Nen (念, Mind Force) is one of the defining features of the manga Hunter × Hunter by Yoshihiro Togashi. It is a technique that allows a living being to use and manipulate their own life energy (known as aura). The word "Nen" can also be used in conversation to refer to aura.
Properties of Nen
Awakening and Use
Aura (オーラ) is the life energy produced by all living bodies vital for survival. Aura from all parts of the body has a tendency to flow together, producing one mass of energy. This happens without the individual's awareness, typically resulting in a slow leak of aura continually escaping the body. If one were to lose their entire aura, it would be equivalent to using up all the energy keeping them alive, which would be fatal. The pores or points on the body from which aura flows out from are called "Aura Nodes" (精孔) (しょうこう, Shōkō). Controlling those nodes is the first step to being a user of Nen.
Learning to use Nen is the final step in becoming a professional Hunter because most contracted jobs require the use of it as the minimum requirement. The technique has the ability to enhance the strength of physical attacks or objects depending on the quantity of aura employed and an individual's aura type, as well as allows for para-psychological abilities to exist in reality. Because one can craft just about any sort of psychic power through only using their mind, Nen is also a dangerous power unknown to the public at large.
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. The second method (colloquially called Initiation or Baptism) is by having one receiving an influx of aura from an experienced user that forces these nodes to open; despite how quickly it works, the method is typically frowned upon due to its danger to the student if the user is inexperienced or has malicious intent. Initiation via physically attacking another with the use of an enhanced aura typically causes permanent disability or death.
There is, however, a way to initiate that is less harmful to the student's body — depending on gently jolting open one's nodes forces the new user to learn to control their aura flow, else risk suffering severe exhaustion or death. This method is called Gehou. Once one has opened their aura nodes, they will be able to see their own aura as a shroud surrounding the body due to the nodes in their eyes being opened. Aura looks similar to steam from a kettle.
It is possible to feel the presence of aura even without being aware of its existence. It has been described as feeling like a warm, viscous fluid at rest. It has been said that powerful, refined auras produce a sensation that feels akin to needles pricking into the skin. Grave wounds such as mutilations can disrupt the flow of aura in the affected body part and even stop it altogether. Since every living being emits aura subconsciously, learning to sense aura is a useful skill for those tracking living things or hunting non-living things infused with aura. An experienced user of Nen can judge the location and relative strength of their opponents through reading the output of their aura.
Nen of the Flame
Nen of the Flame (燃, Nen) is sometimes used in Shingen-ryū kung fu as a precursor to learning the 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, Point): Focus the mind, reflect upon the self and determine the goal.
- Zetsu (舌, Tongue): Put it into words.
- Ren (錬, Temper): Intensify your will.
- Hatsu (発, Release): Put it to action.
Upon his introduction, Wing taught Killua and Gon the Nen of the Flame as a fake sense of Nen that focuses mostly on meditation and on one's self. This method does not require any aura and has no visible effect; however, after Gon was injured by Gido and forbidden to use Nen for two months to recover by Wing, both Gon and Killua practiced this method, and in fact made it more natural for them to use regular Nen. Given that Nen is linked to emotions and mental state, this method can be particularly useful to train Nen without aura, although normal use of technique is usually preferred.
Nen and the Hunter Association
Hunters are truly considered such only when they learn how to use Nen. As a matter of fact, being able to release and control one's aura is the requirement to pass the "secret Hunter exam", as per the second Hunter Bylaw. Many Hunters are proficient Nen users. A licensed Hunter may not reveal the existence of Nen to those who do not know it, as it is considered a confidential matter for the association, although it is possible to relay this information in times of emergency.
Nen is like any other skill, in that there are those who will learn it faster than others. Some are able to discover and learn 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 as such.
Notable geniuses within the series include:
- Neon Nostrade, the fortuneteller.
- Benny Delon, the mass-murderer and blacksmith.
- Zepile, the counterfeit artist.
- Komugi, the Gungi world champion.
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 deploys it, which is what allows for Nen to have an incredible versatility to those who develop their skill at using it, and also heavily influenced by mental condition and emotional state. A basic application of this phenomenon is that one can channel their aggression or malice into their aura and deploy it towards another person (i.e. blood-lust). The antagonized will then be able to feel that blood-lust as if it were physically palpable; if unable to keep it from their own body by deploying their own Nen, he/she may be physically harmed by it.
Vows & 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 conditions are called "Limitations" (制約, Seiyaku), and the act of swearing to respect them "Vow" (誓約, Seiyaku) or "Contract". The stricter the Limitation, the more one's ability is strengthened. It is implied that Limitations that carry great meaning or are tied to emotional states also bring about a greater benefit. However, Limitations are also considered liabilities, since breaking a Vow carries the risk of completely obliterating one's own Nen abilities, and the power they grant is not consistent.
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.
Though Nen is influenced by one's mental condition and emotional state, it is difficult to judge exactly how these factors affect Nen. In certain instances, these factors may even lead to one exceeding the 100% limit cap. However, using one's powers beyond their capacity will ultimately cause strain. Potentially, this could become either a weakness or fatal to the user. Gon is an example of exceeding the 100% limit cap: after the boost, he would have died without Alluka's intervention, and even so, he reverted to a stage where he cannot use his aura. According to Ging, he was lucky to get away with only that, and if he wants more, there will be a price to pay. Nen also does not necessarily disappear following death. In fact, sometimes death can reinforce an ability's strength. If someone dies holding a deep grudge, their Nen will remain and seek out the object of hatred.
Four Major Principles
In order to fully grasp Nen, one must first learn the Four Major Principles of the Shingen-Ryu school of Kung-fu. Everything else, including a practitioner of Nen's individual skills, is based on the basic manipulations of one's aura flow. The Four Major Principles, in order of study, are: Ten, Zetsu, Ren, and Hatsu.
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 during sleep.
Once a person has had their aura nodes opened, they must learn to keep their aura from leaking away from their body. Ten (纏, 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 shroud around the user that feels similar to standing in lukewarm, viscous fluid. Ten is the most basic defense against Nen attacks, however, it can't defend against physical attacks. Ten maintains youthful vigor and reduces one's aging, since the energy powering the body no longer leaks away; one can keep the body from breaking down and deter the aging process. Through frequent meditation, one can improve the quality of their Ten.
While Ten allows a user to keep aura from leaking away from their body, Zetsu (絶, Suppress; Null) stops the flow of aura from their body altogether. By closing all of their aura nodes, the user is able to stop almost all outflow of their aura like water from a valve. Since the user is no longer surrounded by their own aura, they are more sensitive to the aura of others. This can be useful when tracking another person and it will also prevent other users of Nen from noticing them. Zetsu can also be used to relieve fatigue, since it forces the body's external layer of aura to be fully contained within. However, since Zetsu involves shutting off one's aura, it can be dangerous due to it leaving the body defenseless against any aura attack. Even a weak attack enhanced with Nen could do massive damage.
Ren (練, Refine; Enhance) is a direct application of Ten. Since a user is capable of keeping aura from leaking away from the body, it's also possible for them to produce more aura around themselves without having to worry about losing it. Ren focuses on outputting a high amount of aura and keeping it on the body, expanding the size and intensity of it. If Ten is considered to be purely defensive, then Ren typically what is used for offense. This increases 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.
Hatsu (発, Release; Act) is the release or transmission of one's aura so it can be projected to carry out a certain function. Its qualities are influenced but not restricted by the Nen user's natural category. In essence, Hatsu is one's personal expression of Nen that creates a special and unique paranormal ability, which is colloquially called a "Nen ability", "Hatsu ability" or "Hatsu". In this sense, "Hatsu" is a very generic term that signifies a manifestation of one's Nen that cannot be ascribed to any of the basic or advanced techniques as a whole, although there are instances of Nen abilities being essentially applications of Ko (an advanced Nen technique which however makes use of Hatsu). A good Hatsu ability reflects a person's own character, regardless of its complexity; one can never truly master Nen if they only copy other people's abilities.
After learning the basics, any skilled user of Nen will learn to utilize these advanced techniques. Most of them are achieved by using a combination of the basics. Most Nen users learn Ten, Zetsu, and Ren first before attempting these techniques. The Hatsu, being a Nen-user's individual skill, is often something that a Nen-user will develop gradually over a long period of time.
Gyo (凝, 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. Gyo increases the strength of that one body part, but leaves the rest of the body more vulnerable. Gyo is most often used in the eyes, allowing a Nen-user to see aura and things which would otherwise be hidden (e.g. Nen objects hidden by In).
In (隱, Conceal) is an advanced form of Zetsu used to almost completely conceal one's aura. However, unlike Zetsu, In does not require the user to stop their aura flow, but hides it instead, making this technique perfect for launching a sneak attack or laying traps. In can be countered by using Gyo in the eyes or through En.
En (圓, Circle) is an advanced application of Ren and Ten. In 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 give shape to the aura, usually a sphere. Someone using En can feel the shape and movement of anything entering their circle. The downside to this is that it is extremely tiring and draining for the Nen-user to constantly deploy so much aura. Those who master En are typically able to extend their En to a circle of a 50m radius. There are exceptions —Zeno Zoldyck, one of the most powerful assassins alive, is able to extend his En up to a radius of 300m. Kortopi's fake copies function as En, and he was able to detect Squala's location from a distance of 2500 meters. The Chimera Ant Neferpitou, has an irregularly shaped En and can extend a tendril of it up to 2 miles away.
Shu (周, Enfold) is an advanced application of Ten. Shu allows a user of Nen to extend their aura's envelopment onto an object, allowing them to use that object as if it were an extension of their own body. For example, one could use Shu to extend their Ten around an object, which would strengthen and protect the object like the way Ren strengthens and protects their body. This is the technique that allows Hisoka to make his solitaire cards as sharp and as hard as metal knives. Shu can be combined with other techniques, such as Ko and Gyo.
Ko (硬, Temper) is an enhanced version of Gyo in which all of an individual's aura is concentrated into one particular body part. It is a combination of Ten, Zetsu, Ren and Gyo. Zetsu is used to completely stop the flow of Nen in all other parts of the body. This makes that one body part exceptionally powerful, but leaves the rest of the body completely unprotected. This is used by some Nen-users as an offensive technique (a Ko-punch would carry all 100% of your aura with it), but it is a risky move — leaving the rest of one's body unprotected in a fight against another Nen-user is generally not a good idea. Ko results in one's aura creating a high-pitched dissonance, somewhat akin to the sound of metal being ground.
Ken (堅, Fortify) is the advanced version of the basic Ren and Ten techniques. Ken is a defensive technique where a Nen-user maintains an amplified state of Ren for a prolonged amount of time. Ken allows a Nen-user to defend against attacks from any direction, it is thus useful as a defensive technique, but is tiring to maintain. Considering it involves enveloping their whole body in a greater amount of aura than usual, it has also been compared to Ko. Additionally, it is not as strong as Ko on any given part of the body, as it protects the whole body evenly. Because of that, it is used to guard when one wants to be cautious.
Ryu (流, Flow) is the term for real-time use of Gyo (the adjustment of aura concentration in various body parts) by a Nen-user in battle. For example, the use of Gyo to increase the amount of Nen in a fist as one strikes with it, to increase damage done; or to increase the amount of Nen in an arm as it is used to block a blow, for extra defense.
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. The most popular way (and the only sure-fire way seen in the series) of determining one's aura type is through Water Divination (水見式, Mizumishiki). Divination requires one to float a leaf atop a glass of water. A student of Nen will place their hands around the glass and perform Ren. The resulting effect from one's aura contacting the glass will determine a person's aura type.
- If the volume of the water changes, the user is an Enhancer.
- If the taste of the water changes, the user is a Transmuter.
- If impurities appear in the water, the user is a Conjurer.
- If the color of the water changes, the user is an Emitter.
- If the leaf moves on the water's surface, the user is a Manipulator.
- If a completely different change appears, 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 something 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 employ them consistently in their primary Hatsu 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.
Hisoka also claims that he is able to judge a person's Nen type based on their personalities. According to him, all people of one aura type are generally of the same personality type. However, he also states that this method is similar to trying to find someone's star signs or blood type just from personality analysis — it is not always correct. According to his theory:
- Enhancers are determined and simple. 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 Hatsu techniques.
- Transmuters are whimsical and prone to deceit. Transmutation users have unique attitudes, and many are regarded as weirdos or tricksters. Often they 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 reflects their personalities.
- Emitters are impatient, not detail-oriented, and quick to react in a volatile manner. Many of them are quick-tempered and hot-blooded. They resemble the Enhancers in building their impulsivity, but the difference with them, they probably tend to calm down and forget easier. Because of the nature of Emission, many Hatsu techniques created by emitters are primarily long range.
- Conjurers are typically high-strung or overly serious and stoic. 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 in a very deliberate and practical, logical fashion.
- Manipulators are logical people who advance at their own pace. They are all for arguments 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 they also prefer to use an inanimate medium to control that can be used versatility (such as smoke or pieces of paper hardened with Shu).
- Specialists are individualistic and charismatic. They won't tell you anything important on them, and refrain from being close friends, but, because of their natural charisma that draws others, they are always surrounded by many people. Because Specialization is unique and can have many facets, most Specialists posses only one Hatsu technique.
There are numerical approximations to indicate just exactly how efficient one would be at using aura abilities that one is not born into. Starting at one's own aura type, one has the potential to be 100% efficient at using abilities based in that category alone. Then looking at the category chart (see right), one has the potential to be 80% efficient at using aura types adjacent to one's primary type, 40% efficient at the opposite or farthest category, and 60% efficient in the two remaining categories. Specialization is typically unusable for non-Specialists because it is impossible to partially use; one either can or cannot use Specialist abilities. However, Conjurers and Manipulators have 1% efficiency potential of becoming Specialists due to being adjacent to it.
If a student increases the quantity of water in the glass during their water divination, they are an Enhancer (強化系, Kyōkakei). Enhancement is the ability to use aura to increase the natural abilities of an object or one's own body. Therefore, Enhancers are able to greatly increase their physical attack and defense and are best suited for close-ranged melee combat. Affinity for this category plays a crucial role in combat at all times, even when Hatsu is not being used.
Enhancement is the most balanced category, allowing users to spread themselves evenly between offense and defense and become very strong using only simple abilities. One of the examples of more complex Enhancement abilities include enhancing one's healing factor. However it is stated by Wing that Enhancers generally do not need those kind of techniques as the Enhancement category already has the best balance between attack and defense as its primary attribute; this might play into why most Enhancement Hatsu abilities in the series appear to be mere applications of basic and/or advanced Nen techniques at first glance due to the lack of requirement to manage between pros and cons on an overall scale during their development.
Notable Enhancers include:
- Gon Freecss
- Isaac Netero
- Nobunaga Hazama
- Palm Siberia
If a student changes the taste of the water in the glass during their water divination, they are a Transmuter (変化系, Henkakei). An affinity for Transmutation means a person can change the properties of their aura to mimic something else. Similar to Emission, things created via Transmutation are pure aura. Transmutation is often mistaken with Conjuration due to their similarities. A simple way of thinking about it would be that Transmutation allows your aura to mimic properties of a substance, whereas Conjuration allows you to change your aura into actual substances. Transmuters can copy the properties of real things. For example, Killua Zoldyck uses his aura to copy the properties of electricity. Transmuters can also give their aura properties that don't necessarily mimic real things; Hisoka's Bungee Gum copies and combines the properties of rubber and gum, Feitan's aura replicates the solar sphere, and Machi transmutes her Nen into threads. Transmuted substances are invisible to people unaware of the existence of Nen.
Notable Transmuters include:
If a student changes the color of the water in the glass during their water divination, they are an Emitter (放出系, Hōshutsukei). An affinity for Emission means that a user is capable of controlling the deployment of their aura while separating it from their body. Aura usually decreases in intensity very quickly when it is separated from the source body, but strong Emitters can separate their aura from their body for long-periods of time, over long-distances, and still be able to maintain it and its functions. Due to its property, Emission is typically seen developed for abilities with emphasis on range and/or those that have a long-lasting effects.
Some Emission abilities (such as Shachmono Tocino's and Goreinu's for example) are commonly mistaken for Conjuration abilities. The two, however, are fundamentally different. Objects created by Emitters are created solely from aura, invisible to those whom haven't learned Nen.
Notable Emitters Include:
- Leorio Paradinight
- Shachmono Tocino
- Knuckle Bine
If a student creates an object in the water in the glass during their water divination, they are a Conjurer (具現化系, Gugenkakei). Conjuration is the ability to create a physical, independent, material object out of one's aura. Once a person has mastered the conjuration of a certain object, they can conjure it and dispel it in an instant, whenever they want. Conjuration is the only way in which Nen can create things that ordinary people (unaware of Nen) can see and touch. Furthermore, objects or entities created by this technique have a subtle "independence" to them. This means that they can continue existing even if they were at a considerable distance from the Conjurer, or even if the Conjurer themselves are not aware that they have yet to be de-materialized. However the use of In can hide an object materialized from aura from experienced users of Nen.
Conjured objects can have special abilities imbued into them. For example, the Phantom Troupe bandit, 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 out of Nen. Similar to Manipulation, Conjuration abilities tend to be very specific, complex, and conditional. Conditions can be imbued into conjured objects to make them stronger. Kortopi, for example, is able to materialize a perfect inanimate copy of any object or person that he touches. However, the copies of all objects generated will automatically disappear after 24 hours.
Notable Conjurers include:
If a student moves the leaf floating on the water in the glass during their water divination, they are a Manipulator (操作系, Sōsakei). Abilities belonging to Manipulators allow the user to control living or non-living things in a certain way (and manipulate the aura itself), the main advantage being able to 'manipulate' enemies. Outside of the level of mastery over the Manipulation Nen, the degree of control is also for the most part, principally determined by a condition that may or may not put the Manipulator at a risk or a disadvantage (such as attaching objects on the enemy, touching the enemy in a certain way); and of course the higher the difficulty for the condition to be achieved, the better the degree of control.
Interestingly, in some cases, Manipulators are also seen capable of inflicting and maintaining the effects of their abilities from afar, seemingly without the aid of Emission-type Nen. However it can be reasoned that as long as the Manipulators are performing their abilities through a specific and consistent medium, such as Illumi's needles and Shalnark's antennas, with perhaps the inclusion of conditions, such result can be achieved.
Manipulators are also the Nen users who can pour the most aura into an object.
Notable Manipulators include:
- Illumi Zoldyck
- Kalluto Zoldyck
- Morel Mackernasey
- Shoot McMahon
If a student causes some other effect during their water divination, they are a Specialist (特質系, Tokushitsukei). It is possible that the effect that occurs can give some insight into how they should direct their ability. Specialization is anything that doesn't belong into the other five categories. This is the vaguest Hatsu category. For example, Kurapika's Specialist ability allows him to use all Hatsu types at 100% efficiency. Chrollo Lucilfer's Specialist ability allows him to steal any other Nen ability (provided that the right conditions have been fulfilled). It is possible to become a Specialist later in life, although it is more likely for 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.
Of the many possible effects that can occur during a Specialist's water divination, only one was shown so far. Neferpitou's aura caused the leaf on top of the water to dry out and crumble.
Notable Specialists include:
- Kurapika (Only when his eyes turn scarlet)
- Neon Nostrade
- Chrollo Lucilfer
Subcategories of Hatsu Abilities
Regardless of their type, some Hatsu abilities share common traits that allow them to be grouped in recognizable subcategories.
A curse is an application of Nen that is detrimental to the one upon whom it has been placed. Such curses are considered dangerous due to their long-lasting effects. The death of the one who cast the curse may end up strengthening the curse, instead of weakening it. Curses may disappear if certain conditions are met by the cursed, but they can also be removed through the use of Nen. Kurapika's Judgment Chain is considered a curse.
Those who possess the ability to lift curses are called Exorcists (除念師, jonenshi), but are rare among Nen users. The Hunter Association may have only one among its members. There are fewer than 10 people in the entire world whom are powerful enough to exorcise Nen curses left by the dead.
Notable Exorcists include:
Some abilities are collaborative in that they require multiple Nen users to perform each a different task to be effective. The power of the resulting ability is greater than what the Nen users involved could achieve individually. An example of symbiotic ability is conjuring a weapon which is then loaded and fired by another Nen user, such as an Emitter.
Notable symbiotic type Nen users include:
When a Nen user bestows a Hatsu ability onto another person, that ability is of the parasitic type. Parasitic type abilities are similar to curses. They utilize the host's aura to invoke their abilities and can come in many forms. They act without the host's awareness or control, defending him/her and, in rare cases, attacking. The person who receives the ability may not even be aware of it or be a Nen user (it has not been confirmed whether this is possible or not), in which case they will be unable to see the ability. The latter case is the most favorable for parasitic Nen, as the host will be unaware of their aura being drained and will only feel tired.
Notable hosts of parasitic Nen include:
- Nasubi Hui Guo Rou
- The 14 princes of Kakin
Quantification of Aura
Enhancement and Limitations
Reinforcement Nen plays a crucial part in close quarters combat. 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) and DP (Defense Points), depending on the action of the Nen user, while the proficiency in Enhancement is expressed in SP (Spirit Points). The sum of these two factors indicates the value of one's offensive or defensive capabilities. For example, if an Enhancer and a Conjurer who possess equal physical strength and who have maximized Reinforcement, 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 is:
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 a real 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), 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 risks in a Limitation and that it exceeds one's 100% limit pose, not all Nen users decide to resort to this method.
Level, Force and Accuracy
If a Nen user comes up with a Hatsu ability that requires a Nen type other than his natural one, its "Accuracy" and "Force" are proportional to his proficiency in that type. A Conjurer who has mastered Materialization at a hypothetical Level 10 will be able to increase his ability in Emission up to Level 4, if he trains in that category; however, his actual skills in Emission will be inferior to those of a Level 4 Emitter, because a Conjurer can only use 40% of his Power and Accuracy for a Level 4 Emission Hatsu, whereas a Level 4 Emitter can use 100% of them even in Level 4 Emission ability, since that is his natural category.
It should be noted that Force and Accuracy do not seem to influence the strength of one's aura when Hatsu is not being actively used: otherwise, the hypothetical Conjurer in Izunavi's explanation on Enhancement and Limitations would have had only 36 Spirit Points (60% of 60) instead of 60.
Knuckle Bine devised a way to convert aura in 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 Hatsu abilities. The less skilled the Nen user and the more powerful the technique, the more aura is consumed this way. 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): 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): the amount of aura that a Nen user can expend before passing out.
- Actual Aura Power or A.A.P. (顕在オーラ量 or AOP): the quantity of aura that is used effectively at any moment. 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 it to be lower than the aura units actually expended. For example, when Gon used his Round 2 technique against Knuckle, he consumed 4000 aura to charge two abilities, Rock and Paper; however, the actual force of the Emission attack was equivalent only to 500 aura, 25% of the power of Rock and 12.5% of the aura consumed overall.
- In the manga, five characters have used Nen before it was explained to Gon and Killua: Illumi (Hunter Exam arc), Zebro (Zoldyck Family arc), Hisoka, Zushi and Wing (Heavens Arena arc).
- Aura can be filmed, but it will still remain invisible to those who cannot use Nen.
- The terms used for "Vows" and "Limitations" are homophones in Japanese (せいやく, Seiyaku).
- Kurapika is the only character who falls under two different Nen categories.
- Aura is translated as "Chi" (氣) in the Chinese edition of H × H. Chi is known as "Ki" (気) in Japanese.
- In the 2011 anime, 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:
- In Japanese, the acronyms MAP, PAP and AAP were written as MOP, POP and AOP due to the katakana transcription of "Aura", which is "オーラ", or, in rōmaji, "Ōra". To preserve the original acronym, Viz excluded "aura" from them in the translation, with the "O" standing for "Output".
- Furthermore, the "P" in all three acronyms stands for "Power", but the kanji "量" actually means "volume".
- 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 are enmity between Transmuters and Enhancers in the series. For example, Enhancers Uvogin, Phinks and Nobunaga didn't get along well with Hisoka, a Transmuter.
- Manipulation is the only category of Nen that none of the protagonists fall under.