Tonpa is a short, fat man with tan skin, brown hair, a large nose, and thick eyebrows. He wears a large, blue v-neck shirt with a white symbol resembling a lowercase "ｉ" on its right side, over a matching pair of light, blue-gray sweat pants. He is often seen carrying a satchel.
After attempting to pass the extremely difficult Hunter Exam several times, Tonpa began to enjoy the failures of new examinees so much that he actively began to try to crush their ambitions at the cost of never passing the exam himself. He is so fascinated by his hobby that he does not hesitate to put weak examinees in potentially lethal situations. However, despite the fact that he enjoys crushing the hopes and dreams of other examinees, he seemed to be slightly worried when Killua drank what he thought to be a lethal dose of laxatives. This shows that despite his faults, Tonpa has some level of standards and does not want to kill his fellow examinees. He puts up a friendly facade to earn the trust of rookies, and then deceives and manipulates them into failing.
Tonpa is nicknamed the "Rookie Crusher" by other examinees with more experience taking the exam. He has taken the exam 34 times but has never passed due to his goal of ruining the dreams of others. He often brags about his experience to those taking the Hunter Exam for the first time and then offers them a helping hand. Of course, this is merely subterfuge, as he takes an almost perverse pleasure in sabotaging their attempts to pass. Tonpa first took the Hunter Exam when he was ten years old. Despite the fact that he is incredibly arrogant about it, Leorio points out that failing the exam 34 times isn't exactly something to be proud of.
Hunter Exam arc
Tonpa introduces himself to Gon, Kurapika, and Leorio as well as other rookie applicants in the underground tunnel. He reveals that it's his thirty-fifth Hunter Exam and that he started when he was only 10, calling himself an expert examinee. He then points out some of the other regulars such as Bourbon, Cherry, Todo, the Amori Brothers, and Geretta. After Hisoka somehow removes the arms of another examinee, Tonpa tells the four that the murderous magician attacked an examiner last year and was disqualified. He then reveals that there are new examiners each year and that anyone is allowed to participate if they allow it. He adds that Hisoka took out 20 examinees last year and warns them to avoid him at all costs.
As Tonpa continues to sweet talk the group, other examinees overhear the conversation and say that they are the latest victims of Tonpa the "Rookie Crusher". Tonpa then offers them soft drinks and toasts to friendship and luck, chuckling to himself and revealing that they contain a strong laxative that will cause any examinee to forfeit. However, when Gon tastes the drink, he immediately lets it fall out of his mouth, telling Tonpa that it tastes weird and guessing that it went bad. Tonpa nervously apologizes, left in disbelief that Gon was able to detect it since the laxative is practically odorless and tasteless. Kurapika and Leorio then pour out their cans, leaving Tonpa flustered.
Tonpa falls to his knees and apologizes to the group, unable to believe that Gon was able to thwart his plan. He then thinks back to his encounter with Hanzo (#294), who he thought would be an easy target. However, when Tonpa offered him a can of juice, Hanzo quickly became serious and refused, stating that shinobi never eat or drink anything offered to them. He then thinks about his interaction with Nicholas (#187), who used his laptop to discover that it's Tonpa's thirty-fifth attempt at the Hunter Exam and that he holds the record for most consecutive tries at 30. Nicholas was also aware of his "Rookie Crusher" title and politely declined his juice offer. Tonpa then explains that examinee #301 was so strange that he decided not to even approach him. He recalls that only one of the examinees drank his juice: a young boy named Killua (#99). He guesses that he's around the same age as Gon and chuckles as he tells himself that the laxative should be taking effect soon. However, Killua spots Tonpa and happily asks for another can of juice since the nerves are making him thirsty. As Killua proceeds to quickly empty four more cans, Tonpa wonders how he isn't dying of dehydration. Killua then reveals that he has built up his resistance so that no poison will kill him. Tonpa is left in disbelief and wonders if the boy is resistant to everything. He worries about the current rookies again, but then happily realizes that they will make the exam more fun than usual.
After the Amori Brothers mock an exhausted Nicholas during the marathon and cause him to drop out, Tonpa hands them several bills and thanks them. The three praise Tonpa's ability to exploit an examinee's weakness, and Tonpa happily replies that he lives for it. He then thinks about the other rookies and reminds himself to stay alert since only one has dropped out so far.
Aboard the airship after the Second Phase, Leorio and Kurapika are both ready to rest after the long, exhausting day. Kurapika then wonders how many phases are left, and as Leorio mentions that they still don't know, Tonpa arrives to say that it changes every year depending on the examiners and tests involved, adding that it has averaged five or six phases during his attempts. Leorio realizes that the exam isn't even halfway done, and Kurapika adds that they really need to get rest. However, Tonpa warns them that the airship may be the site of the Third Phase and that it could possibly start at any moment, telling them not to let their guard down if they want to pass. With Leorio and Kurapika left giving each other a look, Tonpa walks away chuckling to himself and hopes that they become too nervous to sleep. Later that night, he finds both of them sound asleep and can't believe that they ignored him.
As Gon, Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio wait inside Trick Tower for one more examinee, Tonpa eventually falls through the opening in the ceiling to join them. He takes charge of the group, and Leorio wonders who made him the leader. The five see that the door requires them to vote on whether they want to open it or not, and Leorio is surprised that they have to agree already, saying that the choice is obvious. The door opens after they cast their votes, but it's revealed that one person voted no, with Leorio asking if the person wants to speak up. Tonpa playfully apologizes and explains that his finger must have slipped, which causes Leorio to happily forgive him before angrily telling him not to let it happen again. After the group continues to argue over their votes, they eventually find themselves in a large room with a small stone platform in the center. Bendot explains the rules of the competition, and Tonpa unexpectedly steps forward and says that he will take the opportunity to see what their opponents are capable of. He adds that since he has given them reasons not to trust him, he will make sure that he gets his match out of the way so things don't depend on him winning if they have to go to a tiebreaker.
After telling Tonpa that he respects his determination, Bendot suddenly lunges toward him to attack, but Tonpa immediately falls to his hands and knees, surrendering and admitting that he has been beaten. The other four can't believe how quickly Tonpa gave up and wonder if he's trying to trick the prisoner, who asks Tonpa to repeat what he said. Tonpa embarrassingly says that he has been beaten, causing Leorio to glare in anger and the prisoner to chuckle as he returns to his side of the arena. Tonpa returns to his side and explains that the prisoner looked a lot more imposing up close. Leorio quickly grabs him by the collar and rebukes him for messing with others and enjoying it. Tonpa smugly admits to it and asks what he plans to do about it. He then reveals to the others that he has no interest in becoming a Hunter.
Tonpa reveals that he has no interest in passing the Hunter Exam since he only does it for the thrills. He explains that he watches the dangerous examinees carefully to avoid being taken out, explaining that he finds it entertaining to see people's dreams fall to pieces and that he deliberately trips up rookies to watch them suffer. He reiterates that becoming a Hunter would be pointless and explains that he usually quits the exam at this point since he doesn't want to press his luck when things become more dangerous. With Leorio in disbelief at his explanation, Tonpa adds that he can't quit yet since he's involved in the path of majority rules, asking which of the group wants to fight next. Killua tells Tonpa that surrendering was actually the smart move since Bendot, who he guesses is ex-military and a mercenary, would have crushed his windpipe and then tortured him for as long as he wanted without killing him. Tonpa chuckles nervously and says that he was aware of that, but Leorio points out that he looks like he's going to be sick.
As Leorio begrudgingly agrees to wait for Majtani to wake up and goes to a corner to sulk by himself, Tonpa enjoys his misery and analyzes the hidden dangers of majority rules. He tells himself that the majority is empowered while those in the minority are marginalized, which leads to feelings of resentment and distrust that can eventually create divisiveness within the group to the point where it breaks up. He then adds that none of them are close friends, which weakens the efficiency of their votes since they can sometimes feel as if they are forced to go along with the potentially incorrect choices of strangers. Tonpa continues to disparage the act of voting and explains that Leorio has pointlessly marginalized himself after mistakenly asking for a discussion and then calling for a show of hands. He details both of these mistakes and focuses mostly on the latter, pointing out that it removes anonymity and further alienates the minority. With no one talking to anyone else and one of the prisoners chuckling, Tonpa gleefully hopes that the group's cohesion will collapse and lead to all five of them failing the exam. After Leorio confirms that Leroute is a woman, he is left smiling and tells himself that he doesn't regret it. Tonpa scoffs at Leorio's decision and says that he will definitely lose. Gon asks him why, and Tonpa explains that he's more focused on what he could lose instead of considering the odds of winning or losing.
After Leorio loses to Leroute, Tonpa notes that the score is tied at two. Leorio apologizes to the group and says that he thought he was good at gambling, but Tonpa asks why he would think that. Leorio glares at him but quickly turns away and says that it doesn't matter now.
With the group now exhausted, they again reach a door that simply asks them if they want to open it. However, once Leorio sees that someone voted no, he immediately grabs Tonpa by the collar and angrily rebukes him for trying to sabotage the votes. Even though Leorio doesn't believe Tonpa when he replies that he voted yes, Gon speaks up and reveals that he was the one who pressed the wrong button by mistake. Although Leorio tries to walk away, Tonpa demands an apology from him, but Leorio quickly refuses. Tonpa then points out that he isn't the only one holding back the group, reminding Leorio that he lost them 50 hours of time. Kurapika tells them to stop, but the two continue to argue, with Leorio preparing to draw his switchblade and Tonpa readying his fists. Eventually putting aside their differences and utilizing a plan from Gon, Tonpa and the other four examinees pass the Third Phase of the exam.
During the Fourth Phase on Zevil Island, Tonpa is seen to have met up with Leorio, who is ready for a fight with his switchblade drawn. Although Tonpa assures him that he isn't his target, Leorio tells him to prove it. Tonpa quickly holds up the #191 card and says that he thought it would be smart to keep it since it would be a waste of time and energy to go after just anyone. He then worries that he is Leorio's target, but Leorio assures him that he isn't, holding up the #246 card. Tonpa immediately tells him that the badge number belongs to Ponzu and offers to detail their appearance, weapons, and weaknesses in exchange for something. Tonpa's stomach then rumbles, and he says that the nuts he ate didn't agree with him, making it so he can barely walk. He remembers that Leorio said he was pre-med and asks if he has any medicine. Leorio holds up his briefcase and assures Tonpa that he always has some with him, asking for the information first before he will hand it over.
Quickly agreeing to the deal, Tonpa reveals that Ponzu is a woman and one of five remaining examinees who uses chemical weapons. Drawing a rough image of her in the ground, he adds that she uses a variety of toxins and waits for her prey to fall for the traps she has set. He assures Leorio that he will win if he forces her into a head-on fight, quickly asking for the medicine after offering the information. Leorio tells him to back away and sit on the ground, with Tonpa desperately telling him to toss it to him since he can't hold it any longer. However, right as Leorio opens his briefcase, Sommy suddenly appears behind him and swings a branch at him. Although Leorio manages to dodge the strike, the contents of his briefcase fly everywhere, including his #403 badge which Sommy's pet monkey quickly grabs.
Tonpa tells Sommy that he knew it would be inside his briefcase, and Leorio can't believe that he was tricked. Tonpa also reveals that he already had his own supply of medicine and that Leorio was really his target. A confused Leorio wonders about the #191 card, but Sommy explains that it was his card, holding up the #403 card that Tonpa drew and telling Leorio that he fell for one of the oldest tricks. As Leorio chases after Tonpa and threatens to tear him to pieces, Sommy climbs a nearby tree with his monkey on his back and tells Tonpa that he will meet him at the rendezvous point.
Running away, Tonpa points out that Sommy is the one who has his badge, but Leorio replies that he doesn't care. Tonpa tells him that he's acting exactly like a rookie and that there's nothing wrong with teaming up against another examinee. With Tonpa looking back at Leorio, Kurapika suddenly appears in front of him and says that while teamwork is fine, deceit is the fault of the deceiver, knocking Tonpa to the ground with a swift kick to the face as he turns back around.
Tonpa is then seen barely conscious and tied up on top of a large rock, with a sign behind him telling people not to feed him. Leorio praises Kurapika's idea of working together, and the latter notes that they not only recovered Leorio's badge, but also now have Tonpa and Sommy's badges. Leorio deduces that Tonpa was Kurapika's target and thanks him for stopping the Rookie Crusher.
Greed Island arc
Killua arrives at the site of the 288th Hunter Exam and says to himself that there are more people than last year, wondering if he knows anyone. Tonpa is then seen skulking away as he holds two cans of juice. After the examiner explains the rules for the First Phase, Killua proceeds to knock every examinee unconscious (including Tonpa) and steal their badges, resulting in him being the only one to pass.
Abilities & Powers
According to Nicholas, Tonpa's performances in the Hunter Exam are rather impressive, and he would have already passed it if that were his real objective. Combining his intuition and skills in deceit with great survival skills, Tonpa has managed to survive more than thirty Hunter Exams, which cause the deaths of many examinees every year. He is a master of subterfuge and adept at making other examinees trust him before he "crushes" them. He is aided in this personal crusade by his ability to figure out what someone is thinking and uses that information to manipulate them. Despite his unfit appearance, Tonpa managed to complete the marathon of the First Phase of the 287th Hunter Exam, kill a Great Stamp, and retrieve the egg of a Spider Eagle.
Anime and Manga Differences
Translations around the World