Lots of tension in this episode — this is definitely recapturing the feeling I had while watching this arc in the ’99 Hunter x Hunter. One of the things that makes Hunter x Hunter so enjoyable to me is that each arc feels distinctly different. I may have written this before, but the Yorkshin arc really feels like a crime movie. It’s not just the heist portion at the beginning with the Phantom Troupe taking everything from the auction, but also the current portion with Kurapika hatching a plan to kill the Spiders. You’ve got Killua and Melody spying on the Spiders and tracking them from the shadows, with Kurapika (in disguise!), Gon and Leorio following from their car . . . and, of course, the plan totally falling apart, because nothing ever goes as planned in a crime movie.
And man, oh man, the setting. The city at night, so down low and grimy, raining buckets because it’s right that it’s raining. You’ve got the Spiders walking the urban jungle, navigating the sidewalks and traffic in search of their prey. (One little bit I missed from the ’99 version: I believe that when the other group of Spiders is chasing Squala, Nobunaga leaps from car to car as he searches for Squala’s vehicle. It’s a cool scene.) Really, only two details could have made this better for me: 1) Everything in black and white, so that the shadows could be as deep and dark as possible. Nothing beats that good ol’ film noir chiaroscuro. 2) Some super sleazy jazz in back. (Though, generally, the musical choices in this episode are good, and the choices of when to not play the music are better. Hunter x Hunter‘s sound direction has become so much better that it’s almost difficult to believe that I really got on the show for bad sound direction not that long ago.)
But, yes, getting back to the tension . . . the most tense part of the episode is definitely when Kurapika’s plan breaks down, and he decides to take a huge risk by more overtly following Chrollo’s group of Spiders, whereupon they of course get caught almost immediately because they’re not perfect trackers. The improvisation that has to be pulled to get out of the predicament is perfectly timed and written. That’s another thing that really makes the Yorkshin arc stand out: Everything is tightly written and timed and makes excellent use of all the details that build up in the story. There’s a real sense of continuity. For instance, Machi pointing out that the reward the Mafia put on the Spiders is gone, and Killua’s subsequent surprise reaction acting, is so good. It’s just too bad for Gon and Killua that Chrollo is quite careful and knows an opportunity when he sees it. Kurapika is going to go after him, anyway, so why not have a bit more leverage by taking two people who might be his buddies hostage?
I’m pretty sure you all knew Squala would bite it as soon as the Spiders started making their way toward the hotel, yeah? Surround a guy with adorable dogs, and there’s no way that he’ll survive. (Seriously, wasn’t the shot of Squala driving his car with all his dogs piled inside cute as hell? Those poor pups.) Plus, Squala had the misfortune of dealing with a pissed off Nobunaga. Really, Nobunaga was looking for any excuse to kill Squala. He’s a quick draw artist, yeah, but Squala is zero threat to the Spiders. Nobunaga simply wanted to take out his frustrations on someone related to the people who killed his friend. It would be sad if it weren’t so brutal. Squala’s head plopping onto the car with little fanfare? Yikes.