“Henshin” is a Japanese word that can be translated as “transformation” or “metamorphosis”. The word is often used in anime, tokusatsu and manga, especially in superhero or science fiction series, to describe the act of changing shape or appearance.
In many Japanese series, the hero or main character can transform into a more powerful form or change his appearance to fight his enemies.
Henshin is usually done with the help of a magical object, a technological device, or simply through the character's will, where the transformation is accompanied by word narration and a backing track.
This idea of transformation is a common theme in many anime and manga, and the word "henshin" is often used to describe it. The transformation can be physical or also just in skills, clothes and equipment.
The word Henshin is composed of the ideograms “変” (hen), which means “change” or “transformation”, and “身” (shin), which means “body” or “form”.
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The Origin of the Genre Henshin
The idea of transformation/henshin is common to many aspects of Japanese culture, including mythology, literature and art. In many Japanese tales and legends, characters transform into animals, monsters, or supernatural beings to face challenges or solve problems.
The transformation/henshin genre (in Japanese, “henshin hero”) has its roots in the tokusatsu genre popular in the 1950s, which refers to audiovisual productions with real actors and special effects.
In the 1970s, the tokusatsu genre began to evolve into the superhero subgenre with special powers, which included using transformations to become stronger and fight evil.
Characters usually possessed a special item or device that allowed them to transform, such as a bracelet, belt, or armlet.
The transformation/henshin genre has also become popular in manga and anime. The series "Sailor Moon" (1992) featured girls who transformed into heroines to fight evil, while "Dragon Ball" (1986) featured characters who transformed into more powerful beings to fight enemies.
Why is Henshin so successful?
The idea of transformation/henshin is not only a way to add emotion and drama to stories, but it can also represent a personal journey of self-discovery and growth for the main characters.
This can be an inspiring message for viewers, encouraging them to face their own fears and insecurities to reach their true potential.
The transformation can represent a turning point in the story, when the character assumes a new level of power and skill, thus causing anxiety and excitement in viewers.
Many anime that do not have the Henshin genre as a focus, still have scenes that are quite successful because of a transformation. A great example is in Gon's transformation into the bow of the chimera ants.
The greatest anime transformations
Here is a list of the biggest transformations/henshin in anime:
- Goku – Super Saiyan (Dragon Ball)
- Sailor Moon – various forms (Sailor Moon)
- Naruto – Six Paths Sage Mode (Naruto)
- Ichigo – Bankai (Bleach)
- Luffy - Gear Fourth (One Piece)
- Yusuke-Mazoku (Yu Yu Hakusho)
- Vegeta – Super Saiyan Blue (Dragon Ball)
- Gon – Adult (Hunter x Hunter)
- Madoka – God (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Yusuke Urameshi – Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho)
- Simon – Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann)
- Shinichi Izumi – Shinichi's Transformation (Parasyte)
- Gon Freecss – Jajanken (Hunter vs Hunter)
- Kaneki Ken – Kakuja (Tokyo Ghoul)
- Shigeo Kageyama – 100% Explosion (Mob Psycho 100)
- Kira Yamato – SEED Mode (Mobile Suit Gundam SEED)
- Gohan – Super Saiyan 2 (Dragon Ball)
- Inuyasha – Half Youkai Transformation (Inuyasha)
Do you recognize or remember any of these transformations? The videos below may help you remember:
List of anime focusing on Henshin
There are hundreds of anime that focus on transformations. They can occur very frequently or as a highlight of the work. What do you think about following some?
It is worth noting that Henshin is usually found in works of superheroes, robots, magical girls and the like. Maybe you want to read articles that talk about this genre, we leave it below:
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- Meka – Giant Robot Anime – Origin and Curiosities
Below we have a list of 50 anime, manga and series that have Henshin as the focus of the work. That is, anime where the characters often transform.
- Sailor Moon
- Kamen Rider
- cutie honey
- Cyborg 009
- Casshern Sins
- Getter Robo
- Minky Momo
- Super Sentai (Tokusatsu)
- Choujinki Metalder
- Choujuu Sentai Liveman
- Juukou B-Fighter
- Precure (Pretty Cure)
- Yuki Yuna is a Hero
- Saint Seiya
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- Tokyo Mew Mew
- Ojamajo Doremi
- Fushigiboshi no Futagohime
- Shugo Chara!
- Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
- Mahou Tsukai Sally
- Majokko Megu-chan
- Madou King Granzort
- Rilu Rilu Fairilu
- Yo-kai Watch
- Monster Rancher
- Zatch Bell!
- Dinosaur King
- Duel Masters
- Medarot (Medabots)