Nen (念 or ネン, Nen—lit. "Sense";* "Mind Force" in the Viz translation) is one of the defining features of the Hunter × Hunter manga by Yoshihiro Togashi. It's a technique that allows a living being to use and manipulate their own life energy (known as aura); the term "Nen" can also be used in conversation to refer to aura. A person capable of utilizing Nen is colloquially referred to as a "Nen user" (
Nen and Aura
Aura Nodes and Awakening
Aura (オーラ, Ōra) is the life energy produced by all living bodies, it is vital for survival and directly linked to one's stamina. The points on the body from which aura flows out are called "aura nodes" (
In normal conditions, the aura from all parts of the body tends to flow together, producing one mass of energy. This happens without the individual's awareness, typically resulting in aura slowly leaking away from the body constantly without exceedingly harmful consequences and stemming up and off the top of the head. On the other hand, if someone whose aura nodes are fully open doesn't attempt to close them or control the flow of their aura, they'll soon grow so exhausted that they'll be unable to stand or even lose consciousness. Learning to control one's aura nodes is the first step to becoming a Nen user.
People who have not trained in Ten will leak aura similar to water vapor boiling out from a kettle. It has been described as feeling like a warm, viscous fluid at rest, whereas powerful, refined auras produce a sensation that feels akin to needles pricking into the skin. Hostile aura generates extremely unpleasant sensations, which can cause a non-user to halt in their tracks and be unable to walk towards the source as if a wall had been erected in front of them.
Since every living being emits aura subconsciously, learning to sense aura is a useful skill for those who are trying to track down living things or searching for non-living things that have been infused with aura. An experienced user of Nen can judge the location and relative strength of their opponents by reading the output of their aura. On the other hand, skilled Nen users can also regulate the flow of their aura, so they appear to be beginners or regular individuals.
Grave wounds such as mutilations can disrupt the flow of aura in the affected body part and even stop it altogether.
Learning Nen and Initiation
A student learning Nen trains to manually open and close their aura nodes so that they can control the flow of their aura. One typically learns this process slowly and gradually through meditation. There is a second method, colloquially called Initiation (
Initiation via physically attacking another is standard practice at Heavens Arena when a non-user reaches the 200th floor and typically results in injury, permanent disability, or even death. Nonetheless, this is by no means the only way to force or, more appropriately, semi-force the aura nodes open. The same result can be achieved through "indirect attacks", non-violent or even beneficial uses of aura on a non-user, such as through healing, lending, or first-class Manipulation abilities. Experienced Nen users can open a student's aura nodes simply by performing Hatsu on them.
A state of half-awakening exists in which an individual may be able to control their aura to a certain degree and release a more significant amount than an average person, but still have some of their aura nodes closed, which may result in their being unable to see aura. This state can be found in some victims of Manipulation Nen as well as in Halkenburg's bodyguards, who reached it through the ability of the Prince's Guardian Spirit Beast.
Progression and Potential
While all living things possess aura and all humans (as well as possibly beings of other species) can master Nen, some excel at its usage more than others. What exactly factors into potential is, for the most part a mystery, but it appears to be predominantly a congenital factor, since statistical estimations about its rarity can be made and evidence points against it changing over the course of one's life. The rubric of "potential" or "talent" entails both the maximum degree of mastery that one could achieve and the speed of one's learning, which seem to be directly proportional: the faster one learns, the higher their upper ceiling is assumed to be. It is important to note that learning rate can have multiple meanings: Gon took more time than Killua to control the flow of his aura, but he was able to discover multiple Nen techniques on his own, and his potential was never implied to be lower than Killua's. The circumstances of one's growth can also combine with one's talent to facilitate learning, further highlighting that the rate of progression should not be taken as a perfectly transparent indicator of one's maximum potential, although in general it can be considered fairly reliable. There is an introductory exercise that can reveal a person's talent, but there are also Nen users with the ability to estimate another's potential at a glance.
There might be anecdotal evidence in support of talent for Nen depending at least in part on genetics and/or family history, since the fathers of Gon and Killua (Ging and Silva, respectively), whose potential can be found only in one person out of 10,000,000, are both vastly above-average Nen users, and Tserriednich Hui Guo Rou, who was called a genius, descends from a lineage of hosts of parasitic Nen beasts and possibly Nen users. On the other hand, body type and sex are unrelated to one's potential, at least from a purely mechanical standpoint. However, the user's perception of physical traits will affect their Nen (i.e., if they believe men should have powerful bodies or women are naturally faster) since it is shaped by the user's mind, subconscious biases, and strongly held beliefs, with each of these affecting how their Nen functions. It is possible, though not definitive, that age affects the speed of one's learning.[note 1]
Of course, potential alone does not ensure that one will grow into a powerful Nen user, with one's regimen of training being fundamental in this regard. Furthermore, talent does not guarantee that one will progress in all areas of Nen with the same ease, as the comparison between Gon and Killua revealed. One's growth can also be stunted by training the wrong Nen categories.
Nen of the Flame
Nen of the Flame[note 2] (燃 or ネン, Nen—lit. "Burn"*; "Flame" in the Viz translation) is sometimes used in Shingen-ryu kung fu as a precursor to learning actual Nen. They are mental exercises akin to meditation that strengthen one's force of will. Regular practice can smooth the flow of one's aura. The Four Exercises of Nen of the Flame are as follows:
- Ten (点, Ten; "Point"): Focus the mind, reflect upon the self, and determine the goal.
- Zetsu (舌, Zetsu; "Tongue"): Put it into words.
- Ren (錬, Ren; "Temper"): Intensify your will.
- Hatsu (発, Hatsu; "Release"): Put it to action.
Upon his introduction, Wing taught Gon and Killua the Nen of the Flame as a fake sense of Nen that focuses mostly on meditation and on one's self. Not all steps of this method directly manipulate aura and most have no visible effect; however, after Gon was injured by Gido and forbidden by Wing to use Nen for two months in order to recover, both Gon and Killua practiced this method. This, in fact, made it more natural for them to use actual Nen. Given that Nen is linked to one's emotions and mental state, this method can be particularly useful to train Nen without aura, although normal use of the technique is usually preferred.
Properties of Nen
Nen and Emotion
Although the production of aura is unconscious and constant by all living beings, it is not only life energy. Aura carries with it the desires and emotions of the one who utilizes it, which is what allows for Nen to have incredible versatility for those who develop their skill at using it, and it is also heavily influenced by the user's mental condition and emotional state.
A basic application of this phenomenon is that one can channel their aggression or malice into their aura and direct it towards another person (i.e., bloodlust). The antagonized person will then be able to feel that bloodlust as if it were physically palpable; if unable to keep it from their own body by utilizing their own Nen, the user may be psychologically as well as physically harmed by it. In certain instances, emotional factors may even lead to one exceeding their current ceiling. This could potentially prove advantageous, but in general, using one's powers beyond their capacity entails a great risk and will ultimately cause strain.
The death of a Nen user does not necessarily result in the cessation of their abilities; on the contrary, it may cause pre-existing abilities to become even more powerful. The most common reason for this phenomenon to occur is a dying user harboring a strong grudge, which will cause their Nen to seek out the object of their hatred and cling to it. This makes curse-type abilities much more difficult to remove, to the point that fewer than ten exorcists in the whole world were deemed capable of lifting a curse left by the deceased.
It seems that other than hatred, any powerful enough emotion can result in post-mortem Nen: Neferpitou’s Terpsichora took control of their beheaded corpse out of loyalty to Meruem, even though the Royal Guard did not consciously perceive Gon as a threat due to believing him to have given up all of his potential to kill them.
Some Nen users go as far as to make their own death an activation requirement, which, despite their demise being only temporary with their ability programmed to bring them back to life, still grants their abilities greater power than normal. Death can also cause Nen abilities to linger even if their doing so violates the conditions of other abilities. A notable example is The Sun and Moon, which remained in Chrollo’s book despite the original owner passing away. In addition, if applied to a conjured object, the object cannot be dispelled until the marks explode. Both of these are explicit contradictions of the conditions of Chrollo's Skill Hunter.
Nen and Nature
Affinity with nature is connected to sensitivity for aura. Wild animals are more perceptive in that regard than humans and may learn Zetsu spontaneously. However, only humans and certain Magical Beasts have displayed the ability to open their aura nodes and use Nen. Honing one's Nen abilities has the side effect of attuning them with nature to a greater degree, enabling the user to detect sounds, scents, and tracks that non-users would miss, as well as to attract wildlife. This has led to the belief that good Hunters are well-liked by animals.
After the Chimera Ant Queen came to the Human World from the Dark Continent and began to feed on humans, she spawned offspring with the innate ability to see aura, namely some officers and the Squadron Leaders. The Royal Guards and Meruem were able to freely control their aura nodes and flow from birth. Menthuthuyoupi developed Nen abilities despite having no human genes, only those of a Magical Beast. Nanika's wish-granting power might also work through aura; if it does, it might mean that it is a Nen ability of utterly unprecedented power and scope.
Though Nen is influenced by one's mental condition and emotional state, it is difficult to judge exactly to what extent these factors affect Nen. Biscuit became capable of altering her appearance without actively training for it, wishing instead for her body to change for years, which caused the changes to manifest little by little. It is also unclear just how subjective and dependent upon one's capacity to assess risk certain ability conditions and limitations are.
Another mystery is the exact relation between Nen, the Divine Script, and a seemingly different type of inscription. The Divine Script has the power to strengthen the Nen abilities of the one who drew it, provided that it is charged with their aura and the user remains in its proximity; the latter inscription was noted to have similar properties to Nen and the ability to reinforce whatever it is applied to, but to cause it to break as soon as it comes in contact with aura. Interestingly, it might have been used on a handcuff designed to restrain a Nen user. Just like the Divine Script, this inscription appears to require aura to function.
Nen in Society
Nen is a power unknown to the public at large, with only a minority of persons being capable of using it or even being privy to its existence. Reports of incidents involving Nen are often misleading, in large part because ignorance of its existence necessarily leads to incorrect assumptions.
Some non-users who hear of Nen believe it to be no more than a mental technique to gain a small boost in physical abilities by accessing the dormant power in one's body. For their part, Nen users tend to avoid attracting too much attention in order to prevent society from spiraling into chaos.
Nen and the State
It is unknown if leaders of countries or even of international entities (such as the V6) know about Nen. The high-ranking military officials of the Kakin Empire are completely unaware of it, although Prince Benjamin, the Military Deputy Adviser, can use Nen and commands a squad of Nen users. King Nasubi himself might be a Nen user, although awareness of the existence of Nen could be tied to the history of the family rather than knowledge that is shared with the head of state because of their position. In the Republic of East Gorteau, a small group of Nen-using soldiers guarded the royal palace.
In ordinary circumstances, Nen is not admissible as evidence in judicial proceedings.
Nen and the Hunter Association
Acquiring control over one's aura flow is the final step to becoming a professional Hunter, as per the second Hunter Bylaw. According to Wing, this is because Hunters need to be deterrents for crime. However, since Nen could be extremely disruptive to society, it was deemed unsafe to include it as a publicly-known criterion and an official part of the Hunter Exam, and is therefore known within the Hunter Association as the "Secret Hunter Exam". Accordingly, many high-profile jobs contracted to the Hunter Association list knowledge of Nen as a minimum requirement. A licensed Hunter may not reveal the existence of Nen to those who do not know about it, although it is possible to relay this information in times of emergency.
Nen and Entertainment
Curiously, Nen abilities are freely and regularly displayed in front of an audience at Heavens Arena, and not only are they common knowledge from the 200th floor upward, but fighters on that floor will brutally "initiate" anyone who reaches it without knowing Nen. Hunters who participate in the matches and showcase Nen abilities seem to face no consequences despite the ban put in place by the Hunter Association, nor does it appear as though there are repercussions for openly mentioning the system.[note 3]
On the other hand, the audience is in the vast majority of cases ignorant of Nen and confused by the supernatural powers they see. The commentators themselves appear to have no knowledge of Nen, not even the ones overseeing Floor Master matches.
Greed Island is a video game created by Ging Freecss and 10 other Nen users. In 1987, 100 copies of the game were released by Marilyn Inc. Originally marketed as being for Hunters only, the game can be played by any Nen user. It teleports the player to a privately owned island which does not appear on any map. With the exception of the players, the island is populated almost exclusively by NPCs, which, like all the miraculous items in the game, are created with Nen. Upon hearing of cards that could cure all ills and restore one's youth, multibillionaire Battera used his influence and wealth to hide the details of the game from the public and hired scores of players to clear it in an attempt to save the woman he loved.
Pip-Play (イボクリ, Ibokuri) is a dexterity challenge using aura. One creates a "pip" out of their aura on their hand and makes it move in a linear fashion. The difficulty of the game can be increased by adding a second hand, creating more pips, changing their size and shape, and having them move at different speeds and in different directions. Pip-Play can be considered a challenge of one's Nen dexterity, but overall it's considered a useless talent and does not affect abilities. Since the game involves changing the shape of one's aura, it is possible that it is affected by the user's Transmutation skills.
Nen is like any other skill, in that there are those who can learn it faster than others. Some are able to discover how to manipulate their aura on their own without having formally learned it. These individuals are typically known as "geniuses", "psychics", or "superhumans" to the public. This can be anything from inadvertently being able to use the basic techniques of Nen or unconsciously developing a unique Nen ability that can be used without really understanding how or why one is able to do so. Typically, geniuses of Nen are exceptional artisans in their own fields and their abilities are related to them.
Notable geniuses within the series include:
- Neon Nostrade, the fortune-teller daughter of Light Nostrade.
- Benny Delon, the swordsmith and serial killer.
- Mukatolini, the lithographer.
- Zepile, the counterfeit artist.
- Komugi, the Gungi world champion.
Four Major Principles
In order to fully understand Nen, one must first learn the Four Major Principles (
These basic techniques become second-nature to those experienced in Nen. For example, a beginner must learn to use Ten and concentrate to maintain it; whereas someone with experience will practically always be in a state of Ten, even while they are asleep.
Once a person has opened their aura nodes, they must learn to keep their aura from leaking away from their body. Ten (纏, Ten; "Envelop"/"Shroud") is the process of keeping the nodes open, but also having aura flow through and around the body rather than away from it. Once maintained, it creates a thin shroud around the user that feels similar to standing in a lukewarm, viscous fluid. Once it has been learned, it will never be forgotten, much like swimming or riding a bike. Despite being the most elementary technique of all, Ten is also one of the most important, since, together with Ren, it plays an instrumental role in determining the strength and smoothness of a Nen user's aura flow.
Ten maintains youthful vigor and reduces one's aging, since the energy powering the body no longer leaks away; one can then keep the body from breaking down and deter the aging process. Ten is also the most basic defense against emotional Nen attacks, and it also offers limited protection against physical attacks, but hardly any when said attacks are enhanced with aura. Through frequent meditation and practice, one can improve the quality of their Ten and eventually even maintain it in their sleep.
While Ten allows a user to keep aura from leaking away from their body, Zetsu (絶, Zetsu; "Suppress"/"Null") stops the flow of aura from their body altogether. By closing all of their aura nodes, the user is able to halt all outflow of their aura like water from a valve, making their presence much harder or even impossible to sense.
Shutting off the nodes in their eyes prevents the user from being able to see aura, but, since they are no longer surrounded by their own aura, they become more sensitive to the aura of others. The enhancement in perception is such that Zetsu can counter In, although it is not advised to employ it in this way. This technique is thus doubly useful when tracking another person, as it will not only make it easier to follow them but also prevent other Nen users from noticing their pursuer. However, there are other ways to perceive a person hiding with Zetsu: aside from the effectiveness of the five senses, particularly perceptive individuals are capable of detecting the gaze of another person, although they might not manage to discern the position and number of onlookers. Furthermore, if Zetsu is utilized within a certain range from a Nen user, that Nen user might notice their presence disappearing, especially if the Zetsu user's aura is powerful. Despite the technique not affecting vision directly, activating Zetsu in front of someone else will give them the impression that the user has turned transparent.
Zetsu can also be used to relieve fatigue, since it forces the body's external layer of aura to be fully contained within. For the same reason, it can be dangerous due to it leaving the body defenseless against any aura attack. Even a weak attack enhanced with Nen can do massive damage. Since even the thin protection offered by Ten is gone, a Zetsu user is also particularly susceptible to hostile emotional attacks, resulting in their mind becoming as vulnerable as their body.
Ren (練, Ren; "Refine"/"Enhance") focuses on outputting a larger amount of aura than Ten, projecting it outwards explosively. This amplifies the user's physical strength and durability and provides a large pool of aura for any advanced techniques or individual skills they decide to use, albeit at the cost of expending said aura. If Ten is considered purely defensive, Ren can be regarded as its offensive counterpart, although it also grants the user vastly enhanced defensive abilities.
By tinging one's Ren with hostility, a Nen user can exert what is colloquially referred to as "bloodlust". Prolonged exposure to malicious Ren can induce uncontrollable dread, paralysis, and if experienced without the protection of Ten, even death. On the other hand, a neutral Ren can rarely be felt by non-users. Since Ren is a show of power, it can also intimidate other Nen users, as it offers an approximate measure of the user's raw strength; in fact, when someone asks "show me your Ren", they generally mean that they want to see the fruits of one's training, such as a Nen ability, rather than their Ren itself. In most cases, Ren reflects the user's hostility without their control, and it can even leave faint traces in the environment after the Nen user has left the scene.
One can train their Ren to extend its duration and increase the amount of aura at their disposal. It is said to take one month to prolong one's Ren outside of combat by 10 minutes. With the right timing, Ten can be used to contain the aura produced by Ren.
Hatsu (発, Hatsu; "Release"/"Act") is one's personal expression of Nen. Its qualities are influenced by, but not restricted to, the Nen user's natural Nen category, one of the six available. Hatsu is used to project one's aura to carry out a certain function, creating a special and unique paranormal ability that is colloquially referred to as a "Nen ability" (
At first, Hatsu appears simply as a consequence of using Ren during Water Divination; however, it is more than a mere property of the latter, and it can be trained individually either through Water Divination itself, which seems to only affect the user's natural category, or by honing one's skills in a Nen category via specific exercises. Once a certain level of skill has been attained, the student can attempt to create their personal Nen ability.
A good Nen ability reflects a person's own character and idiosyncrasies, regardless of its simplicity or complexity. The key as that it should feel right to the user themself; gut instincts play a very significant role in the development of Nen abilities. Furthermore, it is best if someone creates their own ability from scratch; if an ability can be achieved through Nen, then is is possible for someone to learn how to use it, however one can never truly master Nen if they only copy someone else's abilities.
Since they can have an immensely vast range of effects, Nen abilities may be recognized as any manifestation of one's Nen that cannot be ascribed to one of the basic or advanced techniques, although there are instances of Nen abilities being essentially applications of Ko (an advanced Nen technique which makes use of Hatsu) with special conditions or restrictions.
After acquiring a working command of the basics, a student is introduced to a series of advanced techniques that often combine and/or derive from the Four Major Principles. These techniques vastly expand the user's options in combat, but they also consume more aura than the Four Major Principles.
Gyo (凝, Gyō; "Focus") is an advanced application of Ren by which a Nen user concentrates a larger than normal portion of their aura into one specific body part. It increases the strength of that one body part, but leaves the rest of the body more vulnerable.
An alternative version of this technique gathers only the aura naturally leaking from the body instead of the greater amount produced by Ren. This application of Gyo can still increase the amount of aura in one select body part and thus its power, but the output is much lower than what is obtained through the regular technique. It is unlikely this lower-consumption Gyo could counter In, since Wing had his students perform Ren to do so. However, it has proven to suffice to see thin layers of aura as well as to perform Water Divination correctly.
In (隱, In; "Conceal") is an advanced form of Zetsu used to render one's aura imperceptible, even to other Nen users, effectively concealing it. Unlike Zetsu, however, In does not stop the user's aura flow; instead, it hides it, making it impossible to perceive with any of the five senses or extrasensory perception. Hence, this technique is perfect for launching sneak attacks or laying traps, as it can conceal not only the user's presence, but also Nen constructs generated with Transmutation or Conjuration.
In can be countered by using Gyo in the eyes or through Zetsu. When In conceals part (or even all) of the user's aura output, experienced Nen users can divine that their opponent is using it if little or no aura can be felt from them in circumstances which would normally require it, such as during combat.
En (円, En; "Circle") is an advanced application of Ten and Ren. With Ren, aura usually envelops only a small amount of space around the user's body. En is when one extends their Ren so that their aura extends further than normal, then uses Ten at the same time to contain and give shape to that aura, normally a sphere. The minimum requirement is to extend one's aura to a radius of more than two meters (6.56168 feet) and hold it longer than one minute. Someone using En can feel the shape and movement of anything within the area covered by their aura, with the degree of awareness and finesse depending on their level of skill. Nen users can be told apart from regular people due to their stronger reaction to the En user's aura.
Those who master En are typically able to extend it to a circle with a 50 meter (54 yard, 2 foot, 0.5052 inch) radius. There are exceptions, however: Zeno Zoldyck, one of the most powerful assassins alive, is able to extend his En up to a radius of 300 meters (328.084 yards), while the Chimera Ant Neferpitou has an irregularly shaped En and can extend a tendril up to 2 kilometers (1 mile, 427 yards, and 8.0064 inches). The downside to this technique is that it is extremely tiring and draining for the Nen user to constantly expend so much aura.
Shu (周, Shū; "Enfold") is an advanced application of Ten. Shu allows a Nen user to enshroud an object with their aura and to use that object as an extension of their own body. For example, one could use Shu to extend their Ten around a weapon, which would strengthen and protect it. Shu can also be combined with other techniques, such as Ko.
Ko (硬, Kō; "Temper") is a combination of Ten, Zetsu, Ren, Hatsu, and Gyo in which all of the user's aura is concentrated into one particular body part. Gyo is utilized to focus aura on a part of the body, while Ten is used to prevent it from dispersing. Zetsu is used to completely stop the flow of aura in all other parts of the body, increasing the output in the desired area. With Ren, the amount of aura is increased even further. This makes that one body part extremely powerful, but at the cost of leaving the rest of the user's body completely unprotected. Due to the risk it carries, Ko is regarded as a purely offensive technique. An incomplete version of this technique can be utilized without Ren, primarily to master the other steps before increasing the amount of aura to concentrate and contain. Some Nen users, Enhancers in particular, employ Ko as a Nen ability by adding conditions to it.
Ken (堅, Ken; "Fortify") is the advanced form of the basic Ten and Ren techniques. It is a primarily defensive technique where a Nen user maintains a state of Ren for a prolonged amount of time. The amount of aura surrounding the user's body during Ken is about 10 times higher than during Ten.
Ken allows a Nen user to guard against attacks from any direction, but the large amount of aura produced makes it tiring to maintain. It is considered the best option to defend against Ko, despite not being as powerful as the latter on any given part of the body, as it protects all of it evenly. When not immediately at risk of being struck with Ko, Ken is utilized when one wants to be cautious. Some Nen users choose to expand its radius so as to sense incoming attacks they are unable to see, as a miniature En of sorts. Sometimes Ken is colloquially called Ren owing to the similarities between the two techniques.
Ryu (流, Ryū; "Flow") is the term for use of Gyo while in a state of Ken to perform real-time offensive and defensive value adjustments. If Ko dedicates 100% of one's aura to offense or, much more rarely, to defense, and Ken splits it evenly between the two, Ryu is redistributing one's aura according to any other percentage (e.g., by focusing 70% of one's aura in one fist and 30% everywhere else as one is about to strike, or 80% in one's leg and 20% everywhere else to block an incoming kick). It is utilized to damage a Ken user without leaving oneself as unprotected as during Ko, although the power of the technique is lower.
Ryu is difficult to master, as it requires the user to not only control one's aura flow with great precision, but also be able to estimate the amount of aura utilized by the opponent at a glance. Even if the technique is performed correctly, the movements of the aura flow risk giving away the user's next move if they are too slow.
Nen and Individuality
There are six types of aura; every individual is born having one of these six different aura types. Upon learning one's own aura type, a student of Nen can set about learning to apply the technique in a unique way that suits their personality, which can develop into a unique skill.
There are numerical approximations to indicate exactly how efficient a Nen user would be at utilizing categories into which they were not born. Starting at one's own aura type, a Nen user has the potential to be 100% efficient at using abilities based in that category alone. Then looking at the category chart (see above), one has the potential to be 80% efficient at using aura types adjacent to one's primary type, 40% efficient at the category opposite oof their own, and 60% efficient in the two remaining categories. Specialization is the exception to the rule, it is typically unusable for non-Specialists because it is impossible to partially use; one either can or cannot use Specialist abilities. However, it is possible to turn into a Specialist later in life, with Conjurers and Manipulators having the highest chance of succeeding.[note 5]
The most popular way (and the only sure-fire way seen in the series) of determining one's aura type is through Water Divination (
- If the volume of the water changes, then the user is an Enhancer.
- If the taste of the water changes, then the user is a Transmuter.
- If the color of the water changes, then the user is an Emitter.
- If impurities appear in the water, then the user is a Conjurer.
- If the leaf moves on the water's surface, then the user is a Manipulator.
- If a completely different change appears, then the user is a Specialist.
It is best to base a Nen ability on one's individual aura type. Though it is possible for one to develop abilities outside of his primary aura type, one is typically less proficient at using those abilities. By creating an ability that one isn't suited for, one risks stagnating their potential by overloading their capacity for using Nen, which Hisoka calls "Memory Overload". However, there are examples of Nen masters, such as Biscuit Krueger and Isaac Netero, who have reached a high level in multiple categories and utilize them consistently in their primary Nen abilities. In fact, according to Biscuit, training in all the accessible categories is the fastest and most efficient way to improve one's skills in one's own Nen type, with the additional benefit of increasing one's flexibility and proficiency in Nen in general. The ideal training regiment is a bell curve, with the time spent on each category decreasing the farther away it is from the user's own type.
Hisoka's Personality Test
Hiso-Hiso's Aura-based Personality Analysis (ヒソヒソのオーラ別性格分析, HisoHiso no Ōra Betsu Seikaku Bunseki) or Hisoka's Aura by Personality Diagnosis (
- Enhancers are simple and determined. Most of them never lie, hide nothing, and are very straightforward in their actions or in their thinking. Their words and actions are often dominated by their feelings. They are generally very selfish and focused on their goals. This is reflected in their Nen as Enhancers typically rely on simple and uncomplicated Nen abilities.
- Transmuters are whimsical, prone to deceit, and fickle. They have unique characteristics, and many are regarded as weirdos or tricksters. They often put forth a facade while hiding the truer aspects of their personalities. Even when they don't hide their personalities, they rarely reveal their true intentions. Many Transmuters rely on techniques that give unique and unpredictable properties to their Nen that reflect their personalities.
- Emitters are impatient, not detail-oriented, short-tempered, and quick to react in a volatile manner. They resemble Enhancers in their impulsivity, but the difference between them is that Emitters tend to calm down and forget more easily. Because of the nature of Emission, many Nen abilities created by Emitters are primarily long range.
- Conjurers are typically high-strung or overly serious, stoic, and nervous. They are often on guard as to be cautious. They are very observant and logical, rarely falling into traps. Being able to analyze things calmly is the strength of Conjurers. Many of the items that Conjurers create are often used by them deliberately, practically, and logically.
- Manipulators are argumentative and logical. They advance at their own pace and tend to want to keep their families and loved ones safe. On the other hand, when it comes to pursuing their own goals, they do not listen to what others might have to say about it. While Manipulators often use techniques that allow them to control their opponents, some choose an inanimate medium to control.
- Specialists are independent and charismatic. They won't say anything important about themselves and will refrain from making close friends. However, because of their natural charisma that attracts others, they are always surrounded by many people. Because Specialization is unique and can have many facets, most Specialists possess only one Nen ability.
Furykov was able to construct a system to identify Nen users and their Nen types through observation alone, which he claimed is the result of his experience. According to him, a way to differentiate between Nen users and non-users is that the outline of the former's iris, when looked at from the side, appears discontinuous. One of the shortcomings of this method is that it cannot tell Nen users apart from individuals who have only "half-awakened".
A person's Nen category can be determined through some habits of theirs and the flow of their Ten:
- Enhancers and Transmuters, depending on their level of skill, have a soft, quiet Ten that shrouds the part of their body that activates their favorite attacks.
- Emitters and Manipulators generally have a broader Ten, and if they attempt to shrink it, their aura will appear darker. Manipulators also tend to want to keep their dominant hand free, as it is generally the one used for their abilities.
- Conjurers have strong Ten around the body part that activates their favorite abilities and a much gentler flow everywhere else. Like Manipulators, they will also prefer to keep their dominant hand free.
If a student increases the quantity of water in the glass during their Water Divination, then that student is an Enhancer (
A proficient Enhancer who also takes good care of their body can make it far more durable than a tank and generate the force of a missile with one blow. Enhancement is also the most balanced category, allowing users to spread themselves evenly between offense and defense and become very powerful using only simple abilities.
It is a common belief that Enhancers generally do not need special techniques, as their natural category already has the best balance between attack and defense as its primary attribute. This might play into why most Enhancement abilities in the series appear to be mere applications of the basic and/or advanced Nen techniques. However, their do exist Enhancement abilities that are more complex, such as enhancing one's healing factor or boosting the target's growth. Notably, it is rare to find male Enhancers with supportive abilities, since most of them look to increase their direct combat prowess.
Notable Enhancers include:
If a student changes the taste of the water in the glass during their Water Divination, then that student is a Transmuter (
Transmuters are not limited to mimicking the properties of solid matter. For example, Killua uses his aura to mimic the properties of electricity. Transmuters can also give their aura certain properties instead of replicating the characteristics of a substance in their entirety: Hisoka's Bungee Gum mimics and combines the properties of rubber and gum, and it is several times more flexible, sticky, and durable than the actual substances. Another example is Machi, who transmutes her aura into strings which can be used to stitch severed body parts back on, reconnecting blood veins, nerves, muscles and bones.
Similar to Emission, constructs created via Transmutation are pure aura and therefore invisible to individuals incapable of using Nen. Transmutation is often mistaken for Conjuration due to their similarities. The difference is that Transmutation allows the user to make their aura mimic the properties of a substance, whereas Conjuration changes aura into the actual substance.
Notable Transmuters include:
If a student changes the color of the water in the glass during their Water Divination, then that student is an Emitter (
While Emission is primarily used to attack, it can also be used to propel oneself, or to cast an effect pertaining to another Nen type remotely. Advanced applications of this Nen category include teleportation and enabling one's aura to phase through non-living matter. Emission can also be combined with music to achieve surprising effects, such as relieving fatigue and transfixing the listeners.
Emitted aura appears to cap the user's output, and the more aura that is separated from the user's body, the shorter the distance it can travel from the user. In some cases, users have shown the ability to recover emitted aura; although, thus far, this has only occurred when Manipulation was also involved.
Notable Emitters include:
If a student creates impurities in the water in the glass during their Water Divination, then that student is a Conjurer (
Constructs created via Conjuration have a subtle "independence" to them: under certain circumstances, they can continue existing even at a considerable distance from the Conjurer, or even if the Conjurer themselves are not aware that they have yet to be de-materialized. Furthermore, the durability of a conjured object can generally be taken as a measure of the user's skill, although conditions can be used to strengthen it.
Some Conjurers have exhibited the capacity to alter the length and size of a materialized item. Additionally, Conjured objects can also possess special supernatural abilities. For instance, the Phantom Troupe thief, Shizuku, is able to conjure a vacuum cleaner that can infinitely suck up objects, but with the condition that it cannot suck up living things and things made with Nen. However, even if one were to completely master this Nen type, there would still be objects that would be impossible to materialize, such as a sword that can cut through anything, as they go beyond "human capacity". Izunavi vaguely described this principle as the inability to conjure objects overly supernatural.
Similar to Manipulation, Conjuration abilities tend to be very specific, complex, and conditional. Conditions can be imbued into conjured objects to make them more powerful. Kurapika, for example, is able to materialize a binding chain, but with the condition that it can only be used against members of the Phantom Troupe and that he will die if he breaks this rule. This resulted in his chain being so strong, even a very powerful master Enhancer like Uvogin could not break it. By resorting to limitations, a Conjurer can take their ability a step further and materialize objects with properties that come even closer to exceeding human capacity, although they still cannot surpass it.
Conjuration is the only way in which Nen can create things that non-users can see and touch, unless they are hidden from the senses with In. Alternatively, Conjurers can create abilities whose constructs are invisible to non-users and even specific Nen users, to the point that only one person may be able to perceive them. However, the fewer people there are who can see a conjured construct, the lower the risk and the more energy that is expended in its creation, resulting in an increased aura cost.
Notable Conjurers include:
If a student moves the leaf floating on the water in the glass around the waters surface during their Water Divination, then that student is a Manipulator (
Abilities of this type are especially feared since the fight can be brought to an end as soon as the conditions are met. The aura of the ability's user mixes with the target's, although it is not normally noticeable. Manipulation of the highest class is capable of semi-forcing the aura nodes of a non-user to open. However, it is impossible to take control of a target that is already being manipulated by another Nen user.
Manipulators are the Nen users who can pour the most aura into an object, and they often rely on a medium of some kind to utilize their ability. The object they use as a medium will be one which they have been utilizing for years. In many cases, they are capable of inflicting and maintaining the effects of their abilities from afar, seemingly without the aid of Emission-type Nen, most commonly achieved with the aid of their specific medium.
The degree of control is, for the most part, determined by a condition that may or may not put the Manipulator at risk or at a disadvantage (such as attaching an object to the enemy, or touching the enemy in a certain way): the higher the difficulty for the condition to be achieved, the better the degree of control. Additionally, the complexity of the orders assigned depends on the target: sentient beings and machinery can carry out more complex tasks, as opposed to simpler, inanimate objects.
There are multiple types of mind control:
- Soliciting (
要 請 型 , yōsei-gata—lit. "request type") Manipulators leave the free will of the victim intact, but condition them into working in their favor. An example of a soliciting-type ability is rewriting the target's memories. An advantage of this type of control is that it can potentially be used on several targets by consuming only a small amount of aura. Halkenburg's Guardian Spirit Beast is presumed to employ this type of Manipulation Nen.
- Coercive (
強 制 型 , kyōsei-gata—lit. "compulsion type") Manipulators exert total control over the victim, taking over both their mind and body.
- Pseudo-coercive (
半 強 制 型 , han kyōsei-gata—lit. "half compulsion type") Manipulators either take over the body of the victim or trap them into a situation where they have no choice but to follow the Manipulator's orders. Momoze's Guardian Spirit Beast employs this type of Manipulation Nen.
- The specifics of diffusive induction type (
誘 導 型 , yūdō-gata) Manipulation have yet to be explained in detail. It was described as weakly coercive but capable of influencing a large number of people, which it was seen doing by affecting their emotions towards a certain object. Salé-salé's Guardian Spirit Beast is known to employ this type of mind control.
Notable Manipulators include:
If a student causes any other effect than those previously stated during their Water Divination, then that student is a Specialist (
In accordance with its nature, its effects are wide-ranging. Some influence Hatsu itself (e.g., by appropriating others' Nen abilities or altering affinities), while others allow the user to garner knowledge that would be unattainable through other means, such as about past or future events. Others Specialist abilities have completely different effects. Consequently, Specialists are not as much at a disadvantage as users of other Nen types if their category is revealed.
It is currently unknown how Specialists develop their Nen abilities, as Specialization does not follow a particular set of rules like the other Nen types do. In Neon's case, she obtained an ability that she had been wishing for since she was a child, while Tserriednich manifested his own ability one week after being initiated to Nen and without trying or even being aware of it.
It seems that a Specialist's manifestation of Hatsu during Water Divination reflects their character and may thus give some insight into the general direction in which they might or should develop their ability, since Hatsu is profoundly affected by personality. However, the information received this way is vague enough that it is impossible to pin down just what kind of ability a Specialist has already developed through their results during the Water Divination test. Of the many possible effects that can occur during a Specialist's Water Divination, only three have been shown: Neferpitou's aura caused the leaf on top of the water to dry out and crumble; Tserriednich's caused the water to boil and a putrid smell to be released; and Kurapika's caused the water to change colors and the leaf to spin.
Specialization is different from the other Nen types; you either can use it or you can't, it cannot be partially used, so only Specialists can use it. It is possible for one to become a Specialist later in life, although it is more likely for its adjacent categories, Manipulators or Conjurers, which is why this category is placed at the bottom of the Nen chart. Since its position is dictated by a factor other than the affinity for other Nen types, it is currently unclear if it has the same acquisition rates as other categories, although it should be noted that the presence of Specialization in the chart affects other Nen types regularly.[note 5] A Conjurer would only be able to use Manipulation to 60% of its full potential because the Specialization category sits between the two.
Notable Specialists include:
Subcategories of Nen Abilities
Regardless of their type, some Nen abilities share common traits that allow them to be grouped in recognizable subcategories.
The exact nature of collaborative type (
Notable users of collaborative type abilities include:
The exact nature of compound type (
Notable users of compound type abilities include:
Counteractive (迎撃型 counter type—base kanji lit. "interception" or "ambush attack") Nen abilities activate after the user takes damage and return it to the assailant. Since the user of the ability strikes second, they run more risks, which increases the power of the ability. The greater the damage suffered, the stronger the ensuing counter. The most effective ways to neutralize a counteractive-type Nen user are to incapacitate them without injuring them or to kill them with one blow; however, some of them can even utilize death as an activation condition.
Notable users of counteractive abilities include:
A curse (
Notable curse casters include:
Diffusive Levy Type
Diffusive levy type (
Notable diffusive levy type ability users include:
A double or doppelganger (分身/ダブル, daburu; ドッペルゲンガー, dopperugengā; or
Notable double users include:
Those who possess the ability to lift curses are called exorcists (
Notable exorcists include:
Haunting type (
Notable users of haunting type abilities include:
Loan type (
Notable users of loan type abilities include:
A Nen beast (
- Increase the number of allies and control them;
- Decrease the number of enemies;
- Steal something from those who are affected by the Nen beast in order to strengthen it or its creator.
It has yet to be confirmed if an animated construct needs to be conjured to be classified as a Nen beast. Morel has shown the ability to produce automated Nen constructs without the need for Conjuration, although they have never been referred to as Nen beasts. It is also unknown whether doubles are considered Nen beasts or a separate subcategory of Nen ability.
Notable users of Nen beasts include:
Depending on how this Nen ability subcategory is defined, Shachmono Tocino, Neon Nostrade,** Chrollo Lucilfer (through a stolen ability), Biscuit Krueger, Kite, Morel Mackernasey, Knuckle Bine, Neferpitou, Flutter, Ikalgo (through a reanimated corpse), Kurapika, Musse, Benjamin Hui Guo Rou (through an inherited ability), Rihan, Yushohi, and Hinrigh Biganduffno might also make use of Nen beasts. Nasubi Hui Guo Rou and his 14 children are all hosts of parasitic Nen beasts, granted to them by an ancestor through the Seed Urn Ceremony.
See also: Guardian Spirit Beast
When a Nen user imposes an ability on another person which feeds off that person's aura to manifest its effects, that ability is classified as parasitic (
Notable users of parasitic Nen include:
Notable hosts of parasitic Nen include:
Some abilities are collaborative in that they require multiple Nen users to donate aura or to each perform a different task to be effective. The power of the resulting ability is greater than what the Nen users involved could achieve individually. Such abilities are classified as symbiotic,symbiotic type or joint type (相互協力型; base kanji lit. "mutually cooperative type"; or
Notable joint type Nen users include:
- Halkenburg Hui Guo Rou's Guardian Spirit Beast (party form)
- Fugetsu Hui Guo Rou's Guardian Spirit Beast
- Kacho Hui Guo Rou's Guardian Spirit Beast
Tsubone and Morena Prudo may utilize this type of sub-ability as well, the latter in party form. Countdown may also have symbiotic elements in its remote detonation, since, despite it being Genthru's ability, two other people are needed to activate this aspect of it.
Nen and Limitation
The creator of a Nen ability can include conditions (
The ideology, world outlook, and sense of right and wrong of the ability's creator plays a fundamental role in determining the exact circumstances and boundaries of a condition. The Manipulation ability, Order Stamp only works on puppets, which the ability's creator defined as "non-living objects with a discernible head"; vice versa, this means that if the puppet’s head is removed, it ceases to be counted as such and the ability terminates. Additionally, since the creator did not view human corpses as mere objects, despite them otherwise fitting the definition of a puppet. Chrollo, who stole the ability, had no such views and considered corpses perfectly acceptable as objects, however he was still unable to manipulate corpses with Order Stamp. Although the ability could still be used on artificial replicas of corpses.
Another example of a Condition is that the user might require an object of some kind in order to use their ability. Melody channels her Enchanting Music by playing her flute, whereas Hisoka requires a plain surface, like a napkin or the cover of a book, in order to use Texture Surprise.
Many Nen abilities can be activated only after fulfilling certain conditions, which are known as activation requirements (発動条件, hatsudō jōken): Most activation requirements are tasks that are simple to carry out; Shalnark and Illumi are Manipulators who need to stick a specific object into the target to be able to control them, whereas Knuckle and Cheetu simple need to strike their opponent in order to put them under the effects of their respective abilities. Other abilities might require outside circumstances that the Nen user has no control over, Inamura can only be used when it's raining outside.
Some abilities have multiple activation requirements; Genthru must touch his target while uttering a keyword and then give a proper explanation of all his Nen abilities to activate Countdown.
Certain abilities have interchangeable requirements, such as Leol being able to temporarily borrow other peoples Nen abilities after doing them a favor, before he can borrow the ability, he needs to either know the name of the ability he wants to borrow or see it in action, Another example is Neon needing to see a persons face when predicting their future with Lovely Ghostwriter, if the recipient is not not present in person, a photograph makes a satisfying substitute.
Activation requirements may also be continuous, meaning that as soon as they are no longer being performed, the connected ability is cancelled (e.g., a puppet controlled with Order Stamp losing its head and thus no longer qualifying as a puppet).
Some activation requirements are common to many, if not all, Nen abilities with similar effects. It is well-known that not any medium can be utilized for Manipulation abilities, it must be an object which the user has been using for years and to which they are deeply attached to. Likewise, it was estimated that all Nen users who steal Nen abilities and use them for themselves must meet four or five conditions before they can do so, and in general the target's death causes the thief to lose the stolen ability. An activation requirement can be so common that it is given a name, as is the case for Marking (マーキング), which establishes that a teleportation ability can allow the user to "jump" (移動 transfer) only to a location they have already visited in the past.
Additional conditions that are unrelated to paying the activation cost of an ability and limit the range of its potential usages afterwards also exist. The inherent impossibility of breaking such restrictions allows the user to turn them to their advantage. For example, Shizuku’s Blinky is unable to suck up living objects and items made with Nen, the latter of which she can exploit to detect traps.
Some conditions are deeply tied to the user’s emotions, to the point of being implemented simply because they "feel right". Notable examples are Franklin’s severing of his own fingers to use his Double Machine Gun and Gon's chant while preparing a Jajanken attack, increasing risk through a long wind-up and leaving himself unprotected for a few seconds.
There are also conditions that do not regulate the manner in which a Nen ability is to be used, but which impact the user negatively in return for use of the ability. Unlike the penalties that some limitations carry, they are not activated when a certain rule is broken and do not impair the user’s Nen abilities, but function as a toll of sorts. An example is Kurapika’s Emperor Time, which shortens his lifespan by one hour for each second it is active.
In general, it does not appear to be possible to break a condition; however, there are Nen users who create additional abilities to bypass certain restrictions of others, so as to be capable of circumventing them under very specific circumstances. The most notable example is Chrollo's creation of his Double Face ability, which enables him to modify the requirements of Skill Hunter that would otherwise prevent him from using more than one stolen ability at a time, as well as preventing him from keeping both of his hands free. Likewise, Gon can charge two Jajanken attacks simultaneously thanks to a technique called Round 2, although it is not clear whether it is a loophole in Jajanken or a separate ability.
Vows and Limitations
Being a product of the mind, Nen responds to the goals, strengths, and desires of individual users. As a result, a student of Nen can increase the overall power of an individual skill by stating a self-imposed restriction that forces even more conditions on it. For example, if one consciously decides something along the lines of "I will only use this skill on Thursdays" or "I will only use this skill against short people" and manages to abide by that rule, that particular skill will become stronger. These restrictions are called "limitations" (
Unlike normal conditions, which establish the general parameters of an ability, and activation requirements, which determine the circumstances in which said ability can be used, a limitation can be broken; however, doing so not only entails the loss of the ability it was used on, but it also carries the risk of obliterating one's capacity to use Nen altogether. Limitations that contain some sort of punishment (e.g., "I will die if I break this rule") will strengthen the ability even further. An example is provided by Kurapika, who swore on his own life not to use an ability on anyone but the Phantom Troupe. According to Izunavi, without that added risk, the ability would not have worked.
Together with emotion, risk (リスク, risuku) is one of the factors which has a remarkable effect on Nen. Self-imposed stipulations that are harmful or potentially so to the Nen user, such as willingly limiting the use of their senses, can increase the power of their Nen, and of their Nen abilities in particular. This is because Nen is an expression of willpower, and willingly taking extra risks confirms the Nen user’s resolve.
It is interesting to note that while it is enough to feel certain emotions for them to affect one’s aura, determination becomes a factor only when manifested through the addition of conditions: for example, while Kurapika always had the resolve to fight the Phantom Troupe, even at the cost of his own life, it was only when he decreed that he would die if he used Chain Jail on someone other than a Phantom Troupe member that he was able to create the ability. The reverse is also true, with restrictions granting greater power to a Nen user even on occasions where they run no risks, such as when Gon took time to charge up his Rock to acquire the "King White Stag Beetle" and during the dodgeball match against Razor.
Quantification of Aura
Enhancement and Limitations
Enhancement Nen plays a crucial part in combat, and as such, one's affinity for said Nen category is a factor of paramount importance. For example, while a skilled Conjurer may be unable to fully block 9mm bullets with Gyo, some master Enhancers can utilize Ten or Ren to resist sniper bullets without a single scratch, as well as to come out of a head-on explosion from an anti-tank bazooka with only minor burns. When two Nen users clash, it is possible to make predictions about the outcome through a simple equation. Physical strength is represented by the acronyms AP (Attack Points; アタックポイント) and DP (Defense Points; ディフェンスポイント[inference 🖱]), depending on the action of the Nen user, while the proficiency in Enhancement is expressed in SP (Spirit Points; センスポイント, lit. "Sense Point"). The sum of these two factors indicates the value of one's offensive or defensive capabilities.
If an Enhancer and a Conjurer who possess equal physical strength and have maximized Enhancement Nen were to clash, and the Enhancer was the one attacking, his attack power would be expressed as:
For the Conjurer, who has the same physical strength but whose proficiency in Enhancement would not exceed 60% even if maximized, his defense power would be:
The equation representing the action would be:
Thus, the Conjurer would suffer 40% of the damage even if he managed to block the attack correctly. This method is a simplification, since physical strength and aura output differ from person to person, and the location, environment and moment of the attack are fundamental variables in an actual fight. Nen itself is much more complicated since its power varies depending on the user's mental state. Because of this, it is possible to use a limitation to strengthen one's will and thus one's aura, exceeding the normal limit. If in the same instance as before the Conjurer used a limitation worth 2 MP (Mystery Points; ミステリーポイント), his defense would become:
As a consequence, the equation would be:
In this case, the Conjurer would be able to block the Enhancer's attack without suffering any damage. However, due to the inherent risks of a limitation and exceeding one's 100% limit, not all Nen users decide to resort to this method.
Level, Force, and Accuracy
A Nen user's "level" in a Nen type determines the abilities that they can learn. It could be tentatively defined as one's degree of proficiency in a Nen type which translates to the creation of a specific ability. A Level 10 Conjurer can only master Conjuration abilities that require an amount of skill equal to or lower than Level 10. The level of one's natural category determines the ceiling for all others, which can be calculated by applying the rule of affinity: a Level 10 Conjurer can master Transmutation abilities only up to Level 8, Enhancement and Manipulation abilities up to Level 6, and Emission abilities up to Level 4, unless he raises his level in Conjuration by training in it (or by training other types, which would cause his skills, and thus his level, in Conjuration to increase as well).
However, while said Conjurer could potentially create the same ability as a Level 4 Emitter, his effective output would pale in comparison to the Emitter's. The reason is that the law of acquisition rates applies a second time, making it so that the "accuracy" and "force" (which have also been translated respectively as "effectiveness" and "power") of a Nen ability are proportional to the predisposition of the user for the category the Nen ability requires. As a consequence, if the Level 10 Conjurer and Level 4 Emitter from the example used the same Level 4 Emission ability, the accuracy and force of the Conjurer would amount to a measly 40% of the Emitter's, who has 100% affinity, and thus 100% accuracy and force, for that type.
Knuckle Bine devised a way to convert aura to a numeric value and use it in a system similar to the process of finding the capacity factor of a power plant (in this case, the power plant being the Nen user and the energy being the aura). The arbitrary unit of his system corresponds to the approximate amount of aura spent every second by a Nen user in battle mode (1 unit per second), and it is called "aura". However, once the fight starts, the aura consumption increases up to 6 or even 10 aura per second, due to the usage of techniques like Ryu and Ken and of Nen abilities. The less skilled the Nen user and the more powerful the technique, the more aura is consumed. In combat, inexperienced users can consume as many as 10 aura per second, which is 600 aura per minute and 12,000 aura over 20 minutes. After assessing how much aura his opponents spend in combat every second and for how long they can keep using it, Knuckle is able to estimate the total amount of aura they can access. He uses three parameters:
- Maximum Aura Power or M.A.P. (最大オーラ量 or ＭＯＰ):[note 9] the amount of aura stored inside the body of a Nen user. It varies for each individual and can be increased through training.
- Potential Aura Power or P.A.P. (潜在オーラ量 or ＰＯＰ):[note 9] the amount of aura that a Nen user can expend before passing out. It appears to correspond to how much of their M.A.P. a Nen user can access at a specific point in time.
- Actual Aura Power or A.A.P. (顕在オーラ量 or ＡＯＰ):[note 9] the quantity of aura that is used effectively at any moment; in other words, aura output. This is what determines the efficiency of the Nen user in a combat situation, as a high P.A.P. with a low A.A.P. is meaningless. A.A.P. can be increased through training. It is also influenced by how well an individual can use Nen; lack of practice or low affinity for a certain Nen category can cause the power of an attack to be lower than the aura units expended. For example, when Gon used his Round 2 technique against Knuckle, he consumed 4000 aura to charge two abilities, Jajanken: Rock and Jajanken: Paper. However, the actual force of the Emission attack was equivalent only to 500 aura—25% of the power of Jajanken: Rock and 12.5% of the aura consumed overall.
Orthodox Nen training begins with meditation exercises, which are aimed at allowing students to gradually become aware of their aura flow even before their aura nodes are opened and to start to control it. In Shingen-ryu kung fu, the Ten step in the Nen of the Flame is also utilized as a way for the student to polish their mind and thus the flow of their Ten.
The first meditation exercise has the aim of ascertaining the student's natural potential. The student is required to put their index fingers slightly apart, and have the tips close in on each other until they have the sensation of pushing against something. The farther apart the fingertips are when the student begins to feel the presence of aura, the greater their predisposition. What follows are the basics of aura manipulation, even if the student is still incapable of seeing aura. In the first and only known exercise of this phase, the student is to place their hands in front of their chest and imagine forming a ball between them. This exercise is meant to develop the student's ability to feel their own aura. In general, it is performed for 10 days, with three sets of 10 minutes every day; particularly talented individuals can begin to sense their aura in five to seven days (although in extremely rare cases, some may succeed on the first try).
Students generally learn to open the aura nodes in their eyes, thus obtaining the ability to see aura, in about one year, although gifted individuals can grasp the basics of Nen in six months. Once all of the student's nodes are opened, which normally occurs after one year of three hours of basic exercises every day, they are introduced to the first principle, Ten, learning to contain the leaking aura little by little through breathing exercises. Next is Ren, which in turn leads to Gyo and other techniques. Hatsu is first trained through the Water Divination exercise, by having the student attempt to produce a more pronounced change.
Mastering Ten in six months is indicative of uncommon talent. Regardless of their level, it is advised that Nen practitioners train their Ten and Ren daily, since they are the foundations of all advanced techniques.
The first step to developing ones Hatsu ability is to strengthen their use of Hatsu itself. A student repeatedly practices Water Divination with the goal of making the effects more prominent. For example, in the case of an Enhancer, the first time performing Water Divination to find out their affinity, they would only increase the water enough to make a tiny trickle over the rim of the glass. A more well practiced Enhancer will cause the water to turn into a powerful geyser that brakes the glass when it shoots out.
Biscuit devised exercises to train her students in every aspect of Nen after they master the basic techniques enough to pass the "Secret Hunter Exam". She tailors her coaching method to best suit her students' needs, often giving them very precise instructions but also letting them reach the answer on their own from time to time. Unlike her former pupil Wing, she has her students train their physical, combat, and analytical abilities together with Nen. By her own admission, her regimen is much tougher than his.
The first exercise she has her students perform requires them to rapidly activate Gyo on their eyes and tell her what number she is forming with her In-concealed aura whenever she raises her index finger. If she has more than one student, she has them compete with one another, and the slower one to respond is penalized with physical exercises. If all her students are too slow, they are each punished. There is no set time for this exercise, and in fact, it is used to teach students to remain constantly vigilant and activate Gyo at the slightest hint of danger until it becomes second nature to them.
On Greed Island, Biscuit had Gon and Killua dig through rock formations using regular shovels, confident that they would be able to figure out the existence of the technique and how to utilize it on their own.
After explaining how to perform Ken, Biscuit proceeds to demonstrate Ko and tells her students to maintain Ken for at least 30 minutes. Once they manage to hold the technique for that long, she hits them with a slow-moving Ko punch to test their resistance.
When a student manages to hold Ken for at least 30 minutes, they are ready to learn Ryu. Biscuit tells them which proportions of their aura to focus on which body part for 30 minutes, three times a day. At the same time, her students are introduced to the kumite section of her regimen, in which they spar using Ryu so that they can learn how to adjust their aura flow while attacking and defending.
Biscuit's Ko training was not shown, but it appears that the technique is taught at some point after the Ken exercises and before those involving Nen type, as the first of the latter requires the use of Ko.
Nen Type Training
See also: Biscuit's Nen Type Training
These exercises are structured in levels, and the student can generally progress to the next after achieving a certain degree of mastery over a lower one. Her students train in all accessible Nen types, which, on top of granting them more flexibility, allows them to progress in their own category more quickly. Her fundamental rule is that only one Nen category can be trained each day. Students normally focus on their natural category every other day, while the other types are rotated and more are added as the student progresses. When coaching Gon and Killua, Biscuit introduced them to Enhancement first and seemingly saved Manipulation for last.
- Level 1 - Rock Breaking
The student enhances a stone's durability using Shu and Ko to repeatedly smash other rocks without breaking the one they are holding. The exercise ends when either a student manages to break 1,000 rocks in a day (in which case they are ready for the next level), or the rock they are holding shatters. On top of the aura consumption, the repetitive movement puts stress on the student's focus, causing their aura control to become less and less precise. Only one try a day is allowed.
- Level 1 - Shape-shifting
The student must form the numbers 0 through 9 on top of their index finger by manipulating the shape of their aura (much like Biscuit does to train their Gyo), while also running. The student can proceed to the next level once they manage to form the 10 numbers in one minute, with the end goal being five seconds.
- Level 1 - Name Unknown
This exercise consists of two parts. In the first, the student must form a small bubble out of their aura from the tip of their index finger and maintain it in place for one minute. Once they manage to do so, they have to attempt to throw it over a certain distance without the bubble dissipating. The time the aura bubble can stay afloat reflects the strength of one's Ten. An effort is also required to maintain the shape of the bubble. With proper discipline, one can eventually learn to maintain an aura sphere for two or three days at a time.
- Level 5 - Floating Hand
After positioning themselves into a one-arm handstand, the student projects their aura outwards explosively from the hand that is touching the ground to propel themselves into the air. The student can proceed to the next level once they manage to launch themselves a few dozen centimeters; otherwise, they keep practicing for as long as they can maintain the handstand. A student who has mastered this level is able to knock an opponent back a dozen feet with an Emission attack.
Very similar to the basics of Ken training, this step of Biscuit's regimen is intended to increase the student's aura pool (in particular, to allow them to maintain Ken for longer in combat). She can also quicken the student’s recovery with her Nen ability in order to accelerate their progress. Once the student manages to maintain Ren for three hours, they will still have to hold it for that amount of time every day. Biscuit also had Gon and Killua fight Knuckle right after the end of the exercise.
According to Kurapika, the way a person feels most comfortable clasping their hands together can hold information about the best way to introduce them to the basics of Nen. There are at least three groups:
- Those who touch their palms together and interlock their fingers as if in prayer are called "prayers" (
祈り 型 , purei-gata—lit. "pray-type"). The first exercise for them is to imagine scooping up water with their eyes closed.
- Those who grasp their hands like during a handshake are named "shakers" (
握手 型 , sheiku-gata—lit. "shake-type"). The first exercise for them is to hold hands with other shakers in a circle and imagine their aura flowing clockwise.
- Those who grasp their wrist are called "catchers" (
片手主導 型 , kyatchi-gata—lit. "catch-type"). The first exercise for them is to spin their hands in a circle and imagine making cotton candy in the air.
With this method, it is supposedly possible to learn to generate enough aura to perform the Water Divination test after only one week of training; in reality, however, none of Kurapika's students performed their first Water Divination with their own aura, as they each had their aura nodes semi-forced open by his Nen ability. Kurapika implied to Hashito that his training is what prevented his students from depleting their aura reserves after being "initiated", which would mean that its real purpose was to introduce his students to the basics of aura manipulation.
The first step for a Conjurer to develop a Nen ability is to decide what object they want to materialize. Then, they must undergo intense imagery training by being in contact with the object every waking moment, studying it with all five senses and drawing pictures of it. When the student begins to dream about the intended object every time, the teacher takes it away from them. The dreams are subsequently replaced by hallucinations, which get more and more real to the point that they also involve the senses of touch and hearing until the Conjurer unwittingly materializes the object.
- Six characters used Nen before it was explained to Gon and Killua: Gon, Illumi (Hunter Exam arc), Zebro (Zoldyck Family arc), Zushi, Wing, and Hisoka (Heavens Arena arc).
- Kurapika is the only character who falls under two different Nen categories.
- Manipulation is the only category of Nen to which none of the protagonists belong.
- Aura can be filmed, but it will still remain invisible to those who cannot use Nen.
- Curiously, despite sound having very different physical properties from light and thus hearing differing from sight, non-users are unable to hear sounds made by Nen constructs.
- According to Hisoka, Enhancers and Transmuters have opposite personalities, and they might be attracted to each other because of it. There are several instances of this happening in the series:
- Gon and Killua: They are best friends.
- Gon and Hisoka: Hisoka is attracted to and fond of Gon, and has aided (or refrained from harming and/or killing) him on numerous occasions, although the interest is not reciprocated.
- Phinks and Feitan.
- Netero and Zeno: According to the latter, they are like "Yang" and "Yin" respectively.
- It is interesting to note that there is some enmity between Transmuters and Enhancers in the series. For example, the Enhancers Uvogin, Phinks, and Nobunaga did not get along well with Hisoka, a Transmuter.
- While using Ken, Gon's aura output during his final fight against Knuckle was about 1800 aura, and a punch thrown in that state 150 aura. This might mean that on average, a Ken punch contains 1/12th of the user's total aura output.
- A similar calculation may be used to determine a relation between aura output and aura reserves. If Gon's M.A.P. (21,500 aura) is divided by his output (1,800 aura), the result is approximately 12. However, the output is a factor that can vary with training, and Gon's has always been considered exceptional. Furthermore, it used to fluctuate with his emotions. All of this suggests that his values may not be reliable to establish a general law.
- The terms used for "vows" and "limitations" are homophones in Japanese (せいやく, Seiyaku).
Anime and Manga Differences
- In the 2011 anime adaptation, the equation representing the power of limitations is different from its counterpart in the manga, with Mystery Points affecting both Attack Points and Spirit Points:
Intertextuality and References
- In YuYu Hakusho, Togashi's previous manga, Minoru Kamiya is said to use a virus made from aura or Nen (念).
- The Water Divination Aura Screening may have been loosely inspired by the concept of hydromancy (a.k.a. "water-divination")—a method of divination by means of water, including the interpretation of color, ebb, and flow or ripples produced in perturbed water.
- Aura is translated as "Chi" (氣) in the Chinese edition of the series. Chi is known as "Ki" (気) in Japanese.
Translations around the World