Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 32

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How can Hisoka be so bad, but still be so good?

This was a very different sort of episode for H x H, I think.  Virtually no Gon or Killua, for starters. In many ways it almost seemed to play out in slow motion at times, which is actually pretty effective where Hisoka is concerned, because he has this unnerving ability to seemingly crawl into your head.  It certainly had that effect with Kastro (Kawashima Tokuyoshi) as Hisoka performed what amounted to a physical and emotional vivisection in the ring.  It was deliberate, it was thorough, and it was sadistic.  Hisoka is a very, very scary man.  He’s also gloriously, gleefully sinister, funny, twisted and bizarre – one of the greatest anti-heroes in manga.  If every great shounen lead leads a great foil, Gon definitely has one.

We’re 32 episodes in, and it seems as if we’ve really not even scratched the surface of what Hisoka can do, and the surprises still come every week.  I certainly could be forgetting something, but I can recall only one instance where anyone truly bested Hisoka, even for a moment – and that was during the Hunter Exam, where Gon managed to unwittingly use Zetsu to track Hisoka, and steal steal his number tag while the magician was in a killing frenzy.  Sure, it was a fleeting moment – Hisoka had the upper hand again soon enough – but that’s the only time I can remember anyone every getting the better of Hisoka.  Is it any wonder, then, that he’s so fascinated with Gon? 

As for Kastro, I couldn’t help but feel for him as Hisoka carved him up both figuratively and then literally.  The mystery of how Hisoka was so unconcerned with his severed arm wasn’t so obvious at the time, but it didn’t matter – once he’d figured out the trick behind Kastro’s Nen the fight (and Kastro’s life, as I’m assuming Hisoka’s attack killed him) was over.  That card trick was a clever one, though old as the hills (it doesn’t matter what number you pick, you always end up with 1) but Hisoka certainly knows the art of magic is based on misdirection.  What really sold the moment – and destroyed Kastro mentally – was the sheer disdain Hisoka showed, the total unconcern with his opponent and his tricks.  Indeed, maybe Kastro had the skill to become an “interesting opponent” – but not so interesting that he felt the need to keep him alive this time.  Kastro had shown Hisoka his A-game, and Hisoka was already bored.

What I wonder is whether or not this guy is capable of feeling pain at all, because as it turns out those arms actually were getting severed.  I’m presuming he was using Nen to stop the bleeding, and I suppose you could use Nen to block your pain receptors too – but damn, even knowing you could reattach them later it takes a mighty pair (and not a pair of high heels) to let your arms get cut off and not even lose your grin.  The aftermath was a little awkward, I thought – the conversation with Machi (Maeda Rena) felt a little bit too much like exposition for its own sake.  Still, it was certainly informative – Nen stitches from Machi to sew the arms back on, “Bungee Gum” and “Texture Surprise” to hide the scars – but the real insight came from the conversation itself.

In the first place, it was interesting to see Hisoka have a “normal” conversation with another person for the first time.  He’s always blowing smoke, of course, but Hisoka seemed to be actually trying to endear himself to Machi as he mocked her.  After killing an opponent and getting his arms cut off, he’s as comfortable as ugly on an ape – smiling, telling anecdotes of his youth (“I did not need to know that”) and even – dare I say it – flirting a little.  We don’t really know Machi’s deal, of course, apart from the fact that she has powerful Nen healing, but it seems clear that even she finds Hisoka unsettlingly disconnected from anything remotely human.

We know one other thing about her of course, and that’s the big reveal – she’s a member of the Phantom Troupe, and so is he (or is he?).  That certainly casts Hisoka’s whispered message to Kurapika in a new light, doesn’t it?  It’s not so much that he’s toying with Kurapika, as Hisoka toys with everyone at every waking moment, but why he might be doing so.  To use him to get at Gon?  Or perhaps, a mischievous attempt to make trouble for the Troupe – as we find that Hisoka is only pretending to be a member, with a fake spider tattoo (#4) on his back.  It makes sense to me that Hisoka wouldn’t actually be a member of even this feared criminal organization, because I just can’t imagine him lowering himself to being a part of a team with anyone, but the question all this begs is why Hisoka is pretending to be a a member of the Troupe.  Given Machi’s orders to Hisoka – be in York Shin by August 30th – it’s obvious that he’s luring Kurapika (and by extension, Gon and Killua) there quite intentionally.  It should be quite interesting to find out why.

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Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia: “Kastro”

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  1. A

    I think you overestimate his obsession with Gon. Gon is just one of his many toys, along with Kastro, the Troupe, and even Kurapica. It doesn't all need to come back to Gon. Hisoka doesn't mind sowing as many seeds as interesting opponents as possible. They don't always bloom perfectly, as with Kastro, but no harm in trying.

  2. l

    This amount of exposition on HxH is pretty normal, and that scene went exactly as it was in the manga.

    Anyway, overall, one of my favorite episodes so far. Hisoka mind-screwing at his best.

  3. K

    I’m presuming he was using Nen to stop the bleeding

    IIRC its more to do with his "Sticky Gum" Nen power. Now I'm not certain the name has been explicitly stated, but I don't think its a spoiler by mentioning the name alone so I won't mention any variations of how he uses it later. (So, I apologize in advance if it seems like a spoiler, I don't think it is but :S)

    So, I have to ask, did you enjoy the way Hisoka handle the fight, as I had said last week that you would? 😛

    As for your questions regarding him joining the Troupe and all, all your answers will be answered in the York Shin arc.. – a lot of fans' favorite arc. (Personally, my favorite arc is the GI arc )

  4. Oh yeah, I enjoyed it – classic Hisoka – but I still felt bad for Kastro seeing him disassembled like that.

  5. A

    I think using the name is fine here, as its properties are explicitly stated in the episode. On that topic, it's true that the conversation with Machi has its awkward moments, where it feels, as you say, GE, like pure exposition. But I think it actually parallels its own discussion topic (the fight), by using a bit of misdirection.

    While on the one hand, it purports to be a rather bland (if informative) explanation of what we just watched–itself a showcase for misdirection of various kinds–on the other hand, as you point out, it's more interesting in what it reveals, or doesn't, about Hisoka himself.

    I mean, just look at his character design! By all rights, he should be a ludicrous character to take seriously, but as if by sheer force of will, he makes himself an interesting characters, despite the fact that before now, we've really seen very little of him.

    Anyhow, this is actually another of the series I work on (along with FZ), and as someone who did not see the entirety of the old series, I loved this episode. In fact, I love any episode that gives me Hisoka dialogue to work with. He is always so much fun. I was having a hard time getting into this arc, but now I'm there 100%. I'm glad you enjoyed the episode, as well!

  6. Episode truly amazing!!
    Waiting for next week :)

  7. A

    Horrible subs. LOL.

  8. A

    In the manga the explanation of the fight is made by an omniscient narrator, while Machi heals Hisoka.

    But I guess it wouldn't have worked in the anime. Still, the conversation between Hisoka and Machi felt a bit awkward.

  9. I agree a narrated exposition really wouldn't have worked well there, so it's fine – it isn't the most compelling scene in H x H but it had to take place and I guess the anime did it the only way it could.

    And yes, there was surely misdirection in that scene, too. Hisoka is a magician – the whole of his art is directing your attention exactly where he wants it to go.

  10. A

    Enzo, have you read the hxh manga and seen the first hxh series? Or are you fresh and new to hxh?

  11. Fresh and new.

  12. A

    A very satisfying end to a fantastic battle. Hisoka the mindf*cker at his best.

    I agree, though, Hisoka's conversation with Machi felt clunky and awkward, to the point where I even started to will it to end already. Maybe it would have flown better if they'd just let Machi do the whole narrating thing in her thoughts or something…

    As for the question why Hisoka's after the Ryodan, it's possible to roughly guess the answer taking into account his personality and a big big hint this episode gave about where his interest with the Ryodan lies in his question to Machi once he heard the new orders and in Machi's subsequent warning. Yes, Hisoka's as obsessive as they get but as was pointed out somewhere above, simply put, Gon is not the only one who gives Hisoka excited shivers, sultry eyerolls and glowing boners. Kastro may have fallen a little (ok, a lot) short, but still, one thing for sure: Hisoka always picks really interesting and unique people for his targets.

    Thanks for your HxH reviews! It's really nice to read someone who's new to HxH and isn't all spoiled by the previous anime and the manga like majority of us.

  13. A

    Honestly, I don't think Kastro strays too far from the mark. The point of this fight, from my point of view, has always been "this is Gon's fate, as far as Hisoka is concerned." Maybe Gon has more potential than Kastro did, maybe not, but Hisoka's plan for Gon is to wait for him to improve and then utterly destroy him both mentally and physically. And then forget about him the next day. This isn't a fated encounter between destined rivals, it's just another ordinary day in Hisoka's life.

  14. s

    I agree, though, Hisoka's conversation with Machi felt clunky and awkward, to the point where I even started to will it to end already. Maybe it would have flown better if they'd just let Machi do the whole narrating thing in her thoughts or something…

    I also thought about that but I think that it's better for fans (especially the old fans) to analyze HxH 2011 on different angles/perspectives to have an idea why Madhouse did such and such.

    Machi-Hisoka's talk feels awkward – no doubt about that – and if MH wants to use Machi for explanation (money well spent), they can utilize her on a more less awkwardly (is that even a word?) way. So why didn't they?

    I think it's more of a nudge and a wink to old HxH fans from Madhouse. Think about it: What do Machi and Hisoka have in common? This is probably how these type of people interact with each other. Awkward to us observing said exchange but not for them.

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