken out all the Ants. If Meryem wasn't born early, Netero would've eventually stopped the Ants. If Netero just makes a beeline for the Queen, at best the Royals can kill him but the Queen dies too, and it's clearly implied that without Meryem's leadership, it'd just be a matter of time before the rest of the Ants get wiped out. Netero's squad, after all, was methodically working their way toward killing all the Ants all this time. Meryem actually has shown surprising constrain when dealing against a species that, from his point of view, is bent on ensuring his species goes extinct.
It's not uncommon for a 'no true good side' theme, but I think Togashi managed to actually successfully portray this. Most such effort usually goes into something like 'the bad guys were mistaken' or 'human cuts down trees, that's bad against nature'. Really, the conflict between Ants and Humans is a matter of war and survival. The two races cannot coexist as they are described in the world of HXH, so one side has to wipe out the other. It has nothing to do with morality, only survival. The humans won since HXH is written for humans, but that doesn't mean the Ants or their leader, Meryem, was the bad guys.
First of all we have to remember that this is a story meant for children/teenagers, regardless of their intelligence some missteps has to be and are likely to be taken. Meryem and Pufu are very arrogant which is the mother of making mistakes or simply refusing to believe in them. As Netero told Meryem, he's constantly underestimating humans. Now, the king might of heard of the rose as a very powerful bomb but I'm sure that he either thought of it as too weak just as Netero's Cannon or that it would never be able to reach him. Regardless of ones intelligence it's very hard to realise that a man has a bomb in himself and that he's going to sacrifice himself, especially when you have the opinions of mankind that the king has/had. Also, the strength of the bomb isn't the force of explosion, it's the poison and that seemed to be top secret info, info that's also hard t get since the bomb is banned in the more open societies.
This is the first time the king felt fear e.g.
The king is too arrogant for his own good that he fails to see that Komugi is a great weakness for him.
Why can't they just send someone in to nuke the god damn place?
Well, first of all when the king was born there were still people on the continent, remember that the bomb is poisones and perhaps there was a great risk of it. There's also the topic of where the king is located, If I remember correctly no one found out where the king and the nest were located making it harder to just send an airplane. The case also became top class after the invasion of the other country which name I have forgotten, so there as never an option to nuke until it was too late and the king and his guards were to powerful.
I see no problem with it at all, Togashi actually makes it quite logical, at least to me.
About the evil/villain in Meryem:
Exactly, from a neutral point he's not evil all he's doing is natural, Darwin's law as I said before. But as an antagonist he's a villain and that can't be denied even from a neutral aspect. Gon is our hero in this story, Meryem is opposed to Gon and his friends which makes him the bad guy or rather the villain but he that doesn't necessarily make him and his actions bad as in evil.
It's true though that Netero probably doesn't doubt Meryem's capabilities but he also has great faith in humanities will to survive. As he said: "I'm not alone Meryem, don't underestimate humans!" Netero is old and has far more experience than Meryem in the sense of judging things, Meryem thinks he's the perfect being, born to rule everything while Netero has the philosophy of the typical there's always someone better or no one is invincible, especielly not in the eyes of mankinds destructive ability.
The Rose is clearly something that's banned in the HXH's world equivalent of Geneva Convention the same way biological/chemical weapons are banned in the real world. Mereym is extremely proud, so I can see he read about it and say, "Sounds good to me, what kind of crackpot would ever use these weapons?" After all, destruction was never his goal. He kills human because they're food, not because he enjoys killing for the sake of killing.
From the description, it says there are hundreds of thousands of Rose sitting around. It's the favorite weapon of a dictator for a small country. It killed about 100K people in a terror attack.
Assuming HXH mirrors the real world in population density, one can conclude that the Rose's blast radius is not very big (a nuke going off on a major city kills far more than 100K), but clearly in far more abundant numbers compared to nuke. It's something that was used in wars in the past, so the fact it's poisonous should be well-known. Even if it's indeed top secret information, the Ants have a human contact who is clearly a high ranking official. The country Meryem just took over looks exactly like a small country under a military dictatorship, so his country should have some Rose sitting around too.
It'd be out of character for Meryem to retaliate, but Pufu, who isn't even mentally stable normally, seems to be exactly the kind of guy who would use the Rose. Pufu has a mentality of "If I die I'm going to take you with me", and he's the only one who described human being as pathetic (even Meryem without compassion viewed them rather indifferently as a food source).
I think the problem you got here is that it's stated before, if they end up losing a nation to take out Meryem, it'd still be considered a devastating loss to humanity, and if someone like Pufu gets a hold of Rose, you're looking at losing more than a country. In particular his cloning ability is a nasty combination with the Rose's poison. Still, given the information available in HXH, it should be possible to stop Pufu from retaliating against the Rose, even though it'll be difficult, so it should have been resolved.
Before Meryem was born, the Ants are holed up in an obvious structure. The Ants already killed everyone around them for food so there is literally no one to spread the poison to. The Rose's blast radius, given the information available, isn't really that big. The Queen is expecting so she's a relatively immobile target (and seems like the Hunters know this too), so there's very little danger of missing or the target getting out of the way. I guess the best explanation is that Netero didn't expect Meryem to be born so early, and probably figures that in the worst case scenario, it should always be possible to stop the Queen if he sacrifices himself. Looking at the character power levels involved, there is no way the Royals can stop Netero from just doing a suicide charge to the Queen with the Zero.
When Netero says 'Don't underestimate humanity', he is clearly referring to the treachery humanity is capable of. It's not technology because the Ants are perfectly capable of using human technology (we see Ants using machine guns before they learned aura, for example). I don't think Meryem would consider using a weapon like the Rose under any circumstance, but humanity definitely well, so that's why Meryem was defeated.
I don't think Meryem views himself as a DBZ-level strong where technology has no effect on him. After the Rose explosion, Meryem lost his memory so he should not remember the fact that he almost died to the Rose. Pufu lied to him and said that the bomb was of no threat:
However, we know the Meryem is consistently one step ahead of Pufu after his rebirth, so he should be able to see through the lie rather easily. He obviously suspects that he had to eat the Royals to survive based on the earlier dialogue. Pufu mentioned using bomb goes against 'honor', and that'd fit Meryem's personality. He just doesn't believe anyone would betray the integrity of a 1on1 by using a banned weapon of mass destruction, so that's why he lost. Even if he knew the Rose existed, he'd still think about battle the exact same way.
Last edited by Phantron; September 25, 2011 at 01:47 PM.
Meryem was awesome.
I would say he's a villain turned anti-villain
After all, the phrase of Netero may mean something different. Maybe Netero was talking about the humanity in him. I don't know, the last chapter and conversation with Komugi made me think that the old man was talking about something else.
After all, Netero is merciful. O:
After Netero was unable to defeat Meryuem in a fight he suicide bombs himself and Meryuem causing Meyuem massive damage.
Then Meryuem gets all healed and it's like "that was nothing" but nuh uh that was something it was something called POISON!
Blaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhh says Meryuem as he literally coughs up a lung and a kidney. Both Youpi and Pouf died too.
Even Komugui who was completely innocent was killed by the poison. Granted by her own choosing. Still...
Netereo ain't merciful. Netero is hardcore. Netero is awesome. Yet one of the many reasons why HXH is greatness.
I think a pretty consistent theme in HXH is that real life (at least HXH life) doesn't always have a happy ending. To take out someone who was viewed as a threat to humanity, they pretty much went pulled every dirty trick in the book and still lost half a million citizens, and things clearly could've been much, much worse. This isn't like your average manga where fighting against a guy who's plotting the destruction of humanity can be accomplished while losing 2 guys who most likely already have a terminal illness anyway.
I was making a reference of his technique and relating it to his personality.
I didn't like Meryem the first time he was shown. His color theme & overall design is too close to Cell (DBZ). And I also found him way too powerful. But his personality made it for me.
Usually, in a shounen, when an enemy is defeated, there are 2 possible scenarii:
- He immediatly die or at least we never hear from him again.
- He become a good guy.
I really like the way Meryem's death was handled. He knew it was the end but he kept his cool & did what he wanted until his death.
Last edited by zelllogan; September 29, 2011 at 12:39 AM.