No surprise that Gon isn’t normal.
With their adventures in Heaven’s Arena continuing, the series shifts focus away from Gon and Killua for a couple of episodes as attention is brought to Hisoka where we may finally see just how deadly of an opponent he can be. Despite Gon being fully healed, he is banned from watching Hisoka’s fight by Wing and in his stead it is Killua who witnesses the fight. Hisoka is up against a formidable opponent in the martial artist Kastro, who Hisoka defeated once before. By past experiences with Hisoka’s character, it’s deduced that Kastro was in the unenviable position of a potent fighter who Hisoka had set his sights upon. Looking to prove he is a worthy enough opponent, he challenges Hisoka once again and quickly shows he’s much improved since their last encounter.
Through this fight we get to delve more into Nen abilities, and how each individual applies it to their own needs and fighting styles. The first to reveal their true Nen ability is Kastro, who has managed to create a pristine doppelganger of himself which he uses as part of his combination of attacks. Much to the shock of the audience Hisoka’s arm gets dismembered, but in the fashion of this toned down series, it isn’t quite as graphic as the original series or the manga since sparkles flow from the dismembered arm. It’s quite disappointing for me, personally, to see how they’re treating this darker side of the manga, but at this point there’s not much else to say about it.
Episode thirty-one ends off with Kastro confident in his victory as it appears Hisoka is on the ropes, but Hisoka is just that much of a wildcard and during the fight thus far has yet to show just what he is truly capable of. However, for those looking for the action to pick up with this shounen series, they should find this episode and the next a nice change of pace with only more fights to come.
In just a short amount of time Hisoka quickly turns the fight around for a complete and total victory over Kastro. Hisoka’s strength as a fighter is on display as he not only achieves a physical victory over Kastro, but a mental victory of him as he is able to breakdown and destroy every facet of his opponent. What looked like a fight that was in the bag for Kastro turned out to be something he was wholly unprepared for as the true beast behind the smile revealed itself, if only for a slight fraction of him.
Despite giving him a handicap of allowing Kastro take away both of his arms, everything went according to Hisoka’s plan as it is later revealed. With Machi of the Genei Ryodan (I refuse to call them the Phantom Troupe) giving a breakdown in the latter half of the episode of just how Hisoka achieved his victory, the series shows once again that Hunter X Hunter’s fights aren’t just simple brawls with super powers, but that they do have a cerebral aspect to them. There is some meticulous planning by the more cunning fighters in this series and Hisoka is one of them. If there was anything that bugged me in this section, it’s that Machi just comes off as spontaneously talking to herself when she explains Hisoka’s Nen ability, Bungee Gum. I know it’s done to explain Bungee Gum, but it kind of takes away from her character since it just comes off as her inexplicably having to explain something to herself.
On another point, fans of the original series will take notice that Machi’s hair colour was a dark blue to lavender, but as for Machi herself, her Nen ability is on display as she works her Nen stitching to reattach Hisoka’s severed arms just as good as new. It’s quite the creepy ability for a member of the Genei Ryodan to whom it is revealed that Hisoka is apart of, though not bound by. He definitely has an interest in the group akin to his interest in Gon and Killua, so just where and when his thirst for combat against them will arise is up to anyone’s guess.
Overall, the episode is a tale of two halves with the first half wrapping up the fight and the second half explaining the victory. Though the format worked in the manga for me, doing so in an animated medium just wasn’t as entertaining as the explanation felt dragged out. Still, the cerebral aspect of the fight and the revelation of Hisoka’s abilities are both interesting and insightful into how this series will work.
GO Rating: 3.5/5 (both episodes)
Hisoka is bound by no one.