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CHANGE BEETLE
CHANGE STAG BEETLE
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Japan loves bugs, and they're everywhere. Not only is Bug Catching one of the oldest pastimes in the country, but much of their pop culture includes or is influenced by them.

However, within Japanese media, two particular insects stand out: the Kabutomushi (Japanese rhinoceros beetle, though often romanized by the Japanese as simply "beetle") and Kuwagatamushi (stag beetle). Often, when something inspired by one of the two appears in some sort of media, the other is either with them, or not too far behind. Another common element is for the two beetle-inspired elements to be of contrasting colors, and there is often a Red Oni, Blue Oni relationship between the two.

There have been enough examples that they can be organized into three types:

  • Allies: They are usually introduced at the same time, constantly work together and are seldom seen apart. Often allies are either partners or brothers.
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  • Rivals: They can't stand each others' guts, constantly butt heads and at times are on opposite sides.
  • Coincidental: This is the rarest of the three types, and occurs when just by chance, and Kabuto and Kuwagata exist in the same universe, much like their real-life counterparts.

Two particular species have a tendency to show up as "upgraded" forms of the duo: the overbite-horned Heracles Ōkabuto (Hercules beetle) as a more powerful Kabuto variant, and the long-jawed Nokogiri Kuwagata (sawtooth stag beetle and its genus) as a more powerful Kuwagata. Likewise, the Atlas and Caucasus beetles will sometimes receive this treatment since their three horns resemble a combination of Kabuto and Kuwagata traits.

Also related is the Beetle Sister, the Tentomushi (ladybug/ladybird/lady beetle); whenever beetles form a Power Trio, you can expect The Chick to be a Ladybug.

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Rarely, this phenomenon will be referenced obliquely. If two characters with some sort of relationship exist in your medium — and one has a single horn and the other has two, chances are this is why.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Medabots:
    • A prime example of rivals are the protagonist's partner Metabee (a hot-blooded, golden KBT-type who fights with missiles) and Aloof Ally Rokusho (a stoic, silver KWG-type who fights with swords). Unusually, the franchise actually has a third "brother" — Arcbeetle, a more advanced KBT-type based on the Hercules beetle, which is the least prominent but most powerful member of the lot.
    • Later media introduces Tyrelbeetle, a Sawtooth KWG-type which acts as a counterpart to the upgraded Arcbeetle-Dash. The two are capable of transforming into beetle modes and later docking together to form Masterbeetle.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Adventure has rivals in the form of the blue, rhinoceros beetle-like Kabuterimon and red, stag beetle-like Kuwagamon, though this is mainly in accordance with supplemental material. The anime makes it seem more like they are a coincidental. Plus there's Kabuterimon's and Kuwagamon's shared pre-evolution, the ladybug-like Tentomon, closing the aforementioned Power Trio.
    • An oblique reference exists in Milleniumon, a fusion of two Hybrid Monsters already famous for being a combination of parts of other Digimon: the biological Kimeramon and the mechanical Machinedramon. As Milleniumon progress through its multiple forms, the one thing that will remain constant is that one head will have a single horn and the other will have two.
    • Averted in Digimon Frontier. One of the heroes has kabutomushi-themed forms Blitzmon (Beetlemon in the dub) and Bolgmon (MetalKabuterimon) forms, but he has no kuwaga-themed counterpart. However AncientBeetlemon, the Digimon his powers come from, has a centauric body with features of both, and in the broader franchise is the Monster Progenitor of both the Kabuterimon and Kuwagamon lines.
    • Digimon Xros Wars features Ballistamon, a robot with some kabutomushi features (especially the giant horn). A late arc in the show reveals that he was once DarkVolumon, a kuwaga-styled robot superweapon, before being damaged and repaired into his current friendlier form. The Alternate Continuity manga gives him the Mega form AtlurBallistamon, which confusingly looks more like a Hercules than Atlas beetle.
  • Pokémon: By carryover from the video games, we have the coincidental pair of Heracross and Pinsir, Bug-type Pokémon introduced in consecutive generations that use mostly Fighting-type attacks. In the episode where Ash catches his Heracross, a bunch of Pinsir are invading the Heracross swarm's territory, making it seem like rivals, but it's revealed that the invasion is due to the Pinsir being driven out of their own territory by Team Rocket.
  • Allies in One Piece during the Thriller Bark arc. Usopp uses two different large slingshots named Kabuto and Kuwagata.
  • Zoids features the beetle-type Zoids Saicurtis (a red Kabutomushi) and the Double Sworder (a blue Kuwagatamushi) in a rivals scenario, with the Saicurtis as an Imperial Zoid and the Double Sworder as a Republican Zoid. Both apppear in Zoids: Chaotic Century — however, the Saicurtis only appears in the manga, while the Double Sworder only appears in the anime, though the Saicurtis was mentioned by name in the anime.
  • Arachnid: Kabutomushi is a rare example of a female with the rhino beetle theme instead of the ladybug one. She wields a "Kabuto Horn" spear and has armor implanted within her body to befit her motif. In the prequel Caterpillar, four people with a Kuwagata theme are introduced as opponents to her.
  • Time Bokan: The Mechabuton Mini-Mecha in the first series was based on the Kabutomushi and had a smaller ladybug mini-carrier, but didn't have anything Kuwagatta related. Acts as more of a coincidental since the Kuwagatta mecha was made long after the Mechabuton had been put out of commission.
  • Berserk: Subverted. Guts runs into a pair of bug-transforming warriors (who are considerably harder to beat than the previously-encountered rabble), but they consist of a stag beetle and a praying mantis (so closer to the Pinsir / Scyther example).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Metal Heroes: Multiple related series each have the three-man version of allies with the Beetle as The Leader, Stag as The Lancer, and Ladybug as The Chick:
    • Juukou B-Fighter and its American counterpart Big Bad Beetleborgs has Blue Beet/Blue Stinger Beetleborg, G-Stag/Green Hunter Beetleborg, and Reddle/Red Striker Beetleborg.
    • B-Fighter Kabuto and Beetleborgs Metallix: B-Fighter Kabuto/Chromium Gold Beetleborg, B-Fighter Kuwaga/Titanium Silver Beetleborg, and B-Fighter Tento/Platinum Purple Beetleborg.
    • B-Robo Kabutack had Kabutack, Kuwajiro, and Tentorina.
  • Kamen Rider has also inevitably used this, having a preference for insect themes:
    • Averted in Kamen Rider Stronger. The series featured a Rhino Beetle-themed titular hero and female Ladybug-themed sidekick, but no Stag Beetle.
    • One of the most powerful enemies faced by stag beetle-based Kamen Rider Kuuga is a rhinoceros beetle-based Grongi, Go Gadoru Ba. Leader of the most powerful of the Grongi tribes (though not the leader of the Grongi as a whole himself), Gadoru was one of three Evil Counterparts (the other two based on a grasshopper and a stag beetle) to Kuuga, and who was able to change between different forms corresponding to Kuuga's forms. Interestingly, even as Gadoru was the second most powerful Grongi in the series, the leader of the Grongi was the aforementioned stag beetle-based Grongi leader, N Daguba Zeba.
    • Kamen Rider Faiz has another villainous Allies example in the beetle Orphenochs introduced in episode 33.
    • Kamen Rider Blade has the Riders Blade (European rhinoceros beetle) and Garren (stag beetle). They're usually allies (with Garren even being The Mentor) but circumstances and poor communication keep pitting them against each other. Blade's Super Mode is themed after a Caucasus beetle, and Garren's after a giraffe stag beetle. Instead of a ladybug, the other two Riders are praying mantis and spider-themed.
    • Kamen Rider Kabuto has the red rider Kabuto, and the blue rider Gatack (pictured above), who are probably the best-known example of this trope in the franchise. They start as rivals, but later become steadfast allies.
      • The movie God Speed Love features a trio of villainous Riders based on different types of Kabutomushi - the bronze Ketaros (Centaurus beetle), the silver Hercus (Hercules beetle) and the powerful gold Caucasus (Caucasus beetle).
    • Kamen Rider Double: Double and Accel, initially rivals and later allies, own black and red Stag Phones and all-blue Beetle Phone, respectively. The Riders themselves also carry a bit of the motif; as they have letters W and A on their helmets that are styled in a way that invokes the two horn/one horn visual.
    • Kamen Rider OOO has villainous allies in the Kabuto and Kuwagata Yummies, which formed when a single Yummy (which was the Kabuto one) split in two. But averted in that OOO has a Kuwagata Core Medal, but not a Kabuto Core Medal.
    • Kamen Rider Ghost: While not explicitly bug-themed, Kamen Riders Ghost and Specter have similar-yet-different Rider forms with one difference being that Ghost has one prominent horn on his helmet while Specter has two. They're another example of rivals turning into allies.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Coincidental. The series revolves around dozens of bottles featuring essences of organic and inorganic items, and both Kabutomushi and Kuwagata are among the "organic" ones. However, the Kuwagata Bottle is used by a Quirky Miniboss Squad member, while the Kabutomushi Bottle is All There in the Manual; at best it only appears in crowd shots of Bottle collections, and what Build would look like if he used it is relegated to an arcade game tie-in.
  • Of course, Super Sentai and Power Rangers aren't left out either:
    • Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger / Power Rangers Ninja Storm has the one of the strongest examples of allies in recent history. The Kabuto Raiger / Crimson Thunder Ranger and Kuwaga Raiger / Navy (blue) Thunder Ranger are brothers whose entire motifs, changers, personal weapons and mecha revolve around the Kabuto/Kuwaga pair. The Thunders are adopted siblings instead of biological, but no less close for it.
      • The version of the Goraigers that appeared in Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger added a third, Tento Raiger. Unfortunately, she was evil and corrupted the other two, forcing the Akibarangers to get rid of her influence.
      • The unused "Hexagon" concept for Power Rangers Ninja Storm would have added an American-original ladybug Ranger to the Thunder Rangers so they would be on equal footing with the Wind Rangers.
    • Juken Sentai Gekiranger has a lesser allies example in the Yin-Yang influenced white Butoka and black Wagataku, who are similar to terracotta soldiers, have no personality, yet get an upgraded form after their initial defeat. These two appear in Power Rangers Jungle Fury as the Shadow Guards.
    • Tensou Sentai Goseiger / Power Rangers Megaforce is Coincidental with the existence of the Kabuto and Kuwagata Headers / Mechazords — both part of the Rangers' arsenal, but otherwise unrelated as part of separate Mecha Expansion Packs.
    • Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, like Hurricaneger / Ninja Storm, has a pair of Sixth Rangers — Beet Buster and Stag Buster in Go-Busters. They don't follow the theme quite as strongly as the Goraigers / Thunder Rangers did, but they're still one of the better examples. Stag Buster's unmorphed state, the robotic Beet J. Stag, covers both beetles at once, as half of his armor is actually Beet Buster's actual suit armor, cast off and transferred to Beet Buster during morphing. (Power Rangers: Beast Morphers diverges from this, however; as the animal basis for Beet Buster's counterpart is changed to a Slaying Mantis.)
  • Chou Sei Shin Gransazer has Allies in the form of the Wind Tribe's Sazer-Remls and Sazer-Dail.
  • Ultraman R/B's main characters, brothers Katsumi and Isami, are Allies whose Ultra forms have the two-horn/one-horn contrast.

    Toys 
  • The Machine Robo Mugenbine toy line has the allies red Iron Beetle and blue Junk Stag that can combine together to become Mugen Sector.
  • Transformers: Generation 1 has two groups called the Insecticons which qualify; both being allies and in teams with other insects.note 
    • The ones with a lot more exposure in the cartoon and comics were Shrapnel the stag beetle and Bombshell the rhino beetle; with Kickback the grasshopper as their third.
    • The second group, which were mainly toy-only, had Barrage as the rhino beetle and Chop Shop as the stag; along with Venom the cicada and Ransack the locust. This group came from a defunct Bandai line called Beetras; had the line continued, there would have been a female lady bug character/toy as well, which could have been the first official female Transformer.
    • Beast Wars features a coincidental in the form of the stag beetle Insecticon and the rhino beetle Ram Horn. While both are technically Predacons, they are not seen interacting together in any continuity and simply co-exist as insect-based Transformers toys.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • The two first beetle Podémon (Pinsir and Heracross) were originally not linked with each other. Pinsir was released in Pokémon Red and Blue and Heracross in the next game, Pokémon Gold and Silver. Pinsir was instead paired with the mantis-themed Scyther. The two started to be paired up more often as the franchise progressed, however.
      • In the second generation, for instance, Scyther got an evolution, whereas Pinsir didn't to match Heracross. Various media since then involved the two in some way (like an episode of the Pokémon anime featuring a feud between Pinsir and Heracross swarms). Later on, the relationship between Pinsir and Heracross was reinforced in Pokémon X and Y, where two ended up being version exclusives, on top of both of them receiving Mega Evolutions. The end result is a case of coincidental becoming rivals in the sense that there is a connection and contrast between the two.
      • There's also a variation of coincidental in Pokémon GO, where Pinsir is a global spawn from the start while Heracross became one of the region-exclusives in the Gen 2 update.
      • The existing relationships are shaken up in Pokémon Sun and Moon and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, which featured a new stag beetle Pokémon named Vikavolt. Vikavolt is now a Rival to both Pinsir and Heracross, who in turn have become allies with each other in regions like Alola where all three species coexist.
    • Despite their names, Kabuto and Kabutops are not examples, being based more on horseshoe crabs. Their name comes from traditional kabuto, which are samurai helmets. That's why the Dome Fossil is called so.
  • The Digimon video games have this, and due to the increased detail can expand further on this than the anime.
    • The rhinoceros beetle-like Kabuto- line includes champion level Kabuterimon, ultimate level MegaKabuterimon (in blue or red) and mega level HerculesKabuterimon. The stag beetle-like Kuwaga- line includes champion Kuwagamon, ultimate Okuwamon, and mega GranKuwagamon. At those points, the lines are rivals. They usually share the ladybug-esque Tentomon as a Rookie stage, and, in the case the mechanical Kokuwamon is used for the Kuwaga-line, it is not very antagonistic towards Tentomon. In addition, HerculesKabuterimon originated as a combination of the lines, and actually has both the pincers and the single forehead horn, while GranKuwagamon is also strongly associated with the non-scaraboid Stingmon line and quite divergent in design from the rest of the Kuwaga-line.
    • There is also the Kokabuterimon line (BladeKuwagamon, MetallifeKuwagamon and TyrantKabuterimon), which hops back and forth between being rhinoceros-beetle and stag beetle-inspired.
  • Medabots: While the original games, which were usually separated into Kabuto/Metabee and Kuwagata/Rokusho versions, had those two Medabots, they had more of a coincidental relationship.
  • The Card Battle Game Mushiking has both the Kabuto and Kuwagata, but since they're not characters in a story, they're relegated to coincidental.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Among the bugs you can catch in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, there are the Kabuto (referred to simply as a Beetle) and the Stag Beetle, putting it into coincidental.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword introduced a number of bugs as collectibles, which includes the "Sky Stag Beetle" (found only in Skyloft) and the "Woodland Rhino Beetle" (found only in Faron Woods), which makes it another coincidental.
  • Monster Rancher has the Beaklon (Kabuto) and Antlan (Kuwaga). They're sort of a mid-range between rivals and coincidental—they weren't introduced at the same time and just sort of coexist, but their battle styles are different enough to seem contrasting.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man X1: There's a allies setup with Boomer Kuwanger (a not-very-good translation of Kuwaga) and his brother, Mega Man X3's Gravity Beetle, who is of the Kabuto variety. The latter is actually one of the few Mavericks in X3 who is completely uninterested in Doppler's plans and isn't even infected with The Virus, but instead seeks revenge. In the manga, he even attempts to rebuild his brother.
    • Mega Man Zero has a similar allies with Mega Man Zero 1's Herculious Anchortus (Kabuto) and Mega Man Zero 2's Kuwagust Anchus, who refers to Herculious as his brother and teams up with him during the Boss Rush.
    • Less dramatically, the first Mega Man Legends game contains a sidequest where the player can collect junk and trade it for valuable components. Two of the trade items are a Beetle and Stag Beetle pair, each of which can be found crawling around the forest.
    • Mega Man Star Force exhibits this trope in Black Ace/Red Joker. The Red Joker Finalization has the two horns of the kuwagatamushi and the Black Ace sports the Kabutomushi's single horn.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: The KO Kabuto and Staggerceps Dream Eaters are a coincidental example, existing simply as Mooks and potential allies for you.
  • In the Kirby series, Kirby's Adventure introduces Bugzzy, a Kuwagata who gives Kirby the ability to suplex enemies when eaten. Oddly enough, he never had a Kabuto counterpart until Kirby: Triple Deluxe, released 21 years later, which introduced Hornhead. When Kirby absorbs this beetle, he will gain a Kabuto horn to attack enemies with.
  • Show by Rock!! has this in the form of Kabutomoaki and Kuwagatatsuya, two members of the band Dropout Sensei. Due to their status as childhood friends, they firmly fit in the allies category. They also have a third member (Tentomutsumi) that represents the "ladybug" part of the motif, despite being more of a beetle "brother" than a beetle "sister".
  • In Yo-Kai Watch, Beetler ("Kuwanobushi" in Japan) and Rhinoggin ("Musha Kabuto") are described as being both allies and rivals; with a friendly rivalry rather than an antagonistic one.
  • Touhou has the onis Yuugi Hoshiguma (one horn and a Statuesque Stunner) and Ibuki Suika (two horns and a Pintsize Powerhouse, though she can make herself grow), often seen drinking together.
  • Since Animal Crossing features bug-catching as an activity, it's natural that many types of beetle appear in the series. The two rarest and most valuable are the horned hercules beetle and the golden stag beetle. Starting with the golden stag's introduction in City Folk, the two species fight each other on a tree stump when donated to the museum, them rivals.

    Real Life 
  • The rhinoceros beetle and stag beetle are normally coincidental, but in the hobby of Insect Fighting they become more like rivals.

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