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Manga / Change 123

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From left to right, the female protagonist's main personalities: Mikiri, Hibiki, Fujiko, and Motoko.

Change 123 (pronounced "change hi-fu-mi," as a Japanese language punnote  and after the central character(s)) is a Shounen (yes, really) fighting manga that manages to do something different with the whole "girl has different personalities" thing. Written by Iku Sakaguchi and illustrated by Shirui Iwasawa, the manga was serialized in Champion Red from 2005 to 2010.

Teruharu Kousukegawa, a young otaku, is walking home when he spots a girl from his class, Motoko Gettou, being harassed by a greasy older guy. He goes to challenge him but wimps out, turns away, and then starts dialing the police. Meanwhile, the man has her backed into an alley and is getting way too close for comfort, and even further, announces his intent to make a real woman out of her... and then her character suddenly changes and she high-kicks the bugger right out of the alley into his Ferrari. Kosukegawa, running back to save her, is amazed at this show of skill, but she seems to have no memory of it, even though she instantly catches on to what happened and begs him not to tell anyone.

Furthermore, when he goes round to her house the next day, someone who looks like her answers the door. But the Shrinking Violet he talked to would never answer the door nearly completely naked.

She later explains that she developed multiple personalities due to each of her three fathers' Trainings from Hell. Yes, plural. When she is threatened, any one of the three alter-egos that split off due to the trauma of those experiences emerge and cause carnage. Because her fathers are an expert karateka, a skilled soldier/swordsman, and a world-famous Jujitsu master, they're really, really good at it. By extension, so are Hibiki, Fujiko, and Mikiri respectively.

Now Kosukegawa knows her secret and, hopeless nerd that he is, promises to protect her. Good luck with that.

Compare with W-Change!!, another action shonen manga that stars a split-personality heroine, and Mahoraba, a romantic comedy with a similarly multi-personae heroine, but without the action.

This manga contains examples of:

  • Above the Influence: At one point, Hibiki more or less offers herself up to Kousukegawa. He, of course, turns her down. She gets pretty offended, despite his good intentions.
  • Action Girl: Hibiki's modus operandi, though most of the girls qualify when they have to fight.
  • Ahoge: The author's stated reason for Mikiri's ponytail.
  • All Cloth Unravels: Motoko's sweater gets caught and unravels when Hibiki vaults off of a bridge and onto a truck. Motoko doesn't find out until she accidentally flashes Kosukegawa.
  • Artistic License – Military: The so-called "Green Berets" are hilariously incompetent. They shouldn't have even made it through basic, let alone been allowed to serve in the special forces.
  • Arranged Marriage: Played with in ch. 37 when Kosukegawa is introduced to his new fiancé. He goes to his parents' house in the country, fully intending to turn her down and it turns out to be Motoko.
  • Assimilation Plot: A small-scale, completely benevolent version. The entire point of the manga is to merge Motoko's personalities, since everyone involved agrees that the split is not good for her mental health.
  • Babies Ever After: Kousukegawa and Motoko have three girls, and guess who they look like.
  • Big Eater: Mikiri. Looks like muscular structure and breast size isn't the only thing that changes when she comes out.
  • Bland-Name Product: YODOBASHI —> EDOBASHI; HONDA —> HONBA; KUSHITANI —> KISHITANI; Arai —> Aoi; SONY —> SOMY. However, this was not done with "Family Mart" and "McDonald's".
  • Bloodierand Gorier: Unlike other shounen fighting series, this series is on a realistic fighting scale. For example, Judo, Karate, and Firearms Training are taught in real life.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When the A.V. Club is told to dial down the fanservice in their next Moeko movie, the attendees protest that this would be like, among other things, "Iwasawa Shiuri turning in a manuscript on time".
  • Breast Expansion: Whenever Mikiri's personality comes to the fore, Motoko's breasts increase noticeably in size, to the point where she often ends up destroying her own bra with the transformation. This is explained as the different personalities having different postures/subtly different ways of movement and expression that tighten or loosen certain muscles. Supposedly, Mikiri just has a way of standing that really accentuates her breasts. This is also used to explain why their faces look different.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: When the emergency staircase starts to collapse, Kosukegawa instinctively tries to grab Fujiko and run away. However Fujiko, being a good strategist, knows that they don't have enough time for this, so she forcibly holds Kousukegawa near her and then manipulates both of them to the spot where she calculates that a hollow part of the staircase will fall down.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Everywhere. Waify girls with nigh-superhuman strength, people dodging bullets, physics defying jumps and spins, Improbable Aiming Skills...the list goes on.
  • Censor Shadow: Used apparently in-world in ch. 4 when Fujiko leaves off her panties so that her high-slit qipao won't look strange.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Ginga doesn't stop being able to kick ass after she begins to look more noticeably feminine.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Pretty much every girl loses a few strands during a fight scene, but it's never enough to make a noticeable dent in her hairstyle.
  • Clothing Damage: A staple of the genre, of course.
    • Motoko is susceptible (and often unaware) to this.
    • Hino falls victim to a thorn bush and gets her top ripped off during a sports carnival.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Bigelow. This is a major problem for Mikiri, whose fighting style is based around overwhelming the opponent with pain, and Bigelow loves pain.
  • Cool Big Sis: Fujiko's primary persona.
  • Cosplay: Motoko (and eventually Hino) in the A.V. Club's movies.
  • Covers Always Lie: A pretty obvious one, and more Artistic License than anything: Motoko has multiple personalities. In other words, you're never going to see more than one of them at a time.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Kosukegawa does it a lot.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Subverted; it was Hifumi getting defeated that caused Ralph and his associates to switch, mostly because their job was done.
  • Defence Mechanism Superpower: In the early chapters, HiFuMi only appear when Motoko is threatened - she can't summon them at will, and has no way of knowing when they'll take over.
  • Determinator: Tatsuya continues fighting against Hifumi even after getting knocked out!
  • Die or Fly: Motoko begs Kannami for help getting Kosukegawa back from the bikers that Hibiki angered, but she doesn't yet know how to summon her alternate personalities — so he pushes her off the roof of their school building to bring out Hibiki.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: This trope is played (at least) twice:
    • Ozuma, during the judo match with Mikiri, suddenly sees that under her judo-gi Mikiri has nothing but some skimpy underwear. She quickly manages to score a small point because of his distraction.
    • On the sports festival at school, during the "battle on horses", Hibiki and Ginga jump towards Izuru to take away her headband. Izuru manages to evade Hibiki's hand, and so instead of the headband, Hibiki tears away Izuru's clothes. This results in Hibiki's and Ginga's "horses" to be distracted by Izuru's breasts, and so unable to catch their "riders".
  • Dodge the Bullet:
    • As the first chapter proves, amateurs should not draw pistols on Fujiko, ever.
    • Tatsuya does this in a later chapter, and even explains his technique.
  • Ecchi: Lots of bared boobage... and high kicks.
  • Enemy Within: Zero, the "hidden" personality of Hifumi that embodies all of Motoko's pent-up anger.
  • Escort Mission: The finale turns into this. Kosukegawa has to reach the stage where Hifumi and Tatsuya are beating each other to death, but the people of the hidden village try to stop them. Cue all the female fighters he's met dealing with the 'obstacles' in his path.
  • Even the Girls Want Her:
    • Though Motoko gets some unwanted physical contact from the other girls while in the hot springs at Okinawa, it's really Tsukishima that invokes this trope the most. It helps that she's quite masculine in appearance.
    • Motoko also gets mass groped (or at least tickled) by the other girls in her class during a yearly physical exam.
  • Everybody Lives: Outside of flashbacks the entire manga ended with a whopping 0 casualties, and you would never guess that until the very end.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • Aizawa gets stuck with the title of Guardian (banchou) after getting awarded it by Hino. It's what most people now call him, much to his annoyance.
    • Though everyone calls him Hideo, Kosukegawa's real name is Teruharu. It's just a different way of reading the same kanji.
  • Generation Xerox: Kouskegawa and Motoko's three children in the epilogue.
  • Going Commando:
    • What often happens when Mikiri is in charge of getting Motoko dressed.
    • Fujiko also gets her panties sliced off in a changing room encounter, later going for a short walk and even an acrobatic fight scene without underwear.
    • On the male side, Bigelow isn't wearing underwear when he fights Mikiri...which, considering his "feelings" about pain, makes the fight a bit more disturbing...
  • Going Native: Hino spent a lot of time with the Gigi tribe and picked up a lot of their customs. Eventually, she ended up earning the title of Gadam, given to the greatest warrior of the village. Yeah.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Zero beating Ralph with his own torn-off artificial arm.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Mikiri accidentally gives one to Kousukegawa.
    • A more gory (and "semi-accidental") one happens off-screen to a yakuza member in ch. 40 at Hibiki's hands—in the words of his colleagues, "right through the dumplings and into the meat.". Even Motoko/Hibiki's consummate Blood Knight father, Tatsuya, is Blue with Shock at the sight and sees it as too horrible of a punishment.
      Tatusya: That's worse than killing him... His life is split in half.
    • Hibiki is talked into apologizing to the man in his hospital bed, but is met with threats and she flashes him and lets his natural reaction do further damage.
  • Heel–Face Turn: At least half of the antagonists end up redeemed by the end of the arc.
  • Hot-Blooded:
    • Hibiki, who gets really pumped up about fighting.
    • Kousukegawa, any time he draws inspiration from Kamen Raider.
  • Hour of Power: In ch. 10, one of the Punch Clock Villains pitted against Motoko in the Zero arc can use acupuncture to give himself Super-Strength for about an hour. Interestingly, the inflated muscles rip his clothes a la The Incredible Hulk. He later lets Kousukegawa make use of it in a bid to stop Zero, warning him he has has only one shot at it.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Kosukegawa in ch. 18, when he found out just what the thing was that Ginga was cooking.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the chapters are named after mathematical equations.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: It seems that sixteen years as a housewife were not kind to Mrs. Kosukegawa.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: When Kosukegawa was floating down the river unconscious. He was saved from falling by Ralph.
  • Imagine Spot: Kosukegawa tends to drift into these, especially when he thinks about Kamen Raider or girls.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl:
    • Mikiri really doesn't seem to understand things like common decency, largely because of her childish persona.
    • Hino, thanks to being Raised by Natives, doesn't get why everyone gets so worked up when her shirt gets ripped.
    • Kosukegawa knows so many of these that when he meets a girl who actually does get embarrassed when her breasts are exposed, he is moved to tears by her modesty.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Hino remarks about how much she likes "chinosuke", a type of Okinawan food. However, the word "chinosuke" sounds pretty close to the Japanese word for male genitalia. The guys in the room react as you'd expect.
  • Justified Trope: Unlike most action/Panty Fighter series, this manga actually tries to be "realistic" though it's really only about as realistic as 24 (if that).
  • Karma Houdini: Mokoto's mother's organization of spies and assassins. Their calling Motoko's mother in for an assignment led to her death, and they wanted to drug Kosukegawa so that at best he'd lose his memories of them (at worst, complete amnesia). While they are beaten down by Kosukegawa's allies, they all get to live and continue with their jobs with no real punishments. Though, they do lose Mokoto from joining their services. This means the ultimate fighter they were striving for is lost.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Shows up in various forms:
    • The plot has some features of a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
    • A biker gang Hibiki and Fujiko once defeated in chapter 2 appears again in chapter 26. After recognizing Hibiki, they all refuse to fight with her, using the Wouldn't Hit a Girl policy as an excuse.
    • A foreshadowing flashback in ch. 14, which later gets somewhat explained in chapter 49.
    • Kosukegawa gets noticeably taller over the course of the series, but no one ever makes mention of this.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall
    Motoko: Why is it that women who fight in sci-fi and fantasy stories are always half-clothed?
  • Long Lost Sibling: Well, more like Long Lost Second Cousin, but it's still the reason why Ginga is now staying with Kousukegawa.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: A fair part of the series is devoted to the answer. Granted, all three men are her fathers (by upbringing), but in the end, it's shown that Tatsuya is Motoko's biological father, but her family line has also crossed with Jin and Takezou's as well.
  • The Matchmaker: Hibiki and Mikiri for Motoko/Kosukegawa. Yes, she's playing matchmaker for herself. Also counts as a Matchmaker Crush, since her alternate personalities also like Kosukegawa, but without many of the problems that the trope normally entails.
  • Media Watchdog: The subculture club got a lot of complaints about the fanservice in their first movie. Their solution? Put the female leads (Motoko and Hino) in skin-tight bodysuits. Aizawa too.
  • Mighty Whitey: Not actually white in this case, but Hino plays the trope rather straight after going to the Gigi village and besting their greatest warriors, earning the title of Gadam. However, it's implied that the elders and previous Gadam specifically chose Hino to inherit the position so that the tradition would leave the island with her.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: The number one sign that Zero is in control, and probably the last warning you get before being murdered.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Motoko, though which personality is in control tends to determine how much she's okay with that. Motoko is mortified by it, Hibiki enjoys it, Fujiko is apathetic and Mikiri is innocently oblivious.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless:
    • Bullies, gangs, and even drug-doped mooks (and sometimes even armed soldiers) are usually just cannon fodder to HiFuMi and company and most definitely to Zero.
    • Averted at last in the final battle against Tatsuya, who himself points out at least two instances during the fight when the HiFuMi's moves simply lack the bulk or reach of the other two parents needed to back them up, which ultimately winds up costing them victory.
  • Naked Apron: A recurring fantasy of Kousukegawa's.
  • Near-Miss Groin Attack: In Chapter 29, Kosukegawa is bitten in seemingly bitten in the crotch by a viper which causes him to Faint in Shock. But when Fujiko and Hino strip off his shorts in order to Suck Out the Poison, they notice he doesn't have any bite marks and that viper actually missed him only managed to bite his shorts due to him having a Teeny Weenie.
  • Non-Action Guy: Kousukegawa. Note that this doesn't stop him from trying to help or protect his Action Girl friends against opponents who give them problems, and he has absolutely no chance against.
  • Not So Stoic: When Kosukegawa was believed to be dead Fujiko fused partially with Zero making her a very calculating but sadistic woman who would torture Kosukegawa's would-be killer by kneecapping him in every limb.
  • Peaceful in Death: Or not. "Um, I'm not dead."
  • The Plan: In the name of therapy, no less. Our resident Teen Genius decides that the best way to verify whether or not a fourth, rage-filled personality exists within Motoko is to basically beat all other personalities up to kingdom come...without informing the male protagonist, incidentally a close "friend", or the two "fathers" (of Motoko, that is) that are not involved in executing the plot. How he managed to ultimately convince the third into cooperating is unknown, though it's probably because the third was the most pragmatic one among them.
  • Put on a Bus: Lampshaded by the narrator on two minor antagonists after they are hilariously defeated by Hibiki in Chapter 16.
    Next Scheduled Appearance: Never
  • Raging Stiffie: The film club's skin-tight leotards are not kind to Aizawa when Motoko and Hino are wearing the same.
  • Red Herring: Immediately after we see Ginga discovering that the Gadam has returned to Japan, we're introduced to Botan Tsukishima, the tall, Ambiguously Brown transfer student who clearly has fighting experience. Several chapters later, we discover that she's not the Gadam — that's Izuru Hino, the smaller, paler, more ladylike other transfer student who we didn't meet until a few chapters after the Gadam scene.
  • Right Behind Me:
    • In ch. 24, Kosukegawa is praying at the shrine for the courage to ask Motoko out. Guess who was behind him?
      Motoko: And I hope that we'll be very happy together.
    • Sora Uzuki essentially spat and trampled all over Kousukegawa's dreams and childhood memories near the end of Chapter 47, before her attention is drawn to Hibiki's presence right behind her... and against all better judgment, she deliberately twists the proverbial knife with a few choice words in order to provoke her further. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: The organization Mokoto's mother worked for. The only way a person leaves is by dying. Not even Mokoto's mother living outside the compound spared her from missions. It was actually being called in for a job which led to the accident that caused her death.
  • The Rival: Ginga is in pursuit of the Gadam who is also her best friend, Hino, hoping to defeat the Gadam and claim the title...or at least that's the excuse. She really just didn't want to say goodbye to her best friend.
  • Rule of Cool: The series runs on it. Its not super-unrealistic per-say but...let's just say some of the stuff that happens in this series is NOT going to happen in real life and a lot of it is damn unlikely. Doesn't reduce its awesomeness at all.
  • Shameful Strip: The biker gang that abducts Kousukegawa and corners Hibiki in a construction yard orders her to strip and get on her knees if she wants Kousukegawa back. She appears to be complying with their demands when she calmly removes her school uniform and places it on the ground, but she was actually taking the opportunity to let Fujiko take over and pick up a few nails that were lying around. Nails which she promptly uses as ammunition in a counterattack against the 40 or so bikers.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The entire manga is a combined one to Kamen Rider and Getter Robo, the first Transforming Mecha series which featured a robot that could switch between three forms in battle.
      • The title itself is a reference to the command the pilots shout when switching forms: "Change Getter (1,2,3)!" Also, Motoko's three fathers are expies of Getter Robo's three main characters, Nagare Ryoma, Jin Hayato and Kurama Benkei.
      • Also note the colors of the stances: Red, Blue, and Yellow, happen to match the colors of Getters 1, 2, and 3, who specialize in each respective type.
      • It gets referenced again in ch. 50, this time literally.
    • In ch. 25: "No one knows where she's from but... everyone knows her body."
    • In ch. 4: "F...Fusion?"
    • Ginga looks the same as the protagonist in the film An Indian in The City.
    • When Kosukegawa heads out to Kyoto to find a runaway HiFuMi, his mother hands him a hat and cloak that look like the ones worn by Tetsuro in Galaxy Express 999 (down to the bullet holes in the hat), telling him they're things a young man needs for a safe journey. He doesn't take them.
  • Shown Their Work: Very much so. Simply because its an over the top panty fighter doesn't mean the manga-ka didn't do his homework.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • Kamen Raider
    • The Cosplay movies made by the members of Kosukegawa's school sci-fi club. (Some scenes of the first one can be seen in the manga.)
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Well... more like four single women in one single woman's body seek a good man, but still.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Every once in a while, Kosukegawa thinks about Motoko and a single hair on his head stands straight up. Yeah, it means pretty much what you think it does.
  • Split-Personality Merge: What the characters are ostensibly aiming for, so Motoko can live a more normal life.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: After Motoko recovers her memories of her mother's death, she disappears, leaving only HiFuMi. The rest of the series is devoted to bringing her back.
  • Stance System (Color-coded for the viewer's convenience, based on the "RYB" system): Red is Offense, Blue is Speed, and Yellow is Defense; each fighter is basically either specialized in one of those, or mixes two of them together (e.g. Blue + Yellow = Green = quick w/ strong defense; partial mixing - i.e. light Yellow, meaning less defensive ability than "full Yellow" - is also possible). Black, the mix of ALL THREE, is stated to be theoretically nigh-impossible, due to the delicate muscular balance that is necessary to achieve each separate color.
  • The Stoic: Fujiko, compared to the other three personalities.
  • Stripperiffic: Not so much in the story itself as in the Cosplay movies made by the members of Kosukegawa's sci-fi club. When asked by Motoko why they use this trope, they provide a pretty lame excuse telling her that sci-fi and fantasy worlds are too hot for normal clothes. (She buys it.)
  • Suck Out the Poison: Oh no, our hero's wang has been bit by a snake! *rolls eyes* Oh, if only there were half a dozen pretty girls around in Chapter 29 to assist in removal! He only thought he'd been bit.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Ginga. An unusual case, since it has more to do with her wiry build and tribal mode of dress which leads to some confusion.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: The Red-Yellow-Blue Stance System works like this. In one scene Fujiko even explicitly uses the "rock-paper-scissor" as a metaphor, while commenting on the battle between Ginga and Gadam, saying that there is no chance for Hibiki (who is almost pure "red") to win in a battle against Gadam (who is predominantly "yellow").
  • Tap on the Head: "Shaking [the opponent's] brain" is frequently used by martial artists in the series (particularly Mikiri) in order to nonlethally disable them. In real life, a blow hard enough to rattle somebody's brain would disable them... probably forever, assuming it doesn't kill them outright or leave them vegetables.
  • Teach Her Anger: A recurring plot element in the series. After Kannami notices that neither Motoko or the HiFuMi feel anger, he hires Ralph's team to defeat the HiFuMi and awaken the personality representing that anger. After Zero is revealed, the treatment plan changes to trying to integrate her with Hibiki, Fujiko, and Mikiri, which happens by giving each of them enough individual life experience that they experience anger — and overcome it.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Mikiri finds that her grappling techniques are far less effective on one of her assailants thanks to his unusual reaction to pain.
  • Tranquil Fury: Motoko doesn't usually get mad. When she means Zero's about to come out and play. She rarely talks, or shows any emotion, but it's quite clear that she's pissed.
  • Troll: Ginga gets a kick out of poking fun at Aizawa in ch. 42 after learning that he's still feeling the hurt from their last sparring bout.
  • True Love's Kiss: Subverted. It's Motoko that kisses Kousukegawa when she finally comes back. "For the sleeping beauty to give the kiss is against the rules."
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Inverted. Kousukegawa's dad is basically an aged up, Bishounen version of himself. His mom is drawn as short, squat, and plain.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: When Kousukegawa saw Ginga nude in the bathroom for the first time. His shock and disbelief was so strong, it took his mind until the next day for the sight's implications to finally set in.
  • The Un-Smile: Motoko's forced smile in ch. 19 after Kosukegawa points out that she never laughs is...unconvincing.
  • Vapor Wear:
    • Motoko, if she isn't paying attention, will sometimes do this. More often than not, however, it's because Mikiri got them dressed that day.
    • Hibiki, if she's trying to get Kousukegawa's attention.
    • Mikiri never wears a bra because all of Motoko's bras are too small for her.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: In Chapter 29, Kosukegawa is bitten in the crotch by a viper and passes out. Panicked Tsukishima, Fujiko and Hino strip off his shorts in order to Suck Out the Poison. But then they notice he doesn't have any bite marks and that viper actually missed him only managed to bite his shorts and Kosukegawa only passed out from the shock. He wakes up moments later, pantless with all three girls staring and commenting on his Teeny Weenie and gets a massive Naked Freak-Out.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ginga at first, as part of the standard Gigi outfit. She eventually gets some proper clothes once she starts getting breasts.
  • Watch Where You're Going!: Hibiki and Ginga, while trying to catch a thief, run right into each other.
  • Wham Episode: Starting in Chapter 48, when Zero takes over, nearly kills Sora and almost chokes Kosukegawa because he tries to stop her. Then, in Chapter 49, we finally get to see how her mother died... and Motoko's personality disappears, leaving behind only Hifumi and Zero.
  • World of Action Girls: Barring Hifumi's "fathers", almost every strong fighter is female.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Zig-zagged. Most of the guys in the manga are smarter than to think a girl can't be dangerous, especially considering there's someone like Hifumi wandering around. However, Aizawa plays this straight...except for Ginga.
  • Yubitsume:
    • A Yakuza member accidentally cuts off his own finger with a switchblade when fighting Tatsuya, Hibiki's father. Tatsuya comments that Yakuza are used to losing fingers.
    • Later on, Kenji offers yubitsume in return for getting to leave the family, but is ordered to kill Tatsuya instead.