Hunter x Hunter is where the pure and the morally bankrupt all dine in the same place and exchange skins.
After finally coming face to face with one of the people who massacred his tribe, it wasn’t surprising to see Kurapika ask how is it even possible to kill someone and not feel anything at all? He’s been raised in a cruel world that essentially tests Kurapika’s very being. He’s not one to enjoy the thrill of the fight like Gon, nor is he a trained killer like Killua. Kurapika’s formation as a person was the result of a harsh childhood, his goals were shaped by a painful and traumatic experience and thus, he dedicates his life eliminating the Phantom Troupe.
Hunter x Hunter sure is bleak. In less than a minute, you’re forced to think if Kurapika has gone too far. The tables turn awfully fast. There’s something about the way this episode portrayed Uvogin that got to me. He was slowly accepting his death, finally coming into terms with what fate has in store for him. In a true display of irony, Uvogin never sold out his other troupe members even if it meant him dying, an act we often see ‘good guys’ do.
The progression of the battle is quite unexpected as well, it starts out as an adrenaline pumping ride, gradually transitioning into brutal torture. The series has never been the type to sugarcoat things. HxH has a tendency to lure the audience in with the promise of something ‘awesome’ only to remind you that there are always real repercussions to the choices our characters make.
Another scene that reflects this harsher outlook Hunter x Hunter applies is when Kurapika goes out of his way to prepare a shovel and even goes through the effort of burying Uvogin. Seeing the large and well built Uvogin reminds you that this was the same character who smashed people’s heads an episode ago and now he’s dead.
I’ve been seeing comparisons between this and the ’99 series and I have to say that this episode was more harrowing to me. While I respect the ’99’s series take, the 2011’s version blurs the line between the protagonist and the antagonist. Madhouse’s choice to focus most of the episode’s time on Kurapika and Uvo makes this a far more intimate experience for the viewer.
It’s these these things that take an episode from just being good to superb. This week’s installment is one of the best episodes to air all year, a fine showcase of Hunter x Hunter’s stark and layered narrative.