My twitter timeline is crying about Leorio and I’ve been burnt by bad anime, and that makes it the perfect time to talk about this precious, most important dweeb of HxH.
Leorio … hm. Leorio is complicated. Leorio is actually one of the most complicated characters on the series, because he interacts with the story on more levels than most other character that’s showed up until now. Every other character is deeply entrenched in the story: their lives, their worries, their hopes. Everyone except Leorio (and Komugi, to some extent), who’s been given a much bigger role outside of the story, as part of the narrative.
The narrative uses Leorio as a reflective surface to circumstances and characters we encounter in HxH. In a world where we encounter weird, inhuman and inhumane things, Leorio’s role is often to show us how things should be[*]. He’s the Regular Guy who has to work very hard if he wants to reach unlikely things; he’s the guy who has bodily functions; the guy with the healthy mind; he’s the guy who can look at something, point at it, and say, “this isn’t what we should be doing”.
([*]- this puts the Trick Tower escapade with Letoute on a much more problematic note, by the by. The only way I can even try to explain it to myself in a way that doesn’t make me slightly ill is that Leorio took advantage of something that was offered to him freely, but even that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can justify this with ‘but it was a new series back then!’ and ‘all shounen do that!’ and ‘Togashi didn’t do it again!’, but … I’m still very unhappy with that scene.)
A lot of times this role is covered up with humour - Leorio’s the one who needs a bathroom after walking for hours in search for the Kiriko before the hunter exam; he’s the one who gets how wrong the two-choice quiz is, gets incredibly upset by it and tries to fix it (violently, but still); he’s the only one who lasted through the first phase who expressed that it was difficult; he’s the one who stood up to Hisoka; he’s one of the few characters to be shown to even have a sex drive — as you can see, the list can go on and on and on.
It’s Leorio’s humanity that tells us just how unusual the other characters are in their abilities, talents, focus and drive. Leorio is Togashi’s way of calling plot points and characters out as well as letting us know that there are other angles to the story that are worth considering.
Mind, this role of his in the story isn’t his only part in it. He’s still a character like the others, except that in his closet there are a few more hats for him to choose from! There’s plenty yet to say about Leorio as an in-story character, but this post isn’t about that. :)