I have to admit I am really starting to enjoy watching this series, although I started reading the manga and was shocked at the great difference in the darkness between the two. This episode was another solid foundation to the build up of the story and as usual had the lighter elements of comedy thrown in.
So the episode picks up right where it left off, with the Hunter candidates running a marathon in order to progress to the second stage of the exam. People have already started dropping out and Tonpa the "Rookie Crusher" takes pleasure in enlisting the help of the trio of brothers in order to crush the spirit of Nicolas whose slightly obese body hinders him around about 50 kilometres into the race.
Leorio gets to the verge of giving up but then reminds himself that he really needs to become a Hunter and as a result throws away his suitcase and pride in order to keep up with the examiner. He and Kurapika have another discussion regarding their reasons for becoming Hunters, even going as far as revealing some of their dark secrets and personal information - Kurapika points out that even though Leorio may not be bright and is unpleasant, he isn't in fact a shallow person. Meanwhile on a different emotional set-up, Gon and his new friend Kilua decide to have a race and when they pass Leorio and Kurapika it is somehow slipped into conversation that Leorio is not that much older than the youngsters...............Really
Eventually they all get out of the tunnel and are ready to progress through the Swindlers Forrest, right after meeting a certain creature that dwells there.
I liked this episode because it develops Leorio's character from a selfish money grubbing idiot to another troubled and traumatised member of the group. There is also development in his and Kurapika's friendship through the exchange of some deep dark secrets and all of this is nicely offset by Gon and Kilua's childish and innocent race to the finish line. As I said at the beginning the manga is much darker and this goes for this episode as well, but I wouldn't complain too much and in all honesty that isn't something to stop me from watching this.
So the next episode we see the candidates pass through Numere forrest, where Hisoka decides to indulge in a little fun and ends up being attacked by Leorio and fighting Gon. Should be an interesting episode!