Created By: NubianSatyress on June 9, 2016 Last Edited By: NubianSatyress on March 1, 2017
Troped

Variant Power Copying

Copying powers differently than the original used them.

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trope
Variant Power Copying is the practice of duplicating powers or abilities in a different way than the original ability worked. In other words, they copy a variation of the ability and not the original one.

This trope applies to works where "powers" are associated with a character or group, and are rare to see other people have. In works with martial arts, this can refer to techniques or abilities unique to a school or clan. However, due to differences in the learner's personality, innate gifts, field of expertise, etc., they learn to use the ability slightly differently. Or, because they lack access to the original source of the power, they have to find another way to achieve a similar effect.

For example, if a Beast Man has a Healing Factor, the duplicator gets the same powers using Nanotechnology, sometimes based on data gotten from the original character. Or someone with Shock and Awe powers who got their abilities through some sort of accident or mutation, which inspires some sort of mage or witch to come up with their own electric spells.

This is a Sub-Trope of both Awesomeness by Analysis (doing something awesome by learning how it works) and Power Copying. It can also overlap with Sufficiently Analyzed Magic, if one method of using the ability is magical and the other is mundane.

See also Doing In the Wizard or Doing In the Scientist, for when science or magic replace each other as explanations for the powers or abilities.

Examples

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     Anime and Manga 

  • Naruto:
    • Early on in the story, neither Sasuke nor Naruto can do Rock Lee's Front Lotus attack combination, so they make new versions. The Front Lotus kicks an opponent in the air and then uses an Izuna Drop to smash an opponent on the head. Sasuke's variation is the Lion Barrage, which copies the initial kick but instead kicks them all the way down. Naruto's variation is the Naruto Uzumaki Barrage, which uses clones to perform the multiple attacks and falling attacks, since he lacks the skill to do it normally.
    • Naruto's signature move, the Rasengan, was created by the Fourth Hokage to copy a Tailed Beast Ball. Later in the story, Naruto also learns to combine the attacks together since they're so similar.
  • This is actually the default way of "copying" other mages' spells in Lyrical Nanoha: instead of taking spell formulas over verbatim, a mage usually adapts one of their own spells to emulate the effects of the one they want to learn. Two of Nanoha's students, for instance, have "inherited" her signature spells, but Subaru's Divine Buster is an extremely close range version of the original (long-ranged) spell, while Teana's Starlight Breaker is essentially her own Crossfire Shoot boosted with Nanoha's mana-gathering technique.
  • One Piece
    • In Thriller Bark arc, by virtue of merging the gigantic zombie Oars' shadow with his own, Gekko Moria the shadow-man can manipulate Oars' shadow to shape-shift his body (think shadow puppets, but in reverse), including copying the moves of Luffy, the Rubber Man.
    • In Fishman Island arc, Luffy, with his Haki and Gear Second, can emulate his brother Ace's signature Fire Fist attack (called Gomu Gomu no Red Hawk) even though Ace is a flame user and Luffy isn't.

     Comic Books 
  • Ragnarok, a cyborg clone of Thor, uses electronics to simulate Thor's Shock and Awe and Weather Manipulation powers. His copy of Mjolnir also uses remote control signals to fly around and return to him.
  • Iron Man's suits usually have this ability, such as being able to copy Captain America's fighting moves by replicating them and then performing the motions, or copying Magneto's abilities using orbital satellites that can absorb electro-magnetic energy, or copying Venom's symbiote by using nanomachines that approximate the symbiote's biological abilities.

     Video Games 
  • Rosenkreuz Stilette Freudenstachel: Freudia, the protagonist, primarily is An Ice Person. She can't copy actual abilities like her friend Spiritia does, but she can emulate the powers of the fellow Magus she defeated using his ice powers. For example, her Weissteufel technique is her creating a field of cold air that slows down enemies, taken from Sichte Meister, the Time Master magus.
  • Street Fighter:
    • This is how Divergent Character Evolution and Shoto Clones work in the series. Ryu, Ken, Gouken, Akuma, Dan, Sean and Sakura all have the same basic moves (Shoryuken, Hadouken and Hurricane Kick), but all of them do the moves differently from each other. Even Sagat learned his Tiger Uppercut by copying elements of Ryu's Dragon Punch.
    • Zangief developed his Spinning Piledriver by watching Mike Haggar perform his Spinning Lariat, and he also copied the Lariat as well. Then, Mike Haggar got him right back by stealing the piledriver, but that was more or less regular copying instead.
    • In Street Fighter V, Karin Kanzuki's Story Mode has her suddenly master one of the Kanzuki-ryu school's greatest arts, which allows her to repel enemies using nothing but her Battle Aura. This trope is Played for Laughs when Zangief sees her do this and (because Zangief's style is based entirely on his muscles) he learns how to vibrate his body at just the right rhythm to achieve the same ability. Karin's steward, Shibasaki, is awestruck by Karin's achievement, but dumbstruck that Zangief can do it in such a crude manner, too.

     Webcomics 
  • In Grrl Power Varia gets powers that are similar, but not identical to those whom she touches. For instance, Harem allows her to teleport alongside her, while Jiggawatt has lightning abilities but gives Varia magnetic control instead.
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • June 9, 2016
    DAN004
    From the description and examples, what they actually do is doing something that emulates the powers/ability. Saying "they copy a variant of their ability" is not always true.

    Anyways
    • Rosenkreuz Stilette Freudenstachel: Freudia, the protagonist, primarily is An Ice Person. She can't copy actual abilities like her friend Spiritia does, but she can emulate the powers of the fellow Magus she defeated using his ice powers. For example, her Weissteufel technique is her creating a field of cold air that slows down enemies, taken from Sichte Meister, the Time Master magus.
  • June 9, 2016
    Koveras
    • This is actually the default way of "copying" other mages' spells in Lyrical Nanoha: instead of taking spell formulas over verbatim, a mage usually adapts one of their own spells to emulate the effects of the one they want to learn. Two of Nanoha's students, for instance, have "inherited" her signature spells, but Subaru's Divine Buster is an extremely close range version of the original (long-ranged) spell, while Teana's Starlight Breaker is essentially her own Crossfire Shoot boosted with Nanoha's mana-gathering technique.
  • June 11, 2016
    Arivne
  • June 11, 2016
    DAN004
    Dunno if this counts
    • One Piece
      • In Thriller Bark arc, by virtue of merging the gigantic zombie Oars' shadow with his own, Gekko Moria the shadow-man can manipulate Oars' shadow to shape-shift his body (think shadow puppets, but in reverse), including copying the moves of Luffy, the Rubber Man.
      • In Fishman Island arc, Luffy, with his Haki and Gear Second, can emulate his brother Ace's signature Fire Fist attack (called Gomu Gomu no Red Hawk) even though Ace is a flame user and Luffy isn't.
  • July 21, 2016
    NubianSatyress
    Bumping. Anyone have anything to add?
  • July 21, 2016
    KingZeal
    • Street Fighter:
      • This is how Divergent Character Evolution and Shoto Clones work in the series. Ryu, Ken, Gouken, Akuma, Dan, Sean and Sakura all have the same basic moves (Shoryuken, Hadouken and Hurricane Kick), but all of them do the moves differently from each other. Even Sagat learned his Tiger Uppercut by copying elements of Ryu's Dragon Punch.
      • Zangief developed his Spinning Piledriver by watching Mike Haggar perform his Spinning Lariat, and he also copied the Lariat as well. Then, Mike Haggar got him right back by stealing the piledriver, but that was more or less regular copying instead.

  • July 22, 2016
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
      • Added the word "Examples".
  • July 22, 2016
    Prime32
    Power Imitation?

    This sounds like a bunch of unrelated things here. Ragnarok's powers aren't based on how Thor's work, they just look similar as part of his disguise. A Rasengan is based on how Tailed Beast Balls work, but doesn't look much like one.

    And "using another character's technique as inspiration for your own" might be too narrow for a trope. You could come up with an Armor Piercing Attack based on seeing water flow through cracks in a wall or something, and it would have about the same narrative effect (apart from the original character potentially reacting to being copied).

    Some of these would fall under Beat Them At Their Own Game or When All You Have Is A Hammer.
  • July 22, 2016
    NubianSatyress
    Beat Them At Their Own Game is far too broad, and When All You Have Is A Hammer is far too narrow.

    I also disagree with your second paragraph, because that really doesn't have anything to do with what I intended here. The inspiration for this trope comes from real martial arts or competition, where trying to copy an ability (or find your own method of achieving the same effect) is a major factor in personal improvement. Your second paragraph (coming up with inspiration for a move from, well, anything) doesn't really fit what this is about. It might be a good trope on its own, and probably related to this one, but this trope doesn't serve the same narrative purpose.
  • August 2, 2016
    DAN004
    Please add One Piece example
  • September 4, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump
  • September 4, 2016
    TimG5
    Kirby is practically a Trope Codifier. While some of his abilities will largely recycle the enemy's moveset like Fighter, other abilities provide with a whole varied and expansive moveset even though the original enemy just had one attack. A good example is U.F.O. The enemy he gets it from just zips around. But once you inhale it, you get to ability shoot lasers of different intensity, abduct baddies, protect yourself with balls of energy, and flail an energy whip around. This is even more so for his anime Kirby Right Back At Ya. On one occasion, he swallowed the babies of an ice monster and ended up becoming an ultra-powered, dancing, Kabuki Warrior!
  • September 5, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ nah, that's still Power Copying. Kirby just tends to improve upon whatever he copies.
  • September 6, 2016
    NubianSatyress
    Thanks for the bump. Still hoping for a few more examples.
  • February 28, 2017
    NubianSatyress
    Bumping for examples before launch. :)
  • February 28, 2017
    sailing101
    I don't think this will last long after this very undeserved launch. It's Power Copying But More Specific. I say bomb this duplicate before we of the YKTTW crash thread end up having to deal wit this one too.
  • February 28, 2017
    NubianSatyress
    I think you are unfairly naysaying. The pot hole you provided up there states that " if the added qualification is clear enough that the result serves a distinct narrative function from the original — then it becomes a Sub-Trope."

    This trope DOES have a distinct narrative function that sets it apart. Power Copying itself, in fact, is an extremely broad trope that has multiple sub-tropes to distinguish between the type and method that the power is copied. This is just another type and method, and one which often serves to flesh out a plot or character. The Naruto example, for instance, demonstrates the ninjas' resourcefulness in figuring out ways to match competing abilities and improve when they lack the natural gifts and talents of other characters.
  • February 28, 2017
    sailing101
    You do a good job saying it's distinct, without bothering to explain how. They are still copying another power. The how or why is simply addressed in your case. I don't believe exposition on the mechanics of Power Copying is it's own trope.
  • February 28, 2017
    NubianSatyress
    You're being extremely rude. As I said, in my final sentence above: "The Naruto example, for instance, demonstrates the ninjas' resourcefulness in figuring out ways to match competing abilities and improve when they lack the natural gifts and talents of other characters."

    That's one single example of how it serves its own distinct narrative purpose. Another is provided within the description itself, such as an ability that's associated with one power source (like magic) being replicated by a different power source (like science). That alone can serve to show how two different powers are not so different or that there's more than one way to achieve the same end.

    There's more ways it can vary, too, but I think I've made my point already. And if you still don't agree, I don't see how I can possibly convince you.
  • February 28, 2017
    sailing101
    As I said before, that's just additional exposition on how Power Copying works. It's exposition, not a distinction. The trope even calls itself a Varriant.

    From Power Copying:

    • The character can get certain abilities this way and not others.
    • They cannot replicate abilities that require more than user.
    • They don't know how to use the powers as effectively as the original user.

    At most, what you have here would better serve as one last bullet point on the list of variations, but not it's own trope.
  • February 28, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • In Grrl Power Varia gets powers that are similar, but not identical to those whom she touches. For instance, Harem allows her to teleport alongside her, while Jiggawatt has lightning abilities but gives Varia magnetic control instead.
  • February 28, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • In Grrl Power Varia gets powers that are similar, but not identical to those whom she touches. For instance, Harem allows her to teleport alongside her, while Jiggawatt has lightning abilities but gives Varia magnetic control instead.
  • March 1, 2017
    TrueShadow1
    @sailing101

    I disagree. Power Copying does have its own mechanics, and it's either "they're just that good at learning" or "it's their actual superpower".

    This trope differs from that by offering different mechanics of how they achieve the "copying". Characters who use this skill doesn't actually have any "copy" power, but merely do entirely different things to emulate a similar effect.
  • March 1, 2017
    Getta
    ^ Thing is, I don't think Street Fighter example counts. They're martial arts moves, not powers.
  • March 1, 2017
    sailing101
    ^ evidence of misuse, further proof that this lacks the distinction you claim it to have.
  • March 1, 2017
    TrueShadow1
    ^^ Yeah, Street Fighter and Lyrical Nanoha examples should probably go. They're using the same moves the same way, but with minor variations.

    We need a better name. Variant Power Copying gives the impression of "Power Copying, but with minor variations", which is The Same But More Specific.

    I don't see why martial art moves don't count as powers, though. Especially fictional martial arts, which give superhuman abilities most of the time.

    ^ That doesn't even make sense.
  • March 1, 2017
    sailing101
    Trope misuse is one of the symptoms of duplicate tropes, where perceived distinctions are not enough to prevent examples that should be in one from being placed under the other. It's a sign that, to most people, the two are indistinguishable.
  • March 1, 2017
    NubianSatyress
    @Getta: In the world of Street Fighter, as well as many Eastern fighting works, powers and martial arts are often the same thing (see Ki Attacks). Shoto clone characters, for instance, use a Kamehame Hadoken, but each one learns to do it a different way.
  • March 1, 2017
    sailing101
    ^ But that's not Power Copying at all.
  • March 1, 2017
    Getta
    ^, ^^ especially since most shotos in that work are taught directly.

    I kinda don't get how misuse means this is a duplicate, tho. The misuse itself isn't even make it related to the Power C Opying.
  • March 1, 2017
    NubianSatyress
    Whether or not the person was instructed on how to copy the ability is a small hair to split, in my opinion. What matter is whether or not the ability is initially rare or exclusive to the point that only a specific person or group can do it or knows how to do it. For example, let's say we have an entire race/culture of people who know how to use an ability. Since it's common there, teaching someone to do it is no big deal. But let's say they decide to teach an outsider, or puny human to do it, and (for a number of reasons) the outsider/human manifests a unique variation of the ability.

    That's the point of this trope: someone learns to use an ability that's associated with a group or person, but they either learn to do it a completely different way, or they have to go through an alternative source of power (magic vs ki vs technology vs mutation) to achieve it.
  • March 1, 2017
    sailing101
    And Power Copying covers that by default. All your explination boils down to is that the setting is explaining how it works. That's not a new trope, it's just Power Copying With An Explination.
  • March 1, 2017
    KingZeal
    Another Street Fighter example:

    • In Street Fighter V, Karin Kanzuki's Story Mode has her suddenly master one of the Kanzuki-ryu school's greatest arts, which allows her to repel enemies using nothing but her Battle Aura. This trope is Played For Laughs when Zangief sees her do this and (because Zangief's style is based entirely on his muscles) he learns how to vibrate his body at just the right rhythm to achieve the same ability. Karin's steward, Shibasaki, is awestruck by Karin's achievement, but dumbstruck that Zangief can do it in such a crude manner, too.
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