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Snatch it! Everything! With these hands! Even if I ended up hurting your heart, the awoken power is running through my body!

"Come on now...give it your best shot! Maybe then it'll be a real battle! SO GET OFF YOUR ASS AND FIGHT ME!!!!"

A massive disaster hits Japan, turning the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan into a new island officially known as the "Muraji Special Economic District", but more colloquially called the Lost Ground. The disaster also causes 1% of the babies born there to develop superpowers. Now, before you pass this off as your standard Mutant story, remember that this is anime: Instead of being born with powers such as quick healing, reading minds or controlling magnets, the "Alter Users" have the power to call upon and use mecha in battles. By dismantling nearby matter—areas of landscape, vehicles, watermelons, or even dead bodies—and reassembling it, they can summon separate, machine-like beings known as Alters, which personify a superpower of some sort.

Some Alter Users are "alloy-types", summoning Alters which form part of themselves, and one or two display the ability to affect other's Alters without summoning one themselves. For the most part, though, Alters are used like Mons, though a given person does not tend to acquire more than one. The nature of the superpowers varies from typical Stock Superpowers to really weird ideas such as "turn anything into water", "turn any car into a pink Mach 5", "summon an enormous gun", or even "do anything, as long as it involves watermelons".

The mainland's military police force for the Lost Ground, HOLD, works to keep the Alter User population in check while rebuilding civilization on the island. The group even employs a special strike group, HOLY, that is made up entirely of Alter Users. All the while, various rebels and thugs put up a resistance against HOLD and HOLY, and small communities live independently of the government in the wilder lands. One such "thug" is the mercenary Kazuma, whose rescue of a HOLY chairman captures the attention of one of HOLY's soldier, Ryuuhou, and ultimately kickstarts a series of events that threatens both the Lost Ground and Japan as a whole.

Broadcast in 2001, s-CRY-ed was produced by Sunrise and developed by Goro Taniguchi who wanted to make a show with an alternate take on the themes explored in Infinite Ryvius as well as how people would adjust to the 21st century.

The series was originally licensed for American distribution by Bandai Entertainment, releasing DVD sets through 2003 and 2004, alongside select episodes appearing on [adult swim]'s video-on-demand service through 2004 until the full series was run on the channel itself in 2005. After Bandai Entertainment's closure in 2012, Sentai Filmworks picked up the American distribution rights. However, they never released the series on DVD or Blu-Ray, and eventually the license was picked up by Discotek Media in 2020, with a new release on Blu-Ray in early 2021. A set of light novels, s-CRY-ed Atarashiki Meiyaku and the two-volume s-CRY-ed After, were written by Kazuho Hyodo in 2002 and 2003 under the Dengeki Bunko imprint, with a complete-version rerelease of s-CRY-ed After in 2012. So far, none of the light novels have been translated into English.

A pair of Compilation Movies, s-CRY-ed Alteration I Tao and s-CRY-ed Alteration II Quan, were released in 2011 for the tenth anniversary of the series, featuring additional new footage to revise the original story. So far, there are no plans to license the Alteration movies in English.

The manga (written by Yosuke Kuroda, with art by Yasunari Toda), which was serialized after the anime had already started airing, makes a number of changes: Whereas the anime uses subtle characterization and two mutually-antagonistic Antihero leads—the Knight Templar and the Idiot Hero—without overly favoring one or the other, the manga often resorts to Card Carrying Villains and offers a different explanation as to the Meta Origin of the Alters. It's also Hotter and Sexier, and the artist proudly chooses to wear the premise's resemblance to Jojos Bizarre Adventure on its sleeve. Tokyopop released the manga in English in 2003. Motion Comic adaptations of several of the most memorable chapters were produced, with the anime's Japanese voice actors reprising their roles; these were included as subtitled extras on the Discotek Blu-Ray release.

s-CRY-ed contains the following tropes:

  • All Love Is Unrequited: Kimishima likes Ayase, who likes Kazuma, who's friendly with Ayase but doesn't return her feelings to the same extent. Cougar likes Mimori, who likes Ryuuhou, as does Scheris. Ryuuhou may like Mimori back, despite his standoffishness toward her, but to what degree is unclear; however, Ryuuhou ultimately refuses to have a relationship because of guilt over Scheris's sacrifice to save him. It takes the events of the s-CRY-ed After Light Novels for Ryuuhou to change this—he uses the last remaining bits of Scheris' alter to save Mimori's life before directly accepting her feelings. The only character who gets a relationship with someone is Asuka Tachibana—and his girlfriend, Cammy, is only a minor character.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The final scenes of the anime show Kazuma and Ryuuhou continuing to fight against someone, likely mainland invaders. This is also the ending of Alteration, albeit with more of a focus on troublemaking Native Alter Users.
  • Anime Hair: Kazuma's Alter ability causes his hair to stand up.
  • Another Dimension: Alter Power comes from one; everyone who is born with the ability to form Alters is someone who was born close to the "gate" opened to that dimension (i.e. having to be born in the Lost Ground) and can subconsciously look into that dimension through it. The Alter User who killed Ryuuhou's mother hails from this dimension and is the true origin of Alter Power.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Kazuma can be kind of a jerk and a Blood Knight, but he is fiercely loyal to his friends and will always stand up for people—even complete strangers—who are being oppressed. He becomes a bit edgier after Kimishima dies, but he still fights to protect people anyway.
    • Kimishima is cowardly and somewhat self-centered, but he will also fight to the bitter end despite not having an Alter power.
  • Anti-Magic: Kanami has a mild version. She ignores Unkei's Mad Sprict power without even noticing. She also instantly deduces that Kigetsuki's Tokonatsu Sisters are not actually human, despite the fact that there is basically no way to tell on sight. Both can be attributed to the clairvoyance that her Alter Power provides her.
  • Anti-Villain: Ryuuhou is ruthless and inflexible when it comes to dealing with Alter criminals; he also dismisses the flaws in the oppressive operating style of HOLY by deeming it necessary, but his intentions and beliefs are true. Urizane, Elian, and Scheris are all part of HOLY by such reasonable means as a paycheck or Subordinate Excuse. Cougar's motives go unexplained, but based on his actions, the only reason he counts as an "anti-villain" is by association with HOLY.
  • Anyone Can Die: By the time the show ends, Ayase, Biff, Scheris, and Kimishima are all dead.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Ryuuhou, after losing his memories, ends up regarding HOLY as evil and defends a settlement from them. When he is told about his past, he finds it strange that he would oppress people in such a manner, and the lessons he learns while amnesiac lead him to continue fighting against HOLY even after recovering his memories.
  • Backstory Invader: Happens to Ryuuhou in the second half, after he's lost his memories and his former organization tracks him down. While he was implicitly already familiar with Kigetsuki's Alters, a trio of almost-entirely-human beings called the Tokonatsu sisters, Unkei forces this trope on him by using his Alter, Mad Sprict, to implant false memories within Ryuuhou and make him believe the Tokonatsu sisters were all his fiancees since childhood - complete with revisiting earlier flashbacks to Ryuuhou's childhood when he first met Mimori, but with one of the three Tokonatsu sisters taking Mimori's place in the different flashbacks. Ryuuhou is definitely not pleased when his memories actually return.
  • Badass Normal: Kimishima is an aversion. He has no Alter and only carries a pair of pistols—while he is good with them, he cannot defeat an Alter User on his own.
  • Bash Brothers: It takes about 20 episodes, but Ryuuhou and Kazuma eventually work together on principle to fight against the mainland directly. This does not stop them from trying to bash in each other's faces afterward, in a brutal fight to finally settle for themselves just who the toughest one is.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Ryuuhou and Kazuma eventually gain enough power that they can reach Earth orbit unaided; their Battle Aura apparently keeps them from asphyxiating while up there.
  • Battle Aura: Ryuuhou and Kazuma both have one when particularly pumped up.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Anyone who calls Cougar "slow" or interferes with his speed trips pisses him off.
    • Kidnap or endanger Kanami, and both Kazuma and Ryuuhou will hunt you down.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Kazuma has one for Kanami, given their age difference and how much he cares about her and keeping her safe. Surprisingly, Ryuuhou develops this for Kanami after he regains his memories. She even calls him "Ryuu-kun" like "Kazu-kun".
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Emergy Maxfell's Alter invokes this trope. Due to severe trauma he experienced as a child, his Alter only activates when he feels he is in extreme peril—"a pinch situation", as he likes to call it—at which point a Humongous Mecha bursts from the ground to "save him from the pinch".
    • Kazuma and Ryuuhou get plenty of these moments, too.
  • Bizarre Baby Boom: Only a small percentage of children born in the Lost Ground develop Alter power; Mimori states at one point that, twenty-some years after the Great Uprising, only about 5% of the people living there are Alter Users.
  • Body Horror: Kazuma's arm and eye are pretty messed up by the end due to his Alter's evolution; most of his arm has flaked away or looks like it's cracking, while similar lines are on his face and his right eye just doesn't work anymore.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Biff turns into this after he is captured by HOLY. It gets so bad that all he can say is "HAMMER!!" in different volumes and tones of voice while carrying out his orders.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Kazuma ends up at an Alter fight club and quickly becomes the strongest competitor. He is, however, technically a prisoner—the "technically" being that the only thing keeping him there is what amounts to a Heroic BSoD. When Kazuma finally decides to leave and explosively releases himself, two regular humans think they can make him return to his cell. Kazuma quickly proves otherwise. The club leader tries to shoot him, only to think better of it after Kazuma warns against doing so.
  • Call-Back: When Kazuma first fights Ryuuhou, he gets his ass kicked, and tries to raise his arm and form a fist before collapsing. In the final episode, an unidentified arm rises up and forms a fist. In the Distant Finale of the Alteration movie duology, Kazuma does it again, this time flashing his fist through the different forms of his Alter.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Aside from calling out the name of their Alter while using it, some characters have more specific attack names:
    • Kazuma: "Shocking First Bullet!" "Obliterating Second Bullet!" "Annihilating Last Bullet!" "Shell Bullet Burst!"
    • Cougar also uses "Shocking First Bullet" in addition to "Rapid Kill Bullet", which is where Kazuma got the habit.
    • Ryuuhou: "My vigorous left fist!" and variations.
  • Citadel City: The city in the Lost Ground is set up like this.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Scheris takes a dislike to Mimori merely because she is a love rival for Ryuuhou, so she spends as much time as she can with him.
  • Combat Breakdown: The final battle between Ryuuhou and Kazuma has them cycle through all their Alter forms and back down to normal. By the end, they can both only manage to summon a fraction of their power for one last strike: Kazuma armors his fist, while Ryuuhou generates a small spike. They both collapse after the final blow.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: Eventually, by hijacking Kanami's alter, Kyouji Mujou gains this ability. It allows him to dodge any attack thrown at him—including those from a character who can move and react faster than the speed of sound.
  • Conflict Killer: Nothing can stop the rivalry between Kazuma and Ryuuhou...except Kyouji Mujou's Evil Plan. After they take care of him, they go back to beating each other up.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Kazuma and Ryuuhou go up against a joint aerial and naval invasion force of Refined Alter Users and win. Given that at this point Kazuma and Ryuuhou have Level 3 Alters juiced up from the Other Side and are fighting a bunch of artificial Alters who are, at best, Level 1, it makes sense.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Kazuma wears a single fingerless glove on one hand, which he refuses to remove. It's possibly to hide scarring from overuse of Shell Bullet—certainly the scarring was there when we saw the glove removed later on in the series. In flashbacks his hand is bloodied and bandaged, hinting that as a child, he may have made some mistake in re-forming the split arm.
  • Cool Car: Cougar's secondary ability is to morph any car into a hot pink hot-rod with incredible speed, though they are prone to explode after he is done with them.
  • Crouching Moron Hidden Bad Ass: Cougar is a powerful Alter User and possibly the strongest Alter User other than Kazuma, Ryuuhou, and Mujou, as well as an odd individual who constantly talks about how he "shortens the world" with his speed.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Kazuma is subjected to this at Ryuuhou and Zetsuei's hands in the first episode. Later on, just about anyone Kazuma or Ryuuhou fights between the timeskip and them entering Mujou's fortress has their ass handed to them.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Upgrading one's Alter ability causes gradual but irreversible damage to one's body. An unnatural upgrade, such as the mainland's "refinement", seems to cause more immediate damage, as evidenced by Zigmarl's Rapid Aging and Cougar's odd walk plus the gray streaks in his hair. In extreme cases such as Ayase's refinement, the process does enough damage that the Alter User can die from extreme stress. In contrast, "natural" Alter Users suffer damage at a more gradual pace. Kazuma and Ryuuhou both seem to suffer minor physical deformations from using their Alters. Kazuma suffers more than Ryuuhou, as the former's body-reshaping Alter modifies him at all three stages, leading to his arm being the most drastically affected and partial blindness when he's not using Shell Bullet, while Ryuuhou has an independent Alter that just becomes a suit of armor at Level 3, so his changes are minor. In the epilogue of the series, however, the damage done from continuous use of the Alter does catch up to Ryuuhou.
  • Death Wail: Ryuuhou does this twice—once after his family is killed, and again when Scheris dies.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Kazuma eventually becomes... well, not "friends", so much as "rivals with an understanding" with Tachibana after defeating him, but it took two defeats.
    • In the main series and the Alteration movies both, Kazuma never defeats Ryuuhou, but the two still come to a similar relationship.
  • Defence Mechanism Superpower: Emergy Maxfell can only summon his Super Pinch alter when he himself is "in a pinch".
  • Defiant Stone Throw: A little boy confronts Ryuuhou openly when a fight is going on between Ryuuhou and adults in an Inner settlement. Ryuuhou says that he respects the boy for his courage and uses it as part of his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the adults for sneaking around and taking hostages.
  • Deliberately Bad Example(s): Quite a lot for both HOLY and the Lost Ground, with regards to Alter Users on both sides.
    • In the Lost Ground, Biff's arrogant bullying is meant to contrast with Kazuma's more free-wheeling, live-and-let-live lifestyle. Similarly, other unnamed villainous Alter Users in one of Mimori's flashbacks are shown proudly posing with their Alters for the camera in front of the destruction they have just caused.
    • On HOLY's end, George Tatsunami, Emergy Maxfell, Sou Kigetsuki, and Kyouji Mujou are all examples of how Ryuuhou's nobler intentions act as a check for the potential excesses he could fall into during his pursuit of revenge and justice. In particular, Kigetsuki's smug arrogance demonstrates this to an amnesiac Ryuuhou, showing him what he looked like from the perspective of Kazuma and the Inners. Result: Heel–Face Turn. Kazuma still pisses him off by breathing, but that is just Teeth-Clenched Teamwork.
  • Determinator: If Kazuma can breathe, he can fight. If Kazuma can fight, he never gives up. Only losing his best friend makes him slow down, and even then, he eventually gets back up and keeps fighting. Ryuuhou is equally determined in his pursuits of both the Alter User that killed his mother and Kazuma.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The answer is yes, Kazuma did, when Mujou returned from The Other Side looking like a Cosmic Horror.
  • Distant Finale: The last scenes of the anime take place when Kanami has grown into a teenager. The Lost Ground has grown into a nice place to live, but fighting still goes on in parts of it, and there is some struggle still going on against the mainland, potentially. There is a similar one in Alteration, which focuses on Native Alter Users making trouble; the major difference is that it's shown Cougar is still alive instead of his ambiguous death from the anime.
  • Distracted from Death: Kazuma starts carrying an injured Kimishima home, and fails to notice until he gets there that Kimishima died along the way.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: This exchange between Kazuma and Kyouji Mujou.
    Kazuma: So you must be the one who—
    Mujou: Correct. I'm the one who refined her.
    Kazuma: You'd better not be lying!
    Mujou: You have my word of honor.
    • This example with Tatsunami and his Magnum.
      Tatsunami: It's big. It's hard. And it's coming to get you!
  • Double Entendre: Asuka Tachibana's Alter is eight "treasure balls", so other meanings happen frequently. As listed above, we also have George Tatsunami and his "Big Magnum."
  • The Dragon: Ryuuhou is Commander Jigmar's best soldier, so he is sent to all of the Lost Ground's problem areas. He is also the biggest challenge to the Anti-Hero Protagonist, Kazuma.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Straight Cougar will drive as fast as possible over whatever terrain is underneath him. He will even drive straight into a cliff if it means he does not have to slow down in order to stop.
  • Dump Them All: In the anime, the Scheris/Mimori/Ryuuhou love triangle ends with Scheris dead and Ryuuhou rejecting Mimori despite his implied attraction to her because he feels it would not be right. Although Ryuuhou displayed no attraction to Scheris, she died for him because she loved him, so once Mimori confesses her love for him, it's implied that Ryuuhou fears her meeting the same fate, so he turns her down. By contrast, Scheris lives in the manga and starts a relationship with Ryuuhou.
  • Dying as Yourself: As Biff dies, his mind control is shattered, and he proudly proclaims his name as he falls to his death.
  • Evolving Credits: There are at three basic versions of the opening, for Kazuma and Ryuuhou and one for when they have equal focus, each with a different verse of the opening theme; each episode mixes elements together reflecting the episode and the plot to date. Only two episodes share the exact same opening credit sequence.
  • Faceless Mooks: The HOLD officers, the Darz, all wear masks. This is to hide the fact that they are all refined Alter Users, brainwashed into working for HOLY.
  • Fantastic Racism: The mainland generally has this directed at Alter Users in general, and within the Lost Ground proper, the city-dwellers really dislike Native Alter users.
  • Foreshadowing: The opening shows Kazuma or Ryuuhou about to summon their Alter before different parts of their bodies begin to flash different colors. Later on, they both gain full body Alloy-type Alters.
  • Fun with Acronyms: HOLD, the parent organization of the HOLY strike force that Ryuuhou belongs to, stands for "Hole of Loose Dawn".
  • Gratuitous English:
    • Present in both the opening theme (Yasuaki Ide's "Reckless Fire") and the closing theme (Mikio Sakai's "Drastic My Soul", which gave us the infamous line "I believe in drastic my soul!")
    • The eyecatch each episode uses.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The first half is a battle of wills between a chaotic, Hot-Blooded who just wants to keep his independence and an equally determined workaholic who will stop at nothing to bring peace to a lawless land. It's Order Versus Chaos instead of good vs evil.
  • Ground Punch: Kazuma's only power for most of the series is an armored right arm. He often uses this to move farther than he can jump by punching the ground, or break a landing by punching the ground.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: In the manga at least, Tachibana sees Kazuma with his alter out while the base is getting attacked and only asks for where Lawless is before heading off in the direction Kazuma indicates. It takes him several seconds to realize Kazuma's also part of the attack.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Urizane, despite being the guy who does stuff with watermelons, seems to be able to do just about anything as long as he's holding a watermelon.
  • Hero Antagonist: Several members of HOLY qualify as they just trying to manage Alter crime (of which there is a lot) and improve the situation in the Lost Ground. This group includes Scheris, Elian, and Urizane. Cougar may be as well, but he is less antagonistic to Kazuma, while Ryuuhou is an aversion.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Scheris performs one after the Crystal kills Ryuuhou near the end of the anime; she uses Eternal Devote at full power, reviving him but killing herself by fusing with him completely.
  • Hero Insurance: Every use of an Alter power causes damage to the surroundings, even if no one fights, as nearby matter is disintegrated to form the body of the summoned Alter. However, since most of the Alter use is done outside the city, which is a total shit-hole, no one cares. They don't care when the city is taken out, either, since the entire island is declared such.
  • Hot-Blooded: While he may slack at times, if Kazuma finds something he really cares about, he really goes at it. He's also not one for strategy.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: The last part of the final battle sees both Kazuma and Ryuuhou basically pummel each other bloody with their bare hands.
  • Humans Are Special: A more contemporary example than most: Humans are the ones that get Alter powers. There are only a few other types of animals we see that have Alter powers, and all but one of them reside in an extremely dangerous area of the Lost Ground teeming with Alter energy.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed:
    • Zetsuei's "childlike" form is its basic form. Ryuuhou learned how to transform it to the more dragon-like combat form pre-series and brought it out when Kazuma got powerful enough for him to need it.
    • Kazuma pulls this a couple times after getting his second-stage Shell Bullet, as Holy never anticipated that Kazuma would independently evolve his Alter. Ryuuhou in particular lampshades this during their rematch, and Kazuma points out he's in no position to complain since he pulled the same trick.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Kazuma's main motivation is freedom to do what he wants. He gets especially angry when Tachibana tries to convince him to join HOLY as he "could really be happy living in the city".
    Kazuma: Neither you nor anyone else has the right to decide whether I'm happy! That's what it means to look down on others.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Subverted with Scheris' death, since rather than allow Ryuuhou and Mimori to get together, it causes Ryuuhou to distance himself from Mimori or any other woman who loves him because a romantic relationship doesn't feel right after the last girl who loved him gave her life for him.
  • Idiot Hero: Kazuma may be trying to help the Lost Ground by fighting off HOLY, but he has a simple-minded and brutish approach to it—focusing only on fighting them off and helping the people right in front of him. Judging from other characters' assessments of him, this applies only to his being Book Dumb; while he has virtually no formal education and isn't very sociable, he's shown to be tactically deadly in a fight—as one of the others notes, "he isn't throwing his punches at random."
    Mujou: Stupid. You are so stupid.
    Kazuma: Tell me something I don't already know!
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Urizane uses watermelons as his weapon, but he can do almost anything with them. He can make them grow huge until they crush you to death, turn an entire building into a watermelon for a second (thus destroying it when it turns back), and can even teleport, sort of, by stepping inside a giant watermelon, having it shrink to nothing, then having it grow anew in a different location, with him still inside it.
    • Unkei, when forced to attack with Mad Sprict as a last resort, uses paper. Though at least this is a last resort when his More than Mind Control gets broken.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Sort of. The ending of the manga features a face-off between alien invaders (led by expies of Neya and Commander Viscuess from Infinite Ryvius in a ship blatantly based on Ryo-Ohki from Tenchi Muyo!) and Kazuma and company, with Kazuma himself perched atop the Ryvius.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kazuma gives the reward money he earned for saving the mainland official in the first episode to a kid whose father was injured and couldn't work. Once he fails to rescue the captive Native Alters from HOLY, Kimishima is killed, and he triggers the Second Uprising, he slips into an epic Heroic BSoD. He gets better, but he's a bit more cynical afterward. It's less him being bipolar and more him hiding what he does/is from Kanami in the beginning.
  • Knight Templar: Ryuuhou believes himself to be the one enforcing justice and peace on the lawless and violent wasteland of the Lost Ground, but the locals see him as an oppressive bully. Character Development sees him become heroic over time, keeping his ideals while losing the heavy-handed actions.
  • Large Ham: Straight Cougar has an enormous presence with his hot pink hot rod, Motor Mouth and RADICAL GOOD SPEED! It's present even when he's taking his time to enjoy a meal. He comes complete with Crispin Freeman voicing him in the dub.
  • Lady and Knight: Mimori and Straight Cougar have this sort of relationship, Bright Lady and White Knight style. Mimori is referred to as a "princess" because her father is a major figure in HOLY's mainland administration and she does her best to ensure humane treatment and better living conditions for her "subjects" in the Lost Ground. Cougar looks out for her, protects her and even rescues her from a dungeon, and he does so while riding a horse that happens to be a hot pink street rod. The relationship is not romantic because Mimori isn't interested.
  • Lighthearted Rematch: Subverted. After teaming up and defeating the real Big Bad, the two leads decide to have a bout to see who is the best once and for all, but this takes up the entire last episode and is the longest and definitely most brutal fight in the entire series. It's pointed out and lampshaded several times during the episode that neither of them actually hates the other anymore: it's just that they can't calm down until they finally settle their score. It appears to end in a double knockout, but one last shot as the credits start imply that at least one is still moving. A hand rises behind a curtain of dust, and does a gesture typical for Kazuma after appearing to do Ryuuhou's signature knife-hand tic.
    • A similar event happens at the end of Kazuma's Enemy Mine team-up with Asuka Tachibana. After defeating the Native Alter animal and escaping the cave-in, the two admit that they don't actually hate each other anymore — but are still resolved to finish their own fight. Kazuma wins decisively again, but tells Asuka that he's free to either give up and die or just move on before walking away.
  • Megaton Punch: Kazuma's basic ability is a super punch. At his base level, he once punched a mook across a football field. In the finale, he punches Mujou into another dimension.
  • Mook Horror Show: Kazuma's Unstoppable Rage after Kimishima's death is pretty scary for HOLY mooks, as he tears through several of their vehicles without a scratch.
  • Morality Pet: Kanami for Kazuma; Mimori for Ryuuhou. Both of them demonstrate the kindness and compassion the latter possesses outside of battle and form a significant part of their motivation for good.
  • Motherly Scientist: Dr. Mimori Kiryuu feels compassion for how Kazuma is tortured and lets him escape. Later she gets interested in the Inners, eventually forming a community with them and becoming a school teacher.
  • Motor Mouth: Straight Cougar, of course, who talks as fast as he drives.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Alter users have choice to either join HOLY or become test subjects. For those inclined to join HOLY and with a tendency towards being Corrupt Cops, the former is a pretty sweet deal, as HOLY doesn't really police its members; Inners are considered lowlife scum to be abused at will even by the normal members of the organization.
  • No FEMA Response: The Lost Ground, formerly Kanagawa Prefecture, has been placed under the jurisdiction of HOLD and HOLY, which doesn't seem to care about civilizing the area in any way other than getting Alter Users under their control and imprisoning the normal Inners to use as forced laborers.
  • Not Quite Flight:
    • Kazuma and Straight Cougar's Alters provide a powerful acceleration for their attacks. Though this effect is used only for horizontal movement, they can achieve a pretty impressive flight time when propelling themselves from an elevated surface.
    • The trope is downplayed with Kazuma's second form, which basically tacks a propeller onto his back. Though we're never shown just how long he can maintain flight, he can use it to hover for short periods, as well as gain higher ground.
    • Completely averted with Kazuma and Ryuuhou's final forms, which let them fly right into outer space.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Kazuma asserts this to Ryuuhou in the talk on the cliff, accusing Ryuuhou of using "justice" as an excuse to do whatever he wants.
  • Not Quite Dead: Straight Cougar; turns out he really was just sleeping, at least in the Alteration duology.
  • Oblivious Younger Sibling: Kanami, though she's not blood related, is Kazuma's surrogate little sister and has no idea that he's an Alter user until HOLY rips up her community.
  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: Averted in Straight Cougar's final battle, attacking Kyouji Mujou from numerous angles to try and overwhelm him but failing miserably.
  • One-Woman Wail: Featured in at least one of the songs on the soundtrack.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Kazuma and Ryuuhou are obsessed with defeating each other and get upset when someone butts into their grudge match.
  • Only One Name: Kazuma is the only major character without a family name, which symbolizes his status as an outcast from proper Japanese society.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Ryuuhou and Kazuma respectively. Notably, Ryuuhou talks about bringing order to society multiple times, and Kazuma once took a job in the city and found something inherently wrong with how structured and orderly it was.
  • Painful Transformation: Kazuma experiences this even more so once he gets his level 2 Alter, complains about how much pain he feels in his arm immediately after using it.
  • Personality Powers: Tachibana points out how fitting Alters are to their users when speaking about Kazuma; a Power Fist is perfect for punching down walls.
  • Police State: What HOLD and HOLY's operations in the Lost Ground functionally operate as: they treat the Inners like trash, capture and experiment on the Native Alters in the Lost Ground that won't work with HOLD or HOLY willingly, and those that they recruit into HOLY are functionally slaves to HOLY itself—any failure from a HOLY member might result in their expulsion from HOLY and subsequently a return to poverty, which Asuka faces after his first loss to Kazuma.
  • Powers Do the Fighting: Ryuuhou hangs back and allows his Alter, Zetsuei, to do most of the fighting for him. Ryuuhou is one of the most powerful Alters in HOLY, and Zetsuei is more than capable of defending Ryuuhou from attacks while dominating other Alters simultaneously. Kazuma taunts him about this early in the series, before Ryuuhou socks him in the gut with his bare hand.
  • Power Fist: Kazuma's alter is a "harmonization" type that reforms his right arm.
  • Psycho for Hire: George Tatsunami is a thug and a brute that does dirty work for HOLY. In the manga, Urizane is similar.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Emergy Maxfell is a grown man but he acts like a child with his games and his action figures. He even thought that putting explosives in toys he gave to children was amusing. His defeat at Kazuma's hands regresses him mentally so he fits this trope in a literal sense.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Cougar not only dresses in pink but transforms any car he's driving into a hot-pink street rod. It certainly makes him look fruity but one changes their mind when they're beaten in a fight.
  • Really Dead Montage: Scheris gets one in the anime shortly after Ryuuhou realizes that she's actually dead.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Kazuma and Ryuuhou, respectively; the former is hotheaded and aggressive and the later is more focused and uses finesse in fights.
  • The Remake: s-CRY-ed Alteration Tao and Quan, which add extra scenes that give Kyouji Mujou more presence and alters some of Kazuma and Ryuuhou's fights. It also has a new version of the finale; though Kazuma and Ryuuhou's fates are still unchanged—down to the winner of their final bout still being unclear—and they're working as grudging Bash Brothers, we get to see Mimori and Kanami interacting a bit more, and Cougar's shown to still be alive.
  • Rewriting Reality: "Mad Sprict" (sic) — its user, Unkei, attempts to use this as More than Mind Control on Kazuma to persuade him to join HOLY. Unfortunately for him, he blows it BADLY by misunderstanding Kazuma's mindset, misusing Defeat Means Friendship at the end of the script; Kazuma, knowing subconsciously that the real Ryuuhou would never accept anything but a total victory, shakes off Sprict's effects.
  • The Rival: Ryuuhou and Kazuma are this for each other; an obstacle that the other wants to crush in order to validate their own stance.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kazuma has one when Kimishima is killed and Kazuma goes off to utterly wreck the nearest HOLY unit to retrieve Kimishima's car. He goes off again when he sees yet another unit pushing through but this one included Scheris.
  • Running Gag:
    • Straight Cougar getting people's names wrong, e.g. "Minori" for Mimori and "Kazuya" for Kazuma. Kazuma himself occasionally does this too which is foreshadowing the fact that Cougar raised Kazuma as a younger sibling figure.
    • Kimishima's mode of transport getting destroyed by accident is another one.
  • Sacrificial Revival Spell: Toward the end of the anime, Scheris uses her "Eternal Devote" alter power on Ryuuhou shortly after he's killed by Big Bad Kyouji Mujou. His agony and gratitude upon seeing her deceased boost his power.
  • Sequel Hook: A council of government officials in episode 25 are seen production of further Darz and that they have time to prepare, now that the Kiryuu family has given up on trying to find Mimori and bring her back. Combined with the unresolved conflict with the mainland (since it's at least implied that they try again even after Kazuma and Ryuuhou beat back a large force at the end of the penultimate episode) provide a line for more storylines. Alteration adjusts it slightly, but it's still implied that other Native Alter Users in the Lost Ground are causing trouble.
  • Shout-Out: The Crystal/Crystalline Entity bears a strong resemblance to Star Platinum of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Conceptually, the Alters are more than a little similar to the Stands of the older series as well.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: This is HOLD's and Ryuuhou's attitude towards Mimori; namely that compassion and research aren't going to do any good in the Lost Ground and she should stop treating the "Inners" like human beings because they are truly criminal scum that need to be enslaved for the good of the region.
  • Single Power Superhero: Many alter-users have one and only one power, such as creating the "alter" Mon creature. Others can push this limitation like Cougar. His ability to "make anything go faster!" can be used to grant himself super speed, create armor that enables him to move even faster, and the ability to turn any car into a bright pink hot rod so that it can move faster.
  • Single Tear: Shed by Kazuma in the penultimate episode while he flashbacks to all of the needless deaths that had occurred over the course of the series.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Emergy Maxfell acts like Kazuma is just another toy to play with and completely loses his shit when he loses their fight.
    • Sou Kigetsuki is a narcissistic parasite but in Cougar's words: "Rejected by your own alter? You're pathetic."
    • Kyouji Mujou has a god complex that only gets more inflated the more power he gains.
    • Also, George Tatsunami, the guy who enslaves a town and waves around his big gun.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Scheris, Kimishima and Ayase survive in the manga. Hooray!
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Ryuuhou definitely gets the lion's share of screen time in the second half, and is in every episode, whereas Kazuma misses a few. In the finale, Kazuma is relegated to fighting Biff and a bunch of mooks while Ryuuhou fights the Crystal Alter and Jigmar. However, it is Kazuma who ultimately hands the Big Bad his final defeat.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: In the manga, Hannish doesn't want Akira to fight Super HOLY despite her being one of Lawless' strongest members specifically because she's a woman.
  • Super-Speed: Straight Cougar's ability is to "make anything go faster", which he usually uses on cars to speed them up.
  • Symbolic Cast Fadeout: One of the subtler aspects of the Evolving Credits is that characters who have died appear Deliberately Monochrome in episodes airing after their death. Given the show, that's a decent chunk of the cast by the end of the series.
  • Synchronization: Most Alter Users tend to feel pain when their Alters are damaged, to the degree that if an Alter is damaged badly enough the mental aftershocks can be enough to stop an Alter User from ever manifesting their Alter again.
  • Third Time's The Charm: Played straight and subverted once each.
    • Kazuma gets slapped around by Ryuuhou in their first meeting, and again in their second after Zetsuei shows that he's not left handed. Then, after it appears Ryuuhou's won their third encounter Kazuma whips out his second form... or at least he tries to. He loses control over it, briefly sends himself and Ryuuhou to the Other Side, and causes the Second Uprising.
    • Ryuuhou sees the Crystal after he and Kazuma get thrown into the Other Side, but he doesn't get a chance to fight him before he's blown away. The second time, the Crystal kills him, at least until Scheris revives him. The third fight he wins, after fusing with Zetsuei.
  • Title Drop: Not literally, but the final thing Kazuma punches spells out s-CRY-ed, which is the first thing shown in the opening.
  • Troll: Straight Cougar takes Mimori out to see Ryuuhou fighting but stops in the middle of nowhere. When she demands to know what's going on, Cougar implies he's going to do something unsavory to her, only to reveal he's just messing with her and it's simply not safe to get too close to a fight between Alter Users.
  • The Unreveal: By the time the final episode rolls around Kazuma and Ryuuhou have fought several times, with no clear winner after the first one. The last ep has them indulge in one last, decisive brawl. At the end, we see that only one is left standing...but we never find out which one it is. note 
  • Weaponized Ball: Asuka Tachibana's Alter is called Eternity Eight, also know as the Eight Treasure Balls. For the most part, they're a Swiss-Army Superpower, able to create energy constructs of a sort (making a Laser Blade by arranging them in a line, or a shield by making them flat). However, in the manga, they can combine into a giant ball which he can launch at enemies.
  • Wicked Cultured: Between his undeniably good fashion sense and condescending attitude towards Native Alters, Kyouji Mujou definitely qualifies for this trope.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Mimori is one, evidenced by her insistence that the Lost Ground can be made into a peaceful and prosperous place without the heavy-handed approach of HOLY. She was even more of one as a child when she thought that Alter was universally a good thing. Several characters lampshade this, some more sardonicly than others. It's not that she's wrong, just naïve. In the end, while Kazuma and Ryuuhou are off fighting the Lost Ground's enemies, she is teaching its children.
  • The Worf Effect: Straight Cougar is effortlessly defeated by the Big Bad in the anime, showing off how dangerous Mujou is by having him easily defeat a guy who beat Kazuma and Ryuuhou with his level 1 Alter. It also shows off the Combat Clairvoyance he acquired from the captive Kanami's Alter.
  • Word Salad Title: The manga gives it a meaning, but otherwise... Fanon has appended it for the name of Kanami's Alter, which lets her read minds. To "scry" is to see via magic or clairvoyance which is what she uses her alter for while dreaming, and she does seem to scry out the events of most of the episodes in this way, so it could relate to her Alter even if that isn't its name.
  • World of Ham: This series is right up there with Gurren Lagann and 70s Super Robot shows for sheer concentration of Hot-Blooded.