My God, it’s full of GAR…
Author’s Note: Please be very careful to avoid divulging any information about upcoming events from the manga. When in doubt, don’t post it, even if it’s remotely possible to view it as a minor spoiler. Thanks for your cooperation.
Dear Ging Freecs;
That man is back.
I admit, Leorio has been an easy character to take for granted (and based on fan polls, it’s not just for me that this is the case). He’d stand out in the cast of a normal series, but among the endless standouts of Hunter X Hunter Leorio can be swamped a bit. He’s not flashy, he’s not overpowered, and comparatively speaking he’s easy to figure out. But that very trait, his straightforward nature, is occasionally what does make Leorio stand out – though it’s fair to say, he’s never had a series of moments quite so stand-outey as he had this week.
All in all, this episode was a veritable fangasm of familiar faces making reappearances after long (or not so long) absences – though I don’t know if you can count Gon in that, as this is all we saw. Clearly, poor Gon is a very bad shape – so much so that the sole Nen exorcist in the employ of the Hunter Association reacted in horror and declared herself incapable of helping him when she saw the state he was in. Leave it to Gon – he doesn’t do anything halfway, so if he’s going to screw himself royally he’s going to do it to excess.
Indeed, about all Gon has going for him at this point is friends – but in that respect he’s wealthy, an okanemochi of the first order. Killua is his greatest and the most obvious, of course, and he’s prominent in this episode. But it’s Leorio who steals the show, and there are a long list of others who’ve flocked to his bedside. Some are expected – Bisky, Goreinu, even Tsezguerra (though I do wonder – when did Gon make such a strong impression that Melody would be there, keeping watch?). Some are a bit surprising, like Hanzo. But what’s clear is that the unique qualities in Gon that so profoundly impacted Killua that it prompted him to change his entire life impacted others too, many of whom knew Gon for far less time. When you think about it, the act that led Gon to this terrible state was soundly in-character – it fits perfectly with everything that’s noble and everything that’s infuriating in him.
It’s clear that Killua, while his desperation gambit managed to extract him from under his father’s thumb, is far from being out from under Zoldyck control. Gotoh is listening in on his conversations – interrupting them when he deems they cross the line of secrecy – and informs Killua that he’s under “Level 4” security. Basically, Killua is on the shortest possible leash that still allows him to be free to move about – and in the end he decides it will be simpler to have Gotoh tail him and Alluka, and invites Canary along as well. Ostensibly this is to have a girl around for Alluka’s benefit (neither side is willing to acknowledge the inconsistency is how they refer to Alluka’s gender, but Killua takes great offense to the term “object”) but truthfully, it seems likely Killua wanted an ally by his side in case the shit really goes down.
The degree to which Silva is taking this seriously comes in the person of Tsubone (Tani Ikuko), the fearsome grand dame of the butler corps being assigned to watch Killua (and Gotoh) on this journey. Tsubone is clearly formidable – she’s the only one who calls Killua “-chan”, she can sweet-talk Alluka, and when she lays down the law Killua meekly defers (“I just realized… I have problems dealing with Obabas!”). The key moment here comes when Alluka makes a request from Tsubone – her pinky nail, which she gladly hands over and then goes into hiding with a stern warning that she’ll be close by. This could hardly have worked out better for Tsubone (apart from the pain) – Alluka is now effectively unable to grant Killua’s (or anyone else’s) wish until Tsubone decides to allow it by reappearing and granting Alluka’s two additional requests. It’s almost as if Tsubone had planned it this way, and Killua has been played – but at the very least, it’s an ideal situation for Tsubone and it partially ties Killua’s hands.
Meanwhile, Leorio is asserting his personality in a big way at the hospital – obviously frustrated at being unable to help Gon, he vents big-time at Gotoh’s interference when he’s trying to catch up with Killua. Here Morel (who I actually think would make a great Chairman if he weren’t so allergic to office work) shows his formidable calm and intelligence – he bears Leorio’s abuse with a smile, waits for Leorio to realize his approach isn’t working, and finally takes over the phone and calmly negotiates a deal to meet all the Zoldyck requests for secrecy. That involves building a private room for Gon in the parking lot (no windows) where the Zoldycks can allow whatever it is that Killua intends to do to take place.
Here’s the thing with Leorio – as I said earlier, he’s easier to figure out than most of the people in this cast of oddballs and exceptional freaks. But there are times when that makes him the most relatable, because he reacts the way a normal person would react. Leorio pretty much kicks ass and takes names here – he says the stuff that has to be said and does the stuff than needs to be done. He’s furious at Kurpika for refusing to answer his phone when Gon is in trouble (this is the first look we’ve had at Kurapika in a long time, and wherever he is he doesn’t look happy). And he’s even more furious at Ging for being the most callous and insensitive father in the universe.
The election drama is still ongoing at the Association, this time in the form of a general assembly to which Pariston (in a truly garish gold lamé suit) is giving a very Pariston speech. His joke about Ging seems to cross the line, though – and I was waiting for someone to mention the Hunters that have gone missing when Pariston invites everyone to speak with “no fear of repercussions”. It’s Leorio who stands up to speak, but he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the election – he’s there to call Ging out for not visiting Gon, and he really lays into him. Ging’s response? Gon has many friends, and that should be “sufficient”. Never mind Leorio’s valid point that just maybe hearing Ging’s voice might rouse Gon from his coma – this is wrong on a purely moral level, and Leorio is more pissed off than we’ve ever seen him. As he damn well should be.
I’m sure someone with insider information from the manga could make an argument about extenuating circumstances with Ging, reasons for why he’s behaved as he has towards Gon. Let me state up front I don’t care – Ging is a prick for the way he’s treated Gon and for refusing to visit him now (“Has he asked for me?” HA! Lame, Ging-san) and I can think of no better occasion for the unveiling of Leorio’s Nen (Emitter? Conjurer maybe?) than to deliver a ridiculously satisfying punch to Ging’s smug face. What a moment – Leorio’s Nen at last, and Ging at last having someone call him out for the miserable bastard he is to his face, while punching it at the same time. Without a shadow of doubt this is Leorio’s finest hour – an expression of pure common sense thinking and loyalty, two of his hallmarks – and one of the most satisfying moments in the entire series. It’s game on, now, in every way – and I suspect the party is just getting started.