Hunter X Hunter 2011 – 39

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At long last Hunter X Hunter arrives in York Shin, and I suspect we’re going to be here for a while.

I don’t know if this episode marks the “official” beginning of the York Shin Arc, but it certainly seems to be a beginning and an ending.  Especially coming on the heels of the two-episode interlude on Whale Island, It’s as if Gon happily waving goodbye to Mito from the ship departing the Island was also saying farewell to the more boyish and adventurous side of the series, at leas for a while.  Things have always had a life and death quality in H x H, but the tone of this episode was much, much more somber than what we’ve seen through most of the series this far.

“Enhancers are simple and earnest, and Transmuters are fickle and dishonest”.  So says Hisoka – but what of conjurers, I wonder?  Slugs and snails and puppy dog’s tails?  One thing we can say of Kurapika is that he’s a guy – according to the characters in the series who specifically refer to him as one this week (I gather there’s some sort of dispute about this, though it seems plain enough to me) but once you get past that, Kurapika is more of a mystery than Gon and Killua.  We know what he is, and what drives him forward in life – and even a little of what he’s capable of – but while we’ve spent much of the series watching Gon and Killua pushed to their limits and pushing back, Kurapika has been out of the spotlight for a long time.  And he was always the most inscrutable of the Fab Four anyway.
I always enjoy the richly detailed background in Nen that H x H provides us, and we got a good chunk of it from Kurpika’s teacher Mizuken (Aizawa Masaki) this week.  As a Conjurer Kurapika is theoretically at a disadvantage against Enhancers, whose skills lend themselves to powerful offensive techniques – because Conjurers skills tend to be inclined towards the offensive or defensive side of the spectrum.  But in the right type of fight, Conjurers are apparently at an advantage – and they have a better chance than some of picking up a Specialist ability down the road.  We met Mizuken briefly in episode 30, but this was our first real time spend with him, and Kurapika’s Nen training is a blink compared to Gon and Killua’s.  It does seem as if Kurpika took a little bit longer than the two boys to gain a working grasp of Nen – and that he left Mizuken’s side before the latter had taught him everything he intended to.

But then, Kurapika is a man on a mission – and that mission has a date certain, September 1, and the auction in York Shin.  To that end he seeks out a job working for someone wealthy and connected to the auction – and in the end chooses to apply to work as a bodyguard for an employer with the nasty habit of collecting rare human body parts.  I’m sure he had in mind exactly where this road was headed when he took the job, and sure enough it does – when he assembles at the mysterious employer’s mansion with a motley crew of other wannabe bodyguards (and presumably some at least are Hunters) they’re given a task of finding any one of seven items – among which is a pair of eyes from a Kurta.  

It’s quite striking how different Kurapika comes off as a character when he’s on his own as opposed to paired off with the youngsters and Leorio.  In that dynamic he’s the gentle soul, the peacemaker – even with his true background in mind.  On his own, his darkness is much more apparent – there’s an aura of gloom and rage that surrounds him at all times, as if he’d consciously suppressed it in the company of friends.  His choice of what to make his first act of conjuring – a set of chains to “bind evil down to Hell” – says a lot of Kurapika as a man.  He’s seeking justice for his people, but he’s propelled on his path by hatred – something that seems to belie the kind nature he displayed with the rest of the group. 

I see Kurapika as an essentially kind young man who’s heart is tainted by darkness – and while his journey could be seen as a just one, in this universe I can’t see him pursuing this path without it bringing a great deal of heartache down on himself and possibly his friends, too.  It makes me sad to see him this way, and I’ll be happy to see him reunited with the others – perhaps they might be able to keep him from succumbing completely to the hatred and rage that seems to consume him.  As much as Gon and Killua need each other, I think Kurapika needs the both of them – and Leorio too.

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Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia: “Mizuken”

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  1. K

    Wahooo YS! 😀

    Regarding your comment of Kurpika and us knowing "little of what he’s capable of" – We haven't quite seen anything of what he's capable of. You'll be amazed.

    The comment of him wanting a set of chains will be the focal point of this character hence forth. But, as you said while Killua/Gon are more of the light-spirited boyish side of this show, Kurapika definitely the opposite, encompassing the darkness.

    As for the episode itself it was nice to see the bodyguards' faces again. It's been quite a while. Can't wait for the next tens fo episodes though. As many manga readers fondly think of this arc as THE arc, it's deifnitely going to be a ride the next few months following it.

    @GE: I look forward to your posts on HxH weekly now. Its like its a ritual to read your thoughts and ideas on where the series is going. It's also made me more attached to your blog and I've ended up following a few series here beisdes HxH (SAO comes to mind), so I'm glad you went fairly far in the aniblog tourny and gained (hopefully) more readership. Keep up the good work! 😀

  2. Thank you, Kranyte.

  3. A

    Wow, I wasn't expecting you to post a review for this yet! XD I'm glad that you're really enjoying this series!

    Anyway, I think you're analysis of Kurapika is spot-on. Watching this episode made me realize (again) just how revenge-driven Kurapika is and it is a very, very sad and hard development to watch from this point on.

    On the episode itself, I felt a little letdown since the music felt off in the first half and it had a lot of filler that slowed down the pace of the show. Of course, a slow pace isn't a bad thing at all, especially for what's coming up. I guess I'm just too excited for this arc XD

    Anyway, the next episode will obviously provide all the fun action and more so it's all good! 😀

  4. A

    just terrible execution. ugh.

  5. A

    Which part?

  6. A

    Kurapika's like a ticking time bomb. He always seems so composed and in control of his emotions, but I'm just waiting for him to snap. It's sad to watch this descent into darkness. First, he was intent on getting revenge for what the Phantom Troupe has done to his people, but now it seems to have spread to body collectors as well.

    We're all in for a wild ride this arc, that's for sure.

  7. A

    This episode had a lot of filler, so I'm glad you didn't find it specially slow. For manga readers it is difficult to judge, because we are anxious for what is coming.

    Anyway, I agree with your 5th paragraph. People seems surprised by the change of Kurapika, but it isn't really unexpected.
    In the Hunter exam we saw him with his 12 years old friends, and focused in the task of becoming a Hunter. Instead, now he is alone and focused on revenge. Actually this is the Kurapika of episode 1, before becoming more friendly with the others thanks to the teamwork in the ship.

  8. Well, there's no question it didn't have the pulse-pounding quality of the latter Heaven's Tower eps, or the feel-good charm of the Whale Island eps – but it was still entertaining. I think this ep sort of tests whether you've fully bought into H x H as a concept.

  9. s

    Great post as always Enzo! I agree with essentially all of your points regarding Kurapika's character.

    As for the episode itself, while I don't mind the slowing of pace (I'm all for more info on and training of nen!), I found the execution of the flashback sequence a little on the clunky side. I can understand /why/ the flashback was included (after all it's been weeks since we've heard from Kurapika), but I still felt that the execution left something to be desired.

    Aside from that minor personal nitpick though I enjoyed this episode well enough and can hardly wait for next week.

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