Before I launch into my usual weekly praise for H x H – I’ll warn you, it’s coming – I want to single out Sawashiro Miyuki for some praise here. Not because I don’t still have issues with her ridiculous overexposure and not because I don’t still find most of her performances fall in a very narrow range – I have no reservations about the arguments I’ve raised – but because fairness compels that I point out that her Kurapika is quite different than most of her recent roles. And because, coincidentally, this episode really showcased what a fine job she’s doing with the character. The reason Kurapika marks a break from the usual Sawashiro of late is because it’s such a restrained, quiet performance – simmering, rather than boiling. And because of that, she’s able to disappear into the character – Kurapika (well, and Apo) are really the only two major roles in the last couple of years where I’m able to forget for a moment what seiyuu I’m listening to. Full credit where it’s due – this is a superb, if atypical, performance.
As always there was a tremendous amount of stuff going on here both in terms of plot and character, and it takes some time to make sense of it all. Epic was the best quality the York Shin Arc had in my view (I’d still take Heaven’s Arena by a whisker, on the whole) and this ep was epic in a quieter but no less impactful way than the last one. Lots of developments surprised me, and some of them seem to demand further exploration. Let’s start with this one: unless I’m very much misreading the situation, it seems to me that Zeno Zoldyck openly admitted that in a true fight, Chrollo would have killed him. While that’s a bit stunning in its own right, it does lead to the interesting question of why Chrollo didn’t try to kill him. I can think of a few possible reasons:
- Prior agreement with Illumi
- Prior arrangement with Zeno
- Something else altogether
The whole scenario with the Zoldycks is fascinating to start with – how beastly must Chrollo be to have Zeno admit he’s no match in a true fight? Some of the details of the whole arrangement still elude me – it seems as if Zeno and Silva were actually trying to kill Chrollo before the Ten Dons were officially dead (it’s a shame Illumi’s arrival was spoiled by the preview last week) – but it becomes even more of a riddle when you factor in Chrollo’s “Don’t touch the ambulance” order when Neon was being taken to the hospital. Here, only one possibility seems obvious – compassion – but that also seems pretty out of character for Chrollo. There’s something going on here that runs deeper than what we’ve been shown – the circumstantial evidence is that Zeno and Silva were going all-out, even if they did know about Illumi having been hired.
In any event, the depth of Chrollo’s deception was pretty stunning in the final analysis. Not only did he kill the Ten Dons (via Illumi – a Spider hiring an assassin, who’d have figured) but faked the deaths of most of the troupe via Kotolopi’s “Gallery Fake” ability – the same one he used to steal every item in the auction, including the red eyes of the Kurta. In the end Chrollo followed up his display of savage brutality with a tour de force finale that was almost delicate in its elegance. It’s hardly a wonder Hisoka is so fascinated with a man that can defeat the strongest Zoldyck in a fight and dream up a deceit such as that one. It’s also pretty convenient, I have to say, how well the Spiders’ abilities match up with each other given how membership in the group is decided – but then, maybe part of Chrollo’s genius is the ability to see how to make all those disparate talents fit together.
Once again, the overriding sense with Kurapika is that this is a truly tragic character, a fundamentally kind person driven by fate to a path of misery and destruction. Though he could hardly have known it (could he?), Chrollo couldn’t have devised a better revenge against the man who killed Ugovin. He took away Kurapika’s vengance, leaving him empty and directionless, forced to bid on the eyes of his dead relative for the sybaritic pleasure of his boss and his spoiled daughter. There was so much surrender in Kurapika’s face in this episode – the act of taking out the contacts at last seemed deeply symbolic of a young man whose spirit has been crushed and soul left empty and hollow.
Never, then, has Kurapika more needed Gon and Killua – whose very appearance, as it often does, completely brightened the mood of the episode instantly. Of course we know he’ll eventually find out the truth – and it was very interesting that Hisoka tried to get the news to him, only failing because Kurapika was on the phone with Gon at the time – but at the moment Kurapika sees no reason to keep going. Reuniting with Gon, Kil and Leorio could give him enough to soldier on for a while, losing himself in their irrepressible antics and in Gon’s own quest. Where Kurapika’s quest was inherently negative and backward-looking and Killua’s is always about what he doesn’t want to do, Gon’s is positive because of his fundamental nature. Move forward, get stronger, fight evil, find his father – his spirit is unquenchable and he seems incapable of being dispirited or discouraged. That’s what Killua has latched onto him like a life preserver and thrown himself into helping Gon, because it’s something he can focus on besides his own painful past – and Kurapika might just be able to as well.
That, of course, may just be what Greed Island has in store for us. But things in York Shin surely aren’t quite done yet – Leorio and Zepile still have put their own comparatively modest but nevertheless useful skills to work to help Gon get his copy of Greed Island, and the truth of what’s happened to the Ten Dons may come out sooner rather than later. And then there’s Hisoka, always the wild card – never quite throwing himself in the Troupe’s plans, still intensely interested both in Kurapika and especially Gon and Killua. A world where Kurapika knows the truth is a much more fun and interesting one for him, and he’ll find a way to make sure Kurapika learns what happened if events don’t beat him to it. And the next time Kurapika goes to do battle with the Spiders, it will likely be with his friends at his side.
Edit: Not paying close enough attention to the OP, I failed to note that it was a special “Phantom Troupe” version, apparently to coincide with the third trailer for next year’s “Phantom Rouge” film.
Gon & Killua’s Hunterpedia: “Kotolpi”