Not a day goes by without someone, somewhere in the world thinking to themselves “you know, showering and getting dressed would be a hell of a lot easier if I was a magical girl who could just...transform into my best, kitted-up self.” Now that you’ve thought this as a consequence of reading that sentence, let’s take a look back at some of the most iconic magical girl transformation sequences in pop culture history.
As the princess of a kingdom that’s wholly defined by magic, Sally’s transformations aren’t really all that out of the ordinary. But as one of the earliest series to feature what would come to be known as the magical girl transformation sequence, Sally the Witch as a series is a definitive example of the genre as a whole.
What people like to forget is that before Sailor Moon’s plot really kicked into gear and began focusing on Usagi, one had every reason to believe that Minako was the main character and the chosen one who would bring peace to the entire galaxy through the sheer power of love. Of course, she ended up being Sailor Venus, but her transformation sequence stands out as being one of the most extravagantly extra among the other Senshi—which is a testament to the reality that, main character or not, Minako is that girl.
Digimon Frontier was unique in that rather than partnering up with digital monster pals to save multiple worlds, its young heroes instead became Digimon themselves through a convoluted process involving the scanning of spiritual barcodes attached to gaudy statues. Though all of Frontier’s evolution sequences were wild, Zephyrmon’s in particular stood out because of the way it didn’t at all try to downplay the fact that the monster was designed specifically to be both risqué and badass.
Because Rin presents herself as a tomboy for the most part throughout Precure 5, it’s particularly wonderful to see how she takes her duties as a guardian seriously and still revels in the high-camp energy that define all of the Cures’ transformation sequences.
The best transformation sequences are always the ones that highlight aspects of a character’s personality that make them identifiable even when they aren’t powered up and in costume. Sayaka’s bullish nature is a big part of what makes her such a powerful witch—the type to rush into battles not necessarily having a fully thought-out plan—but she always ends up making it work for her, which is something you can see writ large when she transforms.
Buttercup Utoniam would beat you into a bloody pulp before admitting that deep down she, like her sisters, does deeply enjoy high femme shenanigans. That’s something PowerPuff Girls Z understood and took advantage of in order to make her transformation sequence feel distinct.
There will always be a rigourous debate revolving around the significance and somewhat problematic nature of Utena’s transformation into a whole sports car in Adolescence of Utena. But what’s quite clear about the sequence as a whole is that it’s full-on batshit and cool as hell, because while anyone can get dressed up in glowing bows, it takes a true hero to become a straight up vehicle.
She’s a magical girl. Be mad if you must.
When a character initially introduced as a villain ends up deciding to change their ways and joining the winning team to fight the good fight, it’s always immensely satisfying, and in Kirika’s case even more so because of how ridiculously overproduced her Symphogear transformation is.
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