Before the Ordinary High School Student (or a hidden Bad Guy) can access her (or his) secret powers, there must be a power-up. This usually involves a change of form or at least costume, although the precise mechanisms usually vary by type. In Japanese television, this is called (a) henshin. By genre, this usually goes as follows:
Super Mode: An already-powerful hero or villain becomes even more powerful to face the latest threat. While generally not as elaborate as the previous two transformation sequences, it often signifies a more intense upgrade. The raised power level is usually indicated by a colour change, glowing eyes (or hair) or appearance altered in other ways than a wholly new costume and accessories.
Other Sequences: Ones that aren't covered by or overlap with the above include Mon "evolution" sequences (which are sometimes permanent), characters combining into one, or more mundanely, a superhero donning their outfit via conventional (if accelerated) means.
Cutey Honey is the archetypical transforming Magical Girl, including catchphrase, naked transformation, and In the Name of the Moon. However it should be noted that in the original series, Honey's transformation was very short and to-the-point, clocking in at only 5 seconds or so — a far cry from the minute-long lightshows of modern-day Magical Girls.
Transformation sequences gradually evolved over the course of each season as the novelty wore off: condensed, "team transformation" sequences created by intercutting the various characters' individual transformation sequences predominate in later episodes.
In SuperS, Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon shared a sequence. What would happen if they had to transform separately was never addressed.
In Ami Mizuno's Day in the Limelight episode of Sailor Moon R the camera actually cut away from her Sailor Mercury transformation sequence twice. The sequence appears to be happening in real time and her opponent appears to transfixed by the light show.
When we actually see a character (namely, Sailor Uranus) transform back on-screen, it apparently requires only an act of will, as opposed to the "By the Power of Grayskull!" phrases used for normal transformations. Also, there are a few plot-critical moments at which Sailor Moon is temporarily depowered by a villain, reversing her transformation; these, however, are obviously not voluntary.
Amusingly, for all of the girls' transformations, we see Tuxedo Kamen transform three times over the course of the series. Once before Mamoru knew of his alter ego, once with a rose after Usagi outs herself as Sailor Moon to him, and finally, during a meeting with the Outer Senshi. This last one is noteworthy because it's the shortest henshin of the series. After the three lengthy transformations of the Outers, Mamoru transforms fully in the time it takes for a leaf to blow past the screen.
Similarly, Tokyo Mew Mew shows Mew Ichigo voluntarily transforming back into her normal form at least twice (with no nudity shown), seemingly just by touching her pendant; in the last episode, the entire team gets their transformations reversed because their powers are no longer needed.
Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch gives everyone two separate sequences; one if they're in human form, and one if they're mermaids. Also, once they get their first wardrobe and weapon upgrade, it appears that Lucia, Hanon and Rina cannot transform separately until near the end of the season, for the simple reason that the animators didn't make the necessary Stock Footage.
Saint October dispenses with glittery body outlines and comes up with things like... fruits falling down from a tree and covering the magical girl. Seeforyourself.
Moldiver parodies the conventions with a transformation that destroys clothing unless the transformee strips naked first.
Similarly, Poemi Watanabe's transformation to Puni Puni Poemi automatically strips her bare — except for her socks, which she has to manually remove before she can complete the sequence.
Was done in an adaptation of Zorro (Kaiketsu Zorro, to be exact). Regular Zorro. He transformed.
The majority of protagonists, antagonists, and minor enemies in Guyver are capable of changing to and from incredibly strong and sentient beings; the most prominent is the main character, Sho Fukamachi (a.k.a. "Guyver 1").
Fullmetal Alchemist: Envy unleashes his gruesome true form inside Gluttony's stomach. Complete with "Oh Crap" expressions from Ed and Ling.
Parodied in Hayate the Combat Butler; Hayate once drew a manga about a magical girl that won a manga contest. When he showed it to the other girls at their insistence, the girls noted with some irritation that the transformation sequence was too Moe and full of Fanservice.
The "implied nudity" present in almost every transformation sequence in anime is only present in the original Pretty Cure and Max Heart; subsequent series have the girls go from civilian clothes straight to glowy shapes which explode into the new outfit.
Mercifully in Yes! Precure 5, the individual girls' sequences are very brief and often happen simultaneously via split-screen. Five long transformation sequences may be pretty and cheap but it ain't half boring the umpteenth time.
Heartcatch Pretty Cure had a special henshin sequence for Tsubomi and Erika together where the two would end up transforming into their outfits in a more playful manner. Interestingly, there's none done for Itsuki and Yuri.
Macross had a mechanically detailed slow-mo sequence of the Valkyrie's shape-shift in the opening, but most times the changes happened lightning-fast, without Stock Footage (in fact, the mecha fighting style shown in Macross depends heavily on moment-by-moment management of the correct transformation mode for the situation). The later Macross series generally followed the lead of the first, although beautifully animated slow-motion transformations (as in Focker's VF-0 transformation in Macross Zero) were retained, these sequences were mostly one-off Fanservice moments.
Let's not forget doing at least one of them, both ways, at least one per episode.
Valkyrie: a fairly standard transformation sequence, triggered by Valkyrie kissing Kazuto.
Hydra: another fairly standard transformation sequence, triggered by Akina temporarily removing the seal on Hydra's power.
Valkyrie Ghost: an evil-type transformation: involves lots of chains and darkness, appears to be painful, causes manacles to appear around Valkyrie Ghost's wrists.
Akidora: fairly standard sequence, this transformation combines Akina and Hydra, averaging their "assets"; introduced in episode 9 of season 2 and used 3 times in that episode alone (full-length every time), plus at least once more during the series. Triggered when Akina and Hydra are annoyed at each other, dissolves if they start feeling friendly toward one another.
A unique variant on the Super Mode sub-type appears in Mononoke (and the Bakeneko arc of Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales from which it was adopted). In it, the Medicine Seller doesn't so much transform, as summon a warrior body to replace his normal one. The elaborately painted patterns on his blue robes and pale face slide off, instead crawling onto his other form's golden robes and dark-skinned face before his original body vanishes in what is unquestionably one of the most unusual transformations ever animated. And each sequence is slightly different from the others, ensuring that the process never becomes redundant. No Stock Footage for the Medicine Seller, that's for sure!
Getter Robo, one of the classic Transforming Mecha series, subverted it when the prototype Getter units were destroyed as an enemy attacked in the middle of the transformation sequence. A modern sequel had the heroes pull the same trick against their Evil Counterparts — after doing their own combination sequence first — to prove how much more Bad Ass they are.
Ryoma: "What's the matter? Can't even pull off a change without checking the controls?"
Then gleefully subverted with the revelation that the heroes only destroyed one of the machines. The other two formed enough of the machine for their enemies to keep fighting. Of course, one Stoner Sunshine later...
This scene seems to be based on the first battle in the Shin Getter Robo manga, though in that version they managed to destroy the partially-formed mecha before it could fight back.
Zettai Muteki Raijin Oh took this trope to epic levels early in the Super Robot genre — Not only does the titular combiner have a gattai sequence, the classrooms of the school transform into a command centre, with the whole structure of the school building rearranging itself. The three pilots do a whole To The Bat Pole sequence, and the school hall, pool, and sports track all unfold to reveal the three component robots of the titular mecha. As shown Here
Taken one step beyond in one of the later Eldoran Series anime, Nekketsu Saikyo Gosaurer Where the school it self turns into the mechas. Observe
In Princess Tutu, you can tell the Dark Magical Girl by the pain she goes through when transforming — black wings rip out of her back and thorny vines wrap around her as she voicelessly screams. The title character, however, gets a regular Transformation Sequence with glowy body outlines and beautiful water, egg and light imagery.
The main character also has a short transformation sequence that takes place when she turns from a duck into a girl, although we see the transformation from the viewpoints of outsiders about as many times as we see the sequence, and it seems like most people simply see it as a bright flash of light followed by a naked girl standing where a duck was a moment earlier. Also, it's a little interesting to note that in comparison to a lot of other magical girl shows, Tutu's transformation sequence is very short — the main character only disappears into a golden egg for a moment and comes out fully clothed. The promo video made before the show was produced shows a much longer, more traditional transformation sequence, however.
Parodied nicely in Genshiken; when forcing Saki to cosplay, a somewhat...unhinged... Ohno, with a creepy laugh and in a sing-song voice, says "Time for all the gentlemen to get out of here, so Saki can begin her transformation sequence".
Parodied in Asagiri No Miko where during one monster attack Seiko orders the girls to "Transform!"... And they run into a locker room and laboriously change into their miko clothes.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha features long transformation sequences for the heroine and her female comrades. Notable for the nudity of the heroine even when she was a minor, although no secondary sexual characteristics are depicted. In certain cases, even the weapons get their own transformation sequences. In the third season, Nanoha StrikerS, the clothes of the only male on the team explode directly into his Barrier Jacket with no implied nudity in between — particularly conspicuous next to the consecutive transformation sequences of the females, who have their clothes explode long before the Barrier Jacket appears.
Said sequences happen in decreasing frequency through subsequent seasons. A's has the characters perform the transformation sequence twice for the whole season, while StrikerS also had it twice for the main characters only during its 26-episode run. Heck, the Wolkenritter who were introduced in the second season did not have a transformation sequence until the third season, and it was very brief. After transformation sequences have been done previously, the characters usually just gets enveloped in a ball of light and transforms in a split second.
Vita in A's also attacks the bubble of energy surrounding Nanoha while she's transforming. The bubble explodes but she's too late because Nanoha is able to flee from it already fully clothed. This suggests it's possible to attack and disrupt a transforming heroine in Nanoha, it's just difficult.
We also see variations on transformations, including one that is virtually instant (Nanoha says simply, "Raising Heart, please?" and her Jacket flows over her), and numerous detransforms that are not only simple but clearly triggered just by willing them.
Being one of the older Magical Girl shows, Hana No Ko Lunlun has a rather simple transformation: Lunlun points her Transformation Trinket at a nearby flower, and the flower emits rings of colorful light towards Lunlun, thus changing her outfit to whatever she needs at the moment. However, the nudity and floating/dancing-around-in-a-void present in later Magical Girl shows are absent here.
Yami Yugi's appearances in the early episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! were usually preceded by a Transformation Sequence. After a while they cut this short, but the dub version left it in for a while afterward.
In the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, when someone starts a Riding Duel on the highway, it reconfigures itself to allow the duelists to enter the Duel Lanes.
Then, the transformation sequences at the end of the second season, when Dark Glass aka Bruno summons his D-Wheel and dons his riding duelist outfit in a flash of green computer coding. Placido displays one of the most bizarre sequences ever seen in the franchise when he reveals himself as an android and merges himself with his D-Wheel. Just watch.
Subverted in Cardcaptor Sakura, where title character Sakura doesn't change, instead transforming the tiny gewgaw she wears on a necklace into a three foot long staff which she needs in order to use the magic cards. Any changes to her wardrobe are done in an entirely non-magical way. These staff transformations don't use Stock Footage, since Sakura averts Limited Wardrobehard.
Konjiki No Gash Bell featured a parody of the elaborate transformation sequence, with one-shot villain Coral Q able to transform into a variety of forms to counter Gash's spells. He takes great pride in these transformations (with theme song sung by sentai mainstay Hiroki Takahashi), and Kiyomaro counters them by simply saying he blinked and missed them, forcing Coral Q to de-transform and re-transform.
Kiyomaro makes Coral Q do it over several times — for the first two, he did miss it: Coral Q goes from being a laughably tiny half-transformed box-like thing to a ridiculously giant robot in an instant. Kiyomaro makes him do it over twice because he's convinced that he somehow missed a step...and then he gives up trying to figure it out and starts screwing with Coral Q.
Capcom has been experimenting with this a lot lately in the Rockman/Mega Man series. Cross Fusion starting in the third season of the EXE/NT Warrior anime, Denpa Henkan/EM Wave Change in the new Ryuusei/Star Force game/anime, and the "Rock On!" ability that underpins the [ZX series.
Even earlier, in Mega Man 6, selecting the Rush Jet(pack) and Rush Power would be accompanied by a mini-cutscene (thankfully skippable) that shows Rush teleporting in, transforming, and flying over to Mega Man, who would then fly up or punch. Mega Man 7 streamlined it: Rush teleports, jumps over Mega Man's head, transforms, and falls onto him in the space of a couple of seconds. Interestingly, this was the game where Rush could be hit by enemies and would retreat. No enemies were Genre Savvy enough to take advantage of this except by accident, though.
Double Subversion in Voltron. During one episode, the villains decide to attack Voltron while it is transforming. Unfortunately for them, they find out that a force field protects Voltron while it is transforming.
Not true in Voltron Force. In the episode Flash Form Go, Voltron's transformation is repeatedly disrupted by a monster. Turns out 36 seconds is a long time to be defenseless. The team questions why it never happened before, which may mean the above-mentioned scene is no longer canon.
Similarly, GaoGaiGar is surrounded by a tornado of greenish energy during its Final Fusion sequence. This time triplesubverted when at least one Monster of the Week was actually able to breach it and attack the machines in the middle of transforming, and had to be distracted by another Brave robot.
It should also be noted that at least twice GaoGaiGar is shown to perform "Fusion Out" with help of hangar machinery, making it a rare demonstration of the nominal way of ungattai-ing the combined mecha.
The title mech of Gravion is surrounded by a huge bubble of turbulent gravity-manipulation as its parts join together. Notable in that even the pilots of the separate machines have to be careful and concentrate on what they're doing, or it's quite capable of knocking them away too.
Subverted in Gravion Zwei, where a Zeravire specially designed to break the Gravion combination sequence appears. It succeeds, and proceeds to use the energy of Elgo Form to wreak general havoc.
The invincible while transforming part was also subverted in one episode of Vehicle Voltron/ Dairugger XV. Specifically one of the units that made up the left leg was knocked out of formation (and the pilot stunned) leaving Volton hopping around one one leg while the other units that make up the missing leg cover their downed comrade.
It also made for an odd logic exercise since for the entire set-up to work they not only had not use the stock footage but actually assemble the titular mecha from the head-down, the exact opposite direction to the normal from the feet up assembly shown in the stock footage.
Bleach: Downplayed for most characters where transformation sequences can be quite straight-forward and practical such as Ichigo transforming from human to shinigami with a simple smack via an appropriate soul-removal tool or popping Kon's pill form into his mouth. It tends to be played straight when seeing a character's power-up transformation sequence for the first time (such as a powerful Arrancar entering Resurrection form or a shinigami activating bankai). However, some shinigami who rarely activate their shikai forms will get a dramatic sequence as well.
Averted in Galaxy Fraulein Yuna where one of the characters has a literal three frame transformation from normal clothing to battlesuit. Phenomenally cool.
Subverted in UFO Robo Grendizer (Westernized as "Grandizer"). The villains exploited a design flaw in the Grandizer unit — as it left its ship (its transformation sequence), the pilot's seat took eight seconds to travel from the ship's control center to the robot's. The locals end up developing another support craft for the robot to respond to this, complete with its own full-time pilot.
Played straight with the Pilot's transformation sequence, announced with a roaring Dude Fureedo!
Subverted in the second episode of Ultimate Girls when Tsubomi and Vivian transform. Instead of the stock animation which is later used, a "now transforming" meter is displayed which looks suspiciously like an Adobe Flash Player loading bar.
Tsubomi is currently transforming. Please wait.
Tekkaman Blade has a rare male nude transformation sequence. However, the transformation sequence was pretty much dropped after about six or seven episodes. It was replaced with Stock Footage of the Humongous Mecha, Pegas, being deployed.
When Saban created their dub of the series, Teknoman, they reinserted the sequence into most episodes that didn't have it. It was even combined with the Pegas launch-sequence, creating a double-length sequence.
As for "detransforming", we see it twice. Once willingly and the other when Blade's crystal shatters. In Tekkaman Blade II, it's given a more magical girl feel when Yumi does it.
Moka's super-vampire transformation in the anime version of Rosario + Vampire shows up nearly every time, and seems to have bats flying into her body and increasing her breast size. The DVD version goes a step further and removes the glow from her body, canceling out at least some of the Barbie Doll Anatomy. Come the second season, another, slightly more elaborate one is used.
Oh, and apparently this sequence happened in real-time and included a voice-over that was actually part of the sequence. Played for laughs in at least one instance when Moka transformed off-screen... and yet the voice-over describing what was happening could still be heard.
Guyver has a rare non-nude transformation sequence, as the Guyver Armor appears over any clothes the user is wearing. It additionally provides an explanation for why the user can't be attacked, as he's protected by a Sphere of Destruction during the transformation. In one of the early episodes, one of the Mooks attempts to grapple the hero in mid-transformation, and gets splattered into a fine meat-paste for his trouble. In another, Sho is chained to his girlfriend so that he cannot transform without killing her.
Which is, unusually, skipped after just the first two episodes.
In To Love-Ru's Show Within a Show, Magical Kyoko, the transformation sequence is subverted. Kyoko, a magical girl, has a cat partner that transforms into her costume — and only her costume. Kyoko has to manually put it on.
Subverted in Blue Dragon where as several robots begin to merge together in a transformation sequence, one of the heroes quickly slices them in half while berating them for thinking she would stand still and wait while they used such a long sequence during battle.
The Pretty Sammy series mostly plays it straight with an epileptic seizure-causing bit of Stock Footage, but sometimes parodies aspects of it. One of the first times Sammy transforms ends with her getting kicked down by Pixy Misa as she's posing.
Himeno Awayuki of Prétear has seven six available transformations, depending on the Leafe Knight she is merging with; all sequences look pretty similar, though. No special words are used, the process is triggered by joining hands. The de-transformations are also shown occasionally, but they don't get any special footage, and don't necessarily happen at her own will.
We get to see her merge with Shin in the manga. The Plant version outfit is actually rather cute. The anime only shows it once for a split second, when Himeno briefly goes through different Pretear forms during the Combined Energy Attack sequence. The transformation into the Legendary White Pretear, on the other hand, is instantaneous.
Interestingly, there's also one episode where Himeno's transformation with Hayate is shown from outside, implying that it does take time (at least enough time for other Knights to comment on it); however, it could be that it was actually longer than usual, as the amount of power unleashed nearly caused Himeno to turn into the Legendary White Pretear.
Onmyou Taisenki has a variation, in the form of Shikigami summoning sequences. Interestingly, pretty much everyone has them, and it's a pretty good way of telling how significant a Toujinshi is to the plot: important characters get long personalized sequences, while Mooks and Red Shirts all get the same generic sequence.
The Demonic subtype is played straight when the titular character of Naruto pulls out his fourth kyuubi tail.
Do-chan, the sentient Battle Dogi from Ranma 1/2, isn't actually worn. When it finds a suitable master, it flashes into a bolt of lightning that crashes down on its owner, ripping her clothes to shreds (which leaves them naked momentarily,) and reforming on her body. It is also emphatic enough to know precisely when its owner wants to transform.
The Impulse Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: Destiny uses a variation on the original series' Core Block System to launch — the cockpit is a transforming fighter, the legs are a separate module and the entire upper body is a third, with extra equipment arriving as a fourth after the main body has combined in mid-air. Shinn is never attacked during that sequence.
No such luck for the protagonist of Victory Gundam, despite the Victory and V2 Gundams having very similar combining/transforming sequences to the original RX-78; well over half a battle can and is spent just trying to get all the pieces together without being interrupted or having said parts outright destroyed by the enemy, leading to such gems as Uso having to fight without arms or even legs.
Legs are just for decoration. The higher-ups simply don't understand that.
In contrast, G Gundam just went for straight up Fanservice. Unless there was some other deeper meaning I missed while watching the latex wrap snugly over Domon Kasshu's buttocks. In close-up.
Especially evident when Rain gets a sequence. Parodied with Master Asia's horse, who also gets to suit up.
Uta Kata has quite a bit of variety in its transformation sequences for Ichika, depending on which Djinn she summons. Each of her costumes is designed by a different well-known manga or anime artist. Ichika sometimes becomes fully naked, but also changes almost instantly on some occasions.
Shugo Chara!, by its very nature as a Magical Girl series, has these — though, it adds some twists. There's a part-way "character change" that adds an accessory or two rather than a full costume, and the male characters' transformation sequences are as elaborate as the girls'. Also, Amu gets multiple transformations and can even borrow others' transformations. This trope is subverted hilariously on a couple of occasions: on one, Amu goes through the motions without her Transformation Trinket, only realizing too late that it won't work; on another, someone else triggers her transformation by tweaking the activation phrase! "Amu's heart: unlock!"
Kaze no Stigma is positively laden with transformation sequences, mainly Ayano Kannagi whipping out her sword Enraiha —- often several times per episode (or at least it felt that way).
A staple feature of all incarnations of the Digimon franchise, to the point that to many they're the most memorable and recognizable point of the series. Transformation Is a Free Action is (almost) always in full play; however, it's widely implied that evolution takes only as long to happen as it takes for the evolving Digimon to announce their evolution.
There are numerous demonstrations that evolution takes next to no time across the franchise, but the most obvious example occurs in Digimon Tamers in the fight against Zhuqiaomon, where he fires an attack at the group, and only then Terriermon evolves, finishing up before the attack hits - i.e., less than a second! Later, the Digimon SaversShort Anime Movie verifies this notion - Agumon's evolution into ShineGreymon is shown both as the usual Transformation Sequence and as it would appear in-universe to the other characters. While the Transformation Sequence is the usual, the outside evolution takes less than five seconds, as demonstrated here starting at the 2:00 mark.
Agumon: Agumon digivolve to...*fails* Greymon! Greymon!! Greymon, yeah I'm Greymon! I'm big and I'm bad...*is stifled*
Digimon Frontier plays this with amusing consistency: regardless of the form being transformed into, a single full Spirit Evolution sequence with no cuts will take thirty-two seconds. Lots of Barbie Doll Anatomy, screaming, and pretty lights ensue. It doesn't look like it, but Spirit Evolution is painful, and the amount of pain correlates with how powerful the form is (one word: ew). Takuya's voice actor, Michael Reisz, refused to voice Takuya's final evolution because he didn't want to harm his voice with all the screaming.
Dinosaur King uses transformation sequences for the six main dinosaurs (Chomp, Ace, Paris, Terry, Spiny, and Tank). Notably, they change from 2D chibi dinosaurs into CGI realistic dinosaurs. As the series progresses, they shorten these sequences, cutting from the chibi dinosaur straight to the CGI.
Inu Yasha: Averted with the titular character. He becomes human for the night of the new moon, but the transformation has little visible effect on his clothing, although there's a brief pulse of power when his hair and eyes change colour and his ears shift from dog-like to human. In the manga, the transformation is almost instantaneous, but the anime will draw it out for dramatic effect, especially when returning to his hanyou form. The transformation tends to be more dramatic when going into his Superpowered Evil Side mode but again, it's much faster in the manga and much more dramatic in the anime.
Both the manga and the anime tend to make Sesshoumaru's transformations into his true form dramatic, but this is because he takes his true form so rarely there's clearly something very dangerous or important happening when he does.
Also, in the last episode, we find out that everyone else just sees them having a bright light surround them for about half a second, then they are done transforming.
Solty Rei showed a member of the RUC team suiting up with her Powered Armor in a fashion reminiscent of this trope, complete with a bit of bounce.
Subverted in Moetan. While Ink and Sumi's transformations fit the standard fare, Arks and Karts would be shown observing the naked transformations and drooling and Nosebleeding respectively, showing that the transformations take place in real time.
Kirby has a variety of transformation sequences, one for each ability. Most of them are cute and silly, but a few are darn cool.
Figure17 has a short, less flashy sci-fi themed transformation sequence for Tsubasa and Hikaru. It appears to be mostly symbolic, however, because when we see the transformation occurring from "outside" it's just a dome of green light that envelopes the characters.
This is also implied to be a little bit negative, in fact — the need for so much time to transform seems to be a symptom of Hikaru being a malfunctioning Figure. Normal figures are able to transform for combat fast enough to react to an attack; Tsubasa and Hikaru have to transform somewhere safe before getting involved.
Angel Blade features one or two of these. They never show a power down or what it looks like to the others in the area. Also since it's hentai any implied nudity is thrown out the window as it's all plainly visible.
Parodied in ''Happy Lesson'. "Activate tutor transformation! Actually, I was wearing these underneath..."
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann features transformation scenes for each of the "stages" of the Gurren Lagann, featuring a specific background, and their awesomeness increases with the size of the resulting combination. The Chouginga Gurren Lagann scene deserves an special mention because half of it is about how epic sunglasses just got.
Itsudatte My Santa does this with the main character Mai getting an adult form, including gratuitous close-ups, including one after the transformation after the co-main character points out her added appeal. Is it any coincidence that it was created by KenAkamatsu?
Some "soul resonances" in Soul Eater take a minute to charge up, noticeably Death the Kid's "Death Cannon" attack, which employs glowyness, dramatic angling, a countdown and a call. His definitely counts as a Transformation Sequence due to the fact they generally involve his guns molding themselves to his body and transforming his forearms into giant cannons.
Cruelly interrupted in episode 50 of the anime by the Dangerously Genre Savvy demon god Asura, who speared him through the stomach before he was done powering up. (Blame Black* Star, who was told to "stop his movements until I finish my Transformation Sequence" but didn't.)
Hellsing Every time Alucard is granted more of his powers, he recites an elaborate chant to invoke the release system.
In Saint Seiya, the Cloths (living suits of armor built to resemble the 88 Constellations) are typically carried around in enormous chests. When the Saint activates his Cloth, the chest shines spectacularly and bursts open (sometimes revealing a spectral construct shaped like Pegasus, a Dragon, a Swan, or whatever constellation the armor represents.) The Cloth within the chest reveals itself, assembled in the rough likeness of the creature from the constellation, before splitting into pieces that fly towards the wearer and clasp onto his body, one at a time. When it is complete, the Saint strikes a pose with the constellation shining in the background.
Kurokami has "Synchronization" which is accomplished through a shared transformation sequence of two people, such as This one
Pokémon evolutions can take up to thirty seconds on screen. Ash's Chimchar evolving was an excellent example. However, after evolving, Pokémon can never change back.
What's noticeable is that the evolution effects changed recently. Originally the Pokemon merely glowed white and began to grow and change into their new form. Now they turn sapphire blue and continue to grow into their new form. It gets a bit silly when Ash's Sandile evolves it's glasses evolve along with it.
And finally, one episode completely subverts it. An early episode featuring Slowpoke's anime debut. The end of the episode shows Slowpoke pulling it's tail out of the water, revealing a Shellder that has become attached (Slowpoke requires a Shellder to evolve). Slowpoke simply stands and says to the screen, "Ah... Slowbro..." - most anti-magical magical transformation ever.
The anime series Reideen features a bunch of more or less bishonen guys who transform into mecha-like armor which they may fuse into a Gundam-style mecha. The transformation includes light, they strip naked and then crystallize before becoming armored. After they transform back, they are actually naked and have to look for clothing or try to avoid being seen like that.
The second season of Darker than Black has a Contractor whose power is the ability to summon a gigantic antitank rifle, which involves a sequence, apparently in real time, in which she floats up into the air and the barrel of the gun comes out of her necklace. Given the show's habit of deconstructing every trope it gets its claws into, the fandom is already taking bets on how long it's going to be until she gets attacked in the middle of it.
And was entirely baffled when she didn't. Not even once for the whole season.
When Erza in Fairy Tail changes her magical armor in mid battle, all the mooks stop what they're doing to ogle her.
This is actually something of a subversion. In the manga it is noted that her transformations (actually just exchanging armor, called 'ex-quipping'), is performed astonishingly fast, to the point that it can be used practically in battle. Each transformation is assumed to take less than a second, just long enough for the opponent to go "Ooh, clothes vanishing from an Action Girl!" before she's re-dressed in magical armor that lets her kick thirty people's asses at once without even trying.
The anime version of Chrono Crusade gave Chrono a transformation sequence when Rosette unseals the watch and unleashes his true form, complete with his clothes ripping as he grows in size. In the manga, the transformation is never really seen, but seems to be instant.
Somewhat spoofed in the manhwa Dorothy of Oz. When Mara activates the boots, her clothes are actually ripped apart and reformed into her witch's outfit, meaning that everyone sees her naked. And yes, the reason why nobody interrupts the sequence is that they're ogling her.
Nanatsuiro Drops has a strange case in that they wait until the ninth episode to give them to the two Magical Girls, and then we never see them again after that.
Hell Girl's Ai Enma has one of these nearly Once an Episode (in the first season, anyway.) However, it's not very traditional.
Heroman gives male protagonist Joey one of these, though all that's really changing is the gauntlet. It has a rather Magical Girl vibe which isn't helped by Joey's excessively girly appearance. Heroman himself has a version of one of these early on, where he marches toward the enemy growing larger with each step, but he stops using it after the first couple of goes.
In Digimon Data Squad, Lilymon practically strips to become Rosemon... Hey, we're talking about a digimon whose second favorite move is "Forbidden Temptation".
Dragon Ball Z is the shounen version of this trope. Many of the characters have powered up forms and minor to major transformation sequences.
All of the Saiyajin who still have their tails can transform into monstrous 50-foot-tall apes when they see a full moon, and most of the Saiyajin featured in the series also master lesser form changes, the first just being developing a glowing aura, and their hair turning gold and standing straight up. This is one of the early examples of a super mode.
Inverted form of monstrous change for a couple of villains, when Frieza and Buu have power ups that leave them in a smaller, cuter, but more powerful form. Both Frieza & Cell are also examples of a Bishounen Line.
The Mahou Sensei Negima! OVA's give both Asuna and Konoka a Magical Girl-style transformation sequence when they summon their Artifacts. This is purely stylistic, though, as all other Artifact summonings (even when a clothes change is involved) are shown to be instantaneous.
The Extra OVA "Magical Girl Yue" takes the chance to parody this. Yue gets a transformations sequence to stylistically summon... normal underwear and clothes. (Plus a Robe and Wizard Hat )
Kamichama Karin, as you'd expect. Only two transformations (Karin's main one and Kirio's) actually use Stock Footage, though - Kazune usually skips the sequence and any other transformations are only shown one or twice. The series also averts Out-of-Clothes Experience for the non-stock ones, instead just having the character change out of whatever they were wearing at the time directly to their transformed state.
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, like the Soul Eater example above, only has the weapons change (although the users do change as well, it's temporary and they change back into their normal clothes shortly after the sequence is done), though it's joined by a sparkly, disco-like enviroinment, switching out of its "normal" Western-style animation and going into traditional anime style... and bringing with it tons of Fanservice and pole dancing.
Devil Hunter Yohko was an early entrant in the Magical Girl genre, with its highly fanservicely sequence. Her younger sidekick's sequence was quicker, and even when 'nude' was done with less fanservice. On the otherhand, Yohko's identical twin cousin's sequence was just as much as Yohko's, with a dark edge.
Interestingly, the sequences are atypical as well; the sequences are very brief, very quickly put on all parts of the outfit rather than concentrate on each part individually (Mami's was probably the closest to one that did the latter), and the audience only gets to see each one once or twice in the entire series. When they do appear twice, they are animated differently according to the situation, averting Stock Footage. The majority of the "transformations" just end up being the girl briefly glowing and reappearing with new clothes, what it would probably look like in real-time. And being a series in which magical girls don't inherently get along, you don't see combo-transformations. Even more ironically, the transformation you don't get to see? Madoka's.
Full Moon O Sagashite gives Mitsuki one when she turns into Full Moon. A rather simplistic sequence is used for the first half of the series, but a more elaborate looking, Magical Girl-type one was used in the second half. Meroko also gets a short sequence when she shapeshifts.
Black Jack, oddly enough. In the manga he washes up and puts on his scrubs like any normal surgeon. In the anime there's a fanfare and a light show and what looks for all the world like a Magical Girl transformation. And he's just Bad Ass enough to make it look good.
Alma Tandoji of Sacred Seven, he can only do this when Ruri is near him. He then would take a page of Mega Man X which he uses a similar get up for his battle suit.
Mononoke features an interesting variation: rather than shifting between forms, the Medicine Seller appears to actually switch places with the "magical" version of himself. During the transition the Medicine Seller's tattoos and clothing patterns dissappear, and his counterpart receives them. There's also a brief moment in one episode where the two versions of the character interact, as the "normal" Medicine Seller hands over a small mirror to his counterpart from off screen to help in a fight.
Transformation sequences in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo are fairly long, but used rarely. Like many other examples, they're instant in real time.
In High School D×D, Issei's transformation sequence into his Balance Breaker does take at least 15 seconds in the anime. The first time he gets to use it in the anime is at the final episode though.
The KNT and its translations have a sci-fi sequence, via a spoken phrase, a wristband, and a circular arm motion. Each character gets one once, but G-1's sequence is used a lot. (Vehicle transformation included for plot convenience.)
Weirdly inverted in Date A Live: The first one we see is a character changing their costume into normal cloths. Tohka transforming her costume into a normal school uniform for her date with Shido.
The Clown from Spawn becoming the terrifying devil Violator. The detailed transformation in the movie is particularly disturbing.
Iron Man occasionally has one, depending on the title and era (for instance, it's very rare to see him activate the suit in an Avengers comic). The most typical one involves assembling the armor from a briefcase. This was abused a bit during the late 90s and early 2000s when every new writer on the Iron Man title introduced their new, super-advanced armor technology, like the SKIN armor, Tin Man and Ablative armor.
In the first issue of Blue Beetle (New 52), Jaime's first transformation into Blue Beetle is shown in nine detailed panels. His later transformations usually take one panel.
In WanderingWordsmith's Thawing Permafrost, Pandora the Shikigami explodes into a weird white goo, then reforms into the commanded form if it can manage it; otherwise, it just flips back to its normal form and collapses, exhausted.
Underworld and Underworld Evolution, with static vampires (except for the main vamp boss with the somewhat typical beastly demon-form) but human-werewolf transformations, and their werewolves have inverted knees digitigrade legs.
Not much outright transformation was shown in the first movie, the most notable sequence being one shot where two lycans change back, as well as one sequence where a character had an aborted change. The second film had some decent shots of man-to-wolf changes, but they went quick because they were mooks.
There are a number of these in Van Helsing, most notably the werewolves who transform by ripping their skin off.
Fright Night had something like this with Evil Ed turning back into a human from being a wolf, and the vampires have 3 stages of transformation.
The 80s remake of The Fly, though that happens by degrees over a long period of time. They're also completely terrifying.
Ghostbusters has the scene where Dana and Louis turn into Terror dogs; it's quite a disturbing process, though.
Also, the sequence where a ghost librarian turns into a hideous ghoul.
And the original has Jerry Lewis going through some grotesque transformations quite out of the tone of the rest of the movie.
Videodrome is just plain weird in general but the transformation parts are even weirder.
Steven Chow's God of Cookery takes this to absurdity with Magical Chef Transformation Scenes. A character (not the lead) takes a power pose, his clothes fly off in all directions and underneath he is already dressed as a chef, all that is required is that he put the trademark hat on.
Gremlins has a very important rule: "Don't feed them after midnight." If you do, the Mogwai goes into a slimy cocoon and mutates into a hideous monster. Unfortunately in the movie somebody makes that mistake as well as getting them wet (causing them to multiply, which looks incredibly painful).
There are several gruesome gremlin-related transformations in Gremlins 2 The New Batch, including those involving a bat, spider, fruit, electricity, and even a woman!
The Witches of Eastwick has the final scene in which the three witches mix up the body parts of a voodoo doll that resembles the main antagonist Daryl (Jack Nicholson) who at first turns into a giant, but then turns into a worm-like thing.
In Mary Reilly, John Malkovich undergoes one of the most gruesome and spectacular Jekyll / Hyde transformations ever committed to screen. Then, afterward, he looks exactly the same.
Pretty much every adaptation of the Jekyll and Hyde story, though the transformations are often fairly restrained in the less campy versions.
The 1932 film is not very campy, and its transformation sequence was at the time a major breakthrough in special effects.
The musical does an interesting variation: Jekyll changes into Hyde by... turning his head to the left, hunching a bit, and having the lighting change. However, if the actor is good enough, it works, especially at the end when he's doing a duet with himself and changing back constantly.
The Mark VII is probably the most egregious: Tony would wear tracers on his wrists, with the armor (in a large capsule shape) summoned via voice-activation to latch onto the tracers and form around his body. It is practically useful on-the-go... or falling downwards after pissing off a megalomaniac Big Bad.
Animorphs: Characters who morphed had to wear tight clothing or risk becoming naked when they remorphed. The latter only occurred once. The books made it quite clear that morphing almost never happened the same way twice, and was usually highly disgusting unless the morpher had an unusual talent for it (as did Cassie).
In the Discworld series, both vampires and werewolves can transform, vampires into either a swarm of bats or one really big bat. Not much detail is given to werewolf transformations, but there is at one point a fight between two of them where they're both in a constant state of flux between forms. Angua, the werewolf on the watch and Captain Carrot's girlfriend, is stated to be perfectly comfortable with him seeing her naked in either form, but doesn't want him to see her mid-change.
Gaspode is surprised when he sees Angua change — expecting the usual horror sequence, he instead describes it more like "A full-body sneeze."
In Winni Allfours, the protagonist is a girl who wants a pony. When that's denied to her, she chooses to turn herself into a pony. Two whole pages of the small book are dedicated to showing her change from little girl to tubby little pony.
Very slowly things began to happen...
Live Action TV
The many and varied Ultraman series usually involve a man-to-giant-alien-robot-thing transformation.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (2003-2004) showcased several different transformations managed via digital effects. The results ranged from Moon's clumsy and cringeworthy transform (the first created by the production team) to Dark Mercury's showstopper (the final transform created, after the team had gained months of experience with their tools).
As with its animated counterpart, we see only one or two instances of de-transformation, and these also appear to be simple acts of will.
Additionally, we get to see one transformation — Minako to Venus — from the "outside", as an eyewitness on the scene would. Instead of all the fancy effects, it's an instantaneous, blink-and-you'll-miss-it change that she performs while running, thus validating years of fan speculation.
A later sequence, however, has Ami transforming. Unlike Minako, however, she gets a blue glowy thing.
They also fondly parodied the trope in one of the supplemental shorts: Mamoru becomes "Tuxedo Mask" just by putting on a tuxedo, top hat and mask, but the one time he does it on camera, it gets all the same fancy shots, edits, and sound effects as the girls' magical transformations.
Many, many, many Kamen Rider characters had this... until 1989. Actual sequences were common in the Showa era; even the enemies had transformation sequences, even if they amounted to little more than the camera zooming in on them, blurring a bit, and revealing the monster from its disguise. For the revival era (Kamen Rider Kuuga and onward) they were mostly phased out in favor of transformation special effects done on the fly. Just about the only Heisei series to use honest-to-goodness Transformation Sequences is Kiva, and only then for form changes.
In several early Kamen Riders, the pre-change gestures were as epic as the sequences (also not so much nowadays; you may get the Transformation Trinket held in the air during the call of "Henshin.") and enemies sometimes stopped the henshin gestures by attacking during the middle of the gesture, or setting traps that would halt them.
The "transformation chivalry" was humorously acknowledged in the first Kamen Rider Den-O movie: the Big Bad's minions attack Ryotaro as he attempts to transform, causing Momotaros to angrily shout "Bastards! You're not allowed to interrupt the transformation sequence!"
Subverted in Kamen Rider Double when the Arms Dopant fires a goo "bullet" that plugs up Shotaro's belt, preventing him from transforming.
The "chivalry" aspect was parodied in the net-exclusive comedy shorts produced for Double. Kirihiko asks Isaka why he didn't attack when Accel transformed into his Super Mode, Trial. Isaka responds that he was "obeying traffic laws"*
Trial's Transformation Trinket has a miniature traffic light on it, which changes from red to blue when activated
The Darker and Edgier Heisei series like Kamen Rider Blade and Kamen Rider Faiz tended to have transformation chivalry less frequently, with characters often walking or even fighting in mid-transformation. Debut appearances always played it straight, though; probably best illustrated in the first episode of Blade, where Kazuma's belt orbits his body several times, trailing a "tail" of cards, before finally settling in place around his waist.
Transformation chivalry is enforced in some series by the Sphere of Power or other transformation effects being absolutely impenetrable, deflecting attacks and painfully repelling villains who attack in midmorph.
Kamen Rider Decade and its Super Sentai counterpart Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger both feature variations on the theme, since both those shows focus on heroes who can use the powers of their precursors. When Decade changes into a past Rider, it's represented by the usual Transformation Special Effect, except that it's happening to a suited-up Decade rather than an untransformed human as normal. For the Gokaigers, the initial transformation into Gokaigers is a straight Transformation Sequence while their changes into past teams are more simple (usually: team emblem flies out of their Transformation Trinket, lands on their body, and their suit changes in a flash of light), except in the special episodes where they unlock a past team's true power by coming to understand that team; in these cases, they get honest-to-goodness Transformation Sequences based on the originals.
Also, these series feature old-school characters with modern effects, and in Kamen Rider terms, modern rules, which means we get to see what several transformation sequences look like in "real life." Kamen Rider Black and Kamen Rider Black RX get to change side-by-side with real-space versions of their classic sequences, and it is awesome. Also, in The Movie, we get to see Shadow Moon's transformation for the first time ever (as in Kamen Rider Black proper, he was in this translucent cocoon-thing until emerging in Shadow Moon form once his powers matured.) Interestingly, Kamen Rider Kiva still has form change sequences when Kiva's doing them (Decade's Kiva changes, like all his changes, are real-space.)
Gokaiger's past Ranger powers are the powers of the actual past sentai heroes, meaning few returning characters get to change and fight, so we don't get to see a lot of new old morphs. However, we do get one for the Black Ranger ofChojin Sentai Jetman, because he is actually still dead. However, when the Gokaigers do the above-mentioned focus episode transformation sequences, we get some idea of what the old sequences would look like if made today.
Power Rangers: In the earlier seasons, the usage of Stock Footage became quickly grating, as the rangers would look the same at the beginning of the sequence, regardless of what clothes they'd been wearing beforehand or changes in their hairstyle. In later seasons, it became standard to use clever tricks to downplay this; many seasons have the Rangers wearing uniforms or otherwise having a Limited Wardrobe before the (full) sequence begins. In several other seasons, the sequence is cut such that their pre-transformation clothing is hidden during the sequence using close-ups and visual effects.
Occasionally, a shorter Stock Footage-free Transformation Sequence was used instead, which, with a very few exceptions, used a much blander and more generic special effect. As seen in "Countdown to Destruction" as well as several other times throughout the various series, the actual transformation is in fact instantaneous and consists of nothing more than a small explosion or just some glowing masking the shift — the drawn-out sequence is purely for the audience's amusement. We see this in action for the first time in Power Rangers Zeo, where three Rangers dramatically run up and change in-scene. By now you're used to it, several in-scene changes in an episode and the "real morph" saved for the big final battle with the monster, but back then, this was after four years, at a time when it just wasn't done, and there was a lot of HSQ in it.
The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers transformation sequences weren't very elaborate... so in "Once a Ranger" a new, snazzier sequence was made for Adam (the second MMPR Black Ranger) so he wouldn't be the only one without.
Adam's old morph was Screwed by the Lawyers. At the time, Disney had rights issues with MMPR, so they were forced to scrap the old sequence entirely (with an unfortunately generic song played along with it, as they couldn't get the MMPR music either).
The record for most sequences in one season - MMPR season three. We've got civilian to ninja suit, civilian to Ranger (all new ones!), ninja suit to Ranger, Rangers to Metallic Armor mode, and then the five Alien Rangers.
Then there's Justin's transformations in Power Rangers Turbo, which have a little bit added compared to the others to show him growing to adult size.
Like everything else in Power Rangers, nothing is safe from lampshading by RPM. Not even morph sequences.
Ziggy: Sometimes when I morph, I can't help but notice this gigantic explosion right behind me for no apparent reason.
Taken to its logical extreme by Flynn in the same episode, where he clears up a plot-induced fault in his morpher (energy buildup) and simultaneously ramps "one of Ziggy's runoff explosions" Up to Eleven, catching Tenaya and a whole squad of mooks in the blast!
And it is also seen in Saban's Masked Rider. It's brand new, as Kamen Rider Black RX's change was nothing but the belt appearing and getting glowy, at which point the transformed Black RX would be seen in real-space (in fact, several old Riders' transformation sequences are elaborate belt-summoning and activations without showing the actual suit formation.) but it looks very much like something you'd see in old-school KR. The form changes are RX stock. Also, Robo Rider gets to transform onscreen (no sequence) where Shadow Moon didn't.
Big Bad Beetle Borgs had the drawn characters leap from the comic book which opens up, then the kids, drawn up as a comic book page, standing side by side. The armor appears slowly, then the three Beetle Borgs step forth, with the Koosh Explosions turning into real flashes of yellow light as the Borgs go from comic-booky to real life Metal Heroes. Later in the series, the pictures of the kids morph their chosen suits.
VR Troopers gets them, with the VRT actors' faces beneath what's mostly the Metal Heroes' original Japanese transformations. Holding up the Virtualizer pendants is new.
Speaking of the Metal Heroes franchise, the Space Sheriff Trilogy makes it perfectly clear that the Transformation Sequence is for our benefit. After an instant "flash of light, morphed now!" change, we'd get "[Hero name] takes 0.0[small number] seconds to equip his suit. Let's take another look at the [morph command] process." and then the changing sequence, which is a flashback.
Superhuman Samurai Sybersquad gets a hybrid of the real-space scenes and the stock footage sequences. Sam striking the 'power chord' on his guitar is half new footage (constant angle-changing for drama. The alternate angle is stock footage.) as is his transforming into energy and flying into the computer. The energy entering the Servo form on the screen and Servo flying into action is stock footage, as well as Servo's 'decompressing' into his proper size. (The original series is a Spiritual Successor of the Ultra Series, so decompression replaces the heroic Make My Monster Grow to building size.)
Kamen Rider Dragon Knight gets a much fancier transformation than the Kamen Rider Ryuki original did, complete with the monster-repelling Sphere of Power seen in more recent Japanese KR series. No stock footage sequence, though - it's all real-space, like modern KR. However, one small part is stock footage: the closeup of the Advent Deck being inserted and spinning is the same every time. Of course, that didn't save 'em much time and money, as there were thirteen Riders*
More if we count all the Ventaran Riders. However, this doesn't affect the Advent Deck spin.
and one Advent Master, and we only saw some characters change once.
An earlier Filmation production of Shazam! from the 1970s had the magic-word-and-lightning transformation between Billy Batson and Captain Marvel. It was usually paired with a similar show, Isis, which had its own transformation sequence.
In a case of typical Filmation cheapness, the detransform from Captain Marvel back to Billy was handled by simply running the transform footage backwards, even though that meant the sequence ended with a lightning bolt unstriking Billy.
In the 1970s The Incredible Hulk series, David Banner (Bill Bixby)'s transformations into The Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) would usually be made specifically for each episode, but there were a few stock sequences that were sometimes used, involving multiple close-ups of Bill wearing colored contacts, his skin turning green, the shirt tearing on his back, and/or a full shot of the Hulk whipping off the remnants of the shirt. In later episodes, it would often happen almost entirely off-screen after the initial shot of Bill's glowing eyes, only the distinctive sound effect indicating anything was happening.
The 1970s Wonder Woman series iconically featured the character spinning in place as she changed from Diana Prince to Wonder Woman. The original version of this sequence showed her spinning and rapidly changing into Wonder Woman (still holding her old clothes and needing to dispose of them). Later in the season, as this effect was more expensive to shoot, this was replaced by Diana spinning in place as an optical effect played over her, changing her into Wonder Woman instantly (and not requiring her to deal with her civilian clothes). Here's six solid minutes of every single transformation from the first season.
The Twilight Zone pulled off an impressive transformation scene despite limited special effects in The Howling Man. A man walks down a pillar-lined hallway as the camera follows alongside him. As he passes behind each pillar, he gets more and more demonic (ending with a cliche horns and tail). It's cut so that it appears to be one long take, but there's no effects on screen at any point.
"POWER ON!" By pressing the team's distinctive phoenix insignia, Captain Power and his cohorts would activate the Power Suits which would transform from "patterned longjohns" worn under their uniforms, into actual plate armor with weaponry and personalized devices. Heavy damage to the Power Suit would make them fade back into their inactive shape.
Kitchen Nightmares — in the UK show at least — has Gordon Ramsay "transform" from normal everyman into Super-Badass-Chef-Ready-to-Save-the-Fucking-Day by stripping out of his civilian clothes into a brand-spanking new chef's coat. Estrogen rises predictably.
"Weird Al" Yankovic undergoes a transformation sequence at the start of his video "Fat" that fortunately does not strip him nude in the process.
Similarly enough, the music video for "Right Here, Right Now" has a transformation sequence based on the theory of evolution.
In World of Warcraft, the Worgen race can switch between a human form and a werewolf form. When becoming a werewolf out of combat they exhibit a rather elaborately animated transformation scene; but since they have to be in werewolf form to participate in combat, entering werewolf form in combat is basically instantaneous.
Then again Disgaea 3 and the PSP remake of Disgaea 2 plays this straight with the "magichange" feature (which allows a monster type unit to "merge" with a humanoid unit by acting as a weapon for them), although only the monster unit transforms.
The early Mario and Castlevania games actually pause the action around the player character while he's transforming, though the change in form was fairly instantaneous and without frills otherwise.
The SRX from Super Robot Wars has an impressive combinations transformation which has its own theme called "Variable Formation".
The Breath Of Fire series is the king of this trope for video games, since the main character of each game (all named Ryu) can transform into a dragon, with a more elaborate sequence in each game. Furthermore, in the first and third games, a second character has a transformation sequence (Karn in Breath of Fire I, and his Fusions; Rei in Breath Of Fire III, and his Weretiger transformation), and the fourth game's antagonist, Fou-Lu, is playable and can also transform into a dragon in a sequence largely identical to Ryuu's.
The Legend of Dragoon has individual anime-like transformations for every single playable character in the game, as they turn into their Dragoon forms. One villain also gets a mid-battle transformation into a Dragoon with his own sequence. Dart, the main character, gets a second Dragoon form late in the game with an even more over-the-top sequence.
Luckily there was a menu option to replace the sequence with a much shorter "Normal form Flash Dragoon form" sequence.
But you still got the full transformation sequence of the character who initiated the "transform all" Special command.
Saiyuki: The Journey West features characters who can transform into monsters. Each one has an elaborate transformation sequence and an equally elaborate reversion sequence. Furthermore, there's two more sequences for transformation and reversion used in cutscenes (even though they otherwise use the same sprites!)
More minor transformation sequences are used in Final Fantasy VII (Vincent's Limit Break) and Wild ARMs 2 (Ashley's transformation into Knight Blazer). These pretty much are of the "original character fades out, new form fades in" variety rather than the flashy sequences mentioned above, though.
This trope is arguably the entire point of Final Fantasy X-2. Luckily, there's an option to shorten or turn off the transformation sequences after the first time the girls have changed into their new Dresspheres.
The character of MOMO in Xeno Saga gets powerups that can be used once per fight that include transformation sequences.
Every single villain and hero also transform in the Star Force games, though admittedly usually everyone except for Geo gets theirs shortened to a quick fade to white and back.
The Tekken series has quite a few. Including Devil Jin's ending from the fifth game and Ogre's transformation into True Ogre in Tekken 3.
Transformation sequences were an oft-requested feature in City of Heroes, and a small set of four costume-change emotes are now available as part of the Magic Booster Pack (released in Spring 2009). Another half-dozen or so became available with Issue 15, and each of the origin-themed expansion packs adds one or two as well. They run the gamut from reminding you of Wonder Woman ("Spin") to Captain Marvel ("Lightning") to being reminiscent of the arrival of time travelers in the various Terminator movies ("Energy Morph").
Kheldians and Nictus, the game's resident body-stealing shape-shifting aliens, follow this trope to a T. Switching into their forms involves a moment of concentration and a big, screen-shaking flash of Kheldian/Nictus energy, whereas switching back just makes the human silently pop into existence where the alien used to be.
Super Smash Bros.. Melee has a relatively quick transformation sequence between Zelda and Sheik. This is lengthened in Brawl because of loading, and Pokémon Trainer goes through a similar "transformation" when switching Pokémon, but the character transforming cannot be damaged or intercepted from the time the sequence starts to when it ends. There is still a lag period at the end, though.
The Japan- and Europe-only PS2 game Project Altered Beast has horrifying transformations. The player takes the role of a "Genome Cyborg" investigating a town that has been overrun with "Genome Mist" transforming all its inhabitants into horrifying monstrosities. The main character appears as a human but has the ability to take various forms. No matter which form is chosen, it is accompanied by a gruesome CGI video detailing every aspect of the transformation as limbs blow up and regrow and various organs are mutilated and reshaped, with no limit on the amount of gore.
Diablo 2: In the cutscene before Act IV narrated by Marius, he has the misfortune to witness The Wanderer's horrific transformation into Diablo. Spikes burst out from his back, his face distorts horribly, and it ends with Diablo casting aside what's left of his human shell like a dirty rag.
Pokemon evolution features the creature fading into its outline, and then the outline shifting into the new evolution, before fading back in. You can glitch this process in the first game, resulting in a near-endless stream of (impossible) evolutions.
Gitaroo Man's can be seen here about a minute into the video. His transformation is sort of rushed in further levels, though.
In Mass Effect 2, when Harbinger engages his Villain Override and takes control of a Collector, the Collector's body goes through one of these. Note that he is not invulnerable during the transformation sequence, allowing a quick-witted player to whittle down his shields and armor before he starts attacking. The transformation sequence elevating him above most structures serving as cover certainly helps getting a few good shots in.
You can also do the long version of the sequence at any time by holding the D-pad for the quick-change instead of just pressing it. This lets you see the sequence for powers you acquire as upgrades like muscle mass, whipfist, and the vision powers.
To a smaller extent, the Striker VX does it as well. The intro even shows it extending two spindly legs just prior to landing then folding back it's propeller before firing off-screen.
Or for that matter, every single amphibious unit in the game does a Transformation Sequence when going from land to water or the opposite; from Allied Prospectors expanding an air cushion to Soviet Stingrays extending six legs and climbing ashore, Spider Tank style.
Carbuncle from Puyo Puyo, in this commercial, does the usual intro... right before Carbuncle transforms into a handheld with Carbuncle himself inside it.
In the Digital Devil Saga games the characters all transform into demons to fight. The player characters and major NPCs emit glowing Tron Lines from the sigils tattooed on their bodies which extend across them before morphing into their monstrous forms, while minor enemies just summon a cylindrical energy field to surround them before being replaced by their monster shape. The sequence is not often seen though, as players almost always start battles already transformed and only start in human form when ambushed. Although they do have the option of switching back and forth between human and devil form in battle, this is rarely a good idea as human form is, unsurprisingly, much weaker. In the second game the player characters also gain access to a 'berserk form' which randomly happens when solar noise is at maximum, forcing them into a half-transformed state with massive attack power and critical chance, but low accuracy, all spells and skills apart from hunt skills sealed and 0 defence.
When a CPU or CPU Candidate in Neptunia activates Hard Drive Divinity, the user switches into a Stripperific bodysuit, her hair grows (or changes to drill hair in Uni's case), her eyes glow and sport power switch shaped pupils, and her weapon will increase in size or at least change how it looks to fit the appearance of the user; in Neptune's case, her voice is also changed. The Transformation Sequence is very Sailor Moon-esque in the first game and rather lengthy at that, but can fortunately be skipped with the press of a button. Arfoire likewise gets a transformation in the first game as well; into a colossal and powerful dragon, that is.
In Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock's Quest mode, every character gets one when you play their encore song for the first time and they transform into their warrior form.
Angelic Buster has one in Maple Story in the beginning of her class showing her transformation from Tear to Angelic Buster. You can play it as many times as you want.
In Arcana Magi Zero, when Alysia Perez calls for Saga and Megumi Miyazaki calls for Fable, their magic circles would go through their bodies forming their magical outfits and armor.
Yuki Shimizu in The Impossible Man has a Transformation Sequence off scene. The plausible reason was to hide her identity from everyone, even her co-workers. Unfortunately her co-workers already figured out her secret identity and she know its too, but she still goes off scene in their presence when there are no vilains around to transform.
Winx Club and its Spin-OffPop Pixie. The Winx fairies each have completely unique transformations for each fairy form. As of season 5 they have had basic fairy, Charmix, Enchantix, Believix, Sophix, Lovix, Harmonix, and Sirenix, though Sophix and Lovix were one-time transformations. With six girls, this makes 48 different transformations. Add in the movie versions of Enchantix and Believix, and the number is brought up to 60.
Centurions — About a 15-second sequence, as all the various parts of the chosen weapons system would beam in and attach to the hero's exo-frame, ending with the helmet rudely clamping on to the head. Often showed all three heroes transforming back-to-back, and had the same trigger phrase: "Power Xtreme!" (Later episodes of the show usually skipped the stock footage, and just showed the pieces appearing and attaching all at once. The two Sixth Rangers added later never even got the stock footage versions).
He-Man's twin sisterShe-Ra had a similar sequence, but it was actually longer (and more sparkly). Like Cringer becoming Battle-Cat, She-Ra's talking horse Spirit would become the winged unicorn Swiftwind.
In contrast, in the more recent 2004 series, He-Man's transformation takes mere seconds and he looks almost nothing like Prince Adam, though it retains its predecessor's Stock Footage ability to be used time and time again.
Spoofed in an episode of Invader Zim. Gir begins a Transformation Sequence, complete with music, lights, and midair spinning... and then simply steps into his dog costume and zips it up.
Curiously, the original appearance of the Transformers in the West did not include overt transformation sequences. The characters would make the switch between robot and vehicle/device forms wherever they were standing in complete continuity with the scene (although they always transformed the exact same way). This is more cultural than cost; newer series such as the shows of the Unicron Trilogy, which were actual anime, frequently featured such scenes, and the Japanese Alternate Continuity third season of Generation 1 featured transformation sequences for new characters only (old ones kept scene continuity). Transformers Animated is generally in-scene but faster than G1, unless the bot in question is about to do something important (e. g., Megatron transforming for the first time after being rebuilt and telling the Decepticons to "Transform and Rise Up").
Transformers Animated also had the Autobots using Japan-esque transformation sequences in the final episode, mostly for dramatic effect.
The were more or less free actions considering that many of them had forms that had the same parts for legs or otherwise the ability to fly (in the above Case, Cheator shifts while leaping in mid air, so never actually slows down, and was still able to pull it off without the transformation itself being any faster than usual). Rattrap shows this shortly after acquiring his transmetal form and used the momentum from his motorized wheels to transition into a flying leap so that he could aim a few gunshots at Megatron without stopping.
Transformers Prime has only one prolongued transformation sequence, which ironically is given to Nemesis Prime, the only non-Cybertronian transforming robot in the show. This is presumably to emphasise his imperfect mechanical nature, whereas actual Cybertronians have far faster and more fluid transformations.
Rescue Bots is probably the first western Transformers series to use transformation sequences on a regular basis.
Ben 10 has ten unique, albeit recycled, sequences. There's one for each alien creature Ben has the ability to change into (though Grey Matter's didn't actually get used until season two). Two more are added in season two, but one was lost after the events of "Ghostfreaked Out". Some are longer and more detailed than others, but all follow the same pattern of showing the change progressing outward from his wrist. Sometimes a simple green flash of light is substituted for the transformation, and red light is always used for Ben changing back. Seasons three and four added more new aliens, but no new sequences, oddly enough. Future-Ben supposedly had ten thousand alien forms but we (obviously) didn't see all of them.
And one-shot villain Doctor Viktor gets his own Transformation Sequence, going from oversized scientist into Frankenstein-ish monster. It's only used once, though.
One particularly humorous moment has Ben's parents (who have forbidden him from using the Omnitrix) managing to catch him in the act during one of his (around 10-second) sequences, in episode 20 of Alien Force.
The old Spider-Woman cartoon series features a transformation sequence for Jessica Drew to change into the titular heroine.
The DVD Commentary actually mentions that is a vulnerable opening and part of mastering the Avatar State is not doing that.
It should be noted that Aang did try and protect himself, as he made himself a little cocoon out of crystals to cover himself. Wait a minute, that means this could of all been avoided if it weren't for Power Floats!
He learned from that event, though, and by the time the Avatar state kicks in again, it's instantaneous.
An Animated Adaptation of Shazam! featured Billy, Mary, and Freddy, and a drawn-out transformation sequence. Unlike most, they had sequences for transforming back to normal as well, and a variety of different stock sequences for various combinations of the main characters, transforming singly, in pairs, or all three at once. (Interestingly, the comic version is specifically stated to be instantaneous. In the 1970s it was furthermore stated that, between the speed of transformation and the blinding flash, most people don't know that Billy is Captain Marvel, even when he transforms right in front of them, though that hasn't carried over to post-crisis versions of the character)
In fact, Filmation in general. In addition to the ones mentioned above (He-Man, She-Ra, Shazam), there was also Web Woman, Super Strech and Microwoman, Fantastic Voyage, Filmations Ghostbusters (the 1986 cartoon), and Bravestarr (30-30 had transformation sequences when he went from bipedal to quadrupedal and back), just to name a few.
The series was mostly humorous in intention, and it even spoofed itself. At least one episode had the hero retreat to a nearby doorway to transform, only to be interrupted by an old woman exiting the door. She stopped long enough to give him a lecture.
Like Filmation, Hanna-Barbera was also good at filling time with these sequences. In addition to the Thing, there was also the Mighty Mightor (with a sequence very similar to He-Man, but predating it by twenty years), the Arabian Knights, the Impossibles, the Super Globetrotters, the Super Friends (in the Wonder Twins' segments), Wonder Wheels, Mighty Man and Yukk, the Drak Pack, and even the SWAT Kats.
Hanna-Barbera also spoofed this trope with one version of Captain Caveman. On The Flintstones Comedy Show, he worked as a copy boy named Chester at a stone-age newspaper, disguising himself with a pair of glasses and his cape folded into a bowtie. Despite the minimal disguise, he still required a coat rack and an elaborate transformation sequence (which included heroic music, explosions, lightning bolts, rockets, fireworks, and stars, and was loud enough so that the entire city of Bedrock could hear it) to become Captain Caveman.
Freakazoid! Had quite a variety of them in different episodes. One had him meeting a werewolf, who used the classic Universal sequence of a still of the human actor, a series of transitional paintings, and finally the actor in full makeup. Freakazoid then says "I can do that too!" and sits in the same chair, transitioning through a series of paintings of him doing weird faces, plus a few random cameos from other characters, before arriving at himself.
Subvert a bit, with Jerrica "Jem" Benton of Jem and the Holograms, which is only a "Showtime, Synergy" to summon Jem hologram and a "Show's Over, Synergy" to remove the Jem hologram — the answer is usually a pink light and very quick.
The Powerpuff Girls: In the episode "Super Zeroes," the girls each try to change their look to be more like the super hero in their favorite comic books, complete with such elaborate transformations that, by the time they're done, the monster has left town.
In the short lived and mostly forgotten 1999 animated series Spider-Man Unlimited (nothing to do with the comic with the same name) he finally got one via nanotech.
The 90's cartoon King Arthur And The Knights Of Justice had a transformation sequence for each of the knights as they put on their battle armor. Sometimes it was further padded by transforming their horses.
Once the Skysurfer Strike Force activated their transforming watches, they would transform into heroes and their cars would become rocket boards.
Subverted somewhat in Danny Phantom, as the transformation sequence there is refreshingly simple and short, while still being rather stylish with a chance to play around with it and not use Stock Footage. Whenever the titular character wants to transform into the titular alter-ego he simply focuses for a few seconds, a ring of blue white light appears, bisects and travels over him, leaving one superhero in place. Easy, done.
Most of the time after the first few episodes this happened in Static Shock, even though his costume was just regular clothes altered by the hero to obscure his identity.
The Nickelodeon TV movie Groove Squad, which was about three cheerleaders who could transform into, you guessed it, superpowered cheerleaders by drinking a magical red juice. After they drank said juice, the girls went through a rather overdone transfomation sequence to change into their superheroine forms.
Mon-Star, main villain of Silverhawks, had a very similar transformation sequence to Mumm-Ra. One interesting note is that he grows metal spikes from various parts of his body, which is animated in a way that looks fairly painful, but no mention of pain is made.
This was one of the reasons that the Avengers cartoon was so poorly received by fans of the comic. Ant-Man, Wasp, Falcon, and Hawkeye all got elaborate Transformation Sequences that involved being covered by armor that was, for the purposes of their abilities, completely unnecessary. It didn't help that it added to the fact that none of these characters were wearing anything remotely like their comic book costumes.
Parodied in the South Park episode "Good Times With Weapons," in which the kids buy some real ninja-weapons that — in their imaginations — transform them into crime-fighting ninjas through a lightning-transformation sequence... and who end up almost putting Butters's eye out with a ninja-star, as a parody of the potential harm caused by violent cartoons.
Done again in "Coon vs. Coon & Friends", when Bradley plays a superhero called Mint-Berry Crunch who has superpowers he could call upon by turning in place and saying the magic word, "Shablagoo!"
There's also "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery", in which the band is faced with a lynch mob of townspeople and titlar pirate ghosts. Although they're generally a parody of archtypical protagonists in Scooby-Doo-type mystery shows in this episode, Korn launches into an obtuse transformation sequence that turns them into... various types of corn. Even the pirate ghosts are stunned.
Played almost completely straight in the Tiny Toon Adventures short "The Amazing Three", when Babs breaks out the "Acme Loo Wonder Makeup Kit" — complete with a outer space-themed Love Bubbles background and Orbital Shot (possibly a Shout Out to Sailor Moon, but it also predates the anime by a year, so this could be wrong).
Lampshaded and spoofed in Megas XLR: when a group of Magical Girls confront Jamie, they transform. Jamie just stands there waiting patiently and bored, until they finally finish after more than a minute.
in The Little Mermaid, Ariel's transformation when turning from mermaid to human. + 1 as she's mostly naked afterward.
There's another transformation sequence in the same movie, though without the nudity. All the in-between stages of Ursula's transformation into Vanessa are extremely creepy, and her Evil Laugh doesn't help.
In the Voltron Force episode "Flash Form a Go", the force meets an enemy that refuses to follow transformation chivalry, ramming the lions apart whenever they try to form Voltron, an act that takes precisely 36 seconds, according to Daniel.
Super Duper Sumos: The sumos goes through a transformation sequence to become "Sumo-Sized."
In Teen Titans, Cyborg had a rather epic one in The End: Part 1. He connects himself to the main Titans Tower power system, unloads some very big guns against a glowing white background with crackling electricity and shoots Slade and his minions with the mother of all sonic blasts. ...Doesn't stop Slade, but it was worth a shot. Unfortunately, this is never used again.
One episode of U.S. Acres did this during a Snow White parody. First, Wade's inner tube disappears, causing him to put his hands on his crotch. Then, the bottom of the dress appears, followed by the top of the dress. After this, a wig is put on, and then one hand gets a broom and the other gets a bucket. While this happens, a sappy tune plays.
Sym-Bionic Titan has this in which the three mechas (Manus, Corus and Octus) form into the titular robot.
In an episode of the original Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles cartoon April O'Neil is turned into a wasp and you see the wings and antenna emerge from her.
She also became a Cat Girl in "The Catwoman of Channel Six".
Wreck It Ralph: Vanellope Von Schweetz transforms into a princess after crossing the finish line of her game Sugar Rush at the film's climax. It confused her until she found out she was Sugar Rush's true ruler before King Candy/Turbo sabotaged the game and made her an outcast.