Following Chimera Ant – where Hunter x Hunter challenges humanity’s collective existential crisis in an arc that is equal parts uplifting and depressing – manga artist Yoshihiro Togashi knew exactly what his emotionally exhausted viewers needed. Someone to hate. Pariston Hill fits this role perfectly.
A conniving and manipulative individual who projects a wonderfully urbane demeanor when speaking to the public, Pariston Hill is the very caricature of a modern politician, actively loathed by his peers while maintaining the majority of votes in an election. Watching Pariston for too long on screen can induce rage in a viewer, as they grit their teeth along with in-universe acquaintances forced to associate with him.
Pariston is a welcome respite from Chimera Ant, where we come to know the intricacies of the East Gorteau Palace architectural floor plan, but are left with our own muddled thoughts on the Chimera Ant King Meruem. Meruem’s demise is not meant to be felt as a happy victory for humanity, but rather an expression of it’s highest highs and lowest lows. Viewers leave the arc understandably exhausted, with conflicting emotions of pride and disdain.
The scars from Chimera Ant hang over the 13th Hunter Chairman Election, never allowing us to fully store our thoughts away. Knov now wears a cap to hide his balding head after he was reduced to a stammering mess by Neferpitou’s Nen aura. Morel is shown attached to both his cell phone and an IV. Killua Zoldyck’s entire mission is steeped in both guilt and anger towards his best friend, Gon Freecss, whom he is trying to save, while Gon himself lies lifeless in a hospital bed.
With the arrival of Gon’s father, Ging Freecss, a reunion of father and son is all but inevitable. However, Ging is as complex of an individual as King Mereum. Like Gon, we are presented with different facets of Ging and left to develop our own conclusions regarding his character. He is admittedly self-serving. Ging left Gon in the arms of those who would take care of him with churlish regard for becoming Gon’s father figure himself. While we mourn Netero, Meruem, and countless others, Hunter x Hunter also presents us with the enigma of Ging. In turn, the series also gifts us and the various Hunters with a repository for our nebulous feelings in Pariston.
Pariston an easy character to loathe, and additionally an easy character to vote for. The quintessential politician – the closest to an incumbent in this election as the Vice-Chairman – Pariston represents the easy way out. While the other Hunters and Zodiacs squabble amongst themselves, Pariston is already well-known. He desires to win the position, regardless of whether he actually wants perform the duties of chairman, which make his machinations easy to understand. He appears to accept terms that would put him at a distinct disadvantage, and then molds his plans accordingly, demonstrating no small amount of intelligence. Voters may not agree with his ideas, but voting for Pariston is simple as one doesn’t have to educate themselves on other candidates. A vote for Pariston is also a vote to expedite the election process. This is to the dismay of his fellow candidates, who are driven to band together in an effort to stop Pariston.
Additionally, Pariston is surrounded by the people’s choice in Leorio Paladinight and the person most suited for the job in Cheadle Yorkshire. The presentation of these choices highlights how easily swayed voters tend to be. Upon punching Ging in a public setting, Leorio skyrockets to the top of the polls, in spite of his admission that he would devote all of his time and effort as Chairman towards saving his friend, Gon. He hardly has the interests of the Hunter Association in mind; however, Leorio appeals to us and the voting populace, as a reminder of the facets of humanity that were so celebrated in Chimera Ant. Meanwhile, the person who does have the Association’s best interests in mind, Cheadle, quietly garners votes as the one best fit to be Chairman.
Happy days aren’t necessarily here again in the 13th Hunter Chairman Election, but simpler days seemingly are. Every flash of Pariston’s pearly-whites potentially induces an involuntary twitch from audience members and Hunter x Hunter characters alike. We still may not know how to feel about Meruem or Ging, but we can unite in our loathing for Pariston and the entire bureaucratic process.