Whenever Hunter x Hunter went on a week’s hiatus before, I missed it, but I would never say I was super annoyed. Last week? I was counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the new episode. I already know what is going to happen, and yet, I cannot wait for the next episode to air. Each new episode intensifies this feeling. I’m almost ready to declare that the remake has executed the Yorkshin Arc better than the ’99 anime and OVA (but I want to see the conclusion before saying that for sure).
What I really love about this part of the arc is the different levels of conflict. The main conflict is between Kurapika and Chrollo Lucifer. It’s clear Chrollo would have this won were all things equal: He’s an expert manipulator, and he goads Kurapika into anger with ease, even though Kurapika is (barely) able to compose himself in front of the man who led the slaughter of his people. Simply killing the leader of the Spiders would be good, but it’s clear Kurapika has a grander scheme in mind, or else he wouldn’t keep Chrollo alive for the time being. Chrollo is counting on this hubris to give the other Spiders the time they need to regroup and eliminate the biggest threat to their group, even if Chrollo must die to make this happen.
The great part about this conflict, however, is that everything is not equal; in fact, Kurapika is ahead because he has the advantage of planning ahead (whereas the Spiders are forced to react to his plan), and, unusually, because he has fewer pieces to work with. There are five people in on this plot, including Kurapika. They are all on the same page. They all know their roles; there are no surprises, no unseen factors among their group to throw a wrench into things. Obviously, Kurapika is not planning to sacrifice his friends to satisfy his lust for revenge; however, everyone, including Kurapika, is willing to assume a great amount of risk to execute this plot. They are all in sync.
The Spiders, meanwhile, are in disarray. This is a group of 12 strong-willed individuals with their own opinions and the power to back up those opinions. No matter how much Chrollo tries to instill his utilitarian philosophy, there is nonetheless going to be a pronounced streak of individualism running through certain members. This is precisely why the coin flip rule exists: There has to be some focus — some order — they can get behind that favors no individual. Predictably, the Spiders split into two camps: One group believes it foolish to play along with Kurapika’s rules and thinks it best to squelch any threat to them, even if Chrollo must die; the other believes Chrollo’s life to be paramount, and that they must play along with Kurapika as long as possible to rescue him, even if lives must be sacrificed along the way.
Although Kurapika despises the Phantom Troupe, it’s clear he respects their abilities and intelligence, which is why his plan works so well. The group’s strong emotional core and tendency toward rational debate before executing an action proves to be their undoing. They waste so much time laying out reasoning for going with one action over another that Kurapika is able to move his plan to the next step and gain a greater advantage over the Spiders. Kurapika counts on the group’s respect for Chrollo to cause the necessary inaction for his plan to succeed. He is quite lucky that his chosen liaison, Pakunoda, is on the side that both respects Chrollo and wishes to see him alive, even if the group must be splintered for that to happen. As Gon and Killua observed, even some remorseless killers have love and respect for their own.
It’s a great stroke of irony that Chrollo’s excellent leadership is what’s leading to his downfall. It is heavily implied that he saved the original Spiders from a rotten life in a rotten city. To some in the group, he is less a leader and more a savior. Would even a killer be so willing to throw someone under the bus who saved their life and gave it meaning? Chrollo views himself as equal to the group, but they do not all see it that way. But, of course, it is unwise to count Chrollo out so easily. Does he have other tricks under his sleeve? Hisoka is also proving to be a wild card — he sees the perfect opportunity to battle Chrollo and takes the chance to call in some support of his own. I bet everyone is looking forward to how Hisoka will fuck up everyone’s plans!
P.S. Phinks’ utter failure to negotiate with Kurapika is one of my favorite bits of comedy in the series. Perfectly timed.