So conflicted. On the one hand, this is really the perfect ending to the arc — everyone I knew who hadn’t already seen it expected a big fight, and the finale subverts expectations in a cool, fitting way. On the other hand, the arc is over now! ;_;
This adaptation of Hunter x Hunter has been a bit bumpy, to say the least, but ultimately it has done justice to this arc and produced some of the best anime this year. If you took the Yorkshin arc all on its own, it would probably make my top 3 of the year with ease. Maybe even my No. 2 overall, depending on when you ask me. I saw it described elsewhere as like a chess match, and that’s exactly what it is, especially when Kurapika, Killua and Gon are more aggressive in attacking the Phantom Troupe. Every interaction and piece of information has some value, and when they’re brought up again, it doesn’t feel forced or as if the story is showing off how clever it is. There’s genuine tension built when, for instance, Pakunoda initially reads Gon and Killua’s memories and finds nothing about the chain-user because they don’t know yet that it’s Kurapika. That writing really gives weight to everything the viewer sees and hears throughout the course of the arc. Above all, that’s what this arc does excellently.
OK, now that that splooging is out of the way, I can get to spoilers! Often times the “I can’t kill the big villain because I am the hero” decision feels silly and contrived (especially in video game stories), but here it works because Kurapika gives Chrollo a punishment that is as close to death as he can get without actually being killed. It reminds me a bit of the recent game, Dishonored, where you can kill your targets in any number of ways, but there’s also the option to dispatch them in nonlethal — and often ironic — fashion. That’s what Kurapika does here: He passes on to Chrollo the pain he feels every day by cutting him off from his comrades and stealing his agency by sealing his Nen abilities. Kurapika is unwilling to sink lower than he has, but he is not as forgiving as Gon.
I like this turn because it wouldn’t make sense for Kurapika to totally forgive the man who led the slaughter of his clan. As we saw in the fight against Uvogin, killing is a heavy burden on Kurapika’s shoulders. He is nonetheless still concerned about meting out the proper justice for his clan. It’s a terrifying punishment for sure: No way to communicate with those for whom he cares, and seemingly no way to extricate himself from the situation. The shot of Chrollo alone on the canyon, a tiny speck from the blimp’s point of view, says it all.
The way everything afterward wraps up is oh so excellent, too. Hisoka’s machinations prove to be worthless as he catches Chrollo just a bit after Kurapika has sealed his powers. That laugh from Chrollo after he hears what Hisoka has been planning all along is great. I imagine everything locks into place at that moment; doubtless, he is intelligent to figure out that Hisoka’s “prediction” was a load of garbage. Much as I would love to see an all out battle between Hisoka and Chrollo (and hope it happens eventually), Hisoka getting denied just as he reveals his plans is quite amusing. (This also answers the question of whether Kurapika’s powers would have worked on Hisoka if he tried to kill him before now. Nope!)
The one thing I don’t really like is the look on Hisoka’s face after Chrollo reveals the loss of his Nen ability. It was funny in the moment I watched with my buddies, but it’s incongruent in a way that doesn’t fit in with this arc. I like the way the original OVA does it more: Hisoka initially does not believe Chrollo and tries to attack him; however, Chrollo is unfazed, and it is in this moment that Hisoka realizes Chrollo is telling the truth. He then says the very Hisoka line, “I thought it would be a fun date, but then it turned sour.” Oh, Hisoka.
Anyway, things of course do not go entirely as planned for Kurapika. The way the series works around the limits Kurapika sets delivers a satisfying gut punch of an ending. The loyalty Chrollo inspires in his followers is great indeed, and just as Pakunoda is willing to betray the Spider to save Chrollo, she is equally willing to give her life so that the Phantom Troupe can change Chrollo’s fate. It’s a great stroke of irony that Kurapika’s punishment is what heals the fractures of the Phantom Troupe and gives them focus again. We haven’t seen the last of them, folks!
The opposite of how Hisoka felt during this episode.
So there you have it, the Yorkshin arc has concluded. Next up is Greed Island, which doubles as the final arc of Hunter x Hunter with which I am familiar. I wasn’t the biggest fan of it when I watched the OVAs, but admittedly at least part of that is because I loathed the visual style of the Greed Island OVAs. It was like Hunter x Hunter turned into fuckin’ Gundam SEED or something. Gross. I’ll go into this with an open mind.