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Dual Age Modes

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There are a lot of characters who can change their shape. Some have fewer options than others, and a lot are limited to only a handful of forms. One common set includes an aged pair: the same general appearance, in a childlike and an adolescent or adult form. Often, one will be the natural form for the character, with the other being invoked by some external trigger. But most of the time, the child form will be used only to make the character look more innocuous or relatable.

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See also Older Alter Ego for a child who gets powers in adult form, and Sleep-Mode Size for a powerful adult Mode Locked into a child form. If the character just ages from childhood to adulthood by normal means, it's a Plot-Relevant Age-Up or Time Skip. If a child is forcibly transformed into an adult, it's Overnight Age-Up; the inverse is Fountain of Youth. Subtrope to Humanshifting.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Signal in the manga/anime Twin Signal has two forms: An adult Bishōnen form, and a childlike Super-Deformed mode with an insane love for chocolate.
  • Mosquito from Soul Eater can change his form back into several younger states of him self, each which excelled in a certain ability.
  • Walter C. Dornez from Hellsing, after siding with Millenium and being a patient of the Doctor, is able to revert to the form and strength of his younger day.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Miss Hinako has the default form of a girl of about eleven years, and turns into a curvaceous twenty-something by absorbing Life Energy, Battle Auras and Ki Manipulation. Although it's never addressed in the source material, it seems likely that her adult form is her true age, and her child form is the result of slowed aging due to Happosai giving her Energy Absorption powers via altering her metabolism with Pressure Points to cure a childhood illness.
    • Happosai's old friend Rakkyosai is cursed to change into a small child after falling into the Spring of Drowned Boy. The thing is, he's exactly the same (toddler-like) size in both forms, so he has no advantages or disadvantages from one body to the other, but his real body is more... wrinkly. A lot more.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Koenma sometimes appears as a toddler and sometimes as a young man.
    • There's also Genkai, who is, by default, an old lady who's also a martial arts master, but rejuvenates to a young adult when using her Reiha (because it's a technique that, by spreading out the user's spiritual energy, changes them to how they looked when they were at the peak of their powers).
  • Juugo from Naruto turns into a child when he gives Sasuke some of his flesh to heal him; he turns back into an adult after absorbing a samurai's corpse.
  • In Tenchi Muyo!, Ryo-Ohki is a shapeshifter with four forms: a spaceship, a "cabbit" (cat rabbit creature), and child and teenage humanoid forms- the last of which is hard for Ryo-Ohki to control or maintain. note 
    • Also Washuu, who can take any form she pleases, but spends most of her time as a little girl.
  • Vivio and Einhart of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid both have their normal, elementary school forms, and their teenage forms they use in combat.
    • Use of adult mode has become standard by the time of ViVid Strike!.
    • Curren Huckebein shows this ability in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force.
    • Familiars such as Arf also have the ability to become either a child or an adult, in either their human or animal forms.
  • Age misrepresentation pills in Mahou Sensei Negima!, and whatever magic Eva uses. Mainly used for disguise, the only combat effect is the change in reach.
  • Maya Natsume from Tenjho Tenge can appear as an 8 year old or a 17 year old.
  • Space Pirate Mito is an alien that looks like a third grader, despite being over ten thousand years old, but has a mail suit that she uses for combat that looks like an adult human. She has similar suits for just masquerading as a human adult, and a good deal of the conflict in the first half of the series comes from trying to get her half-human son to accept her actual, childlike, form, when for most of his life he's only seen her in mail-suit form.
  • In Ah! My Goddess, Belldandy mentions that the three goddesses are each a representation of time. Belldandy represents the Present, so when she uses too much of her power, she just needs to sleep. However, when her sisters use too much power, Urd, representing the Past, reverts into a child form, while Skuld, representing the Future, grows up into a teenage form.
  • In Hell Teacher Nube, both Nube and Tamamo (extremely experienced spiritualists) can use astral projection to generate child-like bodies for themselves while their real ones lie in a sleep-like trance. Nobody ever seems to recognize them despite looking nearly identical to their adult forms (although Yukime thought child-Nube was exceedingly cute.)
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, Isumi's great-grandmother can take child form by drinking other people's blood; when the effect wears off, she reverts to her true form. Like Rakkyosai above, there's not much difference between her two forms, apart from her true form being really, really wrinkly.
  • Jewelry Bonney of One Piece has a Devil Fruit that lets her change her age, as well as that of others, which she's used to temporarily change from her young adult Shapeshifter Default Form to a child form. She and her crew even wear clothes that are elastic so they can fit in any form.
  • The slightly obscure manga(?) 1520 has an interesting version of the trope. The two main characters, a 15 year old prince and a maid from opposing kingdoms, eat a magical cake by accident that transforms them into ten year old children. Whenever the maid laughs or the prince sheds a tear, that individual will return to their proper age, at the cost of de-aging the other down to about five.
  • In Millennium Snow, Yamimaru (the vampire's bat companion) can take on human form as either a strong young man or an adorable little boy.
  • Macross Frontier has Klan Klan, a Meltran who has a physical defect that causes her to regress in age when micronized to human size. When giant-sized, she's mature and... developed. When human-sized, she appears as (and acts like) a preteen.
  • In Dance in the Vampire Bund, Mina Tepes's true vampire form is that of a woman who is the spitting image of her mother. She does everything she can to hide this, because that form is theoretically capable of producing an heir, and the heads of the other three vampire clans are old men who she despises and would see nothing wrong in forcing her to produce that heir with one of them. Her child form allows her to claim that she isn't ready to reproduce, buying her time to find a way to neutralize them before they can force her into marriage.
  • In Doki Doki Pretty Cure, Madoka Aguri/Cure Ace shifts between her normal ten-year-old self and her older teenage Cure self when she transforms.
  • Bal Dragon, Gao's Buddy Monster in the third season of Future Card Buddyfight, is a hatchling that fights in a second form that appears fully-grown, though his voice doesn't change when in said form.
  • Prosciutto from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo is a 20-something young man, but at one point in the series he appears as an old man. This is done using his Stand's power "Grateful Dead", which ages everyone within its radius, and he aged and later de-aged himself to set up an ambush where he disguises himself as one of Grateful Dead's victims.
  • In UFO Princess Valkyrie, both Valkyrie and Hydra are adult women who get transformed into children, though by different means. Valkyrie gets de-aged due to giving Kazuto half of her soul, while Hydra gets her powers sealed by Akina. Valkyrie can temporarily turn back into her adult form after kissing Kazuto, while Akina can turn Hydra back into her adult form. Hydra also retains her adult mind while in child form, while Valkyrie does not.

    Comic Books 
  • Skaar, one of the Hulk's sons, can change between a small gray child-like form, and a bigger Hulk-like form.
  • One of the Heroes tie-in comics had The Russian, a Special who posed as an entire crime family with his ability to physically age and de-age himself at will.
  • Subverted in the canon Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics with Dracula, who appears to be a 30-something-year-old able to take the form of a very old man form at will. But in reality he is always in his old form and simply uses his hypnotic abilities to make everyone around him see him as his younger self.
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    Literature 
  • Aphrael in The Elenium and The Tamuli. Being a goddess, she can look however she wants, but generally takes child form because it makes her easier to adore.
  • Foster from Keith Laumer's A Trace of Memory goes from an old man to a youth in the space of an evening... but loses his memory in the process. It turns out this happens to him indeed, his entire species on a regular basis. The plot is motivated by his friend's quest to restore Foster's memory, and The Reveal has to be seen to be believed: it's one of the cheekiest twist endings in all of literature - cleverly foreshadowed, but still quite shocking in its chutzpah.
  • Hecate from The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel goes from being a maiden in the morning, a mother during the day, and a crone by the evening. It should be noted that she does not have control over the process, however.
  • The original Dracula appeared as an old man most of the time, but turned young if he had recently fed.
  • In The Power of Six in the Lorien Legacies series, 7 meets up with 10, whose first Legacy is to be either a 7-year old, her actual age, or a 17-year old.
  • Feruchemists in Mistborn can store their age in the metal atium, allowing them to shift to be as young or old as they want- but since Feruchemy is based on Equivalent Exchange, they can't make themselves young without spending the same amount of time old, and vice versa, meaning this power is normally considered fairly worthless except for disguise purposes. The Lord Ruler, however, can do both Feruchemy and Allomancy, and by combining the two systems can get a lot more power from his Feruchemy, meaning that he essentially has eternal youth so long as he spends a few hours every few days as an old man.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Link in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, by way of Mental Time Travel into his younger body.
  • Mithos/Yggdrasil from the game Tales of Symphonia.
  • The titular Space Ace in the laserdisc video game is turned into a child as a result of the Big Bad Borf's "Infanto Ray". During certain parts of the game, the player has the chance to "energize" Ace and turn him back to his adult form for a short time; adult Ace sequences tended to be more about fighting villains while child Ace spent most of his time trying to avoid or escape enemy attack.
  • Misha of Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia became a child when she lost the Chronicle Key. You can later change her age at will by adding or removing Chronicle Key
  • Pollin, the Magical Girl parody from Tech Romancer has her standard "little girl" mode and occasional older version.
  • Kliff Undersn in Guilty Gear turns into his younger self during certain attacks.
  • Zeku, Guy's master who originally appeared as an NPC in Street Fighter Alpha 2, has gained this ability in Street Fighter V, being able to switch between his current self and his younger self at will. He plays differently depending on which mode he's in, with his old form being slower but with a greater damage output and attack range, and his younger self being faster and more combo oriented.
  • In God of War: Ascension, Castor and Pollux are normally elderly conjoined twins. By using the Amulet of Ouroboros' ability to reverse the flow of time, they can revert to their youthful prime for battle.
  • The true form of Flowey/Asriel during the Final Battle in Undertale has him appear to you as a child to trick you into letting your guard down. He then changes to his teenager/young adult form which has him appearing older with a somewhat scary face and attacks you.

    Webcomics 
  • 21 year old Evan Onymous of The Wotch can transform into a 4-year old girl called Lily ("Lil E"). (Also a fully-grown female version, Missy ("Miss E").)
  • Pandora from El Goonish Shive appears in her child form when she reveals herself to mortals, and assumes her adult form when dealing with her son and during her later appearances in the ephemeral universe parallel to the physical plane of existence called the spiritual plane. These are not her only forms however; as a shapeshifter she can appear as anything between a monstrous "cloud" and a clone of any other character.
    • Mr. Raven can alternate between a sixtyish form and a twentysomething one.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The demiurge Mottom, ruler of one-seventh of creation, looks like a withered old woman when meeting with other demiurges. In her own palace, she looks like a shapely young woman.
  • In Wilde Life, Raven is a raven animal person who can also perform Human Shifting. While dialogue seems to indicate that he can look however he wants, he only ever shows one basic human form, shifting from a child, teen and adult version. At one point he also makes the teen version female.

    Western Animation 
  • Clockwork from Danny Phantom constantly shifts between different ages due to his time-related powers.
  • Subverted with one Dexter's Laboratory episode where Dexter hatches a plan for himself and Dee Dee to become adults in order to watch an R-rated movie. By mistake, Dee Dee knocks over the wires of the aging machine, then re-plugs them in the opposite sockets, which causes the machine to go sour, leaving Dexter and Dee Dee's ages completely unchanged... but turning everyone around them into babies.
  • Steven Universe: Steven can change age as well as form, though he normally can't hold a different age/form for too long before involuntarily reverting to his natural state, and may get stuck in the wrong age/form for a while for psychological reasons.
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Alternative Title(s): Multi Age Modes

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Justin Morphs

Whenever Justin morphs into the Blue Turbo Ranger, he spontaneously grows into an adult body while retaining his child voice.

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