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Magical Girl Henshins: Agency Part 3

A few more general observations about agency in henshins:

1. When trying to figure out whether something in a henshin counts as agency, I ask myself: If the heroine didn’t do [thing], would the henshin be able to continue? If no, then [thing] qualifies as agency. If yes, then probably not.

For example, Sailor Neptune transforms by having a cylinder of water rise up to consume her, but first she draws a circle to mark where the cylinder will burst forth.

The implication is that the cylinder can only materialize if Neptune draws that guide-line for it. Otherwise, where would it come from? Thus, we can conclude that Neptune is exerting control over her henshin by choosing to summon the cylinder. If she didn’t draw that circle, the whole process would grind to a halt.

On the flip side, you often see a heroine stick out a bare limb for the henshin to work on, as if to say “My body is ready.”

I don’t count that as agency, because for all we know, the glaze would still wrap itself around her arm — she’d just be in a different pose when it happened. The cause and effect is debatable.

2. From reading my previous posts on agency in henshins, you may have noticed the same shows coming up again and again. Indeed, it seems like most shows that use henshin agency devote themselves whole-heartedly to the concept.

Toei in particular is a big fan. Doremi (99), one of the pioneers of henshin agency, even decided that with the girls’ power would come responsibility: each henshin was on a timer, and if Doremi and friends did’t finish fast enough, the transformation would fail and they’d have to start over.

Powerpuff Girls Z (06) is another Toei creation with very active henshins. Toei’s latest franchise, Precure, used very little agency for the first 5 years, but from Heartcatch (10) onward, the series returned to Doremi’s roots, giving the heroines a lot of control over their henshins, albeit without the time limit.

Interestingly, hardly any male-aimed shows use agency in their henshins. I guess I could read some feminist analysis into that, though I don’t know if that would be fair; it could just be a coincidence.