I think what I’m enjoying about H x H isn’t so much the challenges themselves, but the fact that they act as a sort of Rorschach test for everyone who participates. Each new test is an opportunity for the applicants to reveal something about themselves, and they rarely disappoint – the approach the characters take is actually quite predictable but I don’t mean that in a negative way – rather, I think it means they’re acting in a way that’s true to their characters as written. It may sound like a stretch, but I see Hunter x Hunter as a sort of shounen version of what we see in the seinen Fate/Zero, where everyone has a goal they’re fighting towards and some basic rules to observe, but as long as those rules are obeyed anything else goes to try and win – which reveals the nature of the participants.
That’s why I enjoy looking at the strategies employed in this, the most difficult challenge so far. In the F/Z vein, I think Kurapika is a sort of Saber figure – he acts within what he sees as a code of honor, though he still determines Leorio’s worthiness before he deems to team up with him formally. Tonpa is, by nature, a troll – and he attempts to win by trolling the very troll-able Leorio. Does this mean Tonpa has decided he actually wants to win, or is he still doing this for the sheer enjoyment of messing with Leorio? Speaking of him, Leorio continues to act like a creature of pure impulse, and it’s he more than anyone else who could be said to be lucky to have survived this long, and he who’s been the most dependent on the help of his friends for his survival.
Gon has been very true to himself as well, drawing his inspiration from watching how nature deals with the hunt, and applying his animal cunning towards trying to do the seemingly impossibly by defeating – or at least deceiving – Hisoka. It’s Hisoka and Killua who’ve been the most interesting of all, because they’re proved themselves the most cold-blooded of the lot. Neither has deigned to hide their tag, practically begging others to try and attack them so they might take their tags. Indeed, Hisoka doesn’t even bother trying to figure out who his target is – he just sets up shop and waits for someone to come at him. But that someone is only Gozu (Nagano Kouichi) a proud warrior who’s already been dealt a fatal blow by Gittrackur (Matsukaze Masaya) who seems to be the only other candidate that has Hisoka’s respect. Speaking of him, after finishing off Gozu (which Hisoka won’t dirty his hands by doing) Gittrackur removes the pins from his face and undergoes a rather startling transformation that Hisoka has seen before, and a scan of the credits reveals that he’s listed under another name, a surname he shares with a main character. Interesting…
It’s interesting to speculate on why Gon chose the approach he did, given that he could have reasonably concluded that taking on three weaker targets would have been easier than going after Hisoka. If you study his reactions, I’m fairly certain that it’s only been around Hisoka that Gon has shown any fear whatsoever. Apart from his schoolboy hi-jinks with Killua, Gon hasn’t seemed to have any childlike vulnerability at all apart from when Hisoka is involved. And yet, he chose to go after Hisoka head-on (sort of) rather that avoid the challenge, which says a lot of about the thrill-seeking side of his personality that I’m sure has been a major driver in his goal to become a hunter. I quite enjoyed the way he figured out how to use the “blooderflies” to locate Hisoka, and while he was smart to bide his time once he did, it’s obvious Hisoka was never really fooled. And with Hisoka clearly targeting Leorio and Kurapika now for the two points he needs to reach the goal, the hunt phase looks to be drawing to a close and the battle phase beginning.