You don't activate your magic or superpower without an announcement. After all, randomly bursting into flames at a dinner party would be rather rude of you, if you were the Human Torch
So you put together a ritual that triggers things, complete with a Catch Phrase
. You shout "Flame On!" and the other dinner guests — or anyway, the audience
— knows things are about to get flame-y.
In short, you (the writer) invoke your character's power to suspend disbelief
long enough to do something way out of the norm. It can
be an incantation or Power Words
. More often than not, though, it's just the Rule of Cool
in action, rather than an actual incantation.
The Pstandard Psychic Pstance
gesture seems to be a universal invocation of psychic powers. Contrast with In the Name of the Moon
and Transformation Name Announcement
, which come after
the transformation, but before the buttkicking. Brother of Calling Your Attacks
. Not to be confused with Magical Incantation
, By the Power of Grayskull!
or Words Can Break My Bones
where the words actually do something. May overlap with the Survival Mantra
or the Badass Creed
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Anime & Manga
- The Gate users on Gate Keepers would often shout "Gate Open!" in Gratuitous English when manifesting their abilities.
- Except for the Chinese Girl. She uses "Kai Men!" (The same phrase, but in Chinese.)
- Bancho, the ex-thug, shouts "Gate oyabun!" (roughly gate mob-boss) instead, possibly due to not knowing English. It never actually does anything, because he's the token Badass Normal at least until the finale
- Mirai from Moldiver doesn't need to shout "Metamorforce!" when she triggers the Mol Unit, she just does it because she thinks it's cool.
- "[Insert colour] Pearl Voice!" in the Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch manga is either this or the Magical Girls' hero identities' naming format; it's not entirely clear which, but if it is a transformation phrase, it's an Invocation, because they certainly don't say it all the time. In the anime, though, it's clearly By the Power of Grayskull! instead.
- Emiya Shiro from Fate/stay night tends to say "Trace, on" (or off) whenever he uses his Projection spell. It doesn't really seem to do anything aside from making himself concentrate on the spell, considering that his future self only says it once in the entire game (naturally, to confirm that he was the future version of Shiro). There is also Archer's famous "I am the bone of my sword..." speech, which he seems to do to activate Unlimited Blade Works (though it often takes most of the battle to recite the entire thing).
- Justified in the game. Most magic in the setting is done by simply channeling Mana through your magic circuits (presumably in the correct manner), but since this is hardly a natural human action, mages tend to make up verbal spells that they associate with specific magic circuit usages. What the words actually are is irrelevant, since it's simply a kind of self-hypnosis. Of course, since this is the Nasuverse, we always get exceptions, in this case Medea who uses Divine Language where apparently the sounds themselves create their own magic circuits and one person from Kara no Kyoukai who talks to the world and convinces it to change.
- Pretty much every exorcist in D.Gray-Man, usually with a dramatic "Innocence", Activate!"
- Minamoto in Zettai Karen Children always yells out "Special ESPer Team, The Children! RELEASE!" as he deactivates their Power Limiters with his phone in a suitably dramatic way.
- Though it's unknown if its necessary for ninjas in Naruto to announce their attacks, they always do it at least the first time and are never heard by anyone but the audience.
- Dai Mahou Touge: "Kill Them All!"
- Rockman.EXE: "Plug In, Rockman.EXE! Transmission!"
- The mages of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha frequently use "[Name of Intelligent or Armed Device], Set Up!" to transform, although it has been shown that saying just "Please" or even nothing at all is enough to start the process.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, mages often have to make up an activation key. When they're first starting out with magic, though, the default key is "Practe Bbigi Nar".
- Digimon Adventure 02 had the main humans yelling "Digiarmor energize!" to trigger armor evolution, though this is occasionally skipped over in the interest of time.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: Every duel is officially begun by the duelists shouting "It's time to duel!" or "Let's duel!" Each turn also tends to end with "Your move" or "Your move, (opponent name)." Though the real-life manual indicates that this is simply good manners. The Japanese Invocation is simply "Duel!"
- The Yu-Gi-Oh! GX English tended to use "Duel!", except for Jaden's "Get your game on!" and the occasional "Let's duel!" and "Game on!".
- Devil Hunter Yohko ("Dark powers whose black deeds escape even the light of the moon/ Behold now the radiance yada yada yada...")
- Pretty much any long running Humongous Mecha series with Calling Your Attacks will present it but invariably they will be shown doing the attack at some point without calling it.
- While Lelouch Lamperouge does actually need to speak for his geass to do anything, he'll occasionally add "Lelouch vi Britannia commands you..." to let you know that he means business.
- Slayers is a mixed bag. On one hand, the protagonist Lina doesn't strictly need to use the words of her incantations because she's a pro. On the other hand, they do work better when she does. If pressed for time, she'll just say the first line to get in the mood and skip to the spell name.
- "This hand of mine glows with an awesome power! Its burning grip tells me to defeat you! Take this! SHINING FINGER!!"note
- The Shinigami in Bleach can use their Kido spells without any incantation (by simply calling the spell's level number and name), but the resulting effect is usually far weaker than it would be if they had had the time to recite it (some of them are really long — see below). However, it takes a somewhat skilled Kido user to be able to use it without the incantation and not have it blow up in their faces.
- Since their use of Kido is almost strictly for combat (save for some healing and shielding spells, and even those are sometimes used in combat), they tend to either recite the incantation beforehand if at all possible, or simply use it without the incantation. This, of course, means that when a skilled Kido user (especially a captain-level one) recites the incantation for a spell, the HSQ of the target goes to through the roof (unless, of course, that target is Sousuke Aizen, in which case he'll just stare blankly and say something to the effect of "Since when were you under the impression that your pathetic spells can hurt me?").
- While the incantations are usually very word salad-y, they are also pretty cool:
"Heart of the south, eye of the north, finger of the west, foot of the east, arrive with the wind and depart with the rain. Way of Binding, number 58: Kakushitsuijaku!"
"Black and white net. Twenty-two bridges, sixty-six crowns and belts. Footprints, distant thunder, sharp peak, engulfing land, hidden in the night, sea of clouds, blue line. Form a circle and fly though the heavens. Bakudo, number 77: Tenteikūra!"
"Ye lord! Mask of flesh and bone, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Truth and temperance, upon this sinless wall of dreams unleash but slightly the wrath of your claws. Hado, number 31: Shakkahō!"
"Limit of the thousands hands, respectful hands, unable to touch the darkness. Shooting hands unable to reflect the blue sky. The road that basks in light, the wind that ignited the embers, time that gathers when both are together, there is no need to be hesitant, obey my orders. Light bullets, eight bodies, nine items, book of heaven, diseased treasure, great wheel, grey fortress tower. Aim far away, scatter brightly and cleanly when fired. Hado, number 91: Senjū Kōten Taihō!"
- Shinigami who have not reached bankai must also release their shikai with a command, followed by the name of the zanpakuto.
- An example from SRW: OG The Inspectors in the Ultimate Gespenst Kick. Humorous because in the game the anime is based on, any character who used the attack became incredibly hot blooded when performing the attack. The show answers this by showing that one must actually shout the attack name to perform it correctly.
- Parodied in the first Spider-Man film, as Peter Parker tries to get his web power to work.
- In Dune the Harkonnen Mentat recites a mantra after drinking "sapho" juice as part of a ritual to heighten his mental powers. This does not feature in the book and was an invention of the director/actor.
- In the Doctor Who spinoff Faction Paradox, Cousin Justine recites a little prayer/poem whenever she's about to use her sombras que corta to do something clever. It goes like this:
Bloodline to bloodline, in constant transition.
Our pattern, our flesh, and our one restoration.
Conception, completion, the will of the city.
Grandfather watch me, Spirits maintain me.
- Djinn in the Children of the Lamp series use a particular "magic word" as an aid in focusing on their magic, but the word itself is arbitrary. The only rule is that the word be somewhat long and complex, but this is just to make sure that the djinni in question doesn't accidentally use magic in the course of daily conversation. Thus we get everything from real words like "SESQUIPEDALIAN" and "ZYGOBRANCHIATE" to the meaningless but familar "QWERTYUIOP" to the truly nonsensical "FABULONGOSHOOMARVELISHLYWONDERPIPICAL".
- Played with in the The Dresden Files. Ritual, Calling Your Attacks, and even Focii are all just to help the wizard visualize their spells. Only a very few spells (usually heavy-duty summoning or massive rituals) actually require more than mental focus at all levels of talent and power. It's remarked that in general, the less flash and invocation used, the more powerful the wizard - and that the most powerful wizards in the world could get their focii from a supermarket. However, wizards believe that the focii help, and in the Dresdenverse, that turns right around and makes it so. It's also important, with invocation, to use a foreign language, because it insulates the mind from the energy of the magic. Hence, Harry can only use Latin because he speaks it so poorly, stupid correspondence course. If he were to finally learn it better, he'd have to use a different language for his magic.
Live Action TV
- Hiro of Heroes scrunches up his faces and wiggles his jowls to stop time. Hey. Whatever works.
- All the Objects from The Lost Room have a special invocation: turn the Key, Comb the hair, tap someone with the Bus Ticket...
- Amanda, the human-raised Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation, makes a certain gesture when using her powers, as does the suicidal Q in Star Trek: Voyager. The most commonly encountered Q (i.e. the one played by John de Lancie) tends to snap his fingers. No other Q has been observed to make invocation gestures, unless one accepts the notion that Trelane was a Q or even the Q. All except Amanda, who was raised as a human, presumably do it for dramatic effect.
- In the 1950s The Adventures of Superman, George Reeves would look over the tops of his glasses when Supes was using X-Ray Vision, a gesture repeated on Superman: The Animated Series. In Smallville, Tom Welling tilts his head forward and squints when X-Raying, since this version of Clark doesn't wear glasses (except once as a shout out). The Silver Age and Superfriends Supermen also shouted "Up, up and away!" before flying.
- The "looking over the glasses" motion was also used by the Lois and Clark incarnation of Superman, when he used x-ray or heat vision. Which makes sense for heat vision (cos otherwise he'd melt his glasses) but why can't you x-ray through glass?
- Power Rangers falls into this a lot. Particularly on occasions when rangers actually show that they can morph without calling out some codeword, but rather just quietly pushing the button on their morpher. Plus they often have to call out the name of the weapon they want to use, even if it was sitting right there in their holster!
- The series' source material, Super Sentai, does this more or less as much, though not quite as much in more recent entries, where the equipment does the talking for them.
- Whenever Rodney McKay snaps his fingers repeatedly, he is about to enter full-genius mode (possibly due to his Chance-Of-Impending-Doom-O-Meter is about to go Off The Scale). How it's connected with his brain activity is unknown, but it lets the viewer know he is up to something.
- Every Kamen Rider series (except Hibiki, which wasn't even KR until it was Executive Meddled into being one) has the Rider shout "Henshin!" before they transform. It doesn't seem to be required, merely a stylistic convention and Shout-Out to the original, with the sole exception of Delta, whose Transformation Trinket is voice-activated.
- With the second Rider (who was the first to do it) the phrase opened the cover of the Transformation Trinket so the wind-powered transformation would begin. (Kamen Rider #1 didn't have the cover, and he said nothing initially. However, when he returns after a long absence, he takes up his successor's habit.) But yeah... all the others seem to be doing it for just dramatic effect, and furthermore, are not instructed to say it by anyone when they first get their powers.)
- Actually, in Kamen Rider Fourze, Gentaro is instructed by The Ditz Yuki to "scream out Henshin" the first time. He keeps this habit, though why isn't explained. It gets odd when The Stoic Ryuusei uses it to change into Second Rider Kamen Rider Meteor, especially since he has a Secret Identity to keep, yet he always shouts out "Henshin!", which the other members of the club know Gentaro uses to change into Fourze.
- Brütal Legend: Several.
- "How do I get this thing started? Oh man...Dear evil, messed up, demon powers. Of darkness. Please transport me off this awesome corpse pile. I am but a visitor in this strange world, which some would call hellish, but I have to admit is kinda badass."
- "Oh, mighty sun. Burn the creatures of the night from this land while I enjoy coffee and bacon!"
- Colette's Mystic Arte, Holy Judgement, from Tales of Symphonia. The invocation for Holy Song, one of her Angel Artes with the effect of buffing the team, is usually: "Thy faithful servant asketh for thy blessing. Honor us with the splendor of thy song." However, when doing the Mystic Arte, Colette slips up and intones: "Thy faithful servant asketh for thy blessing. Honor us with the special... uh... oops! I messed up!" Instead of the spell failing, however, Colette's divine clumsiness results in the spell setting off Holy Song and Judgement at the same time, both significantly increased in power.
- Cortez in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect with the incredibly cheesy "Time to split!" line before traveling through time. Most of the rest of the cast notice the cheesiness and occasionally comment on it, particularly Super Spy Harry Tipper.
- Parodied in Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, where Matt says his catchphrase "It's hazard time!" before doing anything. Everyone makes fun of him for it.
- .hack//G.U.: Almost every time Haseo activates his Avatar,
- Come on... Come on... I'm right... here... SKEITH!!!!
- Each of the other Avatar PC's have a similar Incantation. Interestingly, in an All Your Powers Combined moment in the third game, they all recite Haseo's.
- The characters in Final Fantasy Tactics occasionally bust out an invocation for their spell (or in some cases, just battle skills).
- When Bang Shishigami activates his Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan, he either calls it out or gives us this invocation...
From beyond the realm of souls and birth I call upon the ur-sword to bring ruin on my enemies. Perish!
Tsubaki: White feathers for innocence, black feathers for darkest sin. We are the messengers and hammers of God, come to deliver righteous justice! Let sinners be punished! Let justice be done!
Hazama: By the darkness of a thousand souls, in the name of Susanooh. I command you awaken! Nox Nyctores Ouroboros!
Mu-12: The seven celestial gods! The world created by the hands of the gods. Everything is false! Everything is a lie! The final days have come! Now, let everything be destroyed!
- In Advance Wars, whenever a CO activates their Power/Super Power, they will say something cool beforehand. But only for the first time, at least in the first game.
- In Skies of Arcadia, every magic spell is invoked with "Moons, give me strength!" Its the same for every spell, regardless of what it does. Likely just something to get them focused.
- Here's one you'll probably be hearing a lot of:
Aika: "Fire consume my enemies! Lambda Burst!"
- Eternal Sonata has this in spades. Every special attack needs to be invoked, and if the power gauge is more full (resulting in a more powerful attack and a longer more dramatic pause), a longer invocation is said. Most aren't even coherently audible... =/
- An important part in the worldbuilding of Yggdra Union and Blaze Union, where the most common form of attack magic—Tactics Cards—are representations of magical contracts that have been given form by a rare and very powerful type of magic called the Power of Words. Given that the Power of Words has essentially founded the current system and is based in speech and writing, a player who knows about the worldbuilding will easily be able to spot Nessiah as a critically important character by the fact that he wields a spellbook, not a staff. This character is actually the founder of the Tactics Cards system himself; he put himself through hell to master the Power of Words, too.
- Valkyrie Profile has some truly epic statements being made when it comes to the great magics; the sequel was a little lacking in that regard. Invoking the Harmoniums of Asgard to summon Ancient Lightnings is pretty awesome. The physical warriors also get some pretty impressive ones with their Purify Weird Soul moves. It's probably not necessary to announce "My soul burns; my power has awakened!" right before transforming into a giant dragon to blast foes to oblivion; it certainly is memorable, though. These were similarly toned down for Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria.
- Dawn of War has the (sadly) unused line "By the wyrm eye that bleeds in all the dark places. By the wound that never heals! I summon you... BLOODTHIRSTER! From the darkest depths of the Warp!"
- In the Strong Bad Email "transformation", Strong Bad always prefaces his transformations with "Shape of... (something)!" Then, the transformation would be accompanied by a "DWAYNE!!" sound effect in Strong Bad's own voice.
- Used by Generator in the Whateley Universe to activate her faux 'devises'. They're actually powered by her 'autonomous telekinetic constructs', which is to say basically disembodied copies of herself who generally already know what they're supposed to do, but by shouting 'activation commands' she deliberately creates the illusion of being just another mutant high-tech geek.
- Danny Phantom's "Going ghost!" He's transformed just as many times without saying it, most memorably for a stretch of episodes after his new arch enemy mocked it.
- American Dragon Jake Long's "Dragon up!" When partially transforming, he would name whatever part he changed; "Claws of the Dragon" or what-have-you.
- Inverted in Transformers: Cybertron. The Tagalong Kid's Humongous Mecha transforms for the first time without the vocal trope. The regular characters tell him he should shout "Transform!" the next time, as it makes the process much more exciting. (He does.)
- Transformers: Beast Wars, on the other hand, made a big show of having the characters shout "Maximize!" or "Terrorize!" along with an elaborate Transformation Sequence...for one season. After that, the Invocation was pretty much dropped without comment from anyone.
- On the other hand, after Blackarachnia's transformation to a Transmetal II and accompanying conversion to the Maximal side, she makes a show of accompanying her first transformation in her new body with Blackarachnia, Maximize!", informing the viewer that her transformation did, in fact, remove her Predacon programming.
- The episode that introduced the Fusors Quickstrike and Silverbolt has Megatron hacking into their CPUs and altering their transformation codes from "Maximize!" to "Terrorize!" and then uses it as proof that they have always been Predacons and just forgot. Silverbolt, though, doesn't like the word but has no other reason to disbelieve Megatron.
- Additionally, since Dinobot keeps doing Face Heel Turns and Heel Face Turns, he "officially" changes his transformation code to the opposite as proof or his new loyalty. Nobody buys it, of course.
- She didn't use an actual Catch Phrase, but Storm in the 1990s animated X-Men would often describe the weather pattern she was creating... in Purple Prose, not unlike a witch's spell. See the page quote above.
- Code Lyoko
- Jérémie can transfer his teammates to Lyoko without saying "Transfer... Scanner... Virtualization" and jump back in time without saying "Return to the past now!", but still does it out of habit.
- Likewise, the Lyoko Warriors calling their attacks, Ulrich's "Super Sprint!" / "Triplicate!" / "Triangulate!", Aelita's "Tower deactivated." or William's "Super Smoke!" Notably, Yumi is the one not caring about any invocation when using her powers.
- Captain Planetand The Planeteers: Kwame introduces the By the Power of Grayskull! ritual with the Invocation "Then let our powers combine!" Even if one of the other Planeteers decides they should call Captain Planet, they wait for Kwame to say this first. He was even once able to use it to free the rest of his Brainwashed team (although that was All Just a Dream).
- Chaotic: Almost every match begins with a "Let's Get Chaotic!"
- Bakugan loves this trope:
- Staring a match: In Battle Brawlers, the players would use a special card and yell, "Field Open!", stopping time outside the field. Closing the field would happen automatically, or if the players used the same cards and said, "Field Close!', as seen in a few episodes. New Vestroia has "Gauntlet, Power Strike!", with the same time-stopping effect for those not in the match. It differed in that, unlike Battle Brawlers, the battle didn't take place in a pocket dimension, even on Earth, leading to a lot of post-battle destroyed buildings.
- Using a Bakugan: While throwing their Bakugan onto the field, players would always yell, "Bakugan Brawl! [Name of Bakugan] Stand!". New Vestroia added throwing a Bakugan Trap into the air, with a similar command: "Bakugan Trap! [Name of Trap]!" May possibly be just Rule of Cool, as the invocations sometimes varied.
- Gate and Ability Cards: "Gate Card, Set!" and "Gate Card Open: [Name of Card!", though the latter may actually be required to activate the card. New Vestroia's Gate Cards seem to always be called [Attribute] Reactor, but Battle Brawlers had a lot more variety. Similarly, "Ability Activate! [Card Name]!" triggered a special ability. New Vestroia added "Double Ability", "Triple Ability", and "Fusion Ability" to the game, making for some wildly improbable but highly cool combos. Battle Brawlers had the Ability Cards held and activated similar to Field Cards, but New Vestroia had the brawler put the card(s) into their Gauntlet to activate them.