Antagonists are the second most important characters in any story, right behind the protagonists themselves. After all, they are the ones that drive the conflict. And without conflict, do you even have a story? The answer is no.
Hunter X Hunter has a lot of incredible villains. There’s the cold genius Chrollo and the Phantom Troupe behind him. Meruem and the Chimera Ants. All of the Zoldycks, particularly Illumi. Razer and… yeah, no, he was the only good Greed Island villain. HxH has some of the best villains in the Shounen genre.
But let’s be real. None of them come close to the first bad guy of the series. Everyone’s favorite psycho-pedophile-magician, Hisoka.
Now, this won’t be a typical analysis. Mainly because we don’t really know anything about where Hisoka came from (speaking as an anime viewer who hasn’t read the manga yet; please don’t spoil anything) or what he really wants beyond ‘fun’. For all we know, he may be a demon straight out of hell!
No. I want to look at what makes Hisoka such a unique antagonist. That being his relationship with our protagonist, Gon.
See, Hisoka has a funny little quirk about him. No, I’m not talking about him being a pedophile or his pension for fake magic tricks. You see, he, like most Shounen protagonists, loves a great fight. He will stop at nothing to get one, even if it means betrayal or, even more terrifying, waiting.
Hisoka doesn’t see Gon as an obstacle to overcome towards his goal. To him, Gon is just another plaything. One that isn’t quite there yet. Often times, he talks about Gon like he’s a fruit. There are multiple times where he straight up says the kid isn’t ‘ripe’ yet. He doesn’t just want to fight Gon right now. It wouldn’t be any fun if he did, given the insane power gap between the two.
But that doesn’t mean he’ll sit around and wait. Oh no! Hisoka actively pushes Gon to be stronger at every turn!
Take, for example, their first meeting at Heavens Arena. Hisoka sits down, blocking off Gon and Killua’s path to the 200th floor. Not because he wants to keep Gon from going there; in fact, he wants the kid to get there! But he knows the two aren’t strong enough to survive there. So, almost like a demented parent, he acts to keep Gon safe.
Then again in that same arc, during their fight! Hisoka could just wipe the floor with the kid using his superior abilities and his powers. Instead, he takes the time to teach Gon. He teaches him about how Nen categories can be deduced by a person’s personality, then teaches him about how tricky these powers can be when he asks when he stuck Gon with the bungee-gum!
Hisoka isn’t just Gon’s greatest rival! He’s the kid’s teacher!
And in a sick sort of way, he’s his friend! Hisoka has not once, but twice come to Gon’s aide! The first in Greed Island, when he proved essential for Gon and Killua to defeat Razer. The second in the Election Arc, when he doesn’t kill Aluka and allows her to heal Gon. Reminder: this guy is the antagonist!
This dude is the ultimate encapsulation of chaos. You never know what he’s gonna do next. Will he be helping our heroes? Fighting against them? Or will he be off doing his own thing entirely? The answer is: he’ll be doing whatever satisfies him. No matter who he has to make an enemy to do it. He doesn’t care. He’s got the power to overcome any of them.
And if that ain’t terrifying as hell, then I don’t know what is.