If you’ve been following my channel for even a short amount of time, you’ll likely know about my tendency to champion the idea that perspective is significant. Some of the most well crafted and nuanced characters in the medium are only as well realized as they are because of how much more substantial they seem when biases are put aside, and we attempt to view the world through their eyes. Hunter x Hunter in particular invites the audience through dialogue, theming, and more to view different characters through each of their respective mindsets, in order to get the full scope of the story experience. Usually this applies to the more antagonistic characters like the Chimera Ants or the Phantom Troupe. But if we take this concept and turn it on its head, we can neutralize what tend to be biased views on the protagonistic characters of the story. An extremely interesting case opens up here if we stop looking at Gon through a romanticized lens, and instead think of him as just another functional character in Togashi”s world. With this more neutral mindset, parallels suddenly begin springing up that may not have ever seemed plausible before. Notable to me are the pretty incredible similarities that become present between Gon and Uvogin when you stop and think about it. Both are simple characters in essence. Both love the thrill of fighting, both live honestly and with their heart on their sleeve, and both don’t really give a damn about people that aren’t associated with them. There are even more similarities, but most significantly of all to me, both Gon and Uvogin have a profound, extremely deep care for those closest to them. Somehow Nobunaga was able to sense this in Gon, and found it all very nostalgic and endearing. There’s a reason that he tried so hard to recruit Gon. He reminded him so much of his lost dear friend. However, as interesting as this comparison is, I believe that the most important parallels that can be drawn spring from some very fundamental similarities between Gon and Hisoka. And the key differences that can be then prized out are definitely something to take note of. These two share an extremely interesting dynamic. While the beginning of the story does all that it can to establish Hisoka as a completely foreign entity and one that Gon initially opposes, there is no doubt to me that Hisoka works as a very effective foil for Gon. A foil is a character, sometimes but not necessarily an antagonist, that contrasts another character, typically the protagonist, in order to highlight one or more particular traits within the protagonist, to make them feel like a deeper character that can be properly examined. There is a lot of variability on this subject and there are different types of foils. But the key here is that a foil can use both similarities and differences to highlight the very fine lines between two distinct people. In some cases, foils tackle how key contrasts between two people with base similarities can bring about a pair of characters who seem completely different. And this is exactly what Hisoka is to Gon. Obviously the differences between the two are there for all to see. However, if you compare them side-by-side, they’re actually eerily alike in a surprising number of ways. Both are undoubtedly childish, as can be derived from the origin of their nen abilities. Which have been highlighted many times throughout the series as a look into the personality of the user. Hisoka’s Bungee Gum is inspired from his favorite childhood chewing gum, and Gon’s Jajanken is inspired by rock-paper-scissors. But both are pretty juvenile. Both men are instinctual with Hisoka’s hedonistic philosophy totally guiding his moment-to-moment actions, and Gon’s primal survival instincts completely taking over in the moments that matter the most. Both are largely unaffected by death as well, though for different reasons. But these are shallow and insignificant comparisons relative to a couple of parallels that I’m going to draw here. Firstly, Gon and Hisoka are unsettlingly similar when it comes to their morals. now if you haven’t seen my video on Gon’s morality, you may want to do so to get the full idea of my opinion and what I’ll be referring to here. If you have seen it, you’re probably sick to death of me talking about morals, But you’ll have to endure it just a little bit longer. What I bring forth in that video is the idea that Gon is more or less oblivious to traditional morality, and that at times he is not aware of or biased when it comes to right and wrong. What he concerns himself with instead are the things and people that he likes, those being things that benefit him and things that interest him. Since that video, some of come to me saying that they interpreted Gon’s moral outlook as a byproduct of growing up in a darwinistic environment, combined with a very strong understanding of the resolve it takes to achieve your dreams in such a cruel world. And I’m on board with that. In general, the idea in those interpretations and put forth in my video at its simplest form is that Gon is primal and animalistic, motivated by his own needs more than anything else. You can disagree with this point of view if you want and what a lot of people might be interested to know is that I don’t entirely agree with it to the extent that I presented in that video myself. But I’m going to use that line of thinking here. Now one of the most intriguing things about that idea is that something similar can be applied to Hisoka. He’s more extreme than Gon, being completely disinterested in right and wrong and more concerned about pleasure than the things that benefit him, But the main similarity here is that Hisoka is like Gon in that his actions are completely guided by things that interest him. This is sort of similar to the point that I made about both men being instinctual Why does Hisoka tag along with Gon and Killua during Greed Island? Because he thought the whole thing would make for a fun and interesting diversion. Why does he continuously push Gon to learn and improve? Because it furthers his interests in the boy which contributes to his ultimate goal. Why does he want to fight Chrollo? Because the thought of it makes him so unbearably horny. While neither Gon or Hisoka are concerned with morals the big difference here. Is that while Gon’s interests are selfish, but relatively harmless, Hisoka’s interests involved violence, death and destruction more often than not. A man that gets off by fighting whose life goal is essentially to experience as much pleasure as possible is naturally going to wreak havoc, and Hisoka does a lot of the time, because like Gon, He is guided by his interests in an animalistic way. But an intriguing thought arises when you ponder a very simple yet unsettling idea: The idea that one of the only significant things separating Hisoka and Gon is their interests. While there are some differences between the two like Gon’s fixation on promises and his naive innocence when it comes to human nature, interests, instinct, and a common thread with morals is what I’ll be looking at here because the two approach morality in a similar way, But their differing priorities mean that they are two very different people. And I can understand that it might rub some people the wrong way when I say that Gon’s priorities are one of the few things separating him from a guy like Hisoka, But I have to stress just how much a person’s priorities in life can tell you about that person. Long-term priorities don’t tend to change from day to day in most cases because they are deeply integrated with the type of people we are. So, take this ideal with the disclaimer that it says as much about the differences between the two men as it does about the similarities. Gon is interested in his loved ones, having simple fun, learning new things, and finding his dad. But what if his interests were not quite as benign? What if Gon’s sole interest was fighting? Logic dictates that he would become someone similar to Hisoka in this instance. Now obviously there are very key personality differences between the two that are important to note. Hisoka is very different from Gon and that he has a flirty, nonchalant, sadistic, mean-spirited disposition. It’s worth saying that he’s a whimsical liar, a Transmuter, to contrast the simpler nature of Enhancers like Gon, but what I’m trying to say here Is that if Gon shifted his animal-like endeavors to focus on combat and nothing else, he and Hisoka would share a distinct character trait. The main question here is what if the divergence point between the two characters was not a divergence at all? Essentially Hisoka is an example of what Gon could become if Gon’s sole interest was the joy he got from fighting. However, as easy as it is to say that and marvel at how quickly Gon could become someone like Hisoka, the fact is that for it to happen he would have to completely disregard everything else in his life, as Hisoka seems to have done, and this is a huge stopping point. Now do me a favor and keep this thought in the back of your mind because we’re going to revisit it very soon. Gon and Hisoka are two selfish people But a huge difference between them is that Gon care extends from himself to those within his inner circle. While Hisoka literally only cares about his own pleasure. Significantly, both have a larger-than-life drive to achieve the things that they set out for, but extending from this, the two men have an absolutely dominant fixation and love for fighting. Obviously, Hisoka’s feelings towards combat are more developed, and like I said, his fixation on fighting is much stronger than Gon’s, as demonstrated with Gon’s extreme fear when first experiencing Hisoka’s bloodlust. But Gon displays tiny moments here and there that are not unlike what one would associate with a younger, Hisoka. And I believe that Hisoka is so enamored with Gon, not just because of his potential and drive, But partly because he sees some of himself in him. Think of the scene after his first encounter with Hisoka, where he admits that he’s experienced a sort of thrill, in experiencing mortal fear for the first time, with his innocent curiosity instinctively making him yearn for the sensation again. Or even the scene on the boat on the way to the tag challenge where Killua witnesses Gon literally shaking in anticipation of the mortal obstacle of Hisoka ahead of him. There’s also the scene after his fight with Hisoka in Heaven’s Arena where he determinately reflects that he needs to reach Hisoka’s level for no reason other than to get stronger, or he instance where he recklessly ignores the group’s plan and decides to sacrifice his limbs just to get a hit on Genthru in Greed Island. This one in particular is so interesting because Genthru was legitimately thrown off and scared by Gon’s sheer determination and willingness to go so far, and this moment brings to mind another primary Hunter x Hunter character who has no problem with sacrificing his limbs. I’m aware that the circumstances are quite different, but it’s an interesting parallel nonetheless. His stubbornness during the dodgeball game his insistence to fight Pitou even though his true goal was to save Kite, the examples are everywhere. Gon has a clear love, and maybe even lust, for combat, one that he initially played off as a byproduct of his quest to find Ging. But that has since evolved into one of the primary elements that define him as a person. While characters like Killua or Kurapika fight as a means to an end, Gon finds an extreme thrill in putting his life on the line and duking it out in battle. Apart from the obvious perversions and the difference in magnitude of these feelings, is this really that much different from the pleasure Hisoka gets from combat? The two really are incredibly similar when it gets right down to it. However while the two share many things in common, I did say that a narrative foil has to contrast the main character in some way. And it’s very clear that Hisoka and Gon are far from identical. I believe that where they deviate is when it comes to the nature of their relationships with others. Gon manages to incorporate a care for those close to him in a lot of the things that he does, while Hisoka doesn’t seem to care for anything at all except his own pleasure. Gon has a group of people that he genuinely loves, and while, I don’t think that we can rule out anything with a character as mysterious as Hisoka, I think that it’s probably safe to say that he doesn’t have such a group of friends. He has some sort of a connection with Machi and the strange relationship with Illumi, But nothing like the love Gon has for his inner circle. Remember when I said that in order for Gon to shift his interests to that of Hisoka, he would likely have to disregard everything in his life that doesn’t have to do with fighting. The main things stopping Gon from doing this and becoming someone like Hisoka are his friends and family. How could he possibly let go of them?
And since this is the major factor separating Gon and Hisoka, it would make sense to try and work back to see what contrasts between the two men’s lives may have caused this difference to occur. And here I’d like to draw some attention to Developmental psychology, a field of Psychology that has to do with how humans are shaped and developed at different parts of their lives. Developmental Psychology touts the concept of sensitive periods in which children are most predisposed to growing interests and attachment to things. These sensitive periods are critical for forming the type of person that the children will become. Of course they aren’t everything but they are significant. And they’re commonly known to occur around early childhood. Now related to this Gon had a family life with Mito and others as a child. Not a perfect one, but definitely a loving one. And this human connection instilled a simple care of others within him, turning him into a young man with the capacity to make close friends. Regarding Hisoka however, and even considering what we get from the one-shot written by Sui Ishida, we don’t really know what his early life was like. But both Togashi and Ishida definitely allude to the idea that it wasn’t conventional, even by the unusual standards of Hunter x Hunter. Hisoka does refer to his mother as a person that taught him some illusionary tricks, but that was so minimal that I think any conclusions drawn from it would be insubstantial. Keep in mind that a lot of what I’m about to say is just conjecture, because so little is known about Hisoka’s childhood. Maybe he’s just the way he is because he’s just the way he is, but with a character like this, I think that the floor is open to some theorycrafting. I hypothesized that somewhere down the line, Hisoka was met with a major life moment that led him on the path to ignore human connection. Whether that moment was traumatizing is up for debate, but something undoubtedly had to happen in Hisoka’s past for the man to become so purely self-involved. And while Hisoka was probably isolated and becoming more and more inwardly focused, Gon was receiving love and nurturing from his aunt Mito and all of the lively people of Whale Island. Above all I think that something like this is likely the cause for the fundamental differences between Gon and Hisoka. Please note that. I’m not saying that Hisoka was a helpless victim who should not take responsibility for his actions. Because that is not what I think at all. He may have been dealt a difficult hand but everyone has troubles in life to one degree or another, yet not everyone becomes a sexually charged psycho clown. Now if we accept a theory like this to be plausible this actually becomes a very somber point, that puts a sad tinge on Hisoka’s character. While it’s obvious that Hisoka is having the time of his life, It is a life that is undoubtedly lonely. I know that Hisoka probably doesn’t care about that, but it still begs the question: If the major thing separating gone from Hisoka is the simple presence of affection in early life, T=then how close was Hisoka to being someone who cared about and was capable of making true friends? Or to flip it the other way, how close was Gon to being a person that would walk a path of villainy? Like I said, it’s possible that Hisoka sees some of himself in Gon. And we see how crazy and insane Gon gets throughout the Chimera Ant Arc, yet this is still a boy who is good-natured and positive at heart. If this good nature and ability to make friends is all that separates him from one of the most dangerous killers in the setting, was something so simple really what prevented Gon from becoming someone resembling a villain? It’s a fascinating yet uneasy point that underscores how important it is to pay attention to individual circumstances in appreciating characterization. In Hunter x Hunter is the line between the good and the bad simply drawn by how much you’re exposed to human connection in your early years? Could something so simple as a lack of proper emotional affection be the cause of so much of the villainy in the series? As interesting as this thought is, and independent of how it may apply to Hisoka and Gon, it’s definitely a narrow minded way to look at it, especially when there are so many variables at play in determining who a person becomes. So for this reason, I don’t really buy into this method of thinking. Instead I like to take a different approach in thinking about it and say that in Hunter x Hunter, there’s no line separating the good and the bad, and in some instances, here is no good or bad, but rather just a myriad of people shaped and formed by their own personal experiences, a product of both of their environment and their inherent nature. Above all of the wonderful elements that this series has, this complexity of characterization is what keeps me coming back and reflecting on Hunter x Hunter time and time again. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on what I’ve said here in the comments below, And thanks very much again for taking the time to watch this video.