History Main / ShonenUpgrade

31st Oct '13 11:29:03 AM SeptimusHeap
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[[quoteright:350:[[Manga/{{Bleach}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Shonen_Upgrade_9507.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:TheHero's progression.]]

ShonenUpgrade is an item, power, or transformation gained by a main character to drastically increase their abilities. Most commonly it's some sort of "special ability" or "new move," like a SuperMode. It sometimes appears as an EleventhHourSuperpower, a DangerousForbiddenTechnique, or, rarely, IAmNotLeftHanded.

The ShonenUpgrade usually doesn't involve "just" training, no matter how [[TrainingFromHell hellish]] it may be; there's always some exterior source for the power, like a magic weapon, an [[LifeEnergy infusion]] of ''[[KiAttacks ki]]'', or a TransformationRay. Many of the more powerful {{Shonen Upgrade}}s have some sort of [[PowerAtAPrice downside]] attached, such as risk of a HeroicRROD ([[DeadlyUpgrade if]] [[PowerDegeneration not]] [[TheCorruption worse]]) if used too much, or a risk of [[SuperpoweredEvilSide losing yourself]] to TheDarkSide.

The plotline change, that all Shounen Upgrades bring, is a handoff in the caliber of villain the series will deal with. [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil Villains of the past will now be entirely outclassed on their next appearance]], if they even get one. Most should just take some time off, [[TookALevelInBadass and find some low level monsters to beat up]], generally for a story arc or two. The status quo is reset to a new higher level compared to previous parts of the story, and the character grows.

The only variable is when the upgrade is applied. One option is to bring the upgrade early, to give the hero a fighting chance on the new big bad. Or, the more usual play is to bring it in at the end of an arc. When the next arc rolls in, the new big bad outclasses the old one in every way. Either event it marks a shift from a previous era of the series.

See also NewPowersAsThePlotDemands. In [[HumongousMecha Mecha Series]], the equivalent is the MidSeasonUpgrade. This trope is the greatest weapon of a SmallStepsHero.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* The most well known example of this trope is the various levels of Super Saiyan from ''DragonBallZ'', though early on there was a previous ShonenUpgrade in the form of the Kaioken, which increased Goku's power at the cost of [[HeroicRROD the toll it would take on his body]] [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique if he used it at too high an intensity]], as well as a later ShonenUpgrade during the Majin Buu saga in the form of Fusions.
** Saiyans have this trope as a biological ability. Near-death injuries cause a massive boost in strength, speed, and ki.
** In ''DragonBall'', Goku, desperate to kill King Piccolo drinks the "Ultra Divine Water", a magic water that unlocks the drinker's latent powers if they can survive its poisonous and painful effects.
** {{Subverted}} earlier on, after almost being killed by the world's deadliest assassin, he tries getting the magic water, only it's just plain water and once he got the water he had already gotten that much stronger from climbing the sky-reaching tower where the water was located and fighting the martial artist master there.
** As far as supporting characters go, there's also Piccolo merging first with Nail and later with Kami; and Krillin, Gohan, and Dende getting their hidden potential unlocked by Guru.
* ''Anime/MazingerZ'': Late in the series, Kouji Kabuto learnt to combine his HumongousMecha RocketPunch with EverythingIsBetterWithSpinning to create Big Swing Rocket Punch (essentially, Kouji spins Mazinger's arms at full speed before shooting its fists). It counts like this trope and not like a MidSeasonUpgrade because it was not a new weapon installed into the mecha, but a new technique invented by Kouji drastically increased his power (It was several times stronger than a normal RocketPunch).
* Most of the ''OnePiece'' characters gained a new weapon, tool, or power in the Skypeia arc.
** Specifically, Zoro gained a RazorWind attack and Nami got a Jet Ski. The real upgrader was the [=CP9=] Arc, when Luffy gained two new forms, Chopper became TheBerserker (temporarily), Nami upgraded her previous weapon, Usopp started to gain confidence, Sanji set his attacks on fire, and Zoro tripled his swords to nine.
** The Fishman Island arc has had the crew reveal even MORE upgrades. Though these are completely justified, seeing as they spent 2 whole years specifically to gain shonen upgrades.
*** That said, Devil Fruit users' upgrades was technically never an upgrade. According to WordOfGod, Devil Fruit users ability can never get stronger, it all depends on the users' creativity. Luffy could have used Gear 2 from the very first chapter if he had realized it sooner.
* Shinigami in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' have 3 forms to their Zanpakuto, "Unreleased", "Shikai", and "Bankai". Ichigo starts unreleased, loses his powers, skips straight to Shikai upon regaining his powers, and later gains Bankai through a pure ShonenUpgrade moment. In addition, Ichigo's Hollow powers are a similar example, powers acquired, not through training, but by dramatic need, usually after being [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice stabbed]].
** Some of other main characters (Rukia, Chad, and Uryuu) have received upgrades, as well. Renji is a bit of a subversion, as the only upgrade he's received since his initial HeelFaceTurn upgrade is an [[BreathWeapon energy]] [[WaveMotionGun beam]] [[KamehameHadoken attack]] shortly afterwards. Orihime hasn't really received any upgrades throughout the course of the series, except for the fact that her [[CallingYourAttacks attack calls]] have been shortened.
*** [[spoiler:Even Orihime got one over the {{timeskip}}, specifically an AttackReflector.]]
* In ''{{Naruto}}'', the title character's Kyuubi tails are a form of this, as is the forming of Sasuke Uchiha's Sharingan mid-fight-scene. Choji Akimichi's special Food Pills also count. There is also Orochimaru's Curse Seal, which Kimimaro, the Sound Four, and Sasuke all have. Kankuro gains more Ninja Puppets, while Tenten gets Weapon Scrolls. Later on, there is Jiraya and [[spoiler: Naruto ''again'']] with Sage Mode. Naruto then gains [[spoiler:full access to the Kyuubi's chakra by [[ThePowerOfFriendship befriending it.]]]] And, of course, Rock Lee and Might Guy have the Eight Gates to move up through. [[CaptainObvious Naruto uses the trope a lot]].
* ''BoboboBoBoBobo'' 's Shonen Upgrades are direct parodies of ''Dragonball Z'''s Super Saiyan and Fusions.
* In ''Anime/YuGiOh'', the God Cards are a version of this. So are the Orichalcos arc Legendary Dragon cards, which were brought into the main character's deck by pure willpower and TheMagicPokerEquation. The cards ''didn't actually exist'' before the moment the main character needed them and they magically came into existence.
** In ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'', Judai/Jaden's Elemental Hero Neos and the Neos Fusions count too.
** Clear Mind and its advanced stages (which produces Accel Synchro monsters) and Burning Soul (which allows you to summon Red Nova Dragon) for ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds''.
* In ''{{S-Cry-ed}}'', Kazuma goes out to upgrade his Alter power because it is too weak, then later gets an additional upgrade at the end of the series through willpower. Ryuho also follows this, but his first upgrade is more an IAmNotLeftHanded, in that he had it retroactively.
* In ''{{Guyver}}'' there is the Gigantic upgrade for each character equipped with a Guyver. Only problem there is a limit on using it and is essentially a suit that can be worn by only one character at a time. Aptom himself can qualify in which he slowly gains more power by absorbing more Zoanoid types.
** Guyver I can take the Gigantic upgrade a step further by transforming into the Gigantic Exceed, an [[HumongousMecha apartment-sized bio-armor]]. He's used it once so far, to fight the Zoalord Kabarl Khan in his equally huge zoanoid form.
* ''MahouSenseiNegima'' has several of these. Several characters are half-demons with superpowered demon forms to match. Anyone with a Pactio can supercharge their strength with magic as well as summon a powerful artifact. Negi himself has his BlackMagic. [[spoiler: Not to mention his own Pactio]].
** After being defeated in her rematch with Tsukiyomi, Setsuna eventually gets one of these in the Magic World arc [[spoiler:via her new Pactio formed with Konoka, which granted her a different Pactio Card than the one she got from Negi]].
** And then there is the ''[[YinYangBomb kanka]]'' technique Asuna (re)learns during the Mahora Festival Budoki.
** It's also mentioned that Kotarou has the same ability as the Saiyans mentioned above - that is, after being defeated he comes back stronger.
* In ''SaintSeiya'', the Sacred Cloths of Athena change into sleeker, more impressive new forms whenever they're destroyed and have to be rebuilt (especially the Bronze Cloths, which are broken at least once per series.) Works as a non-sexual form of {{Fanservice}} as the Constellation form of the Cloths [[CostumePorn becomes more and more intricately detailed with each iteration]] -- the original Pegasus and Cygnus Cloths required a LOT of imagination to resemble a winged horse or a swan, but by the time they became [[spoiler:Divine Cloths through [[ShonenUpgrade Athena's blood]]]] they were near-perfect reproductions -- and they cover more and more of their Saint's body at the same time.
** In regards to the Saints themselves, their goal in the Sanctuary Arc was to awaken to the mystical [[EleventhHourSuperpower Seventh Sense]], which would allow them to perceive the [[BattleAura Cosmo]] of faster-than-light Gold Saints and counterattack. In the [[BigBad Hades]] Arc, the objective was the ''[[NewPowersAsThePlotDemands Eighth]] Sense'', which grants them entrance into [[{{Hell}} the Hades]] while still being alive. Then, when facing Hades' [[TheDragon Dragons, Thanatos and Hypnos]], the overwhelming force of the Bronze Saints' Cosmo upgrades them (and their Cloths, see above) [[AGodAmI to godly levels]].
* In ''{{Transformers}}'', it's traditional for the Autobot/Maximal leader to get some sort of upgrade or SuperMode before the final scene.
* ''Franchise/{{Digimon}}'' uses this fairly often; the evolving each digimon does could be considered a possible version of this trope, although a straighter example is the Burst Mode from Digimon Data Squad/Savers. The Burst Mode granted the digimon partners incredible power, beyond that of Mega/Ultimate level, but had a downside in that if negative emotions were used to generate it, the digimon would enter Ruin Mode instead, which would send it on a mindless rampage until it destroyed itself.
** Adventure did this too, you can mark the change in the plot based on the last Champion level (Angemon), the first 'proper' Ultimate level (Metalgreymon), and the [[EleventhHourSuperpower Arrows of Light and Hope]] creating Megas (Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon).
* In the anime of ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' this is subverted because no matter what evolutions Ash's team go through, and what he learns about battles during the storyarc, he resets to Pikachu for the next region. [[StatusQuoIsGod Causing no change at all.]]
* The [[OtogiJuushiAkazukin eponymous Akazukin]]'s Princess mode.
* In ''SoulEater'', the main duo's driving goal is to obtain their ShonenUpgrade by turning Soul into a Death Scythe. [[spoiler: They eventually succeed.]] Black*Star and Tsubaki also get the katana upgrade.
* Trans Am technology in ''{{Gundam00}}'' is pretty much this. In the end, though, its subverted [[spoiler: as the hero and the main villain end up going into older, out dated machines for their final battle]].
* Played with in ''ZettaiHeroProject''. Your generic, [[HelloInsertNameHere nameless]], [[ThisLoserIsYou pathetic]] protagonist has to learn several cliche hero traits such as the PowerOfLove in order to upgrade from [[HenshinHero Unlosing Ranger]] to ''True'' Unlosing Ranger. [[spoiler:When the WHAMEpisode reveals that the protagonist has a backstory and is actually an IronWoobie {{Determinator}}, the parody you've been expecting turns out to be a genuine CrowningMomentOfAwesome.]]
* ''{{Claymore}}'' has series protagonist Clare acquire new abilities by either observation, but she also does so by assimilating people. It's more friendly than most MegaManning, but the trope still applies.
** At one point, she gains a ShonenUpgrade by taking another more powerful character's arm and [[AppendageAssimilation attaching it to her own body]]. Especially interesting because the other character gave up the arm willingly as a "parting gift," and even cut it off herself.
* ''{{Freezing}}'s'' protagonist [[{{Determinator}} Will. Not. Lose.]] And because she refuses to give up, she keeps drawing on and gaining more and more power.
* [[OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent Tsukune]] from ''RosarioToVampire'' receives one in the form of an {{emergency transformation}}. He has gained the powers of a vampire, subsequently received training from [[TheAce Inner Moka]], and most recently [[spoiler:had his body modified so that he can fight on par with [[TheDragon Akuha]]. [[TookALevelInBadass It worked]]]].
* ''HeartcatchPrettyCure'': Mirage Silhouette, Mirage Orchestra, and ''finally'' the Infinity Silhouette. That last one is best described as ''PrettyCure'' [[XMeetsY meets]] ''TengenToppaGurrenLagann''. HCPC is one of the most Shounen-y straightly-played MagicalGirl shows ever.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'': A particularly heartbreaking example with Akemi Homura, right at the last episode. To wit, [[spoiler:Madoka's wish turns her into a Goddess-like MagicalGirl, but she can no longer exist in this world. So, Madoka passes some of her powers to Homura as a proof of their bond.]] [[TragicKeepsake It's the black bow from the promotional materials]].
** Madoka's [[spoiler:Goddess-like form]] also counts. It's probably a ShoutOut to the aforementioned Infinity Silhouette.
* ''QueensBlade'' has the protagonist Reina learning Dragon Tail from Echidna.
* ''RurouniKenshin'' has the eponymous protagonist learning Amakakeru Ryuu no Hirameki from his estranged mentor, while Sanosuke learns Futae no Kiwami ([[MemeticMutation AAAAAHHHHH!]]) from the wandering monk Anji [[spoiler:who is in league with the BigBad Shishio]]. They barely win the day even with those {{Dangerous Forbidden Technique}}s. [[spoiler:Somewhat note worthy in that NONE of the secret techniques work..the main Villain dies via a deus ex machina after soundly besting ALL of them.]]
* Even Seinen manga are not immune from this. Though Guts of ''{{Berserk}}'' doesn't learn any shounen-y techniques as the manga goes on, his acquisition of the [[{{BFS}} Dragon Slayer]] and the cannon-arm after the Eclipse definitely counts as an upgrade, as does the Berserker Armor later on, though this latter definitely comes with a downside in the form of his EnemyWithin getting strengthened every time he uses it.
* This was mercilessly parodied in episode 5 of ''TigerAndBunny'' when Kotetsu and Barnaby discover their "Good Luck Mode" and uses it to defeat an opponent [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope only to find out that]] [[CoolButInefficient it doesn't do anything other than make them look cooler]]]].
** There's also a much more serious subversion in the second half of the series. For reasons unknown, Kotetsu suddenly gains an incredible boost in power at the cost of a slightly shorter [[HourOfPower time limit]] on his [[SuperMode Hundred Power]]. At first he's quite excited that his NEXT abilities are evolving...until he learns that [[spoiler:this sudden increase in strength is actually the first sign that his powers are ''fading'', "like a candle that burns brightest just before it burns out".]]
* BusoRenkin has the revelation that Kazuki's kakugane is actually one of the three black kakugane capable of turning its wielder into a super-powered WalkingWasteland that drains the life from everyone around them. [[spoiler: The upgrade actually becomes the driving force of the second half of the story, since Kazuki needs his kakugane to live, and the transformation is supposedly irreversible and will eventually cause him to remain in that form permanently, causing his former allies to turn on him.]] The transformation also causes a more standard upgrade, in the form of a new Sunlight Heart.
* ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'' has this, especially when the various rings start kicking in. Especially with [[TheHero Tsuna]], who gets glove and Box power-ups like nobody's business. [[spoiler: This comes back to bite him when fighting his father. Reborn tells Tsuna that he relied too much on his Shonen Upgrades and not enough on his strength which he needs to defeat Iemitsu. He doesn't, but he does better after Reborn's motivational speech.]]
* Subverted with ''ShamanKing'', where "furyoku" is set at birth and can only be raised by near-death experiences. Then double-subverted when several characters who can [[BackFromTheDead resurrect]] people allows the FiveManBand to die once or twice in order to get stronger, even to the point of having LITERAL TrainingFromHell.
* In ''DGrayMan'', Allen Walker is the most guilty of them all and is all gained through sheer willpower and emotion. Kanda and Lenalee also earn this by having their Innocence transform into an unknown Crystalline form. Tyki Mikk as well, to an extent.
* ''InazumaEleven'' gets rather obseessed with this, as SoLastSeason is always in effect, main characters have to get constant upgrades just to [[DownToTheLastPlay barely win]].
** The sequel, ''Inazuma Eleven GO'' ramps it UpToEleven with the avaliabilty of [[Manga/SaintSeiya power armors]], [[DragonBall transformations]], and [[BlueDragon shadow avatars]]. Arguably almost every possible ShonenUpgrade is in this one show.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
* [[TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]]'s {{Hellfire}}, then [[DiscardAndDraw Soulfire]], then [[spoiler: [[LadyAndKnight Status as the Winter Knight]]]]. Two out of three were [[DealWithTheDevil Deals with the Devil]] (one nearly literal), making them upgrades with a great deal of trade-off, and the odd one out [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique causes temporary damage to his soul when used]]. The 'enemies of the past are too weak to be an issue' aspect of the trope doesn't come up very often, since Harry is WeakButSkilled compared to most of the entities he faces - however, consider how much trouble he had with ghouls and Red Court vampires in the earlier books compared with now. [[spoiler: Okay, he doesn't actually have ''any'' trouble with the Red Court now on account of how he killed them all, but if he ''did'' it'd be less trouble than in earlier books.]]
* 'OctoberDaye'' books. Giving her better magic, endurance, stamina, night vision, and just about everything else but humanity.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* The most well known example from live action TV is the conversion of the ''PowerRangers''' [[HumongousMecha Dinozords]] to the new Thunderzords.
** A lesser known example involves the Rangers themselves: recent seasons involve advanced versions of the Ranger ''suits'', their usage ranging from HourOfPower to MidSeasonUpgrade variants.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''{{LaTale}}'' has this with it's third jobs, where you're infused with the power of the goddess Series.
* Being a tribute to all things anime, ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' [[TropeOverdosed naturally]] [[InvokedTrope invokes]] this trope by virtue of [[MemeticBadass Bang]] [[RatedMForManly Shishigami]]'s Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan technique, complete with an [[BackgroundMusicOverride overriding]] ThemeMusicPowerUp by [[JAMProject Hironobu Kageyama]] and [[PowerGlows a golden sheen]] covering his body. It is AWESOME.
--> '''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ic5kr4LPxXo BANG BANG BA-BAAAAANG!!! BAANING-UU TAMASHII!!! TATAKAU KOKORO KOUGETSUKU HODO NIIIII!!!]]'''
* Being the equivalent of an interactive anime (With even more references than VideoGame/BlazBlue), ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'' under goes quite a few new transformations of this nature thanks to his anger. A more traditional version is [[spoiler: Asura getting the Karma Fortress Mantra Reactor implanted into him and activated by Yasha, allowing him to use his wrath without harming himself, and super charging his already immense powers at base form up to insane levels, along with gaining a new ''planet'' sized form known as Asura the Destructor, where he basically becomes a HumongousMecha.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* American webcomic ''Webcomic/ElijahAndAzuu'' has a variation on this concept: Most of the cast are angels and demons, and their power increases substantially when they let their wings out (which are normally hidden, even when they have no reason to hide them).
* This happened to the Light Warriors in ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' when they got their class changes, complete with [[FrillyUpgrade new, but similar costumes.]]
* The characters in ''{{Homestuck}}'' get these as they move up their Echeladders, slowly unlocking new abilities, with the ultimate objective of reaching [[SuperMode God Tier]]. Of course, their are also multiple God Tiers, each with their own added abilities, including the ability to talk without [[PaintingTheMedium the use of a digital chat interface]].
[[/folder]]
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to:

[[quoteright:350:[[Manga/{{Bleach}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Shonen_Upgrade_9507.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:TheHero's progression.]]

ShonenUpgrade is an item, power, or transformation gained by a main character to drastically increase their abilities. Most commonly it's some sort of "special ability" or "new move," like a SuperMode. It sometimes appears as an EleventhHourSuperpower, a DangerousForbiddenTechnique, or, rarely, IAmNotLeftHanded.

The ShonenUpgrade usually doesn't involve "just" training, no matter how [[TrainingFromHell hellish]] it may be; there's always some exterior source for the power, like a magic weapon, an [[LifeEnergy infusion]] of ''[[KiAttacks ki]]'', or a TransformationRay. Many of the more powerful {{Shonen Upgrade}}s have some sort of [[PowerAtAPrice downside]] attached, such as risk of a HeroicRROD ([[DeadlyUpgrade if]] [[PowerDegeneration not]] [[TheCorruption worse]]) if used too much, or a risk of [[SuperpoweredEvilSide losing yourself]] to TheDarkSide.

The plotline change, that all Shounen Upgrades bring, is a handoff in the caliber of villain the series will deal with. [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil Villains of the past will now be entirely outclassed on their next appearance]], if they even get one. Most should just take some time off, [[TookALevelInBadass and find some low level monsters to beat up]], generally for a story arc or two. The status quo is reset to a new higher level compared to previous parts of the story, and the character grows.

The only variable is when the upgrade is applied. One option is to bring the upgrade early, to give the hero a fighting chance on the new big bad. Or, the more usual play is to bring it in at the end of an arc. When the next arc rolls in, the new big bad outclasses the old one in every way. Either event it marks a shift from a previous era of the series.

See also NewPowersAsThePlotDemands. In [[HumongousMecha Mecha Series]], the equivalent is the MidSeasonUpgrade. This trope is the greatest weapon of a SmallStepsHero.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* The most well known example of this trope is the various levels of Super Saiyan from ''DragonBallZ'', though early on there was a previous ShonenUpgrade in the form of the Kaioken, which increased Goku's power at the cost of [[HeroicRROD the toll it would take on his body]] [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique if he used it at too high an intensity]], as well as a later ShonenUpgrade during the Majin Buu saga in the form of Fusions.
** Saiyans have this trope as a biological ability. Near-death injuries cause a massive boost in strength, speed, and ki.
** In ''DragonBall'', Goku, desperate to kill King Piccolo drinks the "Ultra Divine Water", a magic water that unlocks the drinker's latent powers if they can survive its poisonous and painful effects.
** {{Subverted}} earlier on, after almost being killed by the world's deadliest assassin, he tries getting the magic water, only it's just plain water and once he got the water he had already gotten that much stronger from climbing the sky-reaching tower where the water was located and fighting the martial artist master there.
** As far as supporting characters go, there's also Piccolo merging first with Nail and later with Kami; and Krillin, Gohan, and Dende getting their hidden potential unlocked by Guru.
* ''Anime/MazingerZ'': Late in the series, Kouji Kabuto learnt to combine his HumongousMecha RocketPunch with EverythingIsBetterWithSpinning to create Big Swing Rocket Punch (essentially, Kouji spins Mazinger's arms at full speed before shooting its fists). It counts like this trope and not like a MidSeasonUpgrade because it was not a new weapon installed into the mecha, but a new technique invented by Kouji drastically increased his power (It was several times stronger than a normal RocketPunch).
* Most of the ''OnePiece'' characters gained a new weapon, tool, or power in the Skypeia arc.
** Specifically, Zoro gained a RazorWind attack and Nami got a Jet Ski. The real upgrader was the [=CP9=] Arc, when Luffy gained two new forms, Chopper became TheBerserker (temporarily), Nami upgraded her previous weapon, Usopp started to gain confidence, Sanji set his attacks on fire, and Zoro tripled his swords to nine.
** The Fishman Island arc has had the crew reveal even MORE upgrades. Though these are completely justified, seeing as they spent 2 whole years specifically to gain shonen upgrades.
*** That said, Devil Fruit users' upgrades was technically never an upgrade. According to WordOfGod, Devil Fruit users ability can never get stronger, it all depends on the users' creativity. Luffy could have used Gear 2 from the very first chapter if he had realized it sooner.
* Shinigami in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' have 3 forms to their Zanpakuto, "Unreleased", "Shikai", and "Bankai". Ichigo starts unreleased, loses his powers, skips straight to Shikai upon regaining his powers, and later gains Bankai through a pure ShonenUpgrade moment. In addition, Ichigo's Hollow powers are a similar example, powers acquired, not through training, but by dramatic need, usually after being [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice stabbed]].
** Some of other main characters (Rukia, Chad, and Uryuu) have received upgrades, as well. Renji is a bit of a subversion, as the only upgrade he's received since his initial HeelFaceTurn upgrade is an [[BreathWeapon energy]] [[WaveMotionGun beam]] [[KamehameHadoken attack]] shortly afterwards. Orihime hasn't really received any upgrades throughout the course of the series, except for the fact that her [[CallingYourAttacks attack calls]] have been shortened.
*** [[spoiler:Even Orihime got one over the {{timeskip}}, specifically an AttackReflector.]]
* In ''{{Naruto}}'', the title character's Kyuubi tails are a form of this, as is the forming of Sasuke Uchiha's Sharingan mid-fight-scene. Choji Akimichi's special Food Pills also count. There is also Orochimaru's Curse Seal, which Kimimaro, the Sound Four, and Sasuke all have. Kankuro gains more Ninja Puppets, while Tenten gets Weapon Scrolls. Later on, there is Jiraya and [[spoiler: Naruto ''again'']] with Sage Mode. Naruto then gains [[spoiler:full access to the Kyuubi's chakra by [[ThePowerOfFriendship befriending it.]]]] And, of course, Rock Lee and Might Guy have the Eight Gates to move up through. [[CaptainObvious Naruto uses the trope a lot]].
* ''BoboboBoBoBobo'' 's Shonen Upgrades are direct parodies of ''Dragonball Z'''s Super Saiyan and Fusions.
* In ''Anime/YuGiOh'', the God Cards are a version of this. So are the Orichalcos arc Legendary Dragon cards, which were brought into the main character's deck by pure willpower and TheMagicPokerEquation. The cards ''didn't actually exist'' before the moment the main character needed them and they magically came into existence.
** In ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'', Judai/Jaden's Elemental Hero Neos and the Neos Fusions count too.
** Clear Mind and its advanced stages (which produces Accel Synchro monsters) and Burning Soul (which allows you to summon Red Nova Dragon) for ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds''.
* In ''{{S-Cry-ed}}'', Kazuma goes out to upgrade his Alter power because it is too weak, then later gets an additional upgrade at the end of the series through willpower. Ryuho also follows this, but his first upgrade is more an IAmNotLeftHanded, in that he had it retroactively.
* In ''{{Guyver}}'' there is the Gigantic upgrade for each character equipped with a Guyver. Only problem there is a limit on using it and is essentially a suit that can be worn by only one character at a time. Aptom himself can qualify in which he slowly gains more power by absorbing more Zoanoid types.
** Guyver I can take the Gigantic upgrade a step further by transforming into the Gigantic Exceed, an [[HumongousMecha apartment-sized bio-armor]]. He's used it once so far, to fight the Zoalord Kabarl Khan in his equally huge zoanoid form.
* ''MahouSenseiNegima'' has several of these. Several characters are half-demons with superpowered demon forms to match. Anyone with a Pactio can supercharge their strength with magic as well as summon a powerful artifact. Negi himself has his BlackMagic. [[spoiler: Not to mention his own Pactio]].
** After being defeated in her rematch with Tsukiyomi, Setsuna eventually gets one of these in the Magic World arc [[spoiler:via her new Pactio formed with Konoka, which granted her a different Pactio Card than the one she got from Negi]].
** And then there is the ''[[YinYangBomb kanka]]'' technique Asuna (re)learns during the Mahora Festival Budoki.
** It's also mentioned that Kotarou has the same ability as the Saiyans mentioned above - that is, after being defeated he comes back stronger.
* In ''SaintSeiya'', the Sacred Cloths of Athena change into sleeker, more impressive new forms whenever they're destroyed and have to be rebuilt (especially the Bronze Cloths, which are broken at least once per series.) Works as a non-sexual form of {{Fanservice}} as the Constellation form of the Cloths [[CostumePorn becomes more and more intricately detailed with each iteration]] -- the original Pegasus and Cygnus Cloths required a LOT of imagination to resemble a winged horse or a swan, but by the time they became [[spoiler:Divine Cloths through [[ShonenUpgrade Athena's blood]]]] they were near-perfect reproductions -- and they cover more and more of their Saint's body at the same time.
** In regards to the Saints themselves, their goal in the Sanctuary Arc was to awaken to the mystical [[EleventhHourSuperpower Seventh Sense]], which would allow them to perceive the [[BattleAura Cosmo]] of faster-than-light Gold Saints and counterattack. In the [[BigBad Hades]] Arc, the objective was the ''[[NewPowersAsThePlotDemands Eighth]] Sense'', which grants them entrance into [[{{Hell}} the Hades]] while still being alive. Then, when facing Hades' [[TheDragon Dragons, Thanatos and Hypnos]], the overwhelming force of the Bronze Saints' Cosmo upgrades them (and their Cloths, see above) [[AGodAmI to godly levels]].
* In ''{{Transformers}}'', it's traditional for the Autobot/Maximal leader to get some sort of upgrade or SuperMode before the final scene.
* ''Franchise/{{Digimon}}'' uses this fairly often; the evolving each digimon does could be considered a possible version of this trope, although a straighter example is the Burst Mode from Digimon Data Squad/Savers. The Burst Mode granted the digimon partners incredible power, beyond that of Mega/Ultimate level, but had a downside in that if negative emotions were used to generate it, the digimon would enter Ruin Mode instead, which would send it on a mindless rampage until it destroyed itself.
** Adventure did this too, you can mark the change in the plot based on the last Champion level (Angemon), the first 'proper' Ultimate level (Metalgreymon), and the [[EleventhHourSuperpower Arrows of Light and Hope]] creating Megas (Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon).
* In the anime of ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' this is subverted because no matter what evolutions Ash's team go through, and what he learns about battles during the storyarc, he resets to Pikachu for the next region. [[StatusQuoIsGod Causing no change at all.]]
* The [[OtogiJuushiAkazukin eponymous Akazukin]]'s Princess mode.
* In ''SoulEater'', the main duo's driving goal is to obtain their ShonenUpgrade by turning Soul into a Death Scythe. [[spoiler: They eventually succeed.]] Black*Star and Tsubaki also get the katana upgrade.
* Trans Am technology in ''{{Gundam00}}'' is pretty much this. In the end, though, its subverted [[spoiler: as the hero and the main villain end up going into older, out dated machines for their final battle]].
* Played with in ''ZettaiHeroProject''. Your generic, [[HelloInsertNameHere nameless]], [[ThisLoserIsYou pathetic]] protagonist has to learn several cliche hero traits such as the PowerOfLove in order to upgrade from [[HenshinHero Unlosing Ranger]] to ''True'' Unlosing Ranger. [[spoiler:When the WHAMEpisode reveals that the protagonist has a backstory and is actually an IronWoobie {{Determinator}}, the parody you've been expecting turns out to be a genuine CrowningMomentOfAwesome.]]
* ''{{Claymore}}'' has series protagonist Clare acquire new abilities by either observation, but she also does so by assimilating people. It's more friendly than most MegaManning, but the trope still applies.
** At one point, she gains a ShonenUpgrade by taking another more powerful character's arm and [[AppendageAssimilation attaching it to her own body]]. Especially interesting because the other character gave up the arm willingly as a "parting gift," and even cut it off herself.
* ''{{Freezing}}'s'' protagonist [[{{Determinator}} Will. Not. Lose.]] And because she refuses to give up, she keeps drawing on and gaining more and more power.
* [[OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent Tsukune]] from ''RosarioToVampire'' receives one in the form of an {{emergency transformation}}. He has gained the powers of a vampire, subsequently received training from [[TheAce Inner Moka]], and most recently [[spoiler:had his body modified so that he can fight on par with [[TheDragon Akuha]]. [[TookALevelInBadass It worked]]]].
* ''HeartcatchPrettyCure'': Mirage Silhouette, Mirage Orchestra, and ''finally'' the Infinity Silhouette. That last one is best described as ''PrettyCure'' [[XMeetsY meets]] ''TengenToppaGurrenLagann''. HCPC is one of the most Shounen-y straightly-played MagicalGirl shows ever.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'': A particularly heartbreaking example with Akemi Homura, right at the last episode. To wit, [[spoiler:Madoka's wish turns her into a Goddess-like MagicalGirl, but she can no longer exist in this world. So, Madoka passes some of her powers to Homura as a proof of their bond.]] [[TragicKeepsake It's the black bow from the promotional materials]].
** Madoka's [[spoiler:Goddess-like form]] also counts. It's probably a ShoutOut to the aforementioned Infinity Silhouette.
* ''QueensBlade'' has the protagonist Reina learning Dragon Tail from Echidna.
* ''RurouniKenshin'' has the eponymous protagonist learning Amakakeru Ryuu no Hirameki from his estranged mentor, while Sanosuke learns Futae no Kiwami ([[MemeticMutation AAAAAHHHHH!]]) from the wandering monk Anji [[spoiler:who is in league with the BigBad Shishio]]. They barely win the day even with those {{Dangerous Forbidden Technique}}s. [[spoiler:Somewhat note worthy in that NONE of the secret techniques work..the main Villain dies via a deus ex machina after soundly besting ALL of them.]]
* Even Seinen manga are not immune from this. Though Guts of ''{{Berserk}}'' doesn't learn any shounen-y techniques as the manga goes on, his acquisition of the [[{{BFS}} Dragon Slayer]] and the cannon-arm after the Eclipse definitely counts as an upgrade, as does the Berserker Armor later on, though this latter definitely comes with a downside in the form of his EnemyWithin getting strengthened every time he uses it.
* This was mercilessly parodied in episode 5 of ''TigerAndBunny'' when Kotetsu and Barnaby discover their "Good Luck Mode" and uses it to defeat an opponent [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope only to find out that]] [[CoolButInefficient it doesn't do anything other than make them look cooler]]]].
** There's also a much more serious subversion in the second half of the series. For reasons unknown, Kotetsu suddenly gains an incredible boost in power at the cost of a slightly shorter [[HourOfPower time limit]] on his [[SuperMode Hundred Power]]. At first he's quite excited that his NEXT abilities are evolving...until he learns that [[spoiler:this sudden increase in strength is actually the first sign that his powers are ''fading'', "like a candle that burns brightest just before it burns out".]]
* BusoRenkin has the revelation that Kazuki's kakugane is actually one of the three black kakugane capable of turning its wielder into a super-powered WalkingWasteland that drains the life from everyone around them. [[spoiler: The upgrade actually becomes the driving force of the second half of the story, since Kazuki needs his kakugane to live, and the transformation is supposedly irreversible and will eventually cause him to remain in that form permanently, causing his former allies to turn on him.]] The transformation also causes a more standard upgrade, in the form of a new Sunlight Heart.
* ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'' has this, especially when the various rings start kicking in. Especially with [[TheHero Tsuna]], who gets glove and Box power-ups like nobody's business. [[spoiler: This comes back to bite him when fighting his father. Reborn tells Tsuna that he relied too much on his Shonen Upgrades and not enough on his strength which he needs to defeat Iemitsu. He doesn't, but he does better after Reborn's motivational speech.]]
* Subverted with ''ShamanKing'', where "furyoku" is set at birth and can only be raised by near-death experiences. Then double-subverted when several characters who can [[BackFromTheDead resurrect]] people allows the FiveManBand to die once or twice in order to get stronger, even to the point of having LITERAL TrainingFromHell.
* In ''DGrayMan'', Allen Walker is the most guilty of them all and is all gained through sheer willpower and emotion. Kanda and Lenalee also earn this by having their Innocence transform into an unknown Crystalline form. Tyki Mikk as well, to an extent.
* ''InazumaEleven'' gets rather obseessed with this, as SoLastSeason is always in effect, main characters have to get constant upgrades just to [[DownToTheLastPlay barely win]].
** The sequel, ''Inazuma Eleven GO'' ramps it UpToEleven with the avaliabilty of [[Manga/SaintSeiya power armors]], [[DragonBall transformations]], and [[BlueDragon shadow avatars]]. Arguably almost every possible ShonenUpgrade is in this one show.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
* [[TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]]'s {{Hellfire}}, then [[DiscardAndDraw Soulfire]], then [[spoiler: [[LadyAndKnight Status as the Winter Knight]]]]. Two out of three were [[DealWithTheDevil Deals with the Devil]] (one nearly literal), making them upgrades with a great deal of trade-off, and the odd one out [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique causes temporary damage to his soul when used]]. The 'enemies of the past are too weak to be an issue' aspect of the trope doesn't come up very often, since Harry is WeakButSkilled compared to most of the entities he faces - however, consider how much trouble he had with ghouls and Red Court vampires in the earlier books compared with now. [[spoiler: Okay, he doesn't actually have ''any'' trouble with the Red Court now on account of how he killed them all, but if he ''did'' it'd be less trouble than in earlier books.]]
* 'OctoberDaye'' books. Giving her better magic, endurance, stamina, night vision, and just about everything else but humanity.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* The most well known example from live action TV is the conversion of the ''PowerRangers''' [[HumongousMecha Dinozords]] to the new Thunderzords.
** A lesser known example involves the Rangers themselves: recent seasons involve advanced versions of the Ranger ''suits'', their usage ranging from HourOfPower to MidSeasonUpgrade variants.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''{{LaTale}}'' has this with it's third jobs, where you're infused with the power of the goddess Series.
* Being a tribute to all things anime, ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' [[TropeOverdosed naturally]] [[InvokedTrope invokes]] this trope by virtue of [[MemeticBadass Bang]] [[RatedMForManly Shishigami]]'s Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan technique, complete with an [[BackgroundMusicOverride overriding]] ThemeMusicPowerUp by [[JAMProject Hironobu Kageyama]] and [[PowerGlows a golden sheen]] covering his body. It is AWESOME.
--> '''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ic5kr4LPxXo BANG BANG BA-BAAAAANG!!! BAANING-UU TAMASHII!!! TATAKAU KOKORO KOUGETSUKU HODO NIIIII!!!]]'''
* Being the equivalent of an interactive anime (With even more references than VideoGame/BlazBlue), ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'' under goes quite a few new transformations of this nature thanks to his anger. A more traditional version is [[spoiler: Asura getting the Karma Fortress Mantra Reactor implanted into him and activated by Yasha, allowing him to use his wrath without harming himself, and super charging his already immense powers at base form up to insane levels, along with gaining a new ''planet'' sized form known as Asura the Destructor, where he basically becomes a HumongousMecha.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* American webcomic ''Webcomic/ElijahAndAzuu'' has a variation on this concept: Most of the cast are angels and demons, and their power increases substantially when they let their wings out (which are normally hidden, even when they have no reason to hide them).
* This happened to the Light Warriors in ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' when they got their class changes, complete with [[FrillyUpgrade new, but similar costumes.]]
* The characters in ''{{Homestuck}}'' get these as they move up their Echeladders, slowly unlocking new abilities, with the ultimate objective of reaching [[SuperMode God Tier]]. Of course, their are also multiple God Tiers, each with their own added abilities, including the ability to talk without [[PaintingTheMedium the use of a digital chat interface]].
[[/folder]]
----
[[redirect:NextTierPowerUp]]
21st Oct '13 3:09:22 PM dasuberkaiser
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Added DiffLines:

* The characters in ''{{Homestuck}}'' get these as they move up their Echeladders, slowly unlocking new abilities, with the ultimate objective of reaching [[SuperMode God Tier]]. Of course, their are also multiple God Tiers, each with their own added abilities, including the ability to talk without [[PaintingTheMedium the use of a digital chat interface]].
21st Oct '13 3:06:40 PM dasuberkaiser
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* Being the equivalent of an Interactive anime (With even more references than VideoGame/BlazBlue), ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'' under goes quite a few new transformations of this nature thanks to his anger. A More traditional version is [[spoiler: Asura getting the Karma Fortress Mantra reactor implanted into him and activated by Yasha, allowing him to use his wrath without harming himself, and super chargin his already immense powers at base form up to insane levels, along with gaining a new ''Planet'' sized form known as Asura the Destructor, where he basically becomes a HumongousMecha.]]

to:

* Being the equivalent of an Interactive interactive anime (With even more references than VideoGame/BlazBlue), ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'' under goes quite a few new transformations of this nature thanks to his anger. A More more traditional version is [[spoiler: Asura getting the Karma Fortress Mantra reactor Reactor implanted into him and activated by Yasha, allowing him to use his wrath without harming himself, and super chargin charging his already immense powers at base form up to insane levels, along with gaining a new ''Planet'' ''planet'' sized form known as Asura the Destructor, where he basically becomes a HumongousMecha.]]
15th Sep '13 4:54:46 PM ZanathKariashi
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* ''RurouniKenshin'' has the eponymous protagonist learning Amakakeru Ryuu no Hirameki from his estranged mentor, while Sanosuke learns Futae no Kiwami ([[MemeticMutation AAAAAHHHHH!]]) from the wandering monk Anji [[spoiler:who is in league with the BigBad Shishio]]. They barely win the day even with those {{Dangerous Forbidden Technique}}s.

to:

* ''RurouniKenshin'' has the eponymous protagonist learning Amakakeru Ryuu no Hirameki from his estranged mentor, while Sanosuke learns Futae no Kiwami ([[MemeticMutation AAAAAHHHHH!]]) from the wandering monk Anji [[spoiler:who is in league with the BigBad Shishio]]. They barely win the day even with those {{Dangerous Forbidden Technique}}s. [[spoiler:Somewhat note worthy in that NONE of the secret techniques work..the main Villain dies via a deus ex machina after soundly besting ALL of them.]]
30th Aug '13 8:27:13 PM manat31790
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** The sequel, ''Inazuma Eleven GO'' ramps it UpToEleven with the avaliabilty of [[Manga/SaintSeiya power armors]], [[DragonBall transformations]], and [[BlueDragon shadow avatars]], arguably almost every possible ShonenUpgrade is in this one show.

to:

** The sequel, ''Inazuma Eleven GO'' ramps it UpToEleven with the avaliabilty of [[Manga/SaintSeiya power armors]], [[DragonBall transformations]], and [[BlueDragon shadow avatars]], arguably avatars]]. Arguably almost every possible ShonenUpgrade is in this one show.
30th Aug '13 8:26:06 PM manat31790
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* ''InazumaEleven'' gets rather obseessed with this, as SoLastSeason is always in effect, main characters have to get constant upgrades just to [[DownToTheLastPlay barely win]].
** The sequel, ''Inazuma Eleven GO'' ramps it UpToEleven with the avaliabilty of [[Manga/SaintSeiya power armors]], [[DragonBall transformations]], and [[BlueDragon shadow avatars]], arguably almost every possible ShonenUpgrade is in this one show.



* ''InazumaEleven'' gets rather obseessed with this, as SoLastSeason is always in effect, main characters have to get constant upgrades just to [[DownToTheLastPlay barely win]].
** The sequel, ''Inazuma Eleven GO'' ramps it UpToEleven with the avaliabilty of [SaintSaiya power armors]], [[DragonBall transformations]], and [[BlueDragon shadow avatars]], arguably almost every possible ShonenUpgrade is in this one show.
30th Aug '13 8:24:36 PM manat31790
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* ''InazumaEleven'' gets rather obseessed with this, as SoLastSeason is always in effect, main characters have to get constant upgrades just to [[DownToTheLastPlay barely win]].
** The sequel, ''Inazuma Eleven GO'' ramps it UpToEleven with the avaliabilty of [SaintSaiya power armors]], [[DragonBall transformations]], and [[BlueDragon shadow avatars]], arguably almost every possible ShonenUpgrade is in this one show.



* ''InazumaEleven'' series, to the point that it's slightly obsessed, especially since raw power tends to be useless compared to special moves.
30th Aug '13 8:13:39 PM manat31790
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Added DiffLines:

* ''InazumaEleven'' series, to the point that it's slightly obsessed, especially since raw power tends to be useless compared to special moves.
31st Jul '13 8:54:50 AM Piccolosaur
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* [[TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]]'s {{Hellfire}}, then [[DiscardAndDraw Soulfire]], then [[spoiler: [[LadyAndKnight Status as the Winter Knight]]]]. Two out of three were [[DealWithTheDevil Deals with the Devil]] (one nearly literal), making them upgrades with a great deal of trade-off, and the odd one out [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique causes temporary damage to his soul when used]]. However the 'enemies of the past are too weak to be an issue' aspect of the trope doesn't come up very often, since Harry is WeakButSkilled compared to most of the entities he faces.

to:

* [[TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]]'s {{Hellfire}}, then [[DiscardAndDraw Soulfire]], then [[spoiler: [[LadyAndKnight Status as the Winter Knight]]]]. Two out of three were [[DealWithTheDevil Deals with the Devil]] (one nearly literal), making them upgrades with a great deal of trade-off, and the odd one out [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique causes temporary damage to his soul when used]]. However the The 'enemies of the past are too weak to be an issue' aspect of the trope doesn't come up very often, since Harry is WeakButSkilled compared to most of the entities he faces.faces - however, consider how much trouble he had with ghouls and Red Court vampires in the earlier books compared with now. [[spoiler: Okay, he doesn't actually have ''any'' trouble with the Red Court now on account of how he killed them all, but if he ''did'' it'd be less trouble than in earlier books.]]
6th Jul '13 1:19:11 AM SeptimusHeap
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Shonen Upgrade is a common trope in, [[CaptainObvious well,]] [[{{Shonen}} Shonen series]]. It's an item, power, or transformation gained by a main character to drastically increase their abilities. Most commonly it's some sort of "special ability" or "new move," like a SuperMode. It sometimes appears as an EleventhHourSuperpower, a DangerousForbiddenTechnique, or, rarely, IAmNotLeftHanded.

to:

Shonen Upgrade ShonenUpgrade is a common trope in, [[CaptainObvious well,]] [[{{Shonen}} Shonen series]]. It's an item, power, or transformation gained by a main character to drastically increase their abilities. Most commonly it's some sort of "special ability" or "new move," like a SuperMode. It sometimes appears as an EleventhHourSuperpower, a DangerousForbiddenTechnique, or, rarely, IAmNotLeftHanded.



SubTrope of JapaneseSpirit. This trope symbolizes the "talent" portion of it, making visual references to stages of growth.
This list shows the last 10 events of 14. Show all.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.ShonenUpgrade