We’ve made it to the end of the main couples mini-series! In case you’re wondering what I’m referring to, start here before reading further.
*wipes brow* thanks for sticking with me and without further ado, I present to you the most fucked up, wonderfully dysfunctional couple: Hisoka and Illumi.
Digging Dirt Holes and Pillow Talk
In my last two pieces, I talked a lot about transitional moments being important to highlight the burgeoning confidence between Gon and Killua and Kurapika and Leorio respectively — so where does that put us with the sudden “shock” of Hisoka and Illumi? The revelation of their acquaintance unfolds over four distinct moments: the walkie talkie scene in part one, Illumi finishing Trick Tower after Hisoka, Illumi digging and sleeping in a hole in part four, and finally the aftermath of part five’s climax.
We know from word-of-mouth how Hisoka and Illumi/Gittrackur creep out the other participants; Hisoka, being a second time exam taker since he failed the first time after attacking a proctor, and Gittrackur… well… existing. They’re kindred violent spirits who closely orbit one another — from their matching couple-outfits to their intense aura of “stay-the-fuck-away-from-me-unless-you-wanna-die” with the skillsets to back it up. And as we see them increasingly share screen time and words, it further solidifies how these weirdos keep gravitating towards each other.
In the first part of the exam, Gittrackur calls Hisoka on his cool GPS-capable walkie talkie, telling him to wrap up his current murdering spree:
Using a predetermined mode of long-distance communication shows us that they have an established, intimate relationship. By not showing us at this point just how acquainted they are, the anime team, again, uses time efficiently to gradually reveal their relationship while also developing the other two couples by giving them more screen time.
Before and after we see Hisoka and Illumi converse for the first time in the above scene, there actually have been hints they’re acquainted by being in frame together during zoomed out shots and even briefly in the OP:
They spend the majority of the actual exam doing their own thing to make it to the next phase, and they do it with the confidence that the other is also going to make it to the end as well. Their brief quipping when Gittrackur is the second person to complete Trick Tower (after Hisoka) is them, again, at a moment of rest and completion. They aren’t moving to the next stage — they’re instead sitting and waiting, and use that time wisely to flirt:
But it’s not until the fourth part of the exam on Zevil Island when they are completely stationary and “sweetly” bantering do we as viewers have confirmation that they are, ahem, very connected. They flirt and tease with intimate knowledge of the other’s idiosyncrasies (read: kinks) despite only knowing one another for “a short while,” when they’re physically still — Hisoka sitting on a log casually talking to Illumi while he digs a hole to sleep in (are you a gopher?):
While the audience first witnesses Gittrackur’s dramatic transformation back into Illumi, Hisoka has clearly seen this before, slyly revealing that no matter how many times he’s seen Illumi undress it’s always exciting to watch:
This entire scene is post-coital pillow talk before Illumi passes out in his newly dug hole for a week. But apparently Hisoka decided to edge himself so it’s only a matter of time before he reaches his breaking point (even his night spent in front of a tree to, uh, take the edge off isn’t enough). Illumi really left Hisoka hanging! Truly, they were meant for each other.
*coughs* Anyway, moving on-
Hisoka and Illumi’s relationship, shockingly enough, isn’t simply predicated on their sleeping together, but actually has a stronger foundation of knowing each other.
Hisoka and Illumi also largely stay out of each other’s choices when they pertain strictly to circumstances in their separate lives, which we see when Hisoka half-closes his eyes and leans against the wall in disinterest during Illumi’s confrontation with Killua, or when Illumi acknowledges Hisoka’s intrigue regarding Gon. They don’t cross each other’s boundaries unless one of them is about to interfere in another’s path, seen first when Illumi considers killing Gon because he wants to take Killua away from Illumi:
This is one of my favorite scenes of Illumi and Hisoka being the absolute most. The rapid switch from Illumi acknowledging Hisoka as having good (albeit questionable) taste in future adversaries to Hisoka reminding (read: threatening) Illumi about his boundaries of who he is and isn’t allowed to kill is so fucking well done. Illumi immediately knows he crossed a line and flippantly backs off, with their relationship still intact. Compared to Gon and Killua, who are still VERY early in the development of their newfound friendship and don’t have the experience of communicating their needs and boundaries yet, the direct opposite in Illumi and Hisoka’s adult relationship contrasts this really well.
The way they handle their relationship, and how they spend their time on screen communicating, is representative of an older, mature relationship. We don’t need to see how they came to be together, that development, or anything else because we’re already shown how different stages of relationships grow through the other two main couples. And by further showing us their interactions when they’re rooted in place for an extended period of time, which are built on unseen intimate, private experiences we are able to discern that yeah, these two really know each other. We don’t see them in a “dating” phase of a relationship; they’re already in the throes of one.
NEXT TIME ON HxH DETOURS: I take a deep dive into Killua’s excessive trauma and extremely fucked up family dynamics. GET EXCITED (because I sure as hell am)!