List of people not to piss off:
3. Illumi Zoldyck
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.
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is the phrase that keeps popping into my mind as the events of the Election arc play out. We’re seeing it in evidence all over the map, both in the unfolding Zoldyck family drama and in the election itself. It starts with Netero’s decision to make Pariston his vice-chairman and builds from there, and it underlies much of what’s happening in this arc. The complicating factor is that because this is Hunter X Hunter, it’s not straightforward to figure out which category nearly everyone falls into in relation to everyone else – and you can add “neither” and “both” to the list of possibilities.
There are a few unassailable truths here, anchors that we can cling to as the waves of uncertainty wash all around us. Killua loves Gon, and would do anything up to and including sacrificing himself to save him. Killua loves Alluka, and is certain (I’m not) that no one else in the Zoldyck Household does. Leorio is resolutely loyal to his friends and seriously pissed off at the behavior of those he thinks should be but aren’t. Hisoka wants to have a good time as often and as thoroughly as possible. Pariston is ambitious to a fault. But what we can’t say for certain outweighs what we can by a wide margin.
The first legal ballot in the Chairman Election is certainly an interesting place to start. Gon jumped up to four votes, interestingly – the mention by Leorio? But the big mover is unsurprisingly Leorio himself, who went from zero to third place, with 55 votes. As for Pariston, he’s at 39% of the vote – so far ahead of the pack that it’s hard to see him losing without a game-changing event. The list of 16 qualifiers for the runoff is a fascinating one, full of names we don’t know – the top-ranked at #6 being the bizarre Ickshonpe Katocha, a “Single Star Hacker Hunter, living the digital world” who’s yet to cast a vote. My favorite moment of Beans’ rundown was 10th Place Bisky, though – “The Associations’s
mother big sister figure. More and more people want her to scold them.”
I’m assuming Chekov’s Ickshonpe will assert itself, and Katocha-san will become an important figure in subsequent votes. And it seems to be that if the other Zodiacs are serious about defeating Pariston, they should really pool all their support behind a single candidate – as most of them are in the runoff and splitting a large number of votes. But the election really isn’t the main focus here, which is the Zoldyck drama. Killua is actually watching the recap and Beans’ announcement in the limo with some interest, especially when he sees Leorio using Nen (which he immediately identifies as Emitter). But that’s quickly forgotten when Illumi intrudes on events in a big way. The moment Gotoh’s phone rings, the game changes.
If there’s an element that bothers me here, it’s the notion that Illumi could have caused the chain of events that he did without worrying about the possibility that Killua would have died in the accident – that just seems far-fetched to me. Setting that aside, it’s a great “all Hell breaks loose” kind of moment, where loyalties are revealed and intentions revealed. Killua deems Gotoh to be more or less on his side after Gotoh uses Illumi’s name to spark enough of a reaction by Amane (Inoue Marina) – who’s revealed to be Tsubone’s granddaughter – to unmask her and by extension Tsubone as loyal to Silva and Zeno and likely not Illumi. Hisoka goads Illumi into showing his bloodlust by “joking” about killing Killua – an act he likely committed on purpose in order to force Illumi to reveal his presence, and suggesting his own loyalty is ultimately to Gon (and thus in practical terms Killua, for the duration of this mission) rather than Illumi.
We have so many different forces pulling in different directions here it’s hard to tell the players without a scorecard. Hisoka does of course care for his own life and this has a reason to help Illiumi here, but he genuinely wants Gon to live – he’s helping Illumi for now but as always, holding his cards close to the vest when he’s not trying to kill people with them. Tsubone and Amane are loyal to Silva and Zeno, both of whom fundamentally prefer Killua to Illumi (as does Tsubone) and on some level Gotoh and Canaria are too, but they’re even more torn by personal loyalty to Killua.
For Killua, the operational truth is this – even if as Amane says she and her grandmother (and thus Zeno and Silva) don’t consider themselves Killua’s enemy here, he considers them his enemy because they don’t consider Alluka part of the family. And with the Zoldycks that has a rock-hard practical implication – that means it’s open season on Alluka during a mission, because Alluka isn’t considered a family member. And that means the moment Killua loses close contact with Alluka, Alluka could die. And let’s not forget that a “little bird” somewhere close to Killua is spying for Illumi – and Illumi thus knows that Killua knows of rules regarding Alluka’s power that he himself does not.
It’s a fascinating tangle, that’s for sure. We get real introspection from Alluka – who seems extremely simple and childlike for an 11 year-old – for the first time in the form of the “Would things be easier if I were dead?” question. Both Kil’s response and Alluka’s reaction are powerful – Killua asks “Would it make you said if no one in the world loved you except me?” The answer of course is no, that actually makes Alluka ecstatically happy because to be loved by Killua is more than enough. There’s your moment of directness and simplicity amidst all the machinations and deception – sibling love that trumps personal welfare and family politics.
What will Hisoka do here, when the real shit goes down? For now he’s facing off against Gotou more or less at Illumi’s bidding, the mission being to get the butlers out of the way so a clear shot at killing Alluka can be had. But even if Hisoka values Illumi as one of his favorite toys, he wants Gon – who seems to be his favorite toy of all – to live. That means helping Killua (a much-loved toy himself) do what he’s trying to do with Alluka’s power, and that means defying Illumi – and putting his own life at risk. As wonderful as it is seeing Hisoka in troll and badass mode again, it’s equally welcome to see him put in such an unfamiliar position, and to muse on just what his ultimate intentions are.