"Simply put... it's not to get them exterminated. I hate this blanket of policy of getting rid of misfits. My master tells me I'm naive, but what can I say? How can we decide without seeing them in person first? You gotta face 'em to understand 'em."
Knuckle is a young man who styles his black hair into a pompadour. He wears a white overcoat, that has multiple golden rings on it, and baggy white pants with black dress shoes. Sometimes, during battles, he removes his white coat, which reveals his muscular and well-toned physique.
Despite appearing aggressive, Knuckle is very compassionate and easily moved to tears. Knuckle gets along well with animals and feels compelled to protect the helpless, taking care of abandoned pets in the wake of a genocide. Knuckle's sympathy sometimes interferes with his mission.
On the day he graduated from elementary school, he punched a cop to help a friend of his escape and ran away from four patrol cars and two motorcycles for one day and one night, without getting caught. At some point, Knuckle passed the Hunter Exam and became Morel's apprentice. Knuckle's reason for becoming a Beast Hunter is unspecified, but he claims it is long and unhappy. He has fought over 5000 battles.
Chimera Ant arc
Knuckle insisted on joining Chairman Isaac Netero, his master Morel Mackernasey, and Knov on their mission to exterminate the Chimera Ants. However, due to his soft heart, he had to team up with Shoot McMahon against two other assassin candidates picked by Netero within one month, and was left waiting in a town next to the border of NGL. On that same day, Knuckle and Shoot recapitulate the rules in a bar, and Knuckle insists on fighting their opponents first and smiting them down. He thus starts to parade through the streets of the city with a megaphone and a banner, extending his challenge to the two unknown candidates, but forgetting to specify the location. His opponents do not show up that night, and Knuckle ends up cussing while cleaning up after a dog. About ten days later, Knuckle waits at the park again, feeding the stray. He is surprised to see his opponents are Gon Freecss and Killua Zoldyck, declaring he feels insulted. He chews them out for being kids and already exhausted before their fight, asking them if they're taking it seriously. However, the two notice he is tearing up. Stating he is not, he offers to let one of them hit him until they are satisfied and to leave their tiles if they fail to make him budge from his spot. When Gon steps up and starts to charge Rock, Knuckle grows terrorized, realizing he must use Ko lest he dies. He bets Gon will go for his stomach, which he does. Before fainting, he tells him he knew he could count on him.
He awakens in a hotel room with Gon and Killua training by his bedside. He admits he underestimated them and wonders why they did not take his tile. Gon responds they do not want the tiles per se, but the power to defeat him in battle. The boy asks him why he became a Beast Hunter, but Knuckle refuses to answer. He then explains he wanted to join the Extermination Team to prevent the Ants from being ruthlessly wiped out without his seeing if they are really so evil first. Knuckle concedes Gon is a good kid. When he notices the stray he had been feeding has never left his side, he tears up again. The three dine together and Knuckle offers to let them fight him as many times as they want within the next twenty days. Seeing how tired they are whenever they come to fight him, Knuckle notes that if they managed to defeat him, the boost in confidence would allow them to improve exponentially. However, he beats them down, refusing to lose. Every night, more and more dogs come to him, and he feeds all of them.
The night before the deadline, Gon and Killua go to him fully rested. Gon asks him where Shoot is, since they need both tiles, and Killua adds he might be unable to tell them by the time they are done, ticking Knuckle off. He dodges an attack from Gon, reappearing behind his back and punching him. He states he is only warming up. After punching Gon around for a while, he taunts him to use Rock, acknowledging he probably does not because of its flaws. He warns him he will not let him use it, then asks about its name. Due to misunderstanding Gon's words, he ends up coming up with the name himself, praising it. He lists the two flaws: the long windup and Gon's defenseless state in the meanwhile. When Gon retaliates by increasing his output, Knuckle thinks to himself he has as much as a mid-ranking pro, but his inexperience makes his aura flow easy to read and the Beast Hunter easily gains the upper hand. When Gon suddenly starts charging his move, Knuckle kicks him, warning him not to underestimate him, but Gon replies Knuckle is holding back and begins charging again. He falls for Gon's feint, but manages to retaliate before the latter can use Rock for real. They keep exchanging blows, with Gon gradually reducing the damage he takes. Knuckle states Gon is still not worth him giving it is all, but trails off when he sees Gon preparing his Rock a few meters away.
Knuckle is perplexed, but knows that will be Gon's last attack before he runs out of aura. He is surprised when Gon unleashes Paper, an Emission technique which is however much weaker and slower than Rock. He easily redirects it, but to his horror, he realizes Gon used it for a pincher attack and that the kid is ready to strike him with Rock from behind. The punch lands, but without any aura on it, as Gon passed out one instant before. Knuckle realizes that if Gon had not run out of aura, he would have lost. He then challenges Killua, but the boy just picks up Gon. Knuckle tells him to come prepared to die the following day, but the boy retorts that Knuckle sounds like he is trying to convince himself. Killua then states he will never forgive Knuckle if he loses because he does not use all his power. When the boy leaves, Shoot steps out of the shadows and comments that Knuckle is too soft. Knuckle irately responds Shoot has been doing nothing but skulking in the shadows and is left impressed by his declaration he would fight the following night.
The night of the deadline, Knuckle fights Gon while Killua and Shoot move elsewhere, promising he will use all his strength from the get-go. He punches him, activating Hakoware. He explains the specifics of his ability, leading Gon to realize he did not use it before out of kindness. The two then exchange blows until Gon goes bankrupt. The next day, Gon and Killua accompany Knuckle and Shoot to the border of NGL. Gon pleads with Knuckle to save Kite and bring him back, which Knuckle swears he will do on the two halves of his shogi tile. He gives the two boys a thumbs up before crossing the border.
Knuckle witnesses the death of the Chimera Ant Queen. When Morel promises to protect Colt and "Reina" if the two can live without eating humans, Knuckle begins to cry, commenting he must have got his soft side from his master. He explores the nest with Shoot, and they are horrified to see the state Kite is in. With a combination of Hakoware and Hotel Rafflesia, the two manage to subdue him. He phones Gon to inform him of their success, adding however that Kite is being manipulated by the enemy. He tells him he would be back in three days and to watch out for the Chimera Ants, as many of them have left the nest.
Knuckle and Morel are temporarily reassigned to exterminate the Chimera Ants throughout the Mitene Union. They wait for Cheetu on a paved road, but their combined offensive fails due to the latter's speed. The two Hunters are unable to land a blow or react to his attacks, which are too weak to injure them significantly, although they start to get accustomed to his speed. When asked how they will make up for their sluggishness, Knuckle replies they will use their wits and experience, right before Morel envelops the three in smoke. Using smoke clones identical to Knuckle, the Sea Hunter manages to distract Cheetu long enough for Knuckle's punch to connect, allowing him to activate Hakoware. The two then use Zetsu and hide. Unable to find them and annoyed by A.P.R., Cheetu runs away. Knuckle states they will be able to track him anywhere thanks to his ability, and that it will be a piece of cake if all the Chimera Ants are like Cheetu, but Morel retorts they should be careful and enlist the help of someone else.
When the appointed time comes, the Extermination Team members, except Netero and Palm Siberia, meet up and Shoot frees Kite from his cage. Knuckle states they believe he was being used as a training tool for soldier Ants. He is reluctant to watch as Gon lets himself be pummeled by the manipulated Kite. When Knov advances that maybe Gon is suppressing his instincts to dodge on purpose, Knuckle expresses perplexity. Gon eventually hugs Kite and Neferpitou's Nen becomes visible to everyone. Knuckle explains that is Level 2, which is activated by touch and requires Nen to be cleared. Upon witnessing Gon's fury, Knuckle states he has sensed a change in Killua as well and asks him what happened. Killua replies that they did nothing themselves. A few weeks later, the group rides a train to the Republic of East Gorteau. When Shoot notes that Gon seems to have lost his fury, Morel explains he is "coiled up" like a spring. They dine at a restaurant. That night, I.R.S. disappears and Knuckle invites Gon to test out his Nen. Morel challenges Gon, saying he's having second doubts and that he must prove his determination and power by punching him, pretending he is Neferpitou. Knuckle exhorts him to use Rock. He shivers upon feeling Gon's sudden bloodlust. When Gon stops and is declared to have passed the test, Knuckle and Shoot are charged with taking out Menthuthuyoupi, one of the three fearsome Royal Guards.
The group splits up in the prescribed pairs until the night of the Selection. Killua informs everyone the process has probably already begun. Knuckle is disgruntled that he has to just wait while people are killed by the thousands, he lashes out at Shoot, who however states that if they fail, billions will die. He is cornered when Shoot points out Knuckle has no solution to offer. One night, Knuckle feels Cheetu heading his way. He resolves to stop him, fearing he will acquire a powerful Nen ability by coming in contact with the King. Shoot agrees to accompany him, but demands he calls Morel first. Knuckle informs his teacher Cheetu is still roaming freely, and Morel hangs up on him. That morning, Shoot and Knuckle are ready to ambush him, but Cheetu changes his course. Knuckle is about to pursue him, but is stopped by Shoot. They realize the one who alerted Cheetu is a flying Chimera Ant.
Some time later, Gon phones Knuckle, who gushes about their actions to stop the Selection, adding that their actions caused Morel and Knov to spring into action to prevent further deaths; however, that might leave them too exhausted to fight the Royal Guards, leaving the task to the four of them unless they decide to call in reinforcements. He asks for Killua's opinion, but Gon cannot reach him. They decide to meet up in Mandai, halfway between their current locations. When they do, they are still unable to reach Killua. Gon notices a pack of collared dogs has followed the two Beast Hunters, and Shoot explains they have been fed by Knuckle. Knuckle gets flustered and, on the verge of tears, states that he has had no choice but to abandon those who would refuse his help. Unbeknownst to him, his outburst of emotion leaves a favorable impression on Meleoron. Eventually, the Squadron Leader introduces himself and the four are contacted by Killua. Morel tells them Knov is unfit to continue, but that he has managed to plant all the exits.
Two days before the attack Knuckle leads a strategic meeting which Killua and Ikalgo attend too. They brush up on their roles in the upcoming attack before Killua takes charge. Knuckle criticizes him for being too hard on Gon when the latter asks about Palm, but reconsiders when the former assassin explains that Gon would make the priority of the mission Palm's rescue without coming up with a plan himself. Knuckle estimates that with the advantage of surprise, the Hunters will manage to split the King, predicted to be in the throne room, from the Royal Guard so Netero can take care of him.
By slipping into the rallying crowd gathered in Peijin, the Extermination Team members gather in Knov's pocket dimension. Ten hours before the attack, Morel, his disciples, and Meleoron discuss on how to get into the room closest to the palace without exposing themselves or shutting themselves off from their surroundings. Knov volunteers to keep tabs on the Royal Guards. When the subject of Neferpitou's En comes up, Knuckle theorizes Kite must have touched it on purpose to get a grasp on the enemy's strength. The Hunters are relieved to discover that Shaiapouf's scale will maintain the crowd docile, preventing mass panic. Six-hour before the attack, Knuckle ponders that Colt, Meleoron, and Ikalgo have a heart, and wishes he could duke it out with the King himself to understand him. However, he resigns himself to stick to the plan, as everyone will be killed otherwise. Ten minutes before the appointed time, the Extermination Team members begin to move towards the Royal Palace.
The team decides to charge in from the entrance closest to the throne room, the one by the central staircase. Knuckle, Shoot, and Meleoron's target are Menthuthuyoupi. Knuckle stretches while going over his and Meleoron's roles. Noticing the latter fidgeting, he asks if he is suffering from withdrawal. The Chimera Ant replies he does not want to smoke to reduce the chances of being detected to the minimum, so he does not have any regrets. While discussing the possibility of unknown factors, Morel suggests a woman might be one. Knuckle speculates Bizeff procured women not for himself, but for the King, which leads everyone but Gon to consider Palm might have been made into a concubine. Killua continues to worry over why the King would injure himself, but Knuckle reminds him that was just his hypothesis, and that Neferpitou could have turned his En off for a number of reasons. Gon declares that an occasion in which one would hurt oneself is when they cannot forgive themselves, leading Morel to speculate the King is not unemotional, but proud, which Knuckle agrees with. One minute before the attack, Knuckle walks to the exit. Fifty seconds later, Knuckle is ready to go in with Meleoron on his back. At Morel's signal, they are the first to storm the palace.
As soon as they turn the corner, the Extermination Team members find themselves in an unforeseen scenario: aura shards rain from above due to Zeno Zoldyck's Dragon Dive, which only Killua recognizes; Neferpitou's En cannot be felt; and Menthuthuyoupi, who was supposed to be elsewhere, is standing on the central staircase. The Hunters wonder if Meleoron and Knuckle have been killed by the shards while undetectable thanks to God's Accomplice, but their worries dissolve when they see the Royal Guard being pushed slightly to the right: Knuckle punches him to activate Hakoware. Knuckle, however, feels the enormity of Menthuthuyoupi's aura, which he estimates to be at least ten times greater than his teacher's, at about 700,000 aura units, and wonders how long it will take him to go bankrupt. Despite being surprised by Neferpitou's ominous En, Knuckle manages to avoid Menthuthuyoupi's destructive strike and helps Morel get past the Royal Guard by striking him again, although he barely moves him. As Shoot fights Menthuthuyoupi by himself, Knuckle, crying, forces himself to hang back not to give his presence away.
When A.P.R. announces that ten seconds have passed, Knuckle, who feels like he has been watching for an eternity, nearly attacks the Royal Guard, but is stopped by Meleoron, who taps his shoulder to signal he is out of breath. Right then, Knuckle is accidentally hit by one of Menthuthuyoupi's attacks, which pays back most of his first punch plus interest. He scolds himself and hides behind a column, allowing Meleoron to take another breath. When, shortly afterward, Shoot is unable to keep fighting, Knuckle makes his presence known to the Royal Guard to distract him from Shoot and challenges him to a fight. A.P.R. goes off, and, after finding out it cannot be affected by physical attacks, Menthuthuyoupi targets Knuckle, who runs away. He manages to avoid all the Royal Guard's attacks, but makes the mistake of going too far away from the central staircase, which causes Menthuthuyoupi to lose interest in him. Knuckle hurries back and finds Shoot is still alive, albeit gravely injured. He realizes the Chimera Ant spared his friend because he no longer saw him as a threat and vows to avenge him. He moves Shoot to a safer location and appears in front of Menthuthuyoupi, who has been trying to break into Morel's Smoky Jail.
Unexpectedly, the Royal Guard yells out in anger and begins to transform, causing Knuckle to turn on his heels. He picks Shoot up just in time to avoid being engulfed in a massive aura explosion. The Beast Hunter surmises it was caused by anger and that Menthuthuyoupi is vulnerable while preparing it. Although, according to his estimations, the Royal Guard will go bankrupt in less than 10 minutes, he fears Shoot will not last long enough and decides to make his move, coming out of hiding and taunting Menthuthuyoupi. When he sees the Chimera Ant begin to transform, Knuckle rushes to punch him, but Menthuthuyoupi suddenly deflates. Knuckle braces himself for death, but his opponent suddenly freezes (thanks to a combination of God's Accomplice and Thunderbolt), allowing Knuckle to strike him eight times and flee unscathed. He runs back to Shoot, who however is gone. Enraged, Knuckle makes his way back to Menthuthuyoupi, convinced he took him. He finds him on the verge of engaging in combat with Morel, who turns his 89 Smoke Troopers into copies of Knuckle to disorient their enemy. The Chimera Ant dispatches several of them without difficulty and, believing Knuckle was never there in the first place, prepares to explode on Morel, but Knuckle manages to punch him away.
With a cool head, Knuckle understands Menthuthuyoupi could not have abducted Shoot. He brushes the mystery aside and resolves to focus on bankrupting the Royal Guard. Morel and Knuckle keep stalling for time, Knuckle by hiding and Morel with his smoke soldiers, even after Menthuthuyoupi transforms into a centaur-like creature. Eventually, he manages to destroy all the clones and faces an exhausted Morel. Despite Meleoron's intervention, the Extermination Team is unable to save the Sea Hunter. When the Royal Guard is about to finish him off, Knuckle reveals himself, asking the Chimera Ant to fight him. Menthuthuyoupi refuses, but agrees to let Morel live if Knuckle disengages Hakoware. Meleoron rescinds Morel's undetectability so he can talk some sense into his pupil, but his words have the opposite effect and Knuckle dispels A.P.R.. Surprising everyone, the Royal Guard chooses not to fight any of them and flies to the King, declaring they will never be able to beat him no matter how many times they try.
Despite Morel's orders, Knuckle hesitates to chase after Menthuthuyoupi, stating he is no longer able to see him as someone to exterminate after he acknowledged their efforts. Knov emerges from the shadows and claims that all it takes is one order from the King for the Royal Guard to turn into mindless drones. Knov reveals he was the one who took Shoot and rescues Morel. He announces that their job is done since Netero and the King have reached the appointed place. Knuckle, however, decides to stay. He heads to where Gon, Neferpitou, and Shaiapouf are, challenging the latter to a fight. However, the Royal Guard reveals he is just a clone. Knuckle remembers Morel telling him of that ability, and confirms it for Gon's sake. However, Gon doubts Shaiapouf's words, causing him to disperse into smaller clones and fly away. Knuckle considers telling Gon about Menthuthuyoupi's change of heart, but stops himself not to disrupt his determination. Meeting up with the remaining members of the Extermination Team as well as the revived Palm, Knuckle informs them that their mission is complete, but restates he will remain to fight until the end. He heads back to Gon, offering to use Hakoware on Neferpitou before the two leave to heal Kite, but Gon decline and charges him with watching over Komugi, substantially taking her as a hostage.
When Shaiapouf's clone returns to the girl's lodgings, Knuckle ambushes him with God's Accomplice and activates his ability. The Extermination Team realizes the King is still alive. He tries to bait Shaiapouf, but when the latter ignores him, he concludes his target it Meleoron and runs to his aid. The two hide among the East Gorteau citizens gathered for the Selection when Meruem returns. The latter's Ren convinces Knuckle they will need state-level military power to kill him. He tells Meleoron to run back to Peijin and resolves to contact the Hunter Association to have them implement Plan B. Just then, the King unleashes his En, appears by his side and knocks him out. He and Meleoron are then taken to Komugi's chambers. He remains unconscious until the end of the invasion. Sometime after the end of the mission, Knuckle is seen waiting with Knov for an update on Gon's condition.
13th Hunter Chairman Election arc
A few days later, Knuckle has his phone snatched by Morel to question Killua about his absence. When the boy returns, Knuckle, along with many other friends of Gon's, monitors the surroundings of the hospital wing. He is shocked by the tremendous amount of aura being released in the building as Nanika restores Gon back to normal. He then accompanies Gon to the headquarters of the Hunter Association to allow him to meet up with Leorio, while all Hunters are gathered to decide the next chairman. He is seen visiting a healing Shoot in the hospital along with Ikalgo, Palm, and Meleoron, and looking at the video of the Small-billed Swans sent by Gon.
Abilities & Powers
Knuckle has all the benefits granted by his status as a Hunter. He has demonstrated considerable physical combat skills, being able to fight enemies much stronger than him. He could have defeated Gon with only two blows if not for his kindness, which has often been said to be his greatest weakness. In fact, Killua claimed that he is as strong as Kite, physically speaking, but he is too soft. Due to his ability, he has adapted a hit and away tactic together with Shoot against other Nen users, which consists of capturing or dealing the final blow after the target's Nen is sealed. Knuckle is very versatile, being able to successfully cooperate with various Hunters with completely different abilities and personalities. Despite being a good strategist, Knuckle is also hot-headed and very emotional, which can make him unable to stick to the plan. He claims to need four or five punches to get warmed up. Moreover, he is very well-liked by animals, which, according to Ging and his son, is proof of being a good Hunter.
Enhanced Strength: Knuckle is stronger than an Enhancer like Gon. Gon stated that, although he had successfully blocked a punch from Knuckle with both his arms and Nen, he still felt its brunt in his whole body and understood that releasing Ken would result in him losing consciousness no matter where he was struck.
Immense Speed and Reflexes: Knuckle is known to be faster than Gon. He demonstrated this by surpassing him in movement speed to the point he could appear behind his back after landing a hit. Even after repeated battles, and despite matching him in attack speed, Gon judged his sight unreliable to keep track of Knuckle and instead relied on his aura. He managed to dodge multiple attacks from the Royal Guard Menthuthuyoupi while running away despite the latter's reach, as well as to escape his explosions twice despite being very close to the epicenter right before the blast. He grew accustomed to Cheetu's astounding speed and was already able to follow him with his eyes after the first exchanges, although his body was too slow to keep up with his reflexes.
Immense Stamina: Knuckle is noted to be able to maintain his top speed for a long time. Even as a child, he managed to evade four police cars and two motorcycles for a day and a night. He never showed any sign of exhaustion after fighting Gon and Killua.
Keen Intellect: Despite being reckless and quick to fly into a rage, Knuckle has good analytical skills, which he showed when he easily figured out the mechanics and weaknesses of Menthuthuyoupi's explosion ability and Gon's Jajanken. He took charge during the strategic sessions before the palace raid, although Killua took over when it came to actual planning.
- Arithmetical Genius: Knuckle is an arithmetical genius, being able to execute complex calculations on the spot and without error.
Proficient Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Gon estimated Knuckle's combat skills to be on par with Kite's. Indeed, the Beast Hunter was able to fight off and defeat Gon and Killua at the same time on multiple occasions, although they were both exhausted during most confrontations. When he fought only the former at full power, Knuckle still retained the upper hand. Knuckle's fighting style is overall similar to Gon's. He relies mostly on punches, using flurries whenever he can to maximize damage or the aura lent if Hakoware is active, and only rarely employs kicks, most commonly when his position requires it or to end a combo.
Being a pro Hunter and the disciple of a Single-Star Hunter, Knuckle is a highly capable Nen user. His natural category is Emission*. Since he managed to overpower Gon and Killua and to inflict significant damage to the former despite his natural category, he also seems to be well versed in Enhancement. His skills in this type helped him survive Gon's full power Rock with no lasting injuries despite his lower aura output. He is a capable Ko, Ryu, Gyo, and Zetsu user. In battle he can maintain a state of Ken for 20 minutes without the slightest difficulty. He is adept at anticipating the moves of his opponents by analyzing the flow of their aura. He also excels at converting aura into numbers, which is extremely useful for his Nen ability. Thanks to his vast combat experience, he can estimate the general amount of aura an opponent possesses through physical contact or make more accurate guesses through prolonged observation by taking into account their output, stamina and level of skill.
|Knuckle's Nen Type: Emission*|
|Type: Emission and Manipulation||Hakoware (天上不知唯我独損 Bankruptcy, Chapter Seven)[note 1]|
|A.P.R. (Potclean)||Hakoware involves Knuckle emitting an indestructible mascot called the "Amortizing Power Redirector (A.P.R.)" ("Potclean"; ポットクリン, Pottokurin, in Japanese) onto the opponent after being dealt a blow from Knuckle. A.P.R. constantly lends Knuckle's aura to whomever it is attached to, displayed by a rising counter on its forehead. When adding interest, A.P.R. announces "It's time, adding interest" (「時間です。利息が付きます」, Jikan desu, risoku ga tsukimasu). As long as A.P.R. is attached, any attacks done to Knuckle by his opponent return aura to him, lowering the counter. Until all of the aura lent by Knuckle is returned to him, he cannot be physically damaged by his opponent. The reverse is also true: each of Knuckle's blows only lends more aura to his opponent, causing no damage. The stronger the attack, the more aura is lent or returned. In both cases, the person suffering the blow can still be knocked back by it, despite suffering no damage.
The interest rate on A.P.R. is 10% of the borrowed aura, accrued every 10 seconds while the victim is within 50 meters[note 2] of Knuckle. As the amount of borrowed aura (including interest) accumulates, A.P.R. also grows in size. When the aura borrowed from Knuckle exceeds his opponent's total remaining aura (specifically P.O.P), the opponent "goes bankrupt". Thus, it is in Knuckle's interest that his opponent spends/wastes as much aura as possible, as quickly as possible (so long as said aura is not spent on Knuckle himself). The result is that the opponent's "aura balance" falls that much quicker until it is below the amount they owe Knuckle (displayed by A.P.R), at which point they can no longer possibly repay their debt and bankruptcy sets in.
Bankruptcy causes A.P.R. to transform into the "Individual Ren Suppressor (I.R.S.)" (トリタテン, "Toritaten"), a demon-like mascot that follows the debtor for 30 days and forces them into a continuous state of Zetsu. It is worth noting that when Knuckle struck Shaiapouf's copy, A.P.R. was attached to the latter's real body rather than to his clone. Furthermore, Knuckle can use Hakoware on multiple targets at once, as well as track their general location at all times, regardless of the distance. The ability can be removed by an Exorcist, but it takes a great deal out of the Nen remover. It is also cancelled if Knuckle is rendered unconscious.
It is unclear what Nen types are involved in the ability; A.P.R. (and later Toritaten) might be conjured and rendered invisible to non-users, which would increase the aura cost, or emitted and possibly transmuted. Regardless, Manipulation would likely be required to endow the construct with sentience (and possibly to enforce Zetsu on the target), while Emission might be involved in the process of lending aura to the opponent.
Intertextuality and References
Translations around the World