"Who am I? Why am I here? A king with no name. A borrowed castle. My subjects are mindless drones. If this is the mandate of Heaven I have been given... I fear... I fear nothing... except the tedium that it will bring!!!"
Meruem had a rather humanoid build for an Ant. He was muscular and toned, despite his relatively small frame as compared to his servants. He had two long antennae on his ears and a large shell-like armor over his head that resembled a helmet. There were dark pigmented areas on his arms, legs, chest, and head. Meruem was always barefoot. He possessed a powerful tail equipped with a stinger that served as his weapon. Both his hands and feet had only four digits each.
Meruem was initially a cruel and violent leader. The Queen's intention to give birth to a perfect offspring was reflected in Meruem's haughty mentality. He considered himself superior to all other forms of life and felt no concern for his dying mother after his birth. Meruem was merciless, killing and cannibalizing any Chimera Ant he deemed to be disrespectful, although he still held respect towards the strong, complimenting Neferpitou for emerging relatively unscathed from an attack that had killed many. He hated saying the same thing twice, and he would often tell others that he would not repeat himself. He showed no empathy towards humans and viewed them as nothing other than a food source, killing and devouring a child not long after his birth and subsequent departure from the Chimera Ants' nest, only to spit out the child's flesh and calling it disgusting compared to the sensations he occasionally experienced while in his mother's womb.
Later on, however, Meruem began to grudgingly respect a human girl named Komugi, eventually even growing to care for her deeply. With this change in heart, Meruem started to question the differences between Ants and mankind and battled with his identity as half-human and half-insect, questioning the nature of violence and strength as true power. After his interactions with Komugi and his fight against Netero, Meruem began to see humans as incredible beings with immense potential through their tenacity in breaking their own limits. He showed great respect and complete admiration for Netero, viewing his abilities and fighting style as truly magnificent, and constantly praised him throughout their battle, referring him as a rare example of a human who has transcended his limitations and the very pinnacle of human capabilities. Because of this change in perspective, Meruem no longer considered farming humans for food and instead suggested the co-existence of humans and Ants, with humans being selected and controlled for quality.
Meruem's defining trait was his pride. From his birth to his death, Meruem exhibited strong confidence in himself and conviction in his actions. Because of his pride and confidence in his abilities, he displayed a code of honor as when he tried to defeat Komugi by shaking her resolve. Believing that all humans would succumb to fear or desire he challenged her with the conditions that should she win he would give her anything in his power, but her failure would mean one of her limbs cut off. Contrary to his assumptions, she displayed neither fear nor greed, even asking that if she was to fail, instead of losing a limb, to take her head; and as an apology for thinking so low of her, he tore off his own arm and kept his word when Komugi told him to allow for his arm to be treated by not killing her outright, and instead letting the game to decide her fate.
He viewed certain concepts of human society as absurd. Such examples were when Shaiapouf explained how certain people could become rulers through connections or bloodlines instead of power, something which Meruem viewed as defying all-natural logic. When he gained an understanding of the unfairness of human society, where children starve while pathetic weaklings have everything they need, he wanted to destroy this madness and create a new world where the concept of inequality would be completely forgotten. Furthermore, he came to believe the true purpose of power is to protect the weak who deserve to live, not to torment the defeated.
He was quite adept and learned things at an astonishing rate, being capable of mastering any form seen of board games in just ten matches and defeated world champions with ease. After a brief loss of memory he seemed to become much more respectful and closer to his subordinates after being fed a part of them when he was dying, as he could feel things they can feel, and tell easily if they were hiding something or not from him; at the same time he could sense their loyalty to him, causing him to put their loyalty to the test before considering to punish them, even more so if they answered truthfully despite doing so may inquire admitting to a miscalculation. The sense of loyalty he felt from them was strong enough for Meruem that it prevented him from killing both Pouf and Youpi for lying to him, despite previously telling them not to lie to him.
Despite his extreme arrogance and superiority complex, he felt fear for the first time when Netero prepared to detonate the Miniature Rose and unleashed a frighteningly malevolent aura and supreme confidence despite being on the verge of death. Moments before he succumbed to the poison, he admitted to Palm Siberia that humanity had won and he was willing to accept his defeat. His desire to fulfill his last wish was so strong that he was willing to kneel before Palm.
Like Menthuthuyoupi and seemingly the other two Royal Guards, Meruem appears to have no recollections from a life preceding his birth as the Chimera Ant King. He was the second to last ant borne by the Queen, who personally named him and doted on him like no other member of her offspring.
Chimera Ant arc
Meruem is prematurely born. When his mother feels him trying to come out, she screams it is too soon, only for him to tell her to shut up and forcibly rip himself out of his sack. In doing so, he causes severe internal injuries to the Queen Ant; however, he does not care about her and demands food from the assembled Squadron Leaders.
When Peggy rushes to help her, Meruem decapitates him with a whip of his tail. He repeats his demand and expresses disgust for the filthiness of the room, demanding to be shown a bigger and brighter space. He then orders Colt to wipe the blood off his tail. Turtle pulls out a handkerchief and volunteers, but Meruem instantly pulverizes his head as well. Annoyed, he admonishes Colt and repeats his command. The Squadron Leader obeys. The Royal Guards arrive and pledge their loyalty to him, then offer to guide him where his meal has been prepared. Unimpressed, Meruem scoffs and follows them. When Neferpitou tells him they are going to the roof, Meruem punches a hole in the wall of the nest and launches himself to the top with his tail. However, the food is not to his liking. Neferpitou states they do not use any seasonings, but Meruem replies that it is not the problem. Neferpitou understands he is referring to the rares. The Royal Guards thus escort the King away from the nest, with Meruem being carried by Shaiapouf.
Before leaving, he devours Peggy and Turtle but finds them distasteful. Spotting a family of three in a field, he drops to the ground and kills the parents, marveling at their lack of resistance. Their taste does not satisfy him, so, when Neferpitou informs him the most delicious part of a human is the brain, he stabs the crying child with his tail. He proceeds to eat her brain, but despite claiming the taste is better than before, he still does not consider it worth eating compared to the rares. Neferpitou tries suggesting using Gyo to spot humans with a large amount of aura around their bodies, but Meruem, interpreting the explanation as an act of disrespect, cuts them off by hitting them with his tail. He claims he enjoys not knowing how delicious his prey is until he tastes it, and adds that his hunger has been appeased. He then commends Neferpitou for their strength as he attacked them with the intent to kill them.
The King then has Menthuthuyoupi fly him. They leave NGL and enter the Republic of East Gorteau. Upon arriving at the Royal Palace, Meruem swiftly eliminates the soldiers stationed there and advances towards the throne room. When the four encounter a Nen-using soldier, Meruem claims he can feel his aura without focusing his eyes and, excited, declares he is a rare. Meruem effortlessly kills the soldier and, ecstatic, eats him, relishing in the aura surging inside of him. This leads Neferpitou to realize the King becomes stronger by consuming rare prey. They enter the throne room, where they encounter the dictator of East Gorteau, Ming Jol-ik, who threatens them. Disappointed and surprised he cannot feel any power from him, Meruem regards the human custom of being ruled by incompetents as a sign of idiocy, and plans to keep them on a short leash. He then easily kills the shouting dictator, mocking his weakness, and lets Neferpitou reassemble his corpse. The dancers that were entertaining Ming plead for their lives, but Meruem laughs mockingly and asks them if they listen to the cries of cattle and swine before slaughtering them. He then goes to the balcony, appreciating the view of the inner courtyard, which he intends to turn into a meat orchard where to store humans.
By having Neferpitou manipulate Ming's corpse, Meruem orders the citizens of East Gorteau to gather in the capital, within ten days for a three-day-long national rally. His aim is to carry out the Selection, which consists in brutally awakening the population to Nen so as to turn the survivors in high-quality food and Nen-using soldiers before proceeding with the next step, Unification: world conquest. Contrary to the expectations of the Extermination Team, Neferpitou begins the Selection before all citizens are gathered in Peijin, starting from the country's western border and working their way eastwards. The Royal Guards manage to gather humans and place them into cocoons before someone begins to disrupt the Selection; to shut him down, the Chimera Ants have Ming Jol-ik appear on television again and declare the institution of martial law. However, the remote Sorting comes to a complete stop when two more enemies appear and surround the capital.
The King, however, does not care, engrossed as he is in playing strategy board games to hone his tactical prowess, to the point he forgoes meals. He begins with chess, then, seven days before the rally, he defeats the national shogi champion. He enquires why his opponent did not surrender since the game had been decided 22 moves before the checkmate. When he does not reply, Meruem tears off his ear and repeats his question, asking if he believed he would make a mistake. The terrorized champion tries to escape, but Meruem kills him. He then begins to read the rules of Go while Menthuthuyoupi orders the screaming and kicking national champion into the room. The King orders him to be silent and to choose between playing and dying right away. After only ten games, Meruem beats the Go champion, who laments he was tired and becoming ill. Meruem gives him eight hours to rest and medicine and dismisses him. Shaiapouf praises his progress, as he mastered Go in less than half the time he did shogi. Meruem responds it is simply a matter of learning the rules, finding the opponent's rhythm, and disrupting it.
The next game the Royal Guard introduces him to is Gungi. He adds that all the world champions of the game have been from East Gorteau, causing the King to remark that if he wins, he will be the best in the world, a conclusion to the diversion offered by board games he deems fitting. He is surprised to see the Gungi champion is a blind girl. When Komugi clumsily introduces herself, he orders her to be silent so he can learn the rules of the game. She observes his voice is different from Ming's, to which he responds the dictator is dead and he has replaced him. He cuts off her apology, threatening to kill her should she open her mouth again. This causes Komugi to shut it and, since her nose is stuffed, she passes out from being unable to breathe. The King notices she is unconscious after finishing the rule book and asks Shaiapouf for an explanation, later commenting dimwits of her level are rare. She recovers and begins to apologize, but he orders her to play.
As she focuses on the board, she opens her eyes and Meruem notices her vibe changes completely. he asks her if she can see, to which she replies she cannot and needs the moves to be announced out loud. She offers to close them, but he declares he is not bothered by her keeping her eyes open. They begin their first game. She checkmates him with standard tactics, causing him to deduce he is not good enough for a serious game yet. They keep playing for eight hours, and Komugi wins every time. He dismisses her to have a rematch against the Go champion, much to her displeasure. To Shaiapouf Meruem says that in four or five more games he will be able to make her play for real, then he will find her rhythm and destroy it. Menthuthuyoupi enters the room with a suicide note and declares the Go player has hanged himself, so the King has him call Komugi back. The King keeps losing to Komugi as her moves become sharper and more difficult to read. With one move, Komugi turns the tides once again. Meruem concedes defeat, thinking it is impossible that she anticipated all 72 of his moves, and demands another game.
Confident he has figured out and is about to disrupt her rhythm, Meruem isolates his king in a strategy he calls "Detached Castling". He then takes control of the central position, which, he reckons, would give him total control over the flow of the game. She pauses for the first time, but after a moment, she counters his move. Realizing there are no viable options left to him, Meruem surrenders. Irritated, he claims Komugi knew his strategy was a refuted variation, which she confirms, and asks her why she hesitated. She explains that she both created and destroyed the tactic the King called "Detached Castling", which she named "Kokoriko", and, welling up, reveals she hesitated because it was as though her child had come back to life for a moment and she had snuffed him out again. Her recount marks the first time Meruem has listened to someone for that long. Her sentimentality bothers the King, who loses interest in playing. He walks away, declaring there will be no more breaks.
Sitting on the throne, Meruem reflects that his rhythm is the one being disrupted, but instead of regarding it as an unbearable indignity, he finds himself both frustrated and amused by it. He is vexed that his skills in self-analysis are not yet refined. He returns to the game room, where, spotting Komugi seated in front of the board, he asks Shaiapouf if she did not rest. The Royal Guard points out to him that she is sleeping while sitting, drool flowing from her mouth. Her vulgar appearance leads Meruem to wonder how her mind can concoct such marvelous games. He wakes her up and makes the first move, then proposes they make a bet.
In order to disrupt her rhythm, Meruem attempts a psychological offensive by using greed and fear: he offers to give her anything she wants if she wins, in return for her left arm if she loses. Her desperate musings cause the King to ask her why she is reacting like that. She enquires if instead of her left arm she can wager what she usually does, which, much to the King's shock, is her own life. Confused by her concern that it might be offensive, Meruem demands that she explain herself. She recounts her family circumstances and her vow to kill herself if she ever lost a game, adding that since her life would be worthless when she loses, it may be considered bad manners to offer it to the King. Impressed, Meruem asks her if there is anything she would like if she wins. Komugi responds she has never thought about anything besides Gungi and resolves to come up with something after the game. The King notices there are no hints of greed or fear in her. He begins to laugh, admitting he was the one not to take their games seriously enough. He rescinds the bet, as she could have asked for his life in return. The notion horrifies Komugi, but he retorts it is a personal matter and tears off his own left arm as an apology.
Shaiapouf rushes to his side to stop the bleeding and insists he stops playing, but Meruem smacks him, stating he was the one to declare there would be no more breaks. Shaiapouf suggests Neferpitou administer treatment while he plays, stating that if the King refuses, he will have to kill him. Adamant, Meruem tells him to come closer so he can finish him off. He orders Komugi to play, but she refuses, even when he threatens to kill her. Faced with her stubbornness, he agrees to summon Neferpitou, who reattaches his arm as he plays. They keep at it for three days, until even Komugi's reaches her mental and physical limit. Claiming he would not enjoy beating her while she is weak, Meruem goes back on his word and allows her to take a break. When they resume, he is willing to accept her advice. Shaiapouf demands to talk to him in private, but the King bids he speaks to him as he plays. Uninterested in the Sorting and the Unification, he leaves matters in the Royal Guard's hands and chases him out.
As he improves in Gungi, so does Komugi. He takes note of it and acknowledges her superiority, as she manages to make their games entertaining despite winning. During one of their games, she awakens to Nen, causing Meruem to realize she will grow even more skilled. For the first time, she asks for a break, leading Meruem to ask if anything is wrong. She replies that she wants to memorize the moves that are flooding her mind by arranging the pieces. Impressed that she has never forgotten a game she played, he grants her request. As he watches her leave, he asks her name. She reciprocates the question, throwing the King into a state of confusion. He leaves without replying and summons his guards. Once they have assembled, he asks them what his name is. Shaiapouf answers he has no need for one, as after the Unification project is complete, he will be the only true King. Meruem objects that "king" is a title, not a name. He turns to Menthuthuyoupi, who deems himself unable to provide a satisfying solution and then to Neferpitou, who recommends the King chooses a name that suits his tastes. Detecting his pensive mood, Shaiapouf offers the Royal Guards' support. Meruem states he saw Komugi's body bathed in light, and the fact he learned her name shocks Shaiapouf. He adds that she will keep growing stronger, although in Gungi alone, and asks Neferpitou if she would survive the Selection, which the Royal Guard denies. Meruem declares he has learned different kinds of strength exist and reflects on his actions, causing Shaiapouf to fear he is regretting his actions.
However, Meruem grins ominously. He states that all those other strengths can be easily destroyed by his: the ultimate force of violence. He heads off to Komugi's room, determined to kill her. As he barges in, he saw she is being attacked by a bird and, without a moment's hesitation, strikes down the bird. Noticing her injuries, he rebukes her for not calling for help, while remarking her fragility. When Komugi replies she did not want to be an inconvenience, he states she is an important guest. His own words perplex him, and he is even more befuddled when Komugi begins to cry. Unable to straighten out his emotions, he wonders why he did not kill her, and what he wants to do with her.
On the day before the Selection, he summons Neferpitou and asks them if they knew Komugi was being attacked. He then orders them to watch over her as well. Being unable to understand his own emotions towards Komugi leaves Meruem in a contemplative state, in which he ponders on the purpose of his existence in the world. His musings continue well into the night. He admonishes Menthuthuyoupi not to follow him and, when the Royal Guard is about to object, strikes him. He then has him order Neferpitou to rescind their En. Neferpitou goes to him and suggests forming a circle around him. Meruem rejects the proposal, as that would require him to stay in one location or the Royal Guard to monitor his every movement. He allows Neferpitou to use their En around the palace. Neferpitou points out that would prevent them from sensing enemies coming from underground or rebellions inside the palace. Irate, Meruem rules that Neferpitou's En will only go up to the first floor, announcing that he will dispose of any trespassers himself, including the Royal Guards.
At midnight, Zeno's Dragon Dive rains down on the palace. The King immediately rushes to the guest suite on the second floor of the west tower, where Komugi resides. Finding her mortally wounded, he clutches her limp body as his aura and his expression reveals his devastated state of mind to Neferpitou. The Royal Guard, Netero and Zeno, who located him through En, stand motionless, petrified by the sight. After recomposing himself, Meruem gently lays down Komugi and commands Neferpitou to heal her. He then requests the intruders to fight somewhere else. The moment Neferpitou activates their Nen ability, Netero and Zeno freeze and Meruem disappears from their sight, casually strolling between them. He takes the southern exit, followed by the two assassins. Having realized their intent is to separate him from his Royal Guards with the minimum number of human casualties, he allows himself to be relocated. Zeno shoots his Dragon Head, which Meruem and Netero ride away from the palace.
The dragon vanishes above a testing site for military weapons. He asks Netero why they must fight, stating his opponent will die. Netero warns him not to judge him by his appearance, but Meruem replies he is fully aware Netero has a grasp on their power as much as he does. Revealing he no longer sees humans as mere livestock, he states that he is willing to spare Netero if he surrenders. However, the Chairman refuses, on the grounds he cannot accept a deal that entails his survival alone. Meruem remarks that he fights knowing he will lose and states that if he is doing it for the sake of mankind, he should endorse his project, as he can obliterate inequality and misery. He claims to have learned that power serves to protect the weak who deserve to live and sits down on the ground, resolute to exchange nothing but words with Netero. However, the Chairman activates 100-Type Guanyin Bodhisattva and strikes Meruem with First Hand.
Spitting blood, the King emerges from the crater, relatively unharmed. He commends the speed of the attack and sits down again, silently admonishing Netero not to make him repeat himself. Netero retorts with Third Hand. Prying the construct's hands open, Meruem's temper flares slightly, but it is enough to make Netero double the distance between them. The King sits down again. To get him to fight, Netero asks him if he knows his name. This elicits Meruem's interest, who accepts to fight until Netero is satisfied without killing him, which he likens to playing chess without a rook and a bishop. Ecstatic, Netero leaps up and activates Ninety-Ninth Hand. Meruem is assaulted by a barrage of palm strikes that burrow deeper and deeper into the ground until the two fighters break through the ceiling of a massive grave. Netero strikes Meruem again, sending him crashing into a pillar.
Tossed around but undamaged by the attacks, Meruem feels admiration for his opponent surge inside of him. Quickly finding his balance, he jumps at Netero and attempts to sever his arm, but Netero counters his offensive in time. The King realizes Netero must join his hands between attacks and that he turned an ordinarily wasteful movement into a powerful asset faster than he is. He speculates Netero trained it to the point of insanity for a decade. Emerging from the debris unscathed, Meruem praises Netero's ability to exceed his own limits through sheer effort. The sense of superiority implied by his accolade infuriates Netero, who attacks him again. This time, however, Meruem jumps off a pillar right after being struck and decides to resolve only to that extremely simple tactic until he can figure out all of Netero's possible counters and his rhythm. The challenge causes him to burst into a gleeful laugh.
After receiving thousands of blows, Meruem begins to feel a dull pain; however, he manages to chop off Netero's leg. Pausing his assault, he tells his opponent to staunch his bleeding and reveals his name, claiming he did well for a human. Netero clenches the muscles of his leg so tight that not a single drop of blood escapes, to Meruem's amazement. The King admits he is awed by his resolve but states that losing his leg was inevitable. He claims playing board games with Komugi has endowed him with a faculty akin to precognition, which allowed him to identify Netero's rhythm. He declares he will take his left arm next. In the following minute, Netero thwarts Meruem's assaults over a thousand times, until Meruem manages to jump off one of the construct's arms and sever Netero's arm as predicted. He sits down again, demanding to know his name. Netero, however, smiles and asks him why he thinks he needs arms to pray. As he activates Zero Hand, the Guanyin statue appears behind Meruem, clasping him between two hands; then, every last ounce of Netero's aura is converted into a beam, which it fires out of its mouth. Meruem walks out of the crater with only superficial injuries. He states that a mere human stands no chance against the endpoint of evolution he represents. Acknowledging Netero's efforts, and determining that the human ego weakens the Chimera Ants' chain of command, he promises to create a special reserve where humans not destined for food will be able to live. He orders Netero to tell him his name. To his shock, the Chairman chortles. Calling him by his name, he warns the King not to underestimate humans.
Meruem is unable to savor the discovery. Overwhelmed by the defiance of an exhausted enemy, Meruem feels fear for the first time. When Netero sticks his finger in his own chest, Meruem comprehends their fight was over before they even started. Before he can escape, the Poor Man's Rose inside Netero's body goes off, engulfing him into a massively powerful blast. As a result, Meruem is horribly injured, his limbs mangles and his entire body being burned to a crisp. Crying in despair, Menthuthuyoupi and Shaiapouf retrieve him from the site of the explosion and notice he is still alive. Shaiapouf donates 6/7ths of his cells to the King, who awakens and praises the taste. Menthuthuyoupi then liquefies his own cells and offers them to the King to drink. Meruem declares the two guards' offerings are incomparably supreme in flavor. As he begins to recover, he tells them his name.
A few minutes later, he has made a full recovery. The two Royal Guards note with joy that he is even more powerful than before, but, since they are now part of him, are able to sense his confusion. From their words, he understands that he was really being healed, but cannot remember why he is in that place. He reflects that his body is healthy and brimming with energy, whereas his mind is clouded. He asks Shaiapouf why their appearance has changed, and, through the empathic bond he has come to share with the two guards, understands Shaiapouf is lying. Stating that it is a breach of trust even when done out of love, he demands to know if he ate them. The guards protest they offered themselves willingly. Questioned by Shaiapouf, Meruem responds he recognized the two of them as soon as he saw them, but that he has no recollection of the events. The Royal Guard advances that he has temporarily lost his memory due to shell shock after his enemy cowardly deployed a bomb. This triggers a foggy recollection in Meruem's mind of dueling someone (although he is thinking about Gungi rather than his battle with Netero). Menthuthuyoupi recommends they return to the palace to jog his memory. Meruem grows wings and, after a few seconds of practice, is ready to fly. Menthuthuyoupi directs him northward. The two Royal Guards grab onto his tail and he takes off. After only a few seconds, A.P.R. appears next to Shaiapouf.
When Meruem voices his annoyance at being unable to shake it off, Menthuthuyoupi affirms that it will not disappear unless the user himself is hurt. To test his hypothesis, the King fires his rage blast, which pushes A.P.R. into a mountain. The rocky formation crumbles, but A.P.R. returns undamaged. Meruem confronts Menthuthuyoupi about his knowledge of the ability, enquiring if he saw it or it was used on him. He replies it is the latter, and Meruem demands to be told what he did to terminate it. Menthuthuyoupi confesses he made a pact with Knuckle to spare Morel if he disengaged the ability. Asked why he did not kill both afterward, Menthuthuyoupi admits it did not feel right and declares himself ready to be punished. The King, however, forgives him, stating there is no retribution for answering him truthfully. He affirms they have become a complex entity that is connected in mind and body, and between which there can be no secrets. He also forgives Menthuthuyoupi for sparing Meleoron, claiming that the fluctuations in their spirit caused by their human components are a step to evolve even further.
A few minutes later the three reach the palace. Meruem senses Shaiapouf's frustration and offers to help him against the rebels, but the guard replies his memory is their priority and shows him the rows of humans gathered in front of the palace. However, he claims that is not what was missing. Ignoring the pain in his head, he enquires about the devastation of the palace. He demands to be taken where he spent most of his time, even if it is in ruins. He pays little attention to Menthuthuyoupi as he guides him through the meat orchard where the cocooned humans are kept. When the guards take him to the second floor of the west tower, the feeling that something is missing intensifies. Unable to recall, he hypothesizes it is only a symptom of his amnesia. The guards fill him in on the Selection. When Menthuthuyoupi mentions Neferpitou, the King immediately remembers them, as well as that he assigned them some task. He demands that Neferpitou be brought to him and plans to hunt down the stragglers while he waits for information and entertainment. Shaiapouf deems it unsafe, so Meruem releases his Ren to showcase his power. He asks if he believes his enemies stand a chance, which Shaiapouf, in awe, denies. He activates his En and in the blink of an eye reaches a fleeing Knuckle, knocking him out. Before Meleoron can disappear, he renders him unconscious as well. As quickly as he disappeared, he returns to the west tower, carrying the two members of the Extermination Team to question them once they regain consciousness.
Before he can pursue the other two whose aura reacted to his En, Shaiapouf suggests turning it into a game: after he spreads his scales to hypnotize the incoming humans, he and Menthuthuyoupi will try to find Neferpitou before the King can capture the remaining two intruders. He also asks that the King use En only once more. Meruem accepts the terms and offers to grant each of them a wish if they win, but if they lose, they will have to reveal what they are hiding from him. The two Royal Guards try to protest, but he states he can perceive their guilt but has spared them because their loyalty is even stronger. He agrees to stay in the tower until Shaiapouf returns, the word "game" echoing in his mind. As he paces about the room, he finds a chipped Gungi piece (his king) under a rock, which reminds him he was playing a board game against someone and never won. His headache grows worse, and he begins to bleed from one nostril. He draws the board in the dust on the floor. Shaiapouf arrives and reports that Menthuthuyoupi was killed. Meruem simply asks where Neferpitou is. The Royal Guard replies he has not found them yet and insists on terminating the game. The King states that in that case he has won and Shaiapouf must disclose his secret. Upon seeing the Gungi board drawn on the floor, Shaiapouf accepts to continue the game and Meruem heads out to look for the remaining stragglers.
He senses Shaiapouf's panic as he coughs up blood, and admits to being interested in his secret. The Royal Guard swears he will keep his word. Meruem activates his En, noticing small changes from the last time and a new person reacting to it. Cutting through the rows of hypnotized citizens, he finds Welfin and interrogates him about Menthuthuyoupi's demise. Welfin responds he saw the Royal Guard vomit blood and dying, so he went searching for his killer among the citizens. Shaiapouf attempts to barge in, but Meruem declares he can sense Welfin's extraordinary hostility towards him, an ability derived from Shaiapouf's Spiritual Message. Before he can question Welfin about the root of his hatred, Shaiapouf states Welfin is deeply connected to his secret even though he does not realize it himself. Meruem unleashes an anger-infused Ren, growing impatient with the Royal Guard's impertinent manipulation. Shaiapouf replies he has nothing to say, and the sheer insanity of his dedication gives Meruem pause. He retracts his aura, then announces that he is hungry and glances at Welfin.
Desperate to survive, the former Squadron Leader racks his brain and utters a single word: "Komugi". The King remembers her, and the intensity of his feelings reaches Shaiapouf. He confronts the Royal Guard, who declares himself ready for any punishment. Meruem responds that as he already knows, they share one mind and there is no cause for blame. He orders Shaiapouf to keep looking for Neferpitou and interrogate the two captives, then let them go. He then deduces Komugi is hidden in the underground warehouse with Palm Siberia and Ikalgo and that Welfin had been sent to negotiate with him, and wonders if his hatred is the reason for his failure, which his empathic ability confirms. He demands to know where they are awaiting him, promising to set him free afterward and thanking him for helping him remember. As he makes for the appointed location, Welfin screams at him his only king is Gyro. Meruem calmly wishes Welfin to meet him and to live a human life, words that cause Shaiapouf to scream in despair.
When he reaches Bizeff's quarters, there is no one to meet him. He understands it is a way to delay him and spreads aura-infused photons, which allow him to find Palm hidden in a wardrobe and to learn about his impending death. He senses her duty and resolve and announces that the battle for humanity is over. He claims to be aware of his fate, and that all he desires is to spend what time he has left with Komugi. In tears, Palm comes out of the wardrobe. She proclaims she cannot believe him, despite knowing he genuinely loves Komugi. Meruem contemplates his metamorphosis and his possible course of action if he had been like that from the start. He asks Palm where Komugi is, aware that she would not talk even under torture. As he prepares to kneel to implore her, Palm, driven by her ant components, stops him. She tells him where Komugi is hidden in return for being able to monitor him through Wink Blue, which Meruem agrees to. He finds Komugi asleep inside a box in the warehouse and wakes her up to play.
The two take a Gungi board into Bizeff's bedroom. As they set up the pieces, Komugi thanks Meruem for saving her, but he replies it was one of his underlings who did it. He offers to thank them for her, adding that he will see them shortly. Sensing Komugi's impatience, he prepares to start the game, then hesitates. He tells her his name, answering the question she posed the night before. Fumbling, Komugi introduces herself again. Meruem responds he already knows who she is, but thinks he never really knew what was important before. He commands her to drop the honorifics, and when she refuses, he makes it his wish if he wins. Komugi then asks if it is possible to die after calling him by name only. Remembering her resolve and their first wager, Meruem states that she will not die and that since he has changed, she should prepare for innumerable defeats. He asks her what she wants if she wins. The predictable response is "Another game". As they begin playing, he notices Komugi is going for "Kokoriko". Feeling mocked, he declares she can die after her loss. However, she uses a move she came up with the night she unlocked Nen to counter his offensive, creating a whole new range of possibilities. He orders her to be silent while he reflects. When he thinks he has come up with a suitable novelty buster, he notices she is crying. He enquires about the reason, and Komugi responds she is unworthy of her happiness. Meruem confesses he has been poisoned and that he will die shortly. He reveals his last wish was to play with her but warns her that the poison is contagious. However, she simply counters his move and chooses to stay with him, leading Meruem to believe he was born to experience that moment.
Meruem eventually goes blind and keeps asking Komugi if she is still there as they play. He notes that he never managed to beat her. After a while, he declares he feels tired. He asks Komugi to hold his hand while he sleeps, then if she will still be by his side when he wakes up. Komugi swears she'll never leave him, so Meruem thanks her. He asks her to say his name one last time before passing away.
13th Hunter Chairman Election arc
Meruem is seen holding Komugi's hand, even in death.
Abilities & Powers
Despite being a newborn, Meruem is the most powerful character to be introduced in the series thus far, as well as the one with the highest learning ability. Born as the ultimate biological weapon, his tremendous physical prowess is only matched by an unparalleled intellect, both of which seem to place him well above the realm of human possibility. As the King of the Chimera Ants, his power exceeds even that of the Royal Guards, and he can increase it even further by consuming Nen users. He fought Isaac Netero, formerly considered the strongest Nen user in the world, who retained a fearsome level of power even in his old age, while trying not to kill him, a condition Meruem likened to playing chess without a rook and bishop, and won their physical confrontation. After the absorption of most of Shaiapouf's and Menthuthuyoupi's bodies, Knuckle believed that military power at the state level would be necessary to match him. As the king of a colony of Chimera Ants, Meruem has authority over the Royal Guards and the ability to procreate with females from different species.
Unfathomable Strength: As soon as he was born, Meruem already possessed enough strength to blow off the heads of several Squadron Leaders with a single tail strike for each, as well as to punch a hole into the nest with enough force that the whole construction shook. By stabbing his tail into the outer wall of the nest, he was able to launch himself high into the air. His tail is so powerful that it allowed him to injure all three Royal Guards, albeit only lightly, although he failed to kill Neferpitou and held back on at least one other occasion. He was able to effortlessly sever Netero's left arm and right leg, as well as, more remarkably, his own left arm in spite of the outstanding durability of his body. With the aid of Ren, he managed to push back two of the hands of Netero's 100-Type Guanyin Bodhisattva.
Unfathomable Speed and Reflexes: Meruem could move so swiftly mere moments after his birth that he could decapitate two Squadron Leaders without them or Colt managing to see him move. The Royal Guards seemed equally unable to react. In the brief instant that Netero and Zeno were distracted by Neferpitou's aura, Meruem managed to leisurely walk between the two of them undetected. By his own admission, the only time Netero's speed exceeded his own was during the latter's hand movements when activating 100-Type Guanyin Bodhisattva. In the last part of their duel, with both fighters' senses at their absolute sharpest, they exchanged well over a thousand of blows in under a minute: at the very least, this means that Meruem recovered his balance after being pushed back by Netero and launched a new offensive more than 16 times per second. However, Netero's hand motions were so fast that Meruem failed to see his first attack, and it was only thanks to the psychological phenomenon known as Spirit Echoes that he managed to barely keep up with them, until he finally managed to dodge a flawed counter. After absorbing Menthuthuyoupi and Shaiapouf, he became so fast that he reached and knocked out Meleoron and Knuckle immediately after his En registered them, giving them the impression he had teleported, and knocked them out without either of them being capable of reacting. He also gained the ability to fly, which increased his already supersonic movement speed to the point that Shaiapouf believed it to have quadrupled.
Unfathomable Agility: Meruem is able to move from angle to angle deftly, as seen from his fight with Isaac Netero, in which he repeatedly recovered his balance and leaped off vertical structures in fragments of a second after being blown away by strikes faster than sound.
Immense Stamina: Meruem defeated the shogi and Go champions of East Gorteau without resting between matches, and did not show the slightest hint of physical or mental fatigue even after playing Gungi with Komugi for three days straight. He was so engrossed in their games that he apparently ate nothing for six days, and still seemed unaffected.
Unfathomable Durability: Meruem is extremely durable. Netero's incredibly powerful supersonic attacks only inflicted minor injuries on him, and none at all after his first activation of Ren. He was able to take thousands of such blows without suffering even a single scratch, although it was said that he eventually began to feel a dull internal pain, hinting that he may have sustained some light internal damage before even Zero Hand was used. He was also able to take on Netero's most powerful move, Zero Hand, which launches Netero's entire aura upon his opponent and he only received cuts and bruises. He was able to survive the ultra-powerful explosion of the Poor Man's Rose that was released after Netero's death and despite his body being nearly destroyed in the process, he was still alive after the fatal attack.
Immense Poison Resistance: Meruem was the last Chimera Ant to succumb to the poison of the Poor Man's Rose despite having been at the epicenter of the explosion, although it should be taken into account that Shaiapouf and Menthuthuyoupi had given a significant amount of their power to the King in order to save his life.
Supergenius-Level Intellect: Thanks to his astounding memory and analytical skills, Meruem mastered multiple board games just by reading the rule books, and defeated three national champions in only a few games, a time that decreased the more games he learned. He is capable of examining multiple scenarios in a matter of seconds. He excels at identifying his opponent's "rhythm", the unconscious bias that guides their choices, and at disrupting it or turning it against them, not only gaining insight in their thought process but also managing to exploit it for his benefit. Playing Gungi with Komugi elevated his pattern-recognition skills to an ability similar to precognition. It is thanks to this faculty that he was able to penetrate Netero's otherwise impregnable defense, even predicting what body parts he would be able to cut off in advance.
- Chess Master: Meruem implied he defeated the East Gorteau national champion of chess in three days or less.
- Shogi Master: Meruem was able to defeat the East Gorteau national champion of shogi in three days or less.
- Go Master: Meruem was able to defeat the East Gorteau national champion of Go after playing only ten games.
- Gungi Master: Over the course of six days, Meruem became so proficient at Gungi that competing against him caused the world champion to improve. However, despite playing hundreds of games, he was unable to defeat her even once.
Proficient Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Meruem relies entirely on bare-handed combat to kill his opponents. He often uses his tail, which can stretch to a length of a few meters to reach distant targets, and whose tip can be used to pierce them. With his formidable strength and speed, he aims for the vitals right away. By contrast, he was capable of knocking out Knuckle and Meleoron while moving at extreme speed without killing them, simply by hitting a sensitive area on their neck.
Empathic Bond: After consuming Menthuthuyoupi and Shaiapouf, Meruem came to share an empathic bond with them that allowed him to detect their feelings in detail.
Meruem is a Specialist*. He was born with the ability to use Nen and a vastly superhuman amount of aura, which exceeded even that of the Royal Guards. By feeding on Nen users, he increased the size of his aura even further. After consuming Shaiapouf and Menthuthuyoupi, his aura reserves and output became such that even the overly protective Royal Guards had to admit the King seemed invincible and capable of winning a Nen battle through the sheer quantity of one's aura. Upon sensing his Ren, the Extermination Team members despaired, with Knuckle believing they would need the military power of a whole country to defeat the King.
He could perform Gyo shortly after birth without receiving instructions. His Ren struck fear even in Netero's heart, and allowed Meruem to pry open the hands of 100-Type Guanyin Bodhisattva as well as to emerge from Third Hand completely unscathed, whereas Netero's First Hand had previously caused him to spit blood. This defensive application of Ren may imply he is capable of Ken.
The first time he used En, it covered an area much wider than the palace grounds and spread at the speed of light. Despite its vastness, his control over it is so refined that he was able to discern changes in the environment as small as fresh footprints. At first unbeknownst to him, his En transmutes part of his aura into photons that relay information to him. When, after only two uses, he became aware of this trait of his En, he was able to turn it into a Nen ability. The absorption of Shaiapouf and Menthuthuyoupi endowed him with variations of their Nen abilities, which he could activate successfully on the first try.
|Meruem's Nen Abilities|
|Type: Unknown||Aura Synthesis*|
|Meruem's initial ability gives him strength through consumption. His aura grows every time he devours a user of Nen, with their aura synthesizing to his own. When he consumed Menthuthuyoupi and Shaiapouf, he also obtained some of their Nen abilities. The amount of which he needs to consume one's body in order to achieve this is unknown, but it would seem that Meruem needs to absorb the vast majority of their body to be able to use their ability. Neferpitou suggested this is a Nen ability rather than (merely) a biological one.|
|After absorbing large parts of Shaiapouf and Menthuthuyoupi, he is able to use Menthuthuyoupi's ability to transform—including gaining wings to fly. This allows him to fly at a speed so great he could cover a distance that Menthuthuyoupi and Shaiapouf thought would take 15 minutes in a mere 5 minutes.|
|Type: Emission||Rage Blast*|
|After absorbing large parts of Shaiapouf and Menthuthuyoupi, Meruem acquired the ability to fire explosive blasts of aura from his arm. A single one carries enough power to severely damage a large rock formation.|
|By combining the abilities inherited from Shaiapouf and his own En, Meruem created his own version of Spiritual Message. It consists in turning his aura into microscopic particles akin to photons and either deploy them with his En in a flash or detach the photons from his body and spread them into the surrounding air. Each photon maintains his aura even if it is separated from Meruem's body. It also allows him to measure the shape, quality, emotion, and other informational content about the things the photons interact with; hence this ability most likely also entails Emission and Manipulation too. As stated by Welfin and Shaiapouf, he can detect everything, even lies. The precision of the information he can gather depends on the number of photons directed at the object of interest. It is also briefly shown that immediately after deploying the photons in a flash, Meruem can seemingly teleport to the close vicinity of any target of interest within the region affected. However, it is unclear whether it is really a part of this ability, or that Meruem simply catches up by covering extraordinary distances instantly with his immense physical strength.|
Battles & Competitions
Intertextuality and References
Translations around the World