Among the countless lovable characters in Hunter x Hunter, Kurapika is one of the most popular. He’s set on avenging his clan after losing everyone he loved at 12 at the hands of the Phantom Troupe. Despite his aversion to opening up to others, Kurapika is shown to be kind and caring to his friends. This side of him is shown less and less the closer he gets to his ultimate goal; disposing of the Phantom Troupe, whether at the cost of his health, morality, or future. The reader understands his pain and reasoning, but there is one thing that readers do not understand as much and it’s Kurapika’s gender. So is Kurapika a boy or a girl?
Kurapika is a young boy belonging to the Kurta Clan. There has been some confusion about his gender due to his appearance, but Kurapika has never claimed he identifies as anything other than a man.
But Hunter x Hunter fans over the years have mistaken Kurapika for a girl time and time again. Why is that? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into Kurapika’s character, why he may look like a girl to some people and the concept of girly-looking boys in anime.
Why do some people think Kurapika is a girl?
For most fans of Hunter x Hunter, there was never any confusion about Kurapika’s gender. In the original Japanese version of the manga, Kurapika uses entirely gender-neutral pronouns. This isn’t strange at all, as there are many pronouns you can use for yourself in Japanese, depending on your gender, age, and even social status.
Kurapika has always leaned on looking more androgynous than girly or manly. However, the confusion stems from the fact that he has what many would describe as feminine features.
Kurapika has long-ish hair, at least for a guy. His hair isn’t quite shoulder-length, but it isn’t a typical boy cut either. Kurapika isn’t the only man to have this hair by far, but it adds to his seeming more feminine.
His voice, especially at the beginning of the anime when interacting with his friends, is soft and has feminine overtones. This is because Kurapika is voiced by a female voice actress in both Japanese and English. This isn’t uncommon at all. Many young boys are voiced by female voice actresses, including Naruto, Goku, Edward Elric, Ash Ketchum, and Armin Arlert.
In the earlier seasons, Kurapika wears a tabard, a flowy garment resembling a coat. It seems to be a piece of clothing unique to the Kurta claim, but some may mistake it for a dress. This is far from the truth, as we also see Kurapia’s friend, Pairo, wear a tabard too. None of these characteristics by themselves make someone more feminine. It’s their combination that makes fans think Kurapika is a girl.
Chrollo and Kurapika in the Yorknew arc
When Kurapika chains Chrollo up in the Yorknew arc, he’s disguised as a woman. Chrollo says to him, “I didn’t expect the Chain User to be a woman.” In response to this, Kurapika gets mad, rips off his wig, and says, “I don’t remember telling you I was female. Don’t rely on appearances, pay more attention to what you are saying. They could be your last words.”
Chrollo, although he has his moments, is meant to be one of the smartest characters in Hunter x Hunter. It was unclear why he couldn’t tell that Kurapika wasn’t a girl, especially with how close they were sitting in the car.
The simplest explanation is that Chrollo messed up and misgendered Kurapika by accident. It was dark, and Kurapika looked androgynous enough to be mistaken for a girl even by fans watching the anime, so Chrollo made a mistake.
Another theory is that considering the scene as a whole, Chrollo was trying to provoke Kurapika into attacking him. Perhaps he misgendered Kurapika on purpose or purposefully implied that he didn’t think a woman would be able to capture him to make Kurapika upset.
Kurapika is quick to anger when it comes to the Phantom Troupe, so Chrollo didn’t have to antagonize him for long before Kurapika got mad. This is why he lost his temper, removed his wig, and insulted Chrollo.
Androgynous characters in Togashi’s work and anime as a whole
Togashi, the creator of Hunter x Hunter, has explored androgynous-looking characters in his work before. In Hunter x Hunter there are masculine-looking women like Bisky, feminine-looking men like Kurapika, transgender girls like Alluka, and characters with a totally ambiguous gender like Neferpitou.
For some characters, their gender identity is a key part of their story. It’s impossible to miss the metaphors for the trans experience in Alluka’s character. When Killua tries to banish Nanika so Alluka can live a normal life, Alluka tells him that he’s wrong to do that and that Nanika is a part of who she is. This conflict’s conclusion is all about Alluka’s struggle to be accepted by her family for who she is and Killua’s struggle to support his little sister correctly.
On the other hand, Kurapika’s gender is seemingly unimportant to his story. His story is all about grief and revenge. How much of your humanity would you give up to honor the memory of your loved ones? Is Kurapika’s rage righteous, or is he slowly becoming the villain in his own story? Is Kurapika’s self-destructive journey going to end with him getting any peace of mind, or will he keep feeling as angry as ever?
Kurapika’s story reflects the saying, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves,” except Kurapika is prepared to dig his own grave. That’s what his story is about, and it has no bearing on his gender. This is why in some versions of the manga, Kurapika is given female pronouns.
Language shapes how we think about concepts like gender and identity, so in Japan, there is no issue with Kurapika being gender-neutral because gender-neutral pronouns are normal. This becomes an issue when Hunter x Hunter has to be translated to languages with no gender-neutral pronouns.
Although “they” is slowly becoming more used as an English gender-neutral pronoun, it wasn’t nearly as popular when Hunter x Hunter was translated. This might explain the confusion that some fans feel about Kurapika’s gender. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and Hunter x Hunter is not an anime that shies away from gender complexities, so feel free to add to these discussions in the fandom.