I don't like Owner Aki's for tarpon either. Although they are sharp and have a "cutting" point, it is wide like a shovel, and I think it might enlarge the hole it makes during the fight more than hooks with a rounder wire cross section. That is a much bigger problem in long fights with fish that are constantly switching direction than with bottom dwellers say.
I tried Gama Octopus last tarpon season, with good landing/hookup ratios on big tarpon, especially considering that most of the fish were caught by first time or first fish tarpon fishermen. The Octopus have thin roundish wire, upturned eyes and are offset hooks. The offset, I think, makes a big difference - but it could just have been a lucky string as you also allude to. Although the point does angle in towards the shank a bit, it is not so radical that I think it would not work with a straight eye - in fact, it is less an angle than the Varivas.
If you want a straight eye, the upturned eye can be straightened with a propane torch, a pair of vice grips behind the eye and a pair of pliers. I use a machinist vice, but not many people have access to one. Though the vice grips will act like a heat sink to help protect the temper beyond the eye, I dunk the hook in oil immediately after straightening to protect the temper in the rest of the hook. The entire hook is hardened, so the eye will simply snap off if you don't heat the eye before straightening.
I will hopefully get a chance to do more intensive empirical research this coming spring.
I'll let you know the results if you do the same after your next tarpon trip with the Varivas.