What is your Nen?
Assessing your superpower in the world outside Hunter x Hunter
In the Anime show and Manga, Hunter x Hunter, there are many interesting features. Beasts, powerful beings, and other entities. But one I find interesting, and applicable to our world, is the power of Nen.
Nen is a way to strengthen and channel your aura, a projection of yourself out onto the world. It is about understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, and how to use that power. There are six different types of Nen. We will go over each one and, even if you have never watched the show, you can use this as your own form of “Water Divination” to better understand and use your Nen in our world.
Strengthening themselves or objects
Careers: Athletes, Coaches, Teachers
Examples: Gon Freecss, Mr. Miyagi, Usain Bolt
Enhancers focus on strengthening themselves or those around them. They can see someone’s potential, and how to increase it. They can also do this for themselves. In Hunter x Hunter, Gon Freeces uses his ability to strengthen himself, but also works to constantly enhance those around him.
An obvious example would be a star athlete, like Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt. Not only were they great to begin with, but they continued to challenge themselves to increase their own potential. Both managed to beat World Records, and then beat their own records later. But another example is Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. He isn’t interested in increasing his own strength, he already has plenty. But he sees Daniel’s potential, and understands how to use his own ability to enhance it.
Detaching aura from the body
Careers: Marketers, Musicians, Activists
Examples: Leorio Paradinight, Tyler Durden, Ray Kroc
Emitters can take things that exist — be it ideas, organizations, or products — and broadcast them out into into the Universe. This can be with sales, marketing, or musicians. Utilizing social media is a great example of emitting. In Hunter x Hunter, Leorio lacks the power of other characters, but understands how to emit their power, such as ideas for making them money or advocacy to save Gon.
Tyler Durden from Fight Club is one example. He takes the ideas and wishes of the protagonist, and emits them into the world. He didn’t create them, but he understood how to use them. A good real life example is Ray Kroc. He didn’t create McDonalds, but he knew how to emit it. He understood how to expand the brand and market it the way no one else could, and the result of his power still exists today on the Golden Arches in every city. Another example is Miranda Priestly from the Devil Wears Prada. She doesn’t create fashion, but she chooses fashion. And the fashion she decides to be worthy of her name is emitted and worn by famous people all over the world.
Changing the quality of aura to match something else
Careers: Chiefs, Chemists, Multi-Talent Artists
Examples: Hisoka Morow, Walter White, Issac Newton
These are the alchemists of the world. They can take two different elements and turn them into something new. A chief might get the idea of combining Japanese Cuisine with Mediterranean Cooking, creating something that has a new and distinct element. In Hunter x Hunter, Hisoka is a master at transmutation, taking elements of deception, power, manipulation, and weaving them in such a way to make himself a far more formidable enemy.
A fictional example is Walter White from Breaking Bad. Using his understanding of chemistry, he combines elements to create a pure and dangerous form of methamphetamine. But his transmutation goes beyond what he creates. He takes the suffering and exploitation of drug addiction and transmutes it into money to support his family and his children’s future. Issac Newton is most known for his work in physics, but he combined many different fields. He combined math and observation to formulate Newtonian Physics. He even experimented with early chemistry and alchemy, to try and create new things.
Controlling animate or inanimate things
Careers: CEOs, Politicians, Celebrities
Examples: Illumi Zoldyck, Petyr Baelish “Little Finger”, Abraham Lincoln
Manipulators are great at influencing others. They get a bad reputation many times, but the power of manipulator is a double-edged sword. It’s a powerful weapon that can be used for creative or destructive ends. A destructive manipulator can use their power for sociopathic goals, turning people against each other in order to gain power. But a creative manipulator can use that same power to prevent those with power from crushing those who don’t. Manipulators will normally have to be comfortable operating in some kind of grey area. In Hunter x Hunter, Illumi is perfectly comfortable with this grey area, manipulating his brother for years to do his bidding.
A fictional example is Petyr Baelish (Little Finger) from Game of Thrones. (Spoilers!) Baelish is able to pull strings from behind-the-scenes to lead five armies into conflict with each other. No side sees the bigger picture of what is happening, only Baelish understands the entire game at play. But there is another side. Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus, influenced politicians, and used his influence to gain more power, but the result was an end to a decade-long Civil War, and the emancipation and end of slavery.
Creating objects from aura
Careers: Entrepreneurs, Artists, Engineers
Examples: Kurapika, Howard Roark, Elon Musk
If you are great at bringing your ideas into the real world, at manifesting your will out of thin air, then you are a Conjurer. These people bring new creations into being, adding new magic to the Universe that can exist on its own. It might be companies, works of art, or architecture. In Hunter x Hunter, Kurapika manifests his will for revenge, changing himself and his powers, and the effects of his manifestation changes everyone in the story.
Elon Musk is the best example of a conjurer alive today. It is said that everything he touches turns to gold, but that doesn’t quite describe it. His superpower is his amazing ability at conjuring things we’ve never seen before. He conjured an electric car company, created cars that are faster and safer than their oil-guzzling counterparts, materialized renewable rockets, brought computer-neuron interfaces into being, manifested gigantic shuttles that can take us to Mars. He is very talented at taking ideas from his mind and turning them into matter. A great fictional example is the architect Howard Roark from the Fountainhead. Using ideas he crafts from First Principles reasoning, he creates completely new and stunning buildings, each unique to themselves.
Unique ability that doesn’t fit into any category
Careers: New jobs that don’t yet have a name
Examples: Chrollo Lucilfer, Sherlock Holmes, Tim Urban
If someone at a bar asks what you do for a living, and you find it difficult to explain in a single sentence (such as “I’m a software engineer” or “I work in real estate”), then you might be a specialist. Specialists are the first, and the only, of their kind. They don’t fit into any normal definition of work. Many will not understand what they do, but what they do will blaze the trail for careers in the future. In Hunter x Hunter, Chrollo does not fall into any normal category. Not possessing his own abilities, he instead is able to take them from others and become more powerful as a result.
A great example is Sherlock Holmes. In the first novel, A Study in Scarlet, Watson tries to pinpoint what Holmes’ occupation is. He notices he studies medicine, criminal history, etc. But he can’t figure out what kind of occupation would include all of them. This is because no previous occupation existed that matched Holmes’ profile. It was something totally new. He wasn’t the best at what he did, he was the only person to do what he did. A real world example is my favorite blogger, Tim Urban, creator of the website WaitButWhy. Except ‘blog’ doesn’t really describe what he does. His articles are too long to be called blogs, too vast in subjects to fall into a specific category, and can’t really be called books either. They are stick-figure-drawing-filled writings on topics from procrastination to SpaceX to the current state of society. He is also the first of his kind, whose footsteps others will certainly follow in.
Perhaps now you have an idea about what your Nen ability is, and want to apply it. Nen also has four different principles for how to use your power better.
- Ten (点テン, Ten; “Point”): Focus the mind, reflect upon the self, and determine the goal.
- Zetsu (舌ゼツ, Zetsu; “Tongue”): Put it into words.
- Ren (錬レン, Ren; “Temper”): Intensify your will.
- Hatsu (発ハツ, Hatsu; “Release”): Put it to action
Whatever your field, all four of these principles are important. You might be better at one over others. You might be more skilled at putting your ideas into words, then into action. But you need all four in order to maximize the potential of your Nen. 点テン Focus and reflect to determine your goal. 舌ゼツ Put the goal into actual words. 錬レン Intensify your will to create it. 発ハツ Put it into action.