I can only imagine that a lot of viewers were probably turned off by the first half of this week’s H x H. To pace the episode so that the “Hunter Vocabulary” eyecatch was “bored” was certainly a risk, but as I watch this series I’m more and more convinced that it’s not about the physical battles but the twisted mind games. Even Hisoka, by all accounts the most badass fighter in the series, is really more of a mental sadist than a physical one – you can see it in the way he enjoys toying with his opponents. So for me, I liked watching the fantastic five coping with 50 hours of boredom while locked inside what looked like a Motel 6.
As is often the case, we can see as much revealed about the nature of a character during quiet moments as in battle. Gon and Killua reverted to their normal scamp mode, behaving like very typical 12 year-old boys by engaging in various distractions that usually involved inflicting some kind of physical pain on each other or annoying the rest of the group. Tonpa continues his irritant role, aiming most of his venom (and foot stink) at Leorio. But I’m intrigued by Tonpa’s role – perhaps he’s going to have a different impact than we might think. After all, an oyster can’t produce a pearl without an irritant. Leorio, for his part, continued to be the hot-headed curmudgeon of the group and Kurapika was the calm yet worried den mother, fretting about the state of the others.
I’m not surprised it was Gon that found a way to cheat the third test, and find a way for all five (not four, I might add) of the group to advance with less than a minute to spare. Using brute force to cut through the wall was so obvious that it didn’t occur to me, but that’s right up Gon’s alley. He’s well-suited to be a hunter because he’s pure instinct, something of a wild animal himself – which is why he’s so good at tracking and catching them. His strength is seeing through situations instantly, relying on his senses and trusting intuition. Killua is the pure, cold-blooded assassin – relying on incredibly difficult skills he’s learned through rigorous training, and having no moral compass to hold him back. Leorio is all emotion, righteous anger and the urge to prove himself. And Kurapika remains the most enigmatic, and in some ways contradictory – an inherently peaceful young man who nevertheless is driven by the thirst for revenge. His quest is the most spiritual of the bunch.
Going forward I’m very interested in seeing how Tonpa’s relationship to the group plays out. I think it’s very telling that in the end, he chose to help in breaking through the wall when he could just as easily have refused – and doomed their chances. There are a few possible reasons for this, not least of which that as he gets closer to the end, he might be succumbing to the urge to actually pass the damn test since he’s this close. He also may be developing some sort of fraternal feelings towards his teammates from having seen them go through their various trials, though I’m not ready to bank on that by any means. Of course, I could be totally off-base and he might end up double-crossing them in the end, anyway…