Honesty compels me to admit that as good as it is to see Kurapika, I haven’t found the last two episodes as compelling as I did the Heaven’s Tower arc. In fairness that arc didn’t start out with its full off-the-charts awesomeness on display – it was more of a steady build from merely excellent (H x H hasn’t been south of excellent for months) to downright spectacular. So given that this is really the start of Kurapika’s story and more of a segue into Yorknew the arc itself it’s off to a fine start, but I really do miss Gon and Killua. Their energy and the great dynamic of the friendship have no counterpart in Kurapika’s tale so far, but perhaps there’s a little bit of personal taste involved in this, too – we all have our favorite characters and moods in any big series like this one, and few can transition between styles as well as H x H can.
I’ve noticed that Kurapika is a radically different character when he’s part of a group dynamic than when he’s on his own. That’s true for everyone to some extent for him, it’s really dramatic – most obviously when he’s with the boys, but even among the group of mercenaries vying for bodyguard jobs. In the group he’s reasoned, analytical and calm. On his own, the bitterness and rage visibly changes him, even when his eyes don’t betray his inner state. Kurapika has built a mighty high wall around himself to hide his rage from the world – with relative strangers like this it’s strictly protective, and with the boys and Leorio it’s constructed more of actual trust and friendship. But in either case, the wall is still there, coming down only when he’s alone with his memories.
It’s an interesting group Kurapika is stuck in with, a broad spectrum of Nen users types. Melody the Music Hunter (Tominaga Miina), a woman Kurapika mistakes for a man (how ironic), whose super hearing allows her to read others by their heartbeats. She declines to state her ability – I’m guessing she’s a specialist. Then there’s Baise (Nagasawa Miki) a Manipulator whose “Instant Lover” kiss can make any man (or woman?) do her bidding. Basho (Nakane Touru) is my favorite – any haiku he composes will actually happen (a cool if frightening concept). And there are two plants in the group, Tocino (Onishi Takeharu) and Squala (Takuma Suzuki) whose subterfuge Kurapika and then Basho expose to the group. They work for Dalzollene (Takehito Koyasu, another big-name seiyuu), who also has a man tied to a chair, presumably for later plot use.
It’s an uneasy alliance, this one – in theory these Hunters and their unlicensed cohorts are competing for the same jobs (although I suppose all of them could succeed and be hired) so it’s no wonder Kurapika declined to share his name. He also declined to correct Basho when he incorrectly guessed at Kurapika’s Nen ability. As if that weren’t enough to keep things tense, there’s the very real possibility that one or more of them will go after Kurta eyes as their target – and Kurapika says nothing to dissuade them from doing so (probably wisely). He’s keeping his eyes on the prize – first his employer the collector, whoever he may be, and eventually the Phantom Troupe itself. And he’s obviously willing to swallow his disgust and play along for the time being in order to achieve his long-term goal.
We did get just a few moments of Gon and Kil, and in this context it made me aware of something that seems to have been true since the group split up – the scenes featuring Gon and Killua use a completely different color palette than those featuring the other characters. It’s much brighter and more primary, with Kurapika’s scenes (for example) used much more muted tones and subdued lighting. It makes sense for the way it reflects the mood of the piece and as far as I can tell, it seems to be true only for the episodes and scenes centered on Gon and Kil as a pair or Gon on his own. Their plot did advance this week too, as Milluki made good on his promise and delivered the URL (via Eagle Express) to Killua, setting up he and Gon to do some digging on Greed Island before the gang all gets together in Yorknew in two weeks. For me that day can’t come soon enough – I’m really looking forward to seeing the group dynamic back in place.
Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia: “Melody”