You an omnipotent king, the most powerful being in existence, capable of destroying worlds, a god among mortals, bows down to a mere human to reach your queen and spend your last living moments with her. That dear reader is the single most impressive win against a villain in all anime history. In most anime fights we are used to seeing an epic battle between the hero and the villain, but in the case of Meruem, he was not beaten by such a struggle (although he did have an epic fight against Netero). Instead, he was defeated by the weakest and most unlikely opponent of them all, a clumsy blind girl with no superpowers whatsoever. Let's dive in to see how masterfully this was presented and why it all fits so perfectly.
A fitting way to end this recreation
The Chimera Ant King has taken over the Royal Palace of East Gorteau. To kill time before the selection Meruem decided to play a variety of strategy board games against world champions. In no time Meruem beats the best Shogi and Go players. These players were all terrified of Meruem and both end up dead.
The next game the Royal Guard introduce him is Gungi, and a somewhat unique world champion walks in, a clumsy blind girl named Komugi. A girl that passes out for being told to be silent. Meruem himself called her an "uncommonly stupid girl." However, as she focused on the Gungi board, her vibe changes entirely and Meruem notices it. From the first game, Komugi wins over and over again to the point Meruem thinks is utterly impossible. He doesn't understand why he is losing, but stills feel that in a couple of more games he will be able to disrupt her rhythm.
Overconfident in the win. Disrupting the rhythm 1
Meruem, confident that he had figured out a way to disrupt Komugi rhythm, came up with a strategy which he calls "remote concealment." This move, which he estimates would allow him total control over the flow of the game, will enable Meruem to attack through the center in unlimited ways. Komugi pauses for a moment, and Meruem was confident that he would hear her squeal, however, she makes a simple move that counters his strategy. It utterly destroys any possibility of Meruem winning and in the anime, it was shown masterfully. When Komugi puts the new lieutenant general in position 9-2-1 Meruem immediately looks at its right side just like if he had received a surprise attack from an enemy he didn't even consider would be able to come that way. I see this scene as if Meruem focused on the offense that he forgot to defend his fortress. A single counter-attack destroyed him and with no way out Meruem was forced to surrender.
Unable to disrupt Komugi rhythm an irritated King ask why she hesitated to make a move. Komugi explains that she created that move which she called "Kokoriko" and she paused because in her eyes countering this move would be like taking the life of her child that briefly came back. Is the first time Meruem listened to someone for such a long time, and although Pouf thought that event had no significance it is the primary trigger in the change that will bestow Meruem.
After being defeated Meruem walks out and go backs to his throne to reflect why his rhythm is the one being disrupted. He still can't understand why he can't win and he is frustrated, but at the same time amused by it. He is enjoying his matches, but he doesn't understand why. This though is extremely important for what is about to come.
Psychological offensive. Disrupting the rhythm 2
To disrupt Komugi rhythm yet again, Meruem came up with a strategy of using greed and fear. He offers to give Komugi anything she wants in return of her left arm if she loses. But this strategy completely backfired because she told him that instead, she will bet what she always does her own life. Komugi already has vowed to kill herself if she ever lost a game thinking that her life will be worthless if she ever lost. She even tells that giving her life will be disrespectful to Meruem. Meruem notices there are no hints of greed or fear in her, so he proceeded to tear up his left arm as an apology.
Meruem with his arm torn off orders Komugi to play, but she refuses, even when he threatens to kill her. Komugi tells Meruem that if he wants to kill her that he should do it with Gungi. Meruem is exceptionally irritated by this because even with all his unlimited power he can't shake this opponent off. This event is important because this marks the moment when Meruem, above all else, needed to defeat his opponent to prove his superiority. The thing is that he keeps losing to Komugi over and over again. Komugi even awakens Nen growing even more skillful than Meruem. And then comes the question that derails things.
The question that changed everything
"Supreme leader...can you please tell me what your name is?"
A question that momentarily confuses Meruem. The answer to this question will be monumentally important later on, but this time it just gives Meruem a minor setback that he "fix" by claiming himself as "I am King" a force of ultimate violence with a strength that can destroy everything. With this state of superiority mindset, he heads off to Komugi room determined to kill her, however (this is very important) he still hesitant to kill her and he can't understand why. As he opens the door to Komugi room to kill her comes the most critical moment in the development of Meruem character.
Didn't I come here to kill her?
When Meruem enters the room, a bird is attacking Komugi a without a moment of hesitation he strikes the bird down. He tends to her and notices how fragile she is and is at this moment that Meruem emotions derail entirely. He doesn't know why he is saying the things he is saying. He doesn't know what to do with her. He so incredibly confused at this point that he even starts to wonder the real purpose of his existence in the world. Remember just a few moments ago when he was proud of how quickly he took a life, of how dominant he must be and how brute force is the strongest in the world.
All goes down the drain with the simple act of saving Komugi from a bird. This moment is so incredibly important that from this point on Meruem purpose changes to something he won't figure out until the very end. And if you want to know why I'm saying this subtle change happened at this moment is because of what follows.
Overwhelm by sadness; his beloved is injured
When Zeno Dragon Dive rains down on the palace what was the first thing Meruem did? Did he dispose of the trespassers? Did he go on the offensive to defend his palace? No, the first thing he did and most likely the only thought that came to his mind was to rush to Komugi room. He finds her mortally wounded, and this throws Meruem into a devasted state of sadness. Even the two veterans Netero and Zeno stand motionless by what they are seeing. Meruem then carries Komugi with tenderness and care and gently lays her down commanding Nerferpitou to heal her.
At this moment I'm not entirely sure if Meruem knew or understood why he felt so sad. You see I believe that Meruem fell deeply in love with Komugi, but he didn't recognize or knew what this human emotion was. When he saw Komugi wounded Meruem felt overwhelmed by sadness and just wanted to save her no matter what. Since he needed to deal with the enemy, he entrusted Komugi to Pitou and then goes to battle. Little did he know that he would be defeated, however.
Reborn with amnesia, but with a strong memory of something
After surviving the Poor Man's Rose bomb and coming back even more powerful than before Meruem loses his memories. At least he remembers his name and that he is the King, but other than that he has a strong feeling that something vital is missing. He even gets a whistle like sound on his head whenever he gets hints of memories related to Komugi. Still, he can't seem to remember her at all and Pouf is doing all he can so that doesn't happen.
You see the important thing about this exploration of memories is that Meruem knows he is missing something so important that he can't let it go. A feeling so strong that it keeps whistling over and over in his head until it all comes back in the most epic way possible.
One word to remember. Is all for her now
Faced with the certainty of being eaten Welfin, desperate to survive, racks all his brainpower and utters a single word: "Komugi."
Finally, Meruem remembers that which he has forgotten. It opens up a flow of feelings so intense that they even reach Shaiapouf. For the first time, we see clear as day how deeply Meruem values Komugi and now he knows what he truly desires. Meruem entire purpose now is to spend what time he has left with Komugi. His commitment to this is so significant that he was even willing to bow down to Palm and beg for information.
Meruem could have easily searched for Komugi, he could have gotten the information out of Palm by force, but he did not. Instead, he was willing to bow down and beg for it. That was the length he was willing to go to get to Komugi, and the only explanation I can think of that could make someone as powerful and "evil as Meruem do that is love. He just wanted to be with her, spend his last living moments with her until his last breaths.
Dying by her side
After finding Komugi, they set up a Gungi board to play one last time. Meruem tells his name to Komugi and also confesses that he has been poisoned and that will die shortly. He also warns her that the poison is contagious, but Komugi continues to play choosing to stay by his side until the very end. I think Komugi also fell in love with Meruem so this was a very touching moment. Meruem eventually goes blind and keeps asking "Komugi, are you still there? Which Komugi replies "Yes." After a while, they both pass away together holding hands at the very end. And you want to know the single most incredible thing about this conclusion Meruem was not able to defeat Komugi not even once. This brilliant conclusion deserves a standing ovation, it was brilliant.
I have watched a ton of anime in my life, but with all honesty, to me, Meruem is the best villain of them all. His character is very well written and above all else is one of the few overpowered characters that is not defeated by some "awfully convenient powerup." His defeat makes sense, and it fits perfectly.