In the world of Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter X Hunter, Nen is a fact of life. It’s a divine force which allows gifted beings to manipulate their own life energy to perform miraculous feats. Consider it a method of channeling energy, such as “spirit energy,” in contemporary shonen titles.
Six types of Nen flow through the universe, which ultimately determine what type of powers a user will control: Enhancer, Emitter, Transmuter, Conjurer, Manipulator, and Specialist. That said, though, did you know that these abilities can apply to your everyday life?
Divining your Nen type.
To figure out your own Nen type, you’ll have to consider a number of factors. Your personality makes up an essential portion of this, as can be seen in the series. Gon, for example, is an Enhancer type: a physical fighter known for his unbreakable determination and a simple outlook on the world. In contrast, Killua is a Transmuter: he’s stealthy and generally keeps much to himself. Killua’s Nen power allows him to transmute the aura that channels within him into crackling electricity.
In Hunter X Hunter, people learn about their Nen types by putting their finger in a glass of water, and seeing how it changes. Of course, such energy emission isn’t possible in real life. Therefore, one must take a personality test before discovering their type.
How is it different from other personality tests?
Learning about your Nen type is similar to reading your horoscope, your blood type personality, or even your Myers-Briggs personality type. A quick Google search will point you to surveys that ask a battery of questions before calculating a convenient Nen type.
Unlike the aforementioned personality tests, though, Nen takes it a step beyond. In addition to divining one’s personality, one’s Nen type also revealed based on their approach to everyday problems. These can include both those found in the virtual worlds of video gaming, as well as those that exist in real life. It’s an essential element to who you identify with and what your approach relates best to.
Personality Traits of a Nen User
According to the Hunter X Hunter manga, personality types are sorted across all six Nen types. At first glance, it’s easy to assume that this is based on mood. And though these can be considered equivalent to normal human moods, such an approach is hardly consistent.
In the world of Hunter X Hunter, Gon is simple and determined. He’s willing to risk everything to find his father, Ging. Killua is a whimsical liar, as is the antagonist character, Hisoka.
A Manipulator, such as Shoot, is logical, and does things at their own pace. In contrast, Emitters like Leorio are fairly impatient. Meanwhile, a Conjurer like Kurapika or Shizuku tends to be high-strung. Finally, there are the Specialists, such as Alluka or Neon, who are the rare individuals who follow the beat of their own drum.
These traits have appeared outside of the world of Yoshihiro Togashi classic, as well, in the form of popular archetypes. Dragon Ball’s Goku and Vegeta can be seen as Enhancers. Ninjas, like Naruto’s Sasuke, embody the Transmuter type, along with the demonic Hiei from from Togashi’s other hit, Yu Yu Hakusho
Nen in Yu Yu Hakusho
Yu Yu Hakusho is another work by Togashi, which ran from 1990 through 1994 in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump. Before Nen even existed as a major element in the written world, its base elements could be found within the characters of this work.
For example, let’s take a look at Yusuke and Kuwabara. Yusuke fires a Spirit Gun, while Kuwabara channels a Spirit Sword. Ability-wise, that would make them Emitter and Transmuter, correct?
Not necessarily! While Yusuke and Kuwabara both gain power from their friends and their feelings, they’re incapable of taking a logical approach to things, as they’re both thick-headed characters. Moreover, they find ways to strengthen their aura when they’re badly hurt in battle, making both characters Enhancers.
Let’s go back to the Nen chart: Enhancers fall between Emitter and Transmuter, placing the two types on opposite ends of the spectrum. Yusuke falls closer to Emitter type, while Kuwabara falls closer to Transmuter. Note their personalities, however: both characters are honest, simple, and determined.
Hiei, on the other hand, is a bit of a liar. He spends much the series avoiding the uncomfortable moment of sharing his true identity with telling his sister, Yukina. Moreover, his Sword of the Darkness Flame is a more powerful version of Kuwabara’s Spirit Sword. According to the Nen chart, that would make him a Transmuter. Kurama, on the other hand, classifies as a Manipulator. His power comes from his ability to manipulate plants to do his bidding.
Nen and abilities
In this section, we’ll take a look at an example of what connects Nen types to people. For instance, we can use video games. Picking a character or a class might help identify early on what abilities you’re drawn to.
For example: let’s take a look at Final Fantasy, which allows the player to pick their class and characters, and create their own identity in the process. The best way to sort it out would be to classify them as follows.
- Fighter and Monk are Enhancers
- Black Mage and White Mage are Conjurers
- Thief becomes Ninja, learning elemental arts. He is a Transmuter
Later titles, such as Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy V, introduced more Jobs to the series. An Archer would be your Emitter, for example. Classes that don’t fall under these Nen types would be classified either as Manipulators or Specialists.
This logic isn’t limited to RPGs, as , we can also divine Nen types from fighting games.
- Ken and Ryu, from Street Fighter, are Enhancers
- An Emitter would be Iryu Ishida from Bleach, who fights with Bows.
- Transmuters include Greninja, from Pokémon, who appears in Super Smash Bros.
- Conjurers are mage-types of all kind. These include Rose and Ingrid from Street Fighter.
- Manipulators utilize animate or inanimate objects to do their bidding. These include Carl Clover from BlazBlue, Viola from SoulCalibur, and Rosalina from Super Smash Bros.
- Finally, Specialists maintain their own, otherwise unclassified abilities. In Super Smash Bros., I classified these as Jigglypuff, Mr. Game & Watch, and Ice Climbers.
Nen and Your Approach
Do you remember the characters I listed earlier, like Goku, Ken, and Iryu? I’d like you to take a step back and examine how their abilities and personalities line up. Goku and Vegeta are simple yet determined, relying on brute force to win their fights. Hiei and Sasuke are skilled fighters, who transmute dark fire and electricity, respectively. 9S, a character from the video game NieR: Automata, functions as a Manipulator, who finds victory through logic and the use of hacking to interfere with the enemy’s abilities.
Nen applies to all sorts of fiction. Your favorite favorite characters from anime, movies, cartoons, video games, and even comics all have a Nen type, and fall under this umbrella.
Nen and You
Finally, let’s take this into the real world, and apply the principles of Nen to ourselves. Do any of the listed abilities and personality types resonate with you? Do you find yourself personally relating to certain characters as a result of this discovery?
Depending on how you play video games or the characters in anime you relate to, you’ll discover which Nen types flow most consistently with your personality. Whether it’s your favorite RPG class, your main in fighting games, or even your favorite TV genres, knowing about Nen means discovering a part of yourself that you never knew you had. It’s more consistent than an astrological sign. It applies to your outlook as well as your own personal abilities.
Over the course of the article, we’ve outlined a basic introduction to how Nen applies to everyday life. If you’ve never watched Hunter X Hunter, you can learn all you could ever want by analyzing the Nen types of the show’s cast, or by digging deep into the show’s wiki to see where characters fall within the Nen spectrum.
If you still find yourself with questions, I’d suggest taking a look within, to see who you relate to in fiction and gaming. Consider the approach you’d take if you were saving the world against a powerful villain, or how you’d ideally save the world from certain peril. Your abilities would play a major part in deciphering your Nen type. Think of the characters you play, and how they interact with the world around them, as you search within yourself for your own inner Nen type.
Nen is one of the most fascinating concepts be born from the realms of anime. Still, keep in mind that it pays to specialize at what you’re best at. Trying to learn everything at once only serves to overwhelm, rather than help a person improve themselves.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about yourself and what to optimize in the games you play, I hope you found this guide to be of great use to you. Use it to find your approach in life, and tackle the real world the best way only you can!