A couple things have now been established in H x H – first, that this series is capable of being highly entertaining even without Hisoka. And second, it’s a really, really bad idea to piss off Kurapika.
Episode 9 seems to confirm that this series has gotten over the hump, and I expect good things from here on out. This is just solid, entertaining shounen – nothing too groundbreaking yet, but smartly written and a deal more gritty than most (indeed, this series feels more like a Shounen Sunday than Shounen Jump manga). I’m also really warming to Han Megumi as Gon – it helps that I have no emotional attachment to Takeuchi Junko’s version, but Han-san has really captured the deceptively steely determination wrapped in Gon’s bubbly personality. His directness is refreshing, and it was classic Gon when it came to winning his battle with Sedokan. LOL – just blow out the other guy’s candle!
Kurapika has been the forgotten man for most of the series since Killua showed up, only rarely stepping to the forefront of the action, but after Gon’s victory he steals the spotlight for his battle with Majitani. Both Killua and Gon recognize Majitani (great to hear Yao Kazuki back in action) as a blowhard from the beginning, but it’s not immediately clear that Kurapika does, and Majitani certainly looks fearful enough. He even has the 12-legged spider tattoo of the Phantom Troupe, of which he claims to be one of the “Four Kings” and to have killed 19 men. Alas, though Kurapika has known all along Majitani was all talk, this sets him off for understandable reasons (the troupe killed his family and many of his tribe) and his eyes go red. Once that happens, it’s all over – and it seems Kurapika was almost angrier to see someone use the name of The Phantom Troupe for a contest than if Majitani had been an actual member.
That leaves the candidates up 2-1, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Leorio is going to lose his match with the female prisoner and things are going to come down to Killua winning his match at the end. Poor Leorio – it’s simply more believable for him to lose at this point than the others, and it makes too much sense dramatically. I really wonder if after two fake “to the death” matches Killua’s may end up as a real one – and the others may get their first terrifying glimpse of the true nature of the cute kid they’ve been traveling with.