In seventh grade, my friend Jackie thought it would be fun to have our fortunes told for her birthday party. After loading up on Chinese takeout and piling into her mother’s station wagon, we arrived at a small, one-story house on Main Street. Wedged between doctors’ offices and minor law firms, a large neon sign stood outside of the house that read, “Madame Athena’s Fortune Telling” followed by a list of divination types: palm-reading, tarot, and the like.
Chattering nervously, we waited on a couch in the living room. One by one, we went into a small side room. My turn approached when my friend Erica exited the room, smiling widely at whatever fortune she had received. I walked in, greeted by a small woman approximately the age of my mother, and a folding card table with two chairs.
She asked me a series of questions, designed to draw out as much information as possible. I responded to all of them, but was fairly tight-lipped with my answers. They were not long, and I did not elaborate. As such, what she was able to tell me about my future was very limited.
“My fortunes are for people who are alive, like you, Chrollo. I’m guessing that the requiem is meant to help you, not the dead.”
-Neon Nostrade, Hunter x Hunter 2011, episode 51
Neon Nostrade is presented as a vapid, silly girl for the majority of her screentime in Hunter x Hunter. She has an outlook that is similarly selfish to the view my friends and I possessed at the same age of having our fortunes told. However, Neon shows glimpses of empathy and intelligence regarding her fortune-telling.
This is required of a good fortune-teller, and Neon regards herself as one of the best, because divination acts as a contract between the diviner and recipient. For example, when Jackie suggested Madame Athena for her birthday party, she indubitably had something specific in mind that she wanted an answer to. She went into that little side room with the folding table and two chairs. She offered the correct information to the diviner, and the small woman provided her with advice, which Jackie translated into what she wanted to hear.
“A one-hundred-percent accurate fortune written in verse. The ability to see the future. I stole this power from Nostrade’s daughter.”
-Chrollo Lucifer, Hunter x Hunter 2011, episode 54
Where Neon asserted that her fortunes were always correct, she also saw them as more of a roadmap to one’s future rather than a hard and fast truth. In her own words, her fortunes are for the living and made to help them. However, upon acquiring Neon’s power, Chrollo sees them as a definite future. His interpretation of divination is far more rigid than Neon’s. Chrollo’s reliance on a future defined by Neon’s power is what leads to Hisoka’s exploitation of that power.
Upon receiving his fortune, Hisoka immediately manipulates the information flow from himself to the rest of the Spiders. As Chrollo had already established that the fortunes are 100 percent accurate, Hisoka receives little questioning in regards to the verse he shares. Ultimately, his personal interpretation of his true fortune is what becomes Hisoka’s undoing. It predicted that events involving Kurapika would lead Hisoka to being alone with Chrollo. Hisoka narrows in on this piece of information because he has wanted to fight Chrollo.
When my friend Jackie received her fortune, she told us bits and pieces of it. Within a week, she ended up confessing to, and dating, the boy that she liked. Most likely, the information she focused on involved this boy. Indubitably, the questions that she asked and the answers that she gave allowed the fortune teller to offer a road map for Jackie’s actions. However, ultimately, it was still a road map. Based on my own experiences with the same fortune-teller, I can assume that the fortune was painted with a broad enough brush to prove true provided that Jackie filled in the blanks herself, leading to the desired event of a boyfriend.
Likewise, both Hisoka and Chrollo’s fortunes are open to interpretation from the recipient. Hisoka’s machinations lead to his desire to be alone with Chrollo; however, the event is hardly a happy one for Hisoka, because Chrollo has been completely neutered by Kurapika.
Just as Neon says, her fortunes are guidelines for the living, rather than Chrollo’s initial impression of a defined future. The name of “fortune teller” suggests exactly this. Neon, and now Chrollo, are telling the fortune of a specific person. Hunter x Hunter makes it clear that their future is still ultimately decided by the choices that they make.