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One of the most dazzling, and perhaps some of the most exciting, exhilarating and just plain badass anime trends of the past 25 years has been that of the transformation. Faced with an enemy so formidable, the protagonist has no option to but to tap into an unprecedented power and unleash something so incredible from within that it even changes how they look: the transformation. The conditions aren’t always the same, but we at Honey’s Anime have brought you some of the most intense, the most epic, the coolest, the most spine-chilling (and some of the most gorgeous) anime transformations that have people screaming in excitement every single time they see them. We’re talking fancy sequences, awesome costumes and hair and pure destructive power. Are you ready? This is our true form...
Tread carefully, spoilers ahead!
10. Black Hanekawa (Bakemonogatari/Ghostory)
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: July 2009 – June 2010
It is said that one of the best ways to deal with stress is to spend time with some sort of animal, like a cat or a dog. Hanekawa Tsubasa from the Monogatari Series took that one step further and learned to deal with stress in the most genius way possible: a stressed Hanekawa would turn into a catgirl and roam around the streets late at night attacking random people in a form dubbed “Black Hanekawa”. Her transformation occurs at night and Hanekawa wakes up the next morning with no recollection of the events of the previous night, with only the visual clue of her dirty feet to tell her she’d been out.
Hanekawa’s appearance as Black Hanekawa is a massive shift from the bespectacled beauty she normally is. Her black hair turns snow white, her irises turn yellow and her pupils become the characteristic cat-like slits. Hanekawa’s somewhat reserved personality takes a backseat for a menacing, standoffish persona with a very cute speech pattern, meowing every chance she gets. Black Hanekawa is actually the result of possession by the Sawari Neko apparition and it causes her to be increasingly violent to the point where, at one stage, she rips off Araragi’s arm. Bad kitty!
9. Djinn Equip: Amon’s Royal Sword (Alibaba Saluja from Magi: The Kingdom of Magic)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2012 – March 2013
Alibaba Saluja, the former prince of the Kingdom of Balbadd, a man who grew up in the slums, borne to a prostitute and the then king of Balbadd, Alibaba’s life changed when his father claimed him. Well versed in survival and combat, with the help of a certain young magician, Alibaba conquered a Dungeon which appeared in Balbadd, which granted him the power of the Guardian or “Djinn” of that Dungeon, Amon. Having found a worthy metal vessel in the form of his royal sword, Alibaba was eventually to perform the Djinn Equip, an ability granted solely to Dungeon Conquerors, allowing for the individuals to take on the form of their Djinn.
In the Djinn Equip state, Alibaba’s personal features do not change; however, he is enveloped in orange flames, his hands are dressed in orange gauntlets and he sports a 3rd eye in the centre of his forehead. Alibaba’s royal sword also emits powerful flames and he becomes a mass of awesome, fiery power. Why get 3 wishes from a genie in a lamp when you could get the whole genie and then some?
8. Kamui Senketsu (Matoi Ryuuko from KILL la KILL!)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2013 – March 2014
When Ryuuko found the sentient Kamui Senketsu, a special school uniform which chooses her to be its wearer, granting her special powers putting her on equal footing with those from Honnouji Academy who wear Goku Uniforms, she earned her right to be on this list. The Kamui, or “God Clothes” gives Ryuuko the strength to go against the hierarchy of Honnouji Academy and face the Student Council President, Kiryuuin Satsuki and find out who killed her father.
Normally, Kamui Senketsu presents itself as a regular Japanese sailor uniform, pretty standard with red lacing and a strange cross-shaped mark on the left side of the chest. When exposed to Ryuuko’s blood, we see a very well sewn together transformation sequence reminiscent of most magical girl transformation sequences, Kamui Senketsu completely changes into a combat-friendly, photoshoot-ready article with Ryuuko’s navel completely exposed, Senketsu’s skirt frills are given an edge and the chest area made extra tight and finished off with kickass thigh-length boots, Ryuuko and her Kamui Senketsu have significant visual impact – she makes an epic fashion statement.
7. BIRD, GO! (Gatchaman CROWDS)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2013 – September 2013
Gatchaman CROWDS can be summarised in one simple sentence: it is the anime equivalent of the Power Rangers. From the dynamics of the main characters, to the transformation sequence to the nature of their foe, it is quite easily Power Rangers. Except, it is much better, with a transformation sequence so awesome you can’t help but stand and pose the way they do. Each member of the Gatchaman is fully capable of the transformation, a phenomenon we at Honey’s have titled “BIRD, GO!”, in reference of the key phrase they say when they transform.
In their transformed state, each Gatchaman dons a different kind of futuristic armour, in assorted colours depending on their personality (again, Power Rangers). The transformation just tickles one right in the childhood, when being a protector of justice was a feasible profession. The transformation screams coolness and just could not be left off this list, especially when every member of the Gatchaman performs it. C’mon team, let’s fight against evil! BIRD, GO!
6. The Centipede (Kaneki Ken from Tokyo Ghoul √A)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2015 – March 2015
In √A, we are introduced to the concept of cannibalism in Ghouls – the more Ghouls a Ghoul consumes, the stronger they become and, at some stage, their main predatory tool, the Kagune, envelops their entire body and they become Kakuja, a somewhat unsightly transformation which Kaneki experiences. As a Kakuja, Kaneki’s Kagune covers his face and most of his body, giving him the look of a purple centipede. He performs erratic, writhing movements in this form, much like those of a centipede and he loses all ability to reason.
Kaneki in his Centipede form is a complete monster in form and in mentality and due to the sheer visual impact of the transformation, there was no way it would be left off this list. As most fans of the series would realise, it is a reference to the one of the torture methods experienced by Kaneki at the hands of Jason. It is absolutely creepy and a fairly dark transformation, not one most anime protagonists would be known for. Despite this, it made the top 10, because everyone likes centipedes, worms and other creepy crawlies, right?
5. Titan Shift (Eren Jaeger from Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2013 – September 2013
In perhaps one of the most epic ironies in anime, after his squad is totally annihilated (bar one) in their first ever mission as military academy graduates, Eren Jaeger emerges from the mouth of a titan as a titan which seemingly has only one goal: kill all the titans. This unlikely transformation, or Titan Shift, emerges in situations where Eren finds himself with a clear objective and some sort of emotional stimulus. In order to transform, Eren needs to injure himself in some way, with the objective in mind.
The transformation has no sequence, instead, a blinding flash of lightning appears and Eren’s titan body forms almost instantly. The Titan Shift puts severe strain on Eren’s body and so he can only manage a few Titan Shifts in a day and upon using the Titan Shift, he loses all reason and simply becomes a titan killing machine with no regard for anything else. The Titan Shift seems like the perfect solution for stress relief, we might add.
4. Gon’s Growth Spurt (Gon Freecss from Hunter x Hunter (2011))
- Episodes: 148
- Aired: October 2011 – September 2014
The next transformation on this list is Gon’s Growth Spurt. For lack of a better name, we have decided to classify this one-time transformation as a growth spurt, for fairly obvious reasons. Gon takes on this form in his fight against the powerful Chimera Ant, Neferpitou. Enraged at the death of his friend Kite at the hands of Neferpitou, Gon’s demeanour changes completely: from his regular, cheery self to a calm, somewhat solemn character. He grows to adult size, looking very bulky in build, his hair long and flowy, and his strength is incredible.
This is one of the more epic transformations on this list, as it was the result of an individual’s emotions pushing them beyond their physical limitations. This transformation put an incredible amount of strain on Gon’s body and he was rendered comatose, with virtually no hope of ever recovering. This transformation would probably come in handy when one needs just a little more height. Why eat your vegetables if you could just use nen? Nen – a perfect boost in any situation.
3. Saigo no Getsuga Tenshou/ The Final Getsuga Tenshou (Kurosaki Ichigo from Bleach)
- Episodes: 366
- Aired: October 2004 – March 2012
In the fight against former 5th Squad Captain and the series’ main antagonist, Aizen Sousuke, Ichigo finds himself having to rely on his sword’s secret hidden technique, the Final Getsuga Tenshou. The main drawback to this technique was its permanent aftereffects: once used, Ichigo lost all his Shinigami powers and went back to simply being a human. Despite this, Ichigo used the Final Getsuga Tenshou. In using the Final Getsuga Tenshou, Ichigo became Getsuga itself, which manifested in long black hair and bandage-like coverings over Ichigo’s mouth and chest. His reiatsu forms black swirls around him, making him look very ominous.
Used as a last resort to defeat one of the most powerful enemies Ichigo has ever faced, the Final Getsuga Tenshou is one of the most intense transformations in anime and its destructive force is vast. Ichigo’s no-hesitation approach to using this transformation, as well as its totally badass look earn the Final Getsuga Tenshou the number 3 spot on this list. Getsuga… TENSHOU!!!!!!!!!!
2. Moon Prism Power Makeup! (Tsukino Usagi from Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon)
- Episodes: 46 (1992), 26 (Crystal)
- Aired: March 1992 – February 1993, July 2014 – July 2015 (Crystal)
Usagi’s transformation happens to be one of the most influential in anime and this list would not be at all relevant without Moon Prism Power Makeup! The transformation occurs quite often in the series and it is set off by the keyphrase “Moon Prism Power Makeup!”. When Usagi yells this phrase, an intricate transformation sequence begins in which her uniform as the punisher of evil, Sailor Moon adorning her body in a colourful and visually appealing display. Her leotard would often be the first to appear, as several pink ribbons cover the various areas which are to be occupied by the different parts of her costume, such as her gloves and boots. The sequence finishes off with a gem appearing in the middle of her forehead, before a band extends from the gem to caress her head, forming her tiara and hair ornaments appear in the buns of her ponytails.
Moon Prism Power Makeup is definitely a legendary transformation, simply due to the fact that it is the main transformation of the protagonist of one of the most popular anime franchises to date. It is visually appealing and had legions of fans following suit whenever the transformation came up on TV. It is an iconic part of the Sailor Moon universe and perhaps of anime as a whole. Now, let’s go! MOON PRISM POWER MAKEUP!
1. The Super Saiyan Transformation (Son Goku from Dragon Ball Z)
- Episodes: 291, 97 (Dragon Ball Kai)
- Aired: April 1989 – January 1996, April 2009 – March 2011 (Dragon Ball Kai)
Number 1 on our list of transformations is none other than Goku’s Super Saiyan transformation. Quite possibly the most iconic anime image and the most iconic image of the Dragon Ball franchise, the Super Saiyan transformation was merely folklore amongst the Saiyan warrior race. It was for this myth that the evil space tyrant, Frieza, destroyed the Saiyan planet, Planet Vegeta. Fearful that from the Saiyans, whom he subjugated, a Super Saiyan would emerge, Frieza destroyed Planet Vegeta, killing almost every Saiyan in the process. As it turned out, one of the Saiyans who survived the destruction eventually became the Super Saiyan he so feared.
When Frieza mortally wounded Piccolo and murdered Krillin, grief pushed Goku over the edge and allowed him to tap into a power once thought to be myth. The Saiyan legend was proved to be true and he used this power to defeat Frieza. The Super Saiyan transformation needs no introduction. The golden hair and green eyes give it visual impact and a plethora of different media make a reference to the Super Saiyan transformation, from western cartoons, to rap songs, to other anime, the Super Saiyan transformation has deeply rooted itself in anime culture and Goku’s first transformation into this state is possibly one of the greatest scenes in anime history. The Super Saiyan transformation has definitely become a phenomenon of legend status and there might never again be an occurrence within an anime quite as influential as this one. We are all Super Saiyans.
Transformations are an interesting and in some genres, an integral part of the plot of the show. They provide a brilliant means through which our favourite characters can continue to persevere through some of the toughest situations, flex their strength and in some cases, just have a spontaneous way of changing their look. They are some of the unexpected moments we have come to love in anime and the prospect of a character completely changing themselves in order to achieve something is an aspect the majority of anime fans have fallen in love with. It also helps that they can be really, really cool. So, now that you’ve seen our list, tell us about your favourite transformations and don’t be afraid to help your friends along with their transformations by showing them this list!