Things take a turn for the serious and this show just got amazing. Seriously, is this even the same show? There seems to be a heightened difference in animation between this season and the last two; with visual shots that left me breathless and countless moments of worry. Apparently the Chimera Ant Arc is even better than this?
I… I just don’t know what is going on.
And this season also just blew my plan of recapping the series. This is actually my second attempt at writing about my Yorknew City Arc experience, the first time involved recapping as the events played out and well- there was too much recapping and not enough reviewing on my part. For me this season is where I finally get it, I finally understand why people like this series so much. It was a roller coaster ride of emotional cheering, panicking and nail biting with the promise of a pace that will not slow down.
So, as promised I will write about my experience binge watching this season instead of focusing on a recap. By now I think the previous seasons have established our characters and the world they are working in. I still fondly refer to Nen as magical abilities because the limits to this energy source seems boundless. If there are limits they are not very well established and give the impression of a force that cannot be summed up in any simple terms, thus, magical abilities.
This switch up in Recap/Reviewing is for your benefit as well. We are watching a Shounen after all and this season in particular suffers a serious case of Shounen-Character-Hell. Meaning that we’re introduced to a cluster of minor characters; all with promising depth, personality, and uniqueness. Eventually all these characters fall to the sidelines (or worse DIE) so our main leads can be in the spotlight. Just as an example, Kurapika joins a group of body guards this season so that he may gain easy access to the auction. The group is made up of nearly eight characters, not including the man who hires them and his daughter, who they are protecting. Including Kurapika that gives us ten characters right there to keep track of, not to mention the entire Phantom Troupe has starring roles this season.
Welcome to Shounen-Character-Hell.
Let us start off with Kurapika, because this season is very much about him. Even Gon and Killua are out of the spotlight for a good couple episodes while the stage is set for Kurapika’s revenge. This season we see a couple new sides of our favorite red eyed hero. He’s grown in his knowledge of Nen, and is wielding some kick ass looking chains. Of course this is Kurapika we’re talking about so he is very symbolic when it comes to picking his weapon of choice. He plans on chaining up those who attacked his family and bringing them to justice.
While Kurapika proved himself as the “mature” one in the group during Season One, he is a little more brash here. With his revenge in sight there are moments where logic is thrown out the window; he insists on taking on the Troupe by himself even though Gon, Killua, and Leorio try to call him numerous times to help. Surprisingly it’s Killua, a character whose only close friend is Gon, who points this out. Aww- Character development!
Learning Nen has made him even more confident his in abilities to slay the spiders and you know what, he can actually back up his tough talk.
One of the most powerful moments in the season was his one on one fight with the first Spider. Usually, in Shounen a moment like this would be dragged out or made into a deep struggle as the hero learns that revenge won’t be so easily achieved. But that isn’t the case here, the viewer is first tricked into fearing Uvogin, the strongest (physically speaking) member of the Troupe. When Kurapika challenges him, we go in expecting it won’t be an easy task. Yet the fight is won with only minimal injuries dealt to Kurapika. In fact, it almost seems one sided. For a brief moment during the fight, Ugovin isn’t the monstrous opponent we were lead to believe he would be. Instead it is our hero.
Kurapika is cold and merciless as he subdues Uvogin, I should also add that he is a total bad ass that left me in a state of awe. There were numerous moments throughout the fight that stood out. Particularly the use of a blood red moon as a backdrop. It reflects a lot of things happening throughout the fight, the first draw of blood for Kurapika against the Spiders and of course, the red of his eyes. This battle is only the first of many that will happen under the cover of darkness.
At this point it’s obvious that the animation isn’t the only thing that has gotten a power boost this season. Both the voice acting and music are noticeably improved. Gone is the happy go lucky tunes of the first season, now we have a haunting requiem playing as people are brutally murdered. Kurapika’s voice actor also stands out as every word he utters practically trembles with anger.
Darkness works as an effective tone setter distinguishing the Yorknew City story from the previous “happier and lighter” seasons. Where in Season One our heroes were only shown struggling with mundane tasks in the daylight. We see only bad things happen at night in Season Three; the enemy moves out, blood is split, and lives are lost.
Next, after the death of one of their own the Phantom Troupe goes on a rampage. Despite max security being put in place to protect the auction just a few of the Troupe members is enough to wipe out the entire Mafia’s hitmen squad. Leading the charge is the Phantom Troupe’s leader, Chrollo Lucifer, an interesting choice of a villain. When we first see him, he just sits in their hideout reading a book, but Chrollo is very smart, very devious, and very deadly.
We find out Hisoka is posing as a member of the Troupe simply because he wants to fight Chrollo, and he’s feeding Kurapika information in an effort to get Chrollo alone. In the few examples where we see Chrollo in action we can see how deadly he is. There was even a surprising moment where the Maifa hires the best assassins in the world to deal with him: Killua’s Father and Grandfather. Also known as Papa-Kill and Zeno.
What followed was a personal favorite moment of mine as we watched the Zoldyck family’s best take on the Phantom Troupe Leader. I think I might be overly invested in Killua’s family, yeah his mother and brothers are a bunch of creeps but I cling like a wet cat to the genuine love Papa-Kill has for his prodigy son. As much fun as it was seeing these two fighters in action, I was disappointed when they left just as abruptly as they appeared. All without knowing Killua was even in the same town as them! Come on guys, you couldn’t even go check in and see how your son is doing?
I know, I know, assassins = tough love.
In a twist of fate Illumi, Killua’s creep brother from Season One, kills off the Maifa members who hired the Zoldycks. Meaning Papa-Kill stops mid-battle since they no longer have clients. They could have taken Chrollo out, I just know it, but instead they stop. Later it is revealed that Chrollo is the one who hired Illumi for the job. Coincidence? I think not, Kurapika needs to watch out for this one.
By this point in the Season the Phantom Troupe has caused a lot of problems. They have killed a lot of people and stolen nearly all the worthwhile items from the auction. But now they are on a new mission, to find Uvogin’s killer and exact their revenge. It is the fact that the Troupe members care so much about each other that makes them sympathetic. What also makes the Troupe endearing is their unwavering loyalty to their boss Chrollo and the fact that Chrollo seems to care about them as well.
Kurapika is biding his time before he strikes again and what about Killua and Gon?
Their story mainly revolves around gathering enough money to buy the Greed Island game. This eventually dissolves into them wanting to help Kurapika, because friendship! Oh and Leorio is there too but his help is minimal, surprise surprise.
The dynamics of our little group has changed since the Hunter Exam. Gon and Killua aren’t the brawn in this season. Compared to the Troupe they are outclassed and forced to prove themselves in other ways, while Kurapika does most of the fighting. It’s a nice switch up and the boys prove to be solid supporting characters for this season. Actually, it should be noted that Killa and Gon get captured not once but twice this season.
Both times ramp up the tension of the show and also prove as effective points for character development. This is the first time we see Killua truly struggle against an enemy, probably the first time he has ever been on his own against someone stronger then himself. While captured, he is willing to sacrifice himself for the chance to allow Gon to escape. However, Gon has done some growing up as well and proves that he can be a pretty good strategists when their backs are against the wall. Because of him they are able to escape the Phantom Troupe for the first time.
The second time though, Gon and Killua give themselves up for the greater good of their plan to fight the Phantom Troupe. Their sacrifice allows for Kurapika to capture Chrollo while the Troupe members are distracted. This hostage situation doesn’t necessarily result in a change for the boys, but draws out a bit of the old Kurapika when he realizes his crusade has put his friends in the hands of murdering murderers (again!)
A new plan is crafted up as Kurapika is forced to put his anger aside (for like, a milisecond) so he can be the strategist once again. Leorio is absolutely zero help here. What we see next is Hunter x Hunter’s carefully crafted, almost over the top extravagant, idea of a hostage exchange. Where one of the Troupe members will bring Killua and Gon for the chance to rescue her boss. Sounds simple enough, but believe me, I’m sparing you all about fifteen minutes worth of deep monologue.
Kurapika plants his magical dagger in Chrollo with the condition that will seal up his Nen and that he will never see the Troupe again, if he does then the dagger will pierce his heart. Killing him the same way Uvogin was killed. It seems this is enough to satisfy Kurapika’s blood lust.
And after hours of tension and fighting we get SOME relief in the form of Hisoka, oddly enough, who decides now is the perfect opportunity to fight Chrollo. Only to find out his Nen has been sealed away. Well, doesn’t that just make your contributions to this entire Arc all for nothing.
In the end, Kurapika has proven himself as a lethal weapon worthy of leading the group of body guards, who all call him “boss” and it would be kind of adorable if it didn’t remind me of the juxtaposition between himself and Chrollo. Is that what I was supposed to get from all of this? That we might be losing that nice, quiet boy from the Hunter Exam to his ambition.
The Troupe may be dealt with, though really Kurapika only killed two and dethroned the boss, but he still needs to find the eyes of his family members. He knows what he must do, but first, a nap. This Season was exhausting and I can not believe I touched the highlights in under 2,000 words. Hopefully I touched all the key points.
While Kurapika recovers the gang prepares for the next Story Arc, Greed Island here we come!
Thanks for reading!