Having pretty firmly established the parameters of the situation over the past two chapters, Togashi-sensei seems to effectively signal the start of the succession battle itself this week – Kurapika’s announcement having been the catalyst to set the wheels in motion.
Did Kurapika intend to do so? It’s an interesting question. We spend some time with a couple more princes this week (and it turns out it was Woble’s bodyguards that were all dead, not Halkenberg). Camillia seems like a total throwaway, pretty much – a despicable spoiled egotist even by the high standard of her siblings, Hui. Benjamin is much more interesting, though. The eldest prince, he’s decisive and straightforward – though in this instance that means he’s bound and determined to kill all the younger princes for the good of the kingdom. And like the others, he’s being manipulated by those with more grounding in Nen.
Benjamin’s chief bodyguard theorizes that Kurapika made his announcement in order to throw the advantage to those with more Nen experience, and to try and extend a stalemate long enough to allow the ship to reach the Dark Continent. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t, but the immediate upshot of it is that Benjamin has effectively turned all of his spies into assassins – and remember, as the oldest he has spies in every other prince’s army. So the battle has been joined whether Kurapika intended it to be or not, and the next move is in his court.
Even as this story really rounds into shape, I’m still struggling with the lack of any kind of rooting interest among this group. Somehow even the Phantom Troupe – mass murderers that they are – had members that were much easier to identify with in “York Shin”. Hell, even among the Chimera Ants we had sympathetic figures – and of course Gon and Killua fighting them. Maybe Togashi can get there with this current group, but I don’t see anyone yet who stands out as a potential breakout character. But it’s way too early to judge, as this is a writer whose arcs are marathons, not sprints. The real question is whether he has one more marathon left in him.