12 (Nice) Days of Anime 2011 No. 7 – Chain of Judgment
Since today is Hunter x Hunter day over here, I figured I may as well make it a double-dip by dedicating today’s second 12 Days moment to the original series!
The original Hunter x Hunter is essentially two arcs: The initial 30-episode tournament arc, and after a six-episode story, the series launches into the 26-episode YorkShin arc that ends the series, and which is continued in the first OVA. From what I’ve seen, it’s the best storyline in Hunter x Hunter, and Kurapika has a lot to do with that.
It may seem at first that the shift in Kurapika’s demeanor is bizarre, but it’s actually not — it’s just that Kurapika has presumably been such an isolated, driven young man for so long that actually being around people he likes and for whom he cares has Kurapika wavering ever so slightly from the reason he wants to be a Hunter to begin with. However, it’s when he stumbles upon the final part of the Hunter Exam and undergoes intense Nen training that Kurapika recaptures the resolve that keeps him going.
What really works for me with Kurapika’s characterization in this arc is how he is simultaneously obsessed with murdering all the Spiders at all costs, and yet how he retains such a frighteningly cold, detached, logical demeanor about his mission, as well. Unlike many anime characters who seek vengeance, Kurapika knows full well that revenge will not dissipate the pain he feels due to the slaughter of his clan. He simply seeks the justice that his people cannot receive via normal means due to the power the Spiders wield. It’s that self-awareness that makes Kurapika’s obsession so scary: He loses himself in emotion a couple of times, but for the most part he is fully aware of what he is doing and why he is doing it, and it’s clear how heavy the burden weighs on him. If there’s one thing the artists do right in this arc, it’s making that burden always clear in Kurapika’s eyes.
There’s not one real moment that stands out in the YorkShin arc to me; it’s all Kurapika’s story, and how he willingly lowers himself to the level of the Spiders to capture and kill the predator. He is not as cruel or ruthless as they are, but certain things Kurapika does make the line between him and the Spiders quite blurry.