Entertainment, Opinion

Best friends and young love: Queer shipping in anime

I started watching Hunter x Hunter for the first time this year, and it’s without a doubt one of the best anime series I’ve ever watched. 

The show has plenty of fantastic characters, memorable scenes, and terrific emotional beats.

My focus here is the nature of Gon (Erica Mendez) and Killua’s (Cristina Valenzuela) relationship. 

Shipping, regardless of the fandom, is a powerful thing.

We champion fictional relationships, create art for them, write about them, and create our own headcanons

Where queer relationships in media are concerned, we often grab hold of what we can. 

Every anime fandom has at least one major ship that has people asking: are they gay? 

And usually, cishet people will try to explain away the gay; everything to them is straight until completely proven queer. 

(Spoilers ahead.)

Gon and Killua’s relationship has undertones – innocent because they are young boys, but undertones nonetheless. 

They become fast friends during the Hunter Exam arc. It’s all very natural and literally changes both their lives tremendously. 

From there, it’s a slow build that’s especially evident in Killua’s behaviour towards Gon. 

They face enemies together, spend almost every waking moment together, and are there for each other during the worst of times. 

Even if it’s life or death, they remain loyal to each other. 

It’s the type of devotion that transcends regular best friends. 

Arguments could be made that telling someone they are light, blushing frequently around them, and doing anything to save their life is just what friends do. 

It’s in the framing and how young love can incorporate all those aspects. 

Considering they aren’t even in their late teens, you have to put on a different lens. 

People can realise they have feelings for someone at an early age, and when you consider just Killua’s actions towards Gon, it seems obvious. 

He risks his life to bring Gon back from near death after the Chimera Ant arc, and he isn’t willing to accept a life without him. 

It’s those moments that reinforce the idea that Gon is everything to Killua, likely more than he’d admit out loud. 

Gon’s obliviousness is just a symptom of his personality rather than suggesting no feelings in return. 

It may not be official, and they may not outright say “I have feelings for you,” but there’s enough material that has many folks believing they are more than friends, that there’s an innocent type of love beneath the proclamations of friendship. 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t harm anybody to analyse, unpack the subtext, see them as queer, or ship them.

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