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“Now, I can tell you that you would not make a good Hunter. Your calling is as an assassin. There’s no fire in you, just darkness. It sustains you, drains you of any desire. Your only joy is in causing death, and even that is fleeting. That is how Dad and I molded you.”
Hunter x Hunter is one of the most popular mangas in the world. It is narrated and illustrated by Yoshihiro Togashi. The manga became a huge success, being featured in the Weekly Shonin Jump and later adapted into two different animated series. The manga’s huge success led to 79 million copies being sold and ranked 52 on the My Anime List.
The Hunter x Hunter series possess a vast collection of characters, each playing their role in this reimagined world. Amongst these characters, Illumi Zoldyck is someone you can’t ignore. Illumi is the personification of an emotionless death machine. He plays his unique part as Killua’s elder brother and a prodigious assassin of the Zoldyks.
But, despite his impassive expression, he does seem to care for the safety of his younger brother. This article will go over his family, character traits, abilities, and life events responsible for his unique nature.
Like his personality, Illumi’s appearance is also utterly unique to him. Illumi has long black hair, pale skin, and an overall slender body type. His hair is usually combed back, except for one bang of hair that has become a distinguishing feature. He possesses large dark-black eyes, adding to his uniquely horrifying and expressionless design.
His attire is mainly green, consisting of a puff-sleeved shirt and a pair of loose trousers. His shoes and socks can also be seen in a lighter green tint. Illumi’s alternative appearance, Gittarackur, is also seen in the same attire, with the addition of a vibrant blue mohawk and several pins sticky out of his face and body.
Personality and Character
Many fans would accept his detached, cold, and aloof personality from his presence in the series. These traits not only make him the perfect Zoldyck and assassin but also demonstrate a sad and questionable part of his life. His personality presents itself as a hole in his story and hints at the several layers of complexity hiding underneath.
He is an enigmatic and deranged character who has an outward firing personality. He is passionate about his role as a Zoldyck and an assassin. Unlike Killua, his younger brother, he enjoys the family business and plans to grow it further. He has an over-protective mentality, as he thrives on protecting his family and is also willing to die for the cause.
His emotions primarily manifest themselves as feeling and how he treats Killua. He is very protective of his little brother and works hard to instill his ideas in him. Illumi went as far as embedding a Nen pin in Killua’s head that would discourage him from taking on fights with powerful foes.
Although Illumi has a calm nature, this is mostly ignored when it comes to Killua. He has a ruthless but pragmatic character; he is well invested in his craft and profoundly respects his bloodline and what it represents.
Despite his love for the family, he views Alluka as an outsider and a threat to the family. His bloodlust toward Alluka and the intention to control her powers is evident in his eyes.
Overall, his personality mainly revolves around Killua. While trying to influence him, he is mostly blind to what he thinks is right. His speech and courage demonstrate that he believes his own words and is sure that he can only find happiness through bloodshed.
And due to this, he is hugely narrow-minded about the world around him. A sinister and deadly fellow indeed.
Powers, Skills, and Abilities
As an heir and the oldest son of the Zoldyck family, Illumi is a well-trained assassin and shares all the standard abilities and powers of the family. In addition, he is also a skilled Nen user.
We were lucky to witness the character in full action throughout the series. Fans can only imagine what the writer has in store with the ongoing plot for this assassin. Here are some of the abilities we have seen him use throughout the series:
As an assassin, it’s no surprise that Illumi possesses superhuman speed. Although the full extent of his speed is yet to be assessed, he is very swift and agile. He has many speedy feats in the series. While not as fast as Killuas GodSpeed Mode, he is fast enough to outrun many agile members of the Zoldyck family.
His speed and stamina go hand in hand as both are crucial for his job as an assassin. Due to the nature of his career, he is often seen tailing his targets and running long distances. He primarily developed a massive reserve of stamina through challenging and rigorous training. Seeing him in action would put many athletes to shame.
An Intimidating Aura
This is another ability that gives Illumi his iconic personality. This ability mainly comes with his lack of sense of humor and an inability to smile.
He isn’t seen genuinely smiling even once throughout the series, making his presence more unique and mysterious. Many characters from the series have admitted to experiencing the dense air whenever Illumi’s around and being too afraid to talk to him.
A Resilient Demeanor
Defining his deadly persona, it’s no surprise that he also has a high tolerance to pain. But I am not sure if he’s ignoring the pain or lacks the emotion to show it. Whatever the case, this ability adds to Illumi’s already sinister personality. We can see his tolerance in action when Gon breaks his hand during the finale of Hunters Exam for messing with Killua.
Illumi can be seen totally devoid of any expression of pain while he looks at his broken and bruised arm. His pain tolerance also plays a significant part when he uses his Nen to change his appearance. He mentions it’s excruciating, but he can tolerate it.
Sharp Observation Skills
During his experience as an assassin, Illumi has also picked a keen insight into his prey. His sharp observation skills also help him find loops and get him out of unfavorable situations. One example of this is when he comes up with a quick plan to track and finds Killua’s location when he fled through the eight airships.
Illumi’s Use of Nen
While it’s true that Illumi has a lot of physical and mental traits going for him, his Nen and especially his use of Ren is just something else. He uses his Ren to magnify his aura to an extreme level when he’s angry and mainly uses it to instill fear amongst his prays. He is a manipulator by class and a pretty proficient one indeed.
Throughout the series, he uses his manipulator abilities to control the things around him, including dirt, objects, and even humans. This control can be as small as setting a pre-decided condition on someone to the extent of managing the dead.
With Illumi’s highly efficient use of Nen, he also has an abundance. As we have seen multiple times, he uses his needle abilities to control whole armies, a pretty burning task. Here are some of the Nen abilities Illumi is seen using and are unique to him:
Illumi uses the ability to change his physical appearance using several needles. Illumi utilizes the ability to infiltrate places or sometimes have fun. Illumi also uses it to change his appearance to fool the Phantom Troupe. Another way Illumi is seen utilizing the alteration ability is by disguising himself as Gittarackur and entering the Hunter exams.
Another famous ability of Illumi is his use of hypnotic needles to set pre-decided conditions on his prays. This ability only activates when the conditions are breached and instill a sense of fear in the victims. Out of all the people, Illumi uses this ability on Killua to prevent him from fighting opponents more fearsome than him.
Another form of this ability is called Needle People. This ability is used on living people to control them, just like Hypnotic needles. This ability requires Illumi to stick needles into a person’s skull. The targets lose all sense of control and follow Illumi’s command until they die. Illumi is seen using the ability to control more than a dozen people at once, showing his massive reserves of Nen.
Illumi, as a manipulator, is well versed in the art of controlling things, and what better example is commanding the dead. Illumi sticks his Nen-infused needles inside his corpses, and they are under his control in seconds. These corpses are then classified as puppets and used to perform Illumi’s biddings.
The Tale of Illumi Zoldyck: The Petrifying Manipulator
Illumi Zoldyck was born in the Zoldyck Family. From an early age, Illumi was trained by his father Silva in the art of murder and became a functional part of the family business.
During this time, he also learned the use of Nen and started molding it into his character. Illumi’s first appearance in the series comes in the form of Gittarackur at the 287th Hunter exams when Tonpa tried to give him juice filled with a laxative. Here we learn that Illumi is familiar with Hisoka as both had formed a friendship.
He is mostly there to have fun and breezes through the first stage. In the second stage, he is almost eliminated due to his poor taste in food. In the third stage, due to Illumi’s calm behavior, he was also one of the first to escape the Trick Tower. Before starting the fourth stage, Illumi is given the number #301.
And during the ride to the island, he also finds out that his primary target is a guy named Goz. After landing on the island, he wastes no time in finding Goz and goes on to take his badge. He also kills a girl named Snipe and gives her badge to Hisoka. After which, he sleeps in a hole till the end of the round.
The final phase of the exam is an elimination-type tournament where the remaining contestants are expected to win as many matches as possible. Here Gittarackur faces Killua, where he reveals his real identity as his big brother and his genuine intention to join the exam.
He tells Killua that he was there to watch Killua and remind him about his Zoldyck blood and how he was meant to kill. Here Illumi learns about Gon and plans to kill him. In a plan to fluster Killua, Illumi tells him that he will kill Gon if Killua doesn’t fight him.
This proves to be a difficult task due to Illumi’s pin embedded in Killua’s head. Illumi goes to win the match as Killua quits.
At the License ceremony, Illumi is confronted by Gon, who goes on to break Illumi’s hand in a fit of rage. After the exam, Illumi is seen talking with Hisoka and sharing his desire to kill Gon, an idea that Hisoka dislikes. In the Yorknew City Arc, Illumi is seen siding with Chrollo Lucifer and helping the Phantom Troupe.
He is hired by Chrollo to assassinate the “Mafia’s Ten Dons.” After the mission is completed, Illumi also helps Hisoka by disguising himself as the latter and infiltrating the Phantom Troupe.
During the Chairman Election Arc, Illumi played a considerable role being the main antagonist of this Arc. He arrives at the 13th chairman elections disguised as Gittarackur. Here he meets up with Hisoka and discusses everything happening with Killua. He also mentions to Hisoka his desire to eliminate his younger sister Alluka.
He explains Alluka’s ability and mentions its consequences that could result in Illumi and Hisoka dying if Killua decides to heal Gon with it. Being the overprotective brother, Illumi also fears Killua using Alluka’s ability and paying the consequences himself.
In the following events, we see Illumi talking with Killua on the phone when he goes to Gon’s hospital with Alluka. Both have an intense argument where Illumi discloses that he doesn’t see Alluka as family and wishes to kill her. Killua’s anger challenges him, after which Illumi manipulates the car off the cliff in a forest nearby.
On Hisoka’s remarks about Illumi’s extreme measures, Illumi says he had no choice. Hisoka asks Illumi if he could kill Killua together with the servants, to which Illumi releases a deadly Ren. Illumi wonders if Hisoka did this to reveal their location, but Hisoka replies it was just a joke.
When Killua flees through the eight airships, Illumi uses his “Needle People” ability to create an army to capture him. Illumi makes his first move, and thus, everything sets into place for a lengthy pursuit.
Illumi and Hisoka are seen conversing through phones after killing all the hunters sent by Killua. Illumi reveals that he has the exact location where Killua and Alluka will land and then goes to help Hisoka finish the other Hunters. After the fight, Illumi takes control of Hishita, Killua’s getaway driver, and manipulates Killua towards himself.
After the brother unites, Illumi asks for Alluka, which Killua doesn’t accept. Illumi argues that Killua’s wish to heal Gon can lead to killing many Zoldycks. Killua assures Illumi that there is a way to heal Gon without getting anyone in danger.
Illumi is still hesitant about the claim and figures that Killua is hiding something about Alluka’s ability from him. Later, Illumi sees Alluka from afar with eyes filled with lust as he plans to control her powers.
At Gon’s hospital, Illumi senses Nanika’s power, and his desire to control her grows. Illumi mentions his desires to Killua and even assures Alluka of minimum freedom, but Killua refuses. Having no other choice, Illumi decides to let them be for now and leaves for the Zoldyck Mansion. In the Succession Contest Arc, Illumi is seen boarding the Black Whale.
After, which we see the Phantom Troupe at a table in Tier 5. Chrollo, the leader of the Spiders, asks Illumi to introduce himself to the Troupe. Although reluctant, he does so, which leads to him joining the Phantom Troupe on the condition that he gets to kill Hisoka. Later, The Phantom Troupe is seen checking the different tiers searching for the magician.
Illumi and Kalluto gain access to Tier 3 of the ship but soon are detained by the soldiers. When Mizuri finds Illumi’s ID, the soldier identifies Illumi as a VVIP and acquires his purpose. Illumi replies that he has some work there.
The soldiers tell Illumi about the curfew and ask him to leave the area. But Illumi declines and insists on going forward. Botobai and Mizaistom recognize Illumi as a Hunter and thus also confirm Phantom Troupe’s presence on the ship. Illumi is offered residential units by Mizaistom, after which the latter leaves for an urgent matter.
Character Closely Related to Illumi Zoldyck
To better understand the ruthless but prismatic heir of the Zoldyck Family, let us dive into some of the characters near him and Illumi’s influence on them:
Killua is one of the main protagonists in the series and, to top it off, the younger brother of Illumi. As siblings, both share the same bloodline and killer instincts. In many ways, Illumi’s strong character influences Killua in day-to-day life.
Despite this, both don’t get along very well. As Killua is destined to take over the family business, Illumi constantly tries to instill his ideas in Killua. But Killua doesn’t prefer the gesture and doesn’t share the desire to become an assassin.
Illumi harbors extreme love and cares for Killua, which extends in unrulily and twisted ways. He thinks Killua is misguided. As a brother, he tries to set him on the right path, the path of bloodshed. He wants the best for Killua, but his desire for Killua is entirely contrary to what Killua wants.
Hisoka Morrow plays a lead role as an antagonist in the series and, from his first appearance, is famous for his unique and jolly personality. Illumi and Hisoka, in a way, are good friends. But this friendship is more twisted than even Hisoka himself.
Throughout the series, both are seen helping each other, like when Illumi helped Hisoka flee by standing in his place at the Phantom Troupe meeting. Both also are fond of killing people and share a habit of challenging each while doing the gruesome task.
In a way, both share the same desire to control someone. For Hisoka, that person is Gon, and for Illumi, that is Killua. From Illumi’s personality, he mostly seems to be an introvert. But with Hisoka, this is mainly disguised by their frequent chats and jokes they like to play on each other.
Their unusual friendship can only be described as “give-and-take,” and Illumi often remarks that one of them will end up killing the other. Despite all this, they share a deep bond, as they both accepted a contract that if one of them dies, the other will get all his wealth.
My Personal Opinion about Illumi Zoldyck
Illumi is a heartfelt philosophical character; due to his crude and strict upbringing, he shares his family’s ideals. In my opinion, he is truly a monster. Seeing his prismatic side leads me to believe that if this character were given a normal and loving childhood, he would genuinely be one of the good guys.
His father’s mentorship also says a lot about him; as he speaks, it is clear that he believes in every word he says, which is a nod to his lack of choice growing up. He only knows what he is, though, and due to this, he is extremely narrow-minded.
He sees the world around him as a mission that he must complete in the most efficient way possible. Although Illumi loves Killua, deep inside, his expression and behavior show a sense of jealousy and resentment he has for him.
Question: In the Fight Between Hisoka and Illumi, who Would Win?
Answer: Although this is a straightforward question, the answer is not so simple. Both are excellent fighters, and both share exception Nen abilities. But the victor dramatically depends on the area they are fighting.
Hisoka will probably win in a one-on-one fight due to his incredible speed and strength. However, if they fought in a city environment, Illumi would have the upper hand as he could control many people. And would probably win due to the endless supply of human fodder.
Question: Why isn’t Illumi the Next Successor of the Zoldyck Family?
Answer: Many fans have wondered why Killua was chosen as the next successor after their father, Silva. Illumi is an emotionless and ruthless killing machine who enjoys the craft. Killua, on the other hand, doesn’t even want to become an assassin.
Although there is no official reasoning for this, many fans have speculated that this of Killua’s white hair and all the previous successors who also had white hair. Fans believe that because of this, Killua has more significant potential than Illumi.
Question: Is Illumi Related to Hisoka by Blood?
Answer: No, both are not related by blood. Although both are very unusual friends, they both have different last names and have no connection in terms of heritage.
Illumi Zoldyck Hunter x Hunter Character Guide: Final Thoughts
Hunter x Hunter is a series that has proved many people wrong. Due to its robust character building and story development, that left a significant impression on many. In its vast cast, Illumi is another fantastic and unique character who plays many parts when it comes to an antagonist. Illumi is an obsessively possessive brother and an unusual friend.
His past gives us a sense of darkness and regret. And this darkness is well molded into his character, and he also tries to instill the same in Killua. Illumi has a well-thought-out nature with his ups and downs. Due to this, he deserves the title of the scariest Shonen character.