Recently, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the transformation scene of Rebecca (Becky) from Dog Days. Two main opinions have developed from all of that talk. The first is that the scene is too sexually suggestive. The second is that transformation scenes like Rebecca’s are commonplace in magical girl anime and nothing to be concerned about. Both sides seem to suggest that magical girl transformations are starting to encroach on ero-anime territory. Considering magical girl anime were originally made for young girls, have transformation scenes gone too far in trying to attract male viewers?
The transformation scene is one of the most defining moments in any magical girl anime. It’s like a coming-of-age process that lasts a spectacular 1-2 minutes. The difference is that magical girl transformations take place in a rainbow-coloured bubble with bright lights rather than the real world.
Perhaps the most iconic magical girl transformation is that of Usagi Tsukino into Sailor Moon. I remember seeing Sailor Moon’s transformation as a kid in the 90’s and thinking “whoa, cool!” If you’ve never seen Sailor Moon’s transformation, see the video below:
Sailor Moon’s transformation was revolutionary. The flashiness of the scene outshone any battle that Sailor Moon fought during the first half of the season and I’m sure it was what attracted many people to the anime. The scene did draw some controversy though when parents claimed that it was too sexualized. It is implied that Sailor Moon is nude and you can see the outline of her body very clearly. Perhaps the reason why this wasn’t censored in the North American version was because the anime was marketed to girls and she was technically wrapped from head to toe in rainbowy lights and not nude.
I find the argument that Sailor Moon’s transformation is sexualized to be very weak. Have the people who made those claims never been to a beach or stepped outside on a hot summer day? You can see far more female outlines in real life and they aren’t covered with rainbowy-sparkles.
Fast-forward a decade and now we have a new defining magical girl series: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. The evolution of the transformation scene is relatively apparent when you compare Nanoha’s transformation scene with Sailor Moon’s. While bright lights within a bubble are still present, there are additional elements borrowed from mecha series (like Raising Heart coming together).
What’s interesting to note is that there is no coating of light completely covering Nanoha’s body as with Sailor Moon. The only thing keeping it PG is that there’s always something “in the way” or she’s too far to see any detail. I consider Nanoha’s transformation to be on the edge of being ecchi. There are a few moments that were clearly done with a male audience in mind, but it’s not so prominent that it’s blatantly lewd.
Fast-forward again to last week and we have what I think will be another defining moment in transformation scenes: Rebecca’s transformation from Dog Days 2. First, here’s the transformation in question (NSFW, probably?)
Now this transformation does follow the rules and bathes Rebecca in a coat of light so you can’t see any skin, but it’s the other elements that make it so controversial. First off, her clothes don’t magically appear like in other transformations. Instead, tentacle-like attach to her body at very suggestive locations and I don’t think I need to explain the implications of tentacles in anime. Second, her staff/broom is always between her legs when it’s shown and “bursts” at the end. Third, Rebecca is seen lying on her back with her legs spread open and twitching. Lastly, her facial expression makes it look like she’s moaning. It’s hard not to get what those 2 minutes were implying.
I think Dog Days went too far into ero territory with this scene. After doing some searching, not even actual ero-anime transformations were this arousing (see Mahou Shoujo Ai, Mahou Shoujo Elena, Mahou Shoujo Isuka, and Mahou Shoujo Sae). In fact, it seems most of these ero-anime transformation scenes follow the same lines as Sailor Moon and Nanoha except that the girls are actually naked and not bathed in lights and rainbows. How could a cute anime like Dog Days have a scene that’s more erotic than ero-anime?
If this is the direction that magical girl transformations are heading, then I weep for the genre. Pretty soon, magical girls will go the way of the tentacle – forever implying something naughty.