This is Hunter X Hunter, so you know Togashi-sensei is going to grind out the details. And this succession war is not disappointing – if indeed we’re getting to the Dark Continent it’s looking like it’s going to take at least a hundred chapters to get there (I didn’t major in mathematics but even I know that’s two years, even if Togashi were to somehow avoid hiatuses).
Leave it to Hunter X Hunter to make that maid who was standing in the corner the most important character in the chapter. She has a name (I’ve almost despaired of keeping them straight in this arc) – Shimano. And it’s she who ends up manipulating the crisis of the three princes and their simultaneous entreaties for discussion. She says it’s because she simply wants to live and is doing what she can to try and make that happens. That means patching Kurapika through to the third prince, Zhang Lei, when he asked to talk to the first. Her reasoning? The first prince is a bloodthirsty man who can’t be negotiated with. He would also be too proud to wait to speak, while the fifth prince (Tubeppa) would not.
Could Zhang Lei be the breakout character among the princes, the one who’s both charismatic and temperate enough to make a compelling anchor for this arc? Who knows – but he’s off to a decent start. Shimano considers him intelligent, patient and pragmatic – “kind and cruel” at the same time. But of course a conversation with the third prince means bodyguards from the first and second hovering over you, so how do Kurapika and Zhang Lei have a meaningful negotiation that isn’t conveyed directly to them? That the first prince is the enemy of Oito and Woble seems a given at this point.
Incidentally, it seems as if Kurapika is in Emperor Time during the entire duration of this chapter – which even with Togashi’s legendary time compression means he’s taking an awful lot of time off his lifespan. Never let it be said that this guy isn’t willing to make sacrifices – though my fear, as ever with Kurapika, is that he’s simply decided that he’s going to die young anyway and it isn’t worth worrying about it…