“Secrets x and x Lies”
This is another great “Heaven’s Arena” episode – truly, this is the most underrated arc in Hunter X Hunter – and one that would likely have made it into this feature no matter what measures I decided to use. It’s just that great an episode, on every level.
There’s glorious action in this episode, and drama, and danger. But what makes it most exceptional is the sense that everyone – including Togashi – is holding back the truth. The brewing notion of the hidden world of H x H bubbles over the sides of the pot here, and it’s inescapable that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and that no one in the cast is telling Gon and Killua the whole truth, if indeed they’re telling any of it at all.
Some things here are, however, self-evident. Among them are both Gon’s recklessness and his sheer genius. Wing is shocked when he realizes that Gon has, in effect, taught himself Zetsu in the act of hunting Hisoka in the epic Episode 16. But Gon has no idea of the true power at his command, or how to wield it, and gets himself seriously injured in a fight with Gido. This leads to a promise that he’ll avoid using Nen or engaging in any fights in the arena for two months (that number itself being a lie from Killua, half of the doctor’s true orders for Gon’s injuries to heal – but of course Wing knew that). This incident also reveals how much the friendship between Gon and Killua has deepened, as the latter refuses to train himself until Gon is healed and the ban lifted.
The other thing that’s absolutely clear in this episode is that Hisoka’s obsession with Gon is ripening at an alarming pace. His reaction (is there a character in anime whose reaction shots are more entertaining?) when he sees Gon start using Zetsu in the arena says it all. This too is a direct extension of Episode 16, and as we saw then by no means is this infatuation a one-way street – Gon is just as hooked on the thrill Hisoka’s menace represents ad Hisoka is on the potential Gon does.
As a bonus – and a reminder of just how little we or the characters know of the true power that rules the world – we get a brief look in at Kurapika, the first in several episodes, as he too is being given a harsh introduction to the world of Nen from the mysterious Mizuken. This is also, of course, Togashi planting a seed near the beginning of one arc for the one that’s to follow – something he’s done pretty much without exception.