Instant Cosplay Surprise
"Holy crudscones! Why am I in women's clothing?!"Some hapless character is swept off his/her feet by a cosplay enthusiast (or a whole bunch of them) and ends up wearing a new costume or disguise. Even if the outfit is extremely elaborate, the change looks almost instantaneous to the audience, sometimes shortly hidden by a Smoke Shield with the occasional Flung Clothing. In every case, the process is inexplicably too fast for the "victim" to even notice it happening until after they've been fully dolled up — even if it includes lots of complex knots, several layers and/or a change of underwear, and thus should have taken hours and lots of sweat and tears (not to mention any potential kicking and screaming by the victim in question) to put on. This is loosely based on real-life situations where someone is usually shocked by how they look in a changing-room mirror; however, this trope does away with changing rooms and mirrors altogether. Sometimes justified by the cosplay enthusiast using a weird martial art allowing him or her to undress and then dress the victim at high speed. Less ludicrous if it is some magic-user using a spell to induce the sudden clothes change (as with the page picture) but that's just cheating. This is frequently the deed of a Lovable Sex Maniac, and even when not the case, the clothes will commonly be some kind of fetish wear, like Cat Girl, French Maid, Naughty Nurse Outfit, Panty Fighter, Playboy Bunny, Slave Girl, etc. — even if the subject is male! Often an excuse for the artists or costumers to put the characters into some unusual attires that they usually wouldn't be caught dead wearing. Being knocked out and waking up in a weird outfit usually also counts. After all, dressing up someone unconscious isn't that easy either. Not to mention what it implies... A variant exists when a person is expected to change clothes by him- or herself and is handed the outfit, absentmindedly dressing up. Again, just as implausibly, the reaction shot comes only after having finished putting everything on, up to the last button, as if the character just couldn't see what the costume looked like beforehand. This trope is particularly common in Anime and Manga, where it is used for comedy and (of course) fanservice. In classic cartoons, this tends to happen as a "whirlwind" or as a "tear-away", and can even happen with one's own skin and fur. A subtrope of Changing Clothes Is a Free Action. Compare Instant Costume Change.
— Sokka, Avatar: The Abridged Series
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- This happens a few times in Ranma ½, both the anime and manga:
- During the martial art skating match against the Golden Pair, Ranma-chan and Ryōga are swept away by the "Kolkhoz High Fashion Club" when the audience complains that Ranma's costume isn't sexy enough. They bring in portable booths as dressing rooms, but are quite fast to put Ryōga and Ranma into proper skating outfits.
- When Principal Kunō is teaching Akane how to swim, he promises a swimsuit which would allow her to "swim with the grace of a swan". She imagines a beautiful ballerina outfit and goes to put it on. Next panel, it's actually a full-body suit making her look like an ugly duck, and she Megaton Punches the Principal.
- A similar "dressing themselves without realizing what they're wearing" variant occurs to female Ranma. When trying to help a sickly young boy who won't take his medicine unless she takes him on a date, she accepts the clothes he hands to her just to play along. It's only after she's dressed that she realizes she's wearing a Sailor Fuku blouse and gym bloomers (no skirt). She kicks him out the window and calls him a Lolicon.
- The "martial art" variant happens later in the manga (Book #34). Happōsai is trying to force Ranma to wear a Playboy Bunny outfit, and after a Single-Stroke Battle, he manages to put a Sailor Fuku... on the male Ranma. Just as he's about to meet his mother to prove he was manly.
- The trope could be said to be half-used during the fight against Ryū Kumon, where Ranma performs the Umi-Senken to remove Ryū's (and Sōun's) clothes in a blink. This one doesn't even need Power Perversion Potential to be misapplied.
- A Filler scene in the very early anime implies that Nabiki keeps doing this to female Ranma when the latter's clothes are all in the laundry. Although the changes happen off-screen, Ranma keeps running in and out of frame wearing a kimono, a dominatrix outfit, and even a Las Vegas-style showgirl outfit, complete with tiara and feathers, all while screaming at Nabiki to stop it.
- Being knocked out and waking up in a wedding dress/wedding kimono/wedding tux happens to Akane and Ranma twice each (and in Ranma's case, the tux and the kimono).
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- The girls do this to Negi on several occasions. Most notably, at the Mahora Festival haunted house, they dress him as a cute female kitsune.
- There's also the distracted variant where Asuna and Setsuna get tricked into dressing themselves up in Panty Fighter garb right before their tournament match, and not noticing what they were putting on until it was too late.
- This gets used a lot. Another example is in volume 4, when the cheerleaders don disguises in order to interfere with what they think is a date between Negi and Konoka. Misa and Sakurako end up in Sailor Fuku; Madoka is annoyed to find herself the "odd one out" in a Boy's Uniform. Lampshaded by the word "Transformation!" at the top of the panel, and by the price tags still dangling from the outfits. Extra points for Misa and Sakurako acquiring instant suntans into the bargain....
- Konoka drags Setsuna into a costume shop. She winds up in Samurai garb to complement Konoka's princess outfit. It's really very fetching. Random people passing by thought they were a couple, leading to a rather "nice" photo shoot.
- There's also the Maid Cafe bit at the beginning of the festival arc. Granted, most of the girls dressed themselves, but you can see Akira is completely baffled as to why she's suddenly a bunnygirl. Mana is also surprised to suddenly be a miko (although Mana is a miko — she's surprised to suddenly be dressed in the "porn" version of the uniform, especially as the clothes really don't look right with her height).
- Poor Ako gets knocked out and stuffed into a Playboy Bunny outfit and arranged into an interesting pose. Her friends snap the photo just as she regains consciousness, and "accidentally" email it off to Ako's crush, "Nagi", who is really the ten-year-old Negi.
- Girls Bravo:
- In the manga, Lovable Sex Maniac Fukuyama pretends to be ill to trick Tsundere Kirie into various fetish wears, starting with a Naughty Nurse Outfit, then a Miko hakama, and finally a Meido garb. Every time, she complains about the costume only after being fully clothed. Though when Fukuyama shows he had plenty other cosplay outfits for her to try, she gets fed up and kicks him in the face.
- Which is only the first occurrence. Fukuyama is a real master at this, and keeps doing it to most off the female cast (though Kirie stays his favorite victim) again and again, going through about every fetish clothes imaginable.
- Hayate the Combat Butler:
- Happens to Hayate a lot. Usually he ends up dressed as a Cat Girl, or something likewise highly embarrassing. This gets so bad that when Hayate admonishes Nagi for asking him to take off a costume he put on for her gets a negative response, she thinks she may have broken him. The reality is that he just doesn't want to reveal that he's actually a guy to another girl.
- Hinagiku also gets a taste of Instant Cosplay Surprise on her birthday thanks to the student council trio. She then has to unexpectedly perform karaoke.
- Averted (and maybe even subverted) by Haruhi Suzumiya, in that getting Mikuru into a costume usually involves an extended sequence of Haruhi wrestling her down and stripping her (more or less offscreen).
- Excel Saga manga volume 16 has Excel ambushed in a flagrantly yuri-tastic manner and stuffed into a Pretty Cure outfit. Though it's mildly averted — while Excel isn't particularly enthusiastic, she's more bothered by the fact that the costume isn't her ACROSS uniform. Also, the change in outfits is not an instant switcheroo; it's a multi-panel affair, complete with lines like "You must take off everything <3" and "Oh my, this is your real hair... it's so soft... to the touch..."
- In the Lucky Star OVA, Konata (already cosplaying as Nagato's wizard costume from the Non-Indicative First Episode) changes Kagami into a Meido, Miko, Rin Tohsaka◊, and Hatsune Miku◊. Can you resist the Grade S Zettai Ryouiki?!
- In Slayers, at a point midway through the third season, immediately following a Wham Episode where the party was scattered and unknown whether to be alive or dead. Lina wakes up wearing an Elegant Gothic Lolita costume. After several moments of gathering her thoughts and trying to figure out where she is, she finally notices, leading to an even split of mortification and all-consuming rage. The remainder of the episode plays out as an homage to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (with penguins!), and at the end, she discovers that her outfit is an amusement park costume, receiving her regular clothes back in a dry-clean bag. However, the last line of the episode is her saying, "There's just one thing I haven't figured out. Who took off my clothes?"
- Iron Wok Jan: Jan, Kiriko, and Celine find themselves stuffed into pig costumes after accepting an invitation to a television cooking show (part of an attempt by Straw Critic Ohtani to humiliate the three chefs on multiple levels).
- Happens a few times in Ai Kora.
- In chapter 15, Maeda convinces Sakurako to win money for a new air conditioner (and snap his buddy Shibusawa out of an obsession with moe) by entering a Maid Cafe's costume contest.
- In chapter 77, Maeda convinces Yukari to dress up in a cross between a School Swimsuit and a Playboy Bunny outfit as part of a ploy to keep people from finding out she's into video games.
- In Rosario + Vampire, after Kokoa is turned into a little girl, the other girls take her shopping for clothes that fit. She is shocked to find herself cosplaying Arale from Dr. Slump.
- Oreimo's tenth episode features Ayase tricking her friend Kanako into cosplaying from a popular Magical Girl show. Despite the costume design being a treasure trove of Magical Girl tropes, Kanako only notices that it's "bratty anime crap" when she catches sight of herself in a car side-mirror.
- D.N.Angel has Daisuke's mom pulling this on him in the anime. Whenever she wants him to do a thief job he doesn't want to, she hands him a phone and while he's talking on it, she somehow manages to get him dressed in his thief clothes. Even more incredible that some of those clothes are pullover shirts, so how...? Naturally, Daisuke freaks out afterward but it's expected (sort of) since his mother was trained to be a master thief.
- Bleach: This happens to Ichigo in one of the New Year specials. He's roped into helping Komamura and Unohana make a film about a humanoid dog hero that saves lives, only to find himself forced to wear a badly designed dog costume. He's not amused.
- A certain, legendarily strange Superman/Batman team-up comic has Superman pulling this on Batman and himself at the same time in reverse — out of their costumes and back to normal clothing... in the time it takes Lois Lane to look to one side. Away from them, towards them. Surprisingly played with just a hint of realism — the speed is more than Bruce Wayne can take, resulting in him feeling highly nauseous and throwing up mere seconds later.
- In Cable & Deadpool, there's a great scene where Deadpool wakes up very surprised to be dressed in an X-Men costume. Wolverine and Beast are standing nearby and note that they were betting as to whether Deadpool would hurl or think he was really on the team when he saw the costume.
Deadpool: (slight smile) I hurled.
- In Kyon Big Damn Hero, Kyon gains a sentient PDA he names Skynet. One of its abilities is that it lets any authorized user change Kyon's clothing. Haruhi uses this to scan pictures from the Internet, and makes Kyon cosplay in Victorian suits, along with Yuki in her Elegant Gothic Lolita dress.
- In Trixie: Behind the Curtain, Trixie's portrayal of Rainbow Dash as the resident fashionista has her use high-speed flying to change her clients into new outfits faster than they can react.
- In Megatokyo Campfire Story, Hatsu is a strange example of a cosplay otaku guy. In a disturbing twist he's also able to undress and redress people at the speed of light, often in the interests of Fanservice.
Films — Animation
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
- Magic variant: the mirror portal provides an appropriate wardrobe for Twilight Sparkle in addition to the physical changes. Although when she realizes this, the fact that she's now human understandably freaks her out much more than the sudden apparition of clothes.
- Human Rarity later pulls an ordinary one on Twilight, putting her in a new dress and a blonde wig in a flash so that the student body wouldn't recognize and mock her any longer, after the embarrassing videos of Twilight show up on the Net.
- In "Shake Your Tail!", a short preceding My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, Pinkie Pie dresses all her friends (and herself) as hula dancers, with grass skirts and leis, in a flurry of flowers, and they at first look puzzled by this.
- In "Life Is a Runway", Rarity plain and simply uses magic beams to put Derpy, Cherilee, Lyra and Bon Bon into fashion model clothes (and new hairstyles), although it's probably just Music Video logic.
- Happens to the title character in The John Larroquette Show, who refuses to dress up for a charity collection... until Ms. Fanservice purrs like a kitten. Cue next scene and audience laughter as John Larroquette is standing there dressed like a duck.
- In one episode of Family Ties, Mallory gets a job as a model. During a show, her father meets her backstage. He gets mistaken for a male model, forcibly re-dressed, and pushed out onto the stage. He returns believing he has career ahead of him in modelling.
- A variant in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Ménage à Troi", when Deanna and Lwaxana are beamed out of their own clothing and into Ferengi female clothing. It's played as both comic and sinister at the same time.
Lwaxana: I should have known. Even their transporters can't be trusted.
- In High School Girls RPG, more precisely with the Magical Girl sourcebook, it is very easy to pull off thanks to a spell allowing to change costumes... on yourself, or on someone else.... Wait, is that the Alpha Bitch with her Girl Posse who humiliated you a week ago? Well, they could be looking like strippers now... if they're lucky....
- Near the end of Space Quest, you must obtain an enemy uniform. To do this, you hide in the washing machine, and a Sarien comes in and turns it on, automatically changing you into the outfit.
- In the Mai-HiME doujinsoft game Fuuka Taisen, one of Haruka's specials is a box where, if she grabs her opponent, will almost instantly change her (all the playable characters are female) into an anime character from another series. It doubles as a Voice Actor Allusion because the character she changes them into are voiced by the same seiyuu (e.g., Mai, who is voiced by Mai Nakahara, gets changed into Rena from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni).
- In Quake II's expansion pack Ground Zero, towards the end of the game where you need to make the A-M Bomb, there's an area with a cylinder that, when activated and you step in, "dresses" you with a "Strogg Uniform" (the actual process seems to involve immersing you in some kind of liquid), allowing you to wander around the facility while the Strogg forces leave you alone (as long as you don't shoot).
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link starts the game wearing clothes like those everyone else in his village wears. After he first ventures in the Twilight, is turned into a wolf, and eventually purges the Twilight from the area, he's turned back into a Hylian, now wearing the oh-so-familiar green clothes worn by his predecessor in Ocarina of Time, much to his surprise.
- It happens in a World of Warcraft animated music video (at 2:30), where a pervert dwarf put a mage into woman's clothing during his sleep. Based on a French song by Richard Gotainer, "La Ballade de l'obsédé".
- The Bravest Warriors episode "Ultra Wankershim" has this done to Beth by the Emotion Lord, who has a new piece of Wankershim gear every time she's seen. She even lampshades it: "Stop applying clothes to me!"
- In Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki, Loki goes the magic route to put Chiaki into a skimpy red bikini before commenting a Valkyrie battle sport-broadcast style.
- In El Goonish Shive, Ellen immediately notices the Power Perversion Potential of Nanase's clothing exchange spell.
- Netta does this to Zip constantly in DDG. It is probably easier if your victim is a disembodied soul contained in a magic cloak.
- In MegaTokyo, Yuki's Imagine Spot about her friends learning that she's a Magical Girl mimics this effect.
- In a strip of Ménage à 3, although Zii and DiDi agreed to tries the various costumes, DiDi only reacts after being dolled up.
- Invoked by Mary in Dubious Company. The cast is stranded in an alternate dimension. The team brains cook up a spell to hop from dimension-to-dimension, Quantum Leap-style, in order to get back home. Mary modified it so they end up in the most fashionable attire for that dimension. Tiren hates this.
- One of Jareth's Signature Moves in Roommates, for the great annoyance of everyone else.
Javert: What have we told you about these unannounced wardrobe alterations?!
- Poor Linda Knight in Collar 6. Unhappy captive one minute, seriously unhappy rubber housecat the next.
- Girl Genius: when Lucrezia abruptly gains control of Agatha's body, she's astonished to discover the dress that Tarvek provided for Agatha.
Lucrezia: Really now - playing with dolls, at your age.
- This happens to Phase in the Whateley Universe at Halloween, just without the instant transformation. Phase is a teenaged boy who unfortunately looks like a really pretty girl. His team decides to go as the Tenchi Muyo! characters, since his teammate Tennyo looks so much like Ryoko to start with. At the last minute, he finds out his costume is... Tsunami. He's not a happy boy.
- Flander's Company: Inflicted on the Flander's employees by Maxence and Déborah in episode "Bad Taste". Caleb ends up in a freaking chainmail, Hippolyte in a silly Hawaiian Shirt, Dr. Parker... keeps his usual clothes, and Cindy is given a girly, colorful dress. The last one is actually the worst idea of the lot, as it is the barbarian girl's biggest Berserk Button. Carnage ensues.
- A similar situation happens in the Code Lyoko prequel, "XANA Awakens", when Odd, Ulrich and Yumi are virtualized for the first time and discover their Lyoko avatars. Odd, especially, is puzzled by his weird look:
Odd: Hey, That's not fair! How come he gets to be a samurai? That's so much cooler!
Jérémie: I have no idea why. Maybe the computer just reads into your own subconscious desires, and projects them onto your digital incarnation.
Odd: I don't dream about giant purple cats!
- The Genie from Disney's adaption of Aladdin sometimes does this to his friends. In the television series he turns them into the cast of TaleSpin. Seriously.
- The first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Rarity change Twilight Sparkle into a half-dozen outfits (ranging from formal wear to cosplaying as the Statue of Liberty) before the latter can break free. Most other instances of getting dressed up prompt this reaction as well, seeing as very few ponies wear clothes on a regular basis.