Fanart Friday returns, raising your insurance premiums whenever it's time for the final showdown. Last week, we continued our semi-regular voice actors theme with a look at the roles of Tomokazu Sugita, but this week it's all about our favorite POWERED FORMS! A staple of anime and manga, a battle can feel really incomplete if the hero (or villain!) doesn't go through a body-altering power-up.
Unsurprisingly, this theme received a ton of requests and a couple submissions, so we're jam-packed--while I wasn't able to meet everybody's requests, rest assured you are not forgotten! Just to be on the safe side, this week's installment has a big SPOILER WARNING, since power-ups are usually revealed a ways into a story's run. Now, you don't have to worry about a cliffhanger to see the power-ups in action--let's get started!
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Let's start by getting two requests done at once--with Shugo Chara's Ikuto in his Seven Seas Treasure, and Amu's Amulet Fortune! Costume changes are a big part of magical girl shows, so it's no surprise they get an extra transformation.
Magical boys also get the power-up treatment--I sure as hell didn't get far enough into Negima! to see Negi's Magia Erebea form, but it sounds dangerous!
by K o m a
Mecha power-ups can range from functional to completely out-there--Mobile Fighter G Gundam gives us the Shining Gundam for a while, which has a heat-venting Attack Mode, then powers up to a full-on aura-wreathed Super Mode.
Back-to-back armor heroes, here: the heroes of Yoroiden Samurai Troopers (known Stateside as Ronin Warriors) had armor that upgraded and became more powerful over time, much like...
...the multiple forms of Saint Seiya's Cloth Armor! Our heroes usually started at Bronze or Silver (although Silver Saints are usually jerks), with Gold Saints being kind of a power-level standard... until the Mythic Cloth shows up.
D.Gray-Man is one of those series that I like, but kind of infuriates me because Katsura Hoshino is so reluctant to draw action. Following in the tradition of other JUMP heroes, Allen Walker has a super mode of sorts: Crown Clown.
Powered forms can get pretty, uh... unorthodox, as Kore wa Zombie Desu ka's Ayumu Aikawa's hilarious magical girl form shows!
by ultmte READER SUBMISSION!
And yes--it's not just the good guys who get to power up. Villains are notorious for prolonging fights by revealing their true abilities, or in the case of Dragon Ball Z's final foe Majin Buu, just reverting to their original, pure(ly evil) self, and returning to the power they had at their peak. Kinda messed up, huh?
Super Sonic is clearly an homage to Super Saiyans (who we'll talk about later)--back when he was first introduced in 1992's Sonic the Hedgehog 2, I had no idea what Dragon Ball Z was, so as far as I was concerned, Sonic just turned gold.
Super forms can get pretty deadly for the people using them, too--about halfway through One Piece, before he got control of Gear Two/Gear Second, Luffy was shaving years off his life every time he used it. You'd think "speeding up your body's blood flow" isn't high on the list of potential power-ups, but then again, this is Luffy, who stabbed himself in the face to tell everybody he was a badass.
Readers were asking for "Red-1" from Majestic Prince, but I was only able to find a "Red-5," which is a nice reference to Star Wars in addition to having a super mode! Same thing?
Far be it for me to say that only guys get power-ups--in Medaka Box the titular (heh) Medaka goes into a rampage in her War God Mode!
I almost passed on Kill la Kill's Ryuko (and Senketsu!) for this week's installment, but recent developments show that Ryuko doesn't really need Senketsu to fight... wearing the ever-shifting Senketsu just grants her an expanded ability set!
Seriously, throughout most of Bleach, Ichigo goes through power-ups like a teenager goes through favorite bands. He gets Bankai, then he gets his Hollow Mask form, then he gets that insane power-up when he fought Ulquiorra, and then this thing when he fought Aizen, then his Fullbring form (for like five whole minutes), and now whatever the hell he has in the manga... and here I was hoping that they'd just find creative ways to use different characters' Bankai abilities.
But... Problem Children are Coming from Another World, Aren't They is a comedy, right? Like, full-on harem comedy, right? SO WHY DOES ONE OF THE GIRLS HAVE A SUPER MODE? Are there epic battles hiding beneath the hijinx?
And sports titles, too? C'mon, it's not like athletes enter super-powered modes when they--oh, forget it. Yes, in Kuroko's Basketball, Aomine and Kagami can both enter "the Zone," granting them superhuman speed and reflexes. Then there's Kuroko's "Misdirection Overflow," which is skirting dangerously close to Prince of Tennis territory.
Dragon Ball Z's iconic Super Saiyan mode isn't the first powered-up transformation, but it's definitely the blueprint for a lot of the different modes and forms we've seen so far. Heck, a lot of anime even borrow the sound effects!
I always kinda liked how originally, Naruto didn't have an "official" powered-up form until Naruto Shippuden--then he got Sage Mode, an upgrade that increased his stamina and physical power. He had a choice--use this one, or use...
by MadPandaKira READER SUBMISSION!
...his Nine-Tails Chakra Mode (here upgraded to Kurama Mode), which maximized his jutsu usage and attack power. Kinda broken, really, but when you're in final battle mode like the series has been for some time, you pull out all the stops.
Remember how I was balking at the idea of power-ups in comedies? Yeah, Arakawa Under the Bridge's Stella has a downright terrifying combat mode... that's strangely fitting for the series' world.
I'm gonna be blunt about this: Yu Yu Hakusho worked when only Hiei and Kurama had demon modes, and Yusuke and Kuwabara were humans who just happened to win with a combination of creativity, smarts, and perfectly-placed brutality. Once Yusuke got a demon mode, the series kinda went downhill in my opinion.
Sailor Moon was actually the example I used last week to describe how this theme worked--Usagi/Serena transforming into Sailor Moon didn't count, but Sailor Moon powering up to Neo Queen Serenity did! I love how this piece kinda looks like Naoko Takeuchi's style. I've always been kinda sad that none of her work since Sailor Moon has ever been as popular, but she still makes manga and seems to be enjoying her work, so that's good!
Being a very by-the-numbers (not a bad thing) shounen adventure series, Magi of course has powered-up forms, and right now none are more impressive than Sinbad's multiple djinn equips. Dude's already a badass, but with the djinn equips, he's a force of nature!
Sometimes, a series builds up to a final transformation, and uses that as something to close the action of its story. Puella Magi Madoka Magica constantly works up toward whether or not Madoka will make the contract and become a magical girl, and when she finally does, the shift to "Ultimate Madoka" brings about some major changes that affect more than just our heroine here.
Through most of TRIGUN, we just think that Vash is a goofy-yet-badass gunslinger who has a mechanical left arm. The real shock comes when his true nature is revealed, and his ludicrously powerful "Angel Arm" levels cities in the blink of an eye.
Symphogear is a series I'm not particularly familiar with, but its premise sounds kinda cool! Kinda like Macross' focus on idols paired with a more hands-on approach to combat, right? Anyways, it has transformations and power-ups, and I'll leave it to the Symphogear fans to fill in the rest in the comments!
So let's close with a question--what kind of power-ups do you prefer? More low-key upgrades, like Hunter x Hunter's Godspeed Killua?
Or do you like it when power-ups go all the way, like the Tengen-Toppa Gurren-Lagann (from, uh... Gurren Lagann), where our heroes piloted a mecha so big that they stood on the Milky Way and had a fistfight with the series' main villain?
Or do you just like 'em weird, like Safer Sephiroth at the very end of Final Fantasy VII? Cue somebody singing "One Winged Angel" in a hilarious falsetto right about... now.
And that's everything for this week! There's no way I could have included every power-up mode--what are your favorites? Sound off in the comments!
Like I say every week, your art is always welcome here on Fanart Friday, regardless of your skill level or experience. Just PM me a link to your work, and I'll be sure to include it in a future installment! Here are the next three upcoming themes for Fanart Friday:
-Next week, on MARCH 14th, we're focusing on series that delight in messing with the audience, celebrating a good MIND SCREW! From the existential angst of Evangelion to the vicious twist ending of School Days, what are your favorites? THIS IS THE ONLY THEME I'M TAKING REQUESTS FOR THIS WEEK!
-Then, on MARCH 21st, Fanart Friday turns two-and-a-half... so that means it's time for another RECAP EPISODE! For this installment, I'M NOT TAKING ANY REQUESTS, but ALL SUBMISSIONS ARE WELCOME!
-On MARCH 28th, we're dipping back into tropes, this time talking about MAGICAL GIRLFRIENDS AND BOYFRIENDS! It's all about that special, usually-not-human significant other who chases all your fears away... actually, that sounds kind of scary.
Thanks again for coming by and checking out Fanart Friday--have a great weekend, and I hope you drop by again next week!