Hunter x Hunter Nen Explained: All You Need to Know

In Short
  • Nen is a process in which one can create anything they can imagine, even superhuman abilities, by using their life force.
  • To advance through their Nen mastery, the user needs to learn the four Nen principles: Ten, Zetsu, Ren, and Hatsu.
  • There are many classifications of Nen, and each has its own advanced techniques as well.

One of the greatest manga and anime series to ever be created is Hunter x Hunter. This series differs from other anime in many ways, including the world-building, characters, and plot. The Nen power system is one of Hunter x Hunter’s many wonderful aspects.

In Hunter x Hunter, Nen is the source of power for all the characters. Although Nen was described in the anime, it has since undergone several expansions, making it one of the most intricate power systems in a Shonen anime. But don’t worry, as we have got you covered, dissecting the Nen power system and providing you with an easy explanation. So, let us understand what is Nen in HxH and how it affects the show’s characters.

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers about the Nen power system and the story of Hunter x Hunter. We highly suggest you read the manga or anime to avoid ruining the intended experience.

What is Nen in Hunter x Hunter

Gon and Killua experiencing Nen for the first time in Hunter x Hunter anime.
Image Courtesy: Hunter x Hunter by Madhouse Studios (IMDb)

The concept of Nen was first introduced in the Heaven’s Arena arc (one of the best arcs in HxH) by Wing. We had seen Nen in earlier Hunter x Hunter arcs, but we did not have a label for it back then.

Now, to put it into simple terms, Nen is the basic power system of the Hunter x Hunter, just like Chakra in Naruto, Haki in One Piece, or Cursed Energy in Jujutsu Kaisen. By this, you must have understood what Nen basically is.

Every single living being in the Hunter x Hunter world has a life energy running through their bodies known as the Aura. Nen is a technique in which one utilizes (controls or manipulates) their life energy to produce superhuman powers or anything, limited only by the creativity of the user.

The literal translation for Nen is Mind Force or Sense. The person who utilizes Nen is referred to as a Nen user. Nen can also be directly referred to as Aura.

While the power system is generally known to people in other Shonen anime, it’s a different case in HxH. Nen is hidden from the public by the Hunters association as in the wrong hands it can pose a huge threat to humanity.

Aura and Aura Nodes

Hunter x Hunter Nen Explained: All You Need to Know
Image Courtesy: Hunter x Hunter by Madhouse Studios (IMDb)

As mentioned above, every life form in Hunter x Hunter has a life force known as aura. This aura emanates from the body’s Aura Nodes, which are specific areas where the aura can be released. Aura is essential for living and is also closely related to stamina. The aura will unknowingly escape from a non-user’s (normal human) body in small amounts, but it is harmless.

On the contrary, people who’ve opened their nodes would either endure extreme tiredness or pass out due to large quantities of aura leakage without controlling the aura flow.

Thus, if you want to become a Nen user, you must learn the basic four principles of Nen that will help you master the art of Nen. We have discussed them below.

How Can Someone Learn to Use Nen

Wing initiating Nen to Killua and Gon.
Image Courtesy: Hunter x Hunter by Madhouse Studios (IMDb)

The first step to learning Nen is to open the aura nodes in your body. This can be achieved in two ways, which are as follows:

  • The basic method is to meditate and slowly master the art of Nen. But as one will see, it takes a great deal of patience and time.
  • The shortcut to learning Nen is reported to be this alternative technique called Initiation. An expert Nen user may forcibly open the aura nodes by projecting their own Nen into their bodies.

Although the latter approach may seem simpler, many people despise it since it has the potential to kill someone if they are untrained or unable at the moment. Several people use this initiation as an attack.

A person’s potential and hard work in training also play a vital role in learning Nen. For example, Killua was able to learn it faster than Gon. Now, let’s learn the four principles of Nen.

HxH: Four Key Principles of Nen

The four principles of Nen are the next steps one should follow to progress through their mastery of Nen. These exercises are similar to meditation and improve a person’s willpower, which will greatly help them in their Nen journey. They are:

  • Ten
  • Zetsu
  • Ren
  • Hatsu


Hunter x Hunter Nen Explained: All You Need to Know
Image Courtesy: Hunter x Hunter by Madhouse Studios (Fandom)

Ten is the next thing one must learn after opening their aura nodes successfully. Ten is the process in which a user can train their body to regulate the aura flow within their body at the same time while keeping their aura nodes open. This is basically done to eliminate the process of aura leaking from one’s body.

Ten is one of the most important principles as it’s the first step towards controlling one’s aura and acts as a defense against Nen attacks. It is mentioned that a user can break the aging process as we have eliminated the leakage of aura from one’s body.

As a result, the user is gifted with an eternal youth look. After you have learned this once, you never need to learn again as it will be remembered forever by the user. But one can keep training the Nen so that they can be using Ten even when they are sound asleep.


Hunter x Hunter Nen Explained: All You Need to Know
Image Courtesy: Hunter x Hunter by Madhouse Studios (Fandom)

The second principle we have is Zetsu, and it’s about suppressing one’s own aura. Why should we learn to stop our own aura from leaking, you ask? It is because one can get relief from the fatigue of constantly controlling their aura (Ten).

However, do keep in mind that this action will keep the user completely vulnerable to attacks. This technique is also preferred when the user wants to go into stealth mode. For example, if the user is tracking someone, other experienced users can’t detect them if they hide their aura and stay low.


Hunter x Hunter Nen Explained: All You Need to Know
Image Courtesy: Hunter x Hunter by Madhouse Studios (Fandom)

Up next, Ren is a counterpart of Ten. Let me explain why. While Ten directs the user to control their aura, which helps in defense, Ren sees the user primarily concentrates on maximizing the aura they have into greater amounts. It can be used to make new techniques they want to strike with. Thus, it is used to show off the user’s powers.

Ren is extremely vital like Ten as one needs to master it to build up their aura tank to become more powerful. Ten needs to be conquered first so that the user can control the maximized aura output from utilizing Ren. It is stated that a user can undergo one month of training to increase their Ren output by 10 minutes outside of combat.


Hunter x Hunter Nen Explained: All You Need to Know
Image Courtesy: Hunter x Hunter by Madhouse Studios (Fandom)

Hatsu is the final principle and is a larger topic that needs to be addressed separately. However, I only explain the basics of Hatsu here. As you may already know, every Nen user has a different affinity from one another.

Therefore, Hatsu is the ability to create one’s own special Nen ability using their aura after discovering to which category (six categories are present) the user belongs.

It is completely up to the user to define their own ability as they can create from scratch. It is also mentioned that the specific ability can reflect the quirk of its users. For example, Hisoka came up with his Bungee Gum Nen ability using the principle of Hatsu.

That’s everything you have about the basics of Nen for now. There is a lot more to cover such as the Nen chart and advanced techniques of Nen, which we discuss in a separate guide. We hope you were able to learn about Nen in simple terms here. In the meantime, tell us which Nen ability you love in the comments below.

Why is Nen hard to understand?

The concept of Nen can be confusing at times, in fact, it is the most complex power system in any Shonen in my opinion. However, if you learn the basics and apply them to the advanced techniques you can understand them easily.

What is the difference between Nen and Ren?

Ren is one of the four principles to learn to master the Nen. Ren is the process of amplifying one’s aura inside their bodies whereas Nen refers to the aura/ life energy in the body.

What are the 4 principles of Nen?

The four principles of Nen are Ten, Zetsu, Ren, and Hatsu.

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