The best moments in an anime series are ones with the heroes up against the wall as they face down a tough opponent. Pushing past their limits, they transform into a level of power they had never experienced before.
But which are the best transformations?
Transformations are one of the things that often separates anime from other forms of media. They are a representation of the kind of fantasy action and tone you can't quite nail in other mediums. A literal and figurative transformation of thoughts and ideals, these new forms of power help portray a character's evolution in a succinct fashion. It also helps that plenty of them are just cool to watch.
The following list is not meant to serve as a be all, end all, but as more of a general appreciation across many genres of anime, and how transformations can be used effectively on different kinds of shows.
These are our picks for the five best transformations in anime, but what are your favorites?
Titan Form - 'Attack on Titan'
Attack on Titan is a fantasy story set in a dark, post-apocalyptic world overrun by giant monsters, but no one guessed it would include one of the coolest transformations ever.
The root cause of Eren Yeager's latent ability to transform himself into an imposing Titan is still unclear, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. Stumbling on this new form by accident when Eren reached a new level of desperation as he and the rest of his team were under attack by a group of Titans, the mad beast form was in an uncontrollable rage the first time.
Eren's transformation marked a turning point for the series. No longer was it just about the humans' fight for survival, but now they found themselves in the middle of a conspiracy spawned by others with the same power as Eren. So this transformation not only changed the main character, but the direction of Attack on Titan moving forward.prevnext
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - 'Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann'
Gainax is an influential production company in the anime scene because of their ability to push against the boundaries of both story and animation.
The final transformation in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann set a new standard for mech anime series. The Gundam series may have featured evolving mechs before Gurren Lagann, but no other series tied its major themes into its evolutionary progression.
Each transformation in the Gurren Lagann series represented a new phase of its central arc, and was accompanied by some of the most fluid and passionately drawn animation in the medium. Both organic and inorganic, this mech series purported the strength of the human spirit. This blend of spirit, animation, and just plain hype was no better seen than the final confrontation of the series. It might even be one of the best scenes in anime overall.prevnext
Evolution - 'Digimon Adventure'
It might be because of how prevalent Toei and Bandai's Digimon was in the United States, but when thinking of transformations in anime, it's hard not to automatically picture the series' evolution.
Along the same vein as Nintendo's Pokemon series, Digimon featured multiple monsters evolving and reaching different levels of strength. Each season of the series had a new batch of kids suddenly trapped in the digital world that would adventure throughout it with the help of their Digimon partners.
The one leg up it has over other anime series is that each monster has a couple of different forms to change into, and the wild variety of transformations. There's the standard evolution, super evolution, mega evolution, matrix evolution, perfect evolution, armor evolution, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Also, technically, these were "Digivolving," but we think you get the idea.prevnext
"Moon Prism Power, Make Up!" - 'Sailor Moon'
When thinking about anime transformations, one could easily forget how integral the magical girl transformation is in the shoujo subgenre.
Shoujo is normally aimed at teenage girls, and these works often feature a primarily female cast and themes not usually seen in the action-heavy series written for young boys. Sailor Moon is such a prevalent property, however, and has such a good blend of story and action that it reached the hearts and minds of audiences of many ages.
When Usagi Tsukino shouts, "Moon Prism Power, Make Up!" she transforms from an everyday high school girl into a powerful superhero. It's made even better when she meets up with like-minded individuals and forms a squad of all-powerful women who punish villains.prevnext
Super Saiyan - 'Dragon Ball Super'
This is most likely the first thing anime fans think of when they hear "transformation." Dragon Ball's Super Saiyan transformation has become so popular, you'll find many references to it in the pop culture world at large.
John Cena GIFs, basketball parody videos, and every time a kid performs a feat stronger than they'd seem capable of, you'll often see a glowing golden aura, lightning, and spiky blonde hair accompanying it on the Internet.
Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball set the tone for transformations in shonen in general. Every time Goku finds himself in a pickle, he transforms and multiplies his strength. Eventually multiple characters reach the state, but Goku steps it up even further into much cooler territory. Super Saiyan, Super Saiyan 2, the extremely long hair of Super Saiyan 3, the non-canonical Super Saiyan 4, and, as of Dragon Ball Super, the power to become a God and even go further beyond that. Let's just say blonde isn't the only color his hair turns.prev