「ツミ×ト×ツメ」 (Tsumi × to × Tsume)
“Sin × And × Claw”
Author’s Note: Please be very careful to avoid divulging any information about upcoming events from the manga. When in doubt, don’t post it – and even if it’s remotely possible to view it as a minor spoiler, please spoiler-tag it. Thanks for your cooperation.
I just wish this series would go on forever. Is that really so much to ask?
I’ve been operating under the assumption that Hunter X Hunter 2011 would be ending at Episode 148 or 149 (for logistical reasons I’m actually happier it’s 148), so this week’s announcement by Han Megumi really didn’t come as a surprise. It’s probably for the best, in fact, as I would hate to see this unimpeachably great anime suffer from a decline in quality, as it surely would if it transitioned to original material. That doesn’t change the fact that hearing the news quasi-officially really brings home the immediacy of the situation, and Hunter X Hunter’s absence is going to leave a pretty big hole in my life – it’s been a part of it for three years. After today, five episodes left.
It’s funny how the “Election” arc feels almost light-hearted after “Chimera Ant”, because there’s an alarmingly high body count here. Tone means a lot with Togashi – while violence is nearly a constant with Hunter X Hunter, there are times when it carries a heavier weight of consequence and tragedy. One might even say that the series has tended to alternate between arcs with a more action-driven “shounen” tone, and those that are more reflective and melancholy – Hunter Exam-Zoldyck Family-Heaven’s Arena-York Shin-Greed Island-Chimera Ant-Election – with the even-numbered arcs being the graver. I suppose the D*** C*** arc will be the one to put that to the test.
This episode packs a lot into 22 minutes (maybe even a little too much, though that’s a minute quibble), but what really stands out for me is the reminder of just how crazy – and crazy strong – Hisoka and Illumi are. I think they’re a different sort of crazy, even if it’s interesting to speculate on which one is the crazier. Hisoka is more of a true psychopath – he’s quite rational and even-keeled. It’s just that he’s operating from an incredibly venal set of priorities. Illumi is more delusional, more the straight-up nutjob – he has much less of a grasp of reality than Hisoka does, and seems convinced that what he’s doing is perfectly normal and for the best interests of everyone (and the ones he sacrifices aren’t worthy of factoring into the equation). For that reason (among others) my money would be on Hisoka if he ever decided to take Illumi out, but we’ll touch base on that shortly.
The election is continuing, with Pariston continuing to more than triple his nearest rival (Cheadle) but not seriously threaten 50%. It becomes clear pretty early on (and much more clear not much later) that the so-called “Seirin Group” is no match for Pariston strategically, even if Loupe fancies himself a smarty-pants. It’s also clear that the troops they sent off to do battle with Illumi and his army (in truth, an army of one is all he really needed) are no match for them – they’re wiped out, to a man (including Bushidora – so much for ambition), by Hisoka and Illumi. Hisoka tips his hand that he plans to pull a double-cross on Illumi after finding a map on one of the victims, but Illumi is already ahead of him, because of his “bird” in Killua’s camp. And it turns out that bird isn’t a Canary but Kikyou herself – who’s planted a spycam on Tsubone, and used it to see everything she sees.
This, of course, tells us that Kikyou is flat-out working with Illumi here – not a surprise, but I wouldn’t take it as confirmation that Silva is on-board with that approach. In fact, it could be argued that Illumi is working on Kikyou’s behalf and Tsubone – who seems to have been genuinely unaware that she was being used – is working on Silva’s. Unfortunately when Tsubone uses her “Rider’s High” ability to allow she and Amane to take to the air and scour the sky for anyone spying on Killua’s airship, she was actually spying on it herself, and this allows Illumi and his needlemen (and Hisoka, though no one seems aware of his presence) to be present when Killua lands the airship with the intent of taking the car he’s asked Canary to have meet him the rest of the way to the hospital.
This is where we get a good notion of the depth of Illumi and Hisoka’s particular psychoses. When Illumi offers his own life in a trade-off for the rest of the family not being at-risk, he’s genuinely willing – convinced he’ll live on in Killua’s heart forever as his most-beloved person, causing him terrible guilt. Meanwhile Hisoka is nearly orgiastic in contemplating which double-cross will bring him the most fun – should be kill Alluka and earn Killua’s wrath? Or save Alluka from Illumi, earning his wrath? After Illumi makes his offer – which would lead to a boring result for him – Hisoka decides the best course is to kill Alluka and turn Killua against him, than take out Killua and enrage Illumi. Seriously, this dude is all kinds of fucked up. Thank goodness for us.
It’s Tsubone who’s thrown a spanner into the works, though – by revealing herself she re-activated the request-wish cycle with Alluka, which allows her to try and make amends for having unwittingly sabotaged Killua’s mission. At the cost of two more fingernails she earns a wish, which she grants to Killua, and rather than wish for Illumi’s death he tells Nanika to heal Tsubone’s hand. In doing to he turns over one of his hole cards, because this reveals a secret Illumi didn’t know – Something never makes a cruel wish after healing someone. This is a big moment, because it tells us in fact that Something isn’t evil in at least one sense – the ill-fortune that results from Nanika’s actions is laid at the feet of the wish-maker’s intentions.
That’s enough to buy off Illumi as to Killua’s mission to save Gon, but not as to Alluka in general – and each brother makes a threat. Illumi promises that unless Killua tells him everything he’s hiding about Something, he’ll keep trying to kill Alluka. And Killua (who’s turning into a regular Lag Seeing) tells Illumi that if he refers to Something as a “thing” again, he’ll disown Illiumi as a brother. But Killua is a good poker player, and he refuses to show that last card – the “final rule” that if known, Killua is convinced would turn the entire family against him. In the short term, it seems, he’s free to pursue his goal – he can use Alluka to try and save Gon. But in terms of the family struggle this has been a mere skirmish, and the war rages on.
All this has convinced Hisoka that he has no choice but to let events play out for the moment – which frees him up to perform another errand. Teradein has proved a paper tiger, and he goes on the air with news of Bushidora’s death and involves Morel’s name as an ally – which pisses Morel off in a big way, as he’s not interested in Teradein for anything more than his temporary usefulness. Rather than allow his identity as the killer to potentially be revealed, Hisoka calmly takes out Teradein – the news of which hits in the midst of the sixth vote, which ends up reducing the field to four candidates – Pariston (who seems to have a sizable faction prepared to vote against him at any cost), Leorio, Cheadle and Mizaistrom (who actually strikes me as the best of the potential chairmen). Here as with Killua’s quest to save Gon, it seems the rendezvous with destiny is fast approaching.