Random reader in the far-flung future: If you’re reading this way after the fact because you have nothing better to do than trawl my archives, then know that I skipped from episode 12 to episode 14 because episode 13 is a recap episode!
Anyway, apologies for getting to this episode kind of late. Been pretty busy over at The Nihon Review lately, and Real World stuff has built up a bit for me as well. I should hopefully have some more time available from here on out, though! But enough of that: Let’s get to this episode, shall we?
This is the start of the next stage of the Hunter Exam, and with it the part of the story where Hunter x Hunter should take another leap. We don’t get one of my favorite episodes of the original series, episode 20 (which was an anime-original episode where all the folks taking the Hunter Exam work together to escape a deadly storm), but hey. This is mostly set-up: You’ve got the rules laid out, everyone getting their prey, and work being done to catch that prey.
What’s cool about this portion of the exam is the built-in tension. The examinees are staying on the island for a week, which means that nobody is ever safe within that timeframe. Even if you accomplish your objective, like Pokkle does, it means fuck all until the conclusion of the week. He can still be hunted and lose everything he gained if he’s not careful. It’s a basic scenario, but also a classic one because that tension is constant. There are so many ways that a person could get caught. Gon makes the mistake of focusing too much on his training to get Hisoka’s ID badge, and because of that, he is easily tracked by the man who is hunting him. However, if one were to assume that he or she is being tracked at all times, it would be easy to give in to paranoia and split one’s focus among too many details and miss that one crucial detail that could give away the hunter.
I love that the most pedolicious shot of Hisoka is used for when Gon and Killua talk about him.
I’m pretty sure everyone watching predicted that Gon would be going after Hisoka. Obvious shonen thing, right? Put the plucky protagonist against the most fearsome enemy right off the bat and let him know how it actually is in the real world. What I do like about Gon’s approach is that even though he is confident in his abilities, he is realistic about his victories. He’s not looking to crush Hisoka or embarrass him, or anything — Gon knows Hisoka can and will straight-up murder him at any time. Gon knows that taking Hisoka’s ID badge is the greatest victory he can hope for at the moment, and he’ll put all his effort and focus into making that happen. The original series had grabbed me completely before this point, so I really felt the tension as Gon stalked Hisoka. Hopefully the new series can keep that same tension.