Unleashing the power of transformation, anime offers an array of storylines that will captivate audiences of all ages. This magical realm introduces us to seemingly ordinary characters, only to stun us with their unexpected, often mind-boggling “glow ups”.
Diving into the anime world, you witness timid characters metamorphose into confident individuals, wallflowers morph into warriors, and overlooked extras evolve into pivotal players. These transformations, or “glow ups”, form an intrinsic part of the narrative, driving the story forward, adding depth, and making our hearts race.
We’ve lined up a collection of the most jaw-dropping makeovers in the history of anime, showcasing characters who’ve not only changed aesthetically but also grown emotionally and spiritually. Prepare to be awestruck by the power of transformation in the top 20 glow up anime.
Glow Up Anime
This section delves deeper into the intriguing “Glow Up Anime” concept. From remarkable physical transformations to striking emotional growth, these anime series beautifully illustrate the profound journey of characters from ordinary to extraordinary. Join us as we reveal the compelling narratives behind these iconic makeovers.
1. Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck (Bleach)
Once an Espada turned into a child due to a surprise attack, Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck, affectionately known as Nel, begins her journey in the Bleach series as a small, innocent, and seemingly powerless character. However, she’s far more than meets the eye. During a crucial battle, she regains her original form, and we see an immense glow that astounds allies and enemies.
As an adult, Nel transforms into a formidable warrior, radiating confidence and strength. Her glow up is not just physical; her maturity, intelligence, and powerful combat skills make her a crucial player in the story. This makeover emphasizes Nel’s resilience and underlying strength, teaching viewers about the unpredictable nature of life and personal growth.
2. Gon Freecss (Hunter X Hunter)
Gon Freecss, the young protagonist of Hunter X Hunter, is initially introduced as an optimistic and naive boy who dreams of becoming a Hunter. Despite being talented, his physical appearance and abilities resemble a typical young boy. However, during the Chimera Ant arc, Gon undergoes an epic transformation.
In his pursuit of vengeance, he forcibly matures himself, growing both physically and in power to match a seasoned Hunter. His hair grows long, and his body muscles become extremely defined, reflecting his increased strength and determination. This drastic shift isn’t just a physical “glow up”; it also reveals a darker, more serious side of Gon’s personality, marking a significant point in his character development.
3. Sasuke Uchiha (Naruto)
Sasuke Uchiha is a classic example of a character glaring up in the anime world. Starting as a brooding, gifted youngster in Naruto, he initially appears cool yet somewhat withdrawn. As the story progresses, he evolves into a character exuding a darker, more powerful aura. He grows taller, his physique becomes more robust, and his hair lengthens, adding to his mature look.
More importantly, he develops the Sharingan to its full potential, showcasing a power that makes him one of the most potent ninjas in the series. Sasuke’s transformation isn’t just physical; it’s a complete shift in character, ideology, and power, making his glow up one of the most iconic in anime history.
4. Asta (Black Clover)
In Black Clover, Asta is initially portrayed as a loud, energetic orphan boy devoid of any magic in a world where magic is everything. However, he compensates for his lack of magic with physical training, giving him a muscular build unusual for his age. His real glow-up occurs when he acquires the five-leaf clover grimoire and learns to control anti-magic.
Asta’s appearance becomes more battle-hardened as he becomes stronger and more proficient in combat. His muscles become more defined, and he grows taller. Yet, the most significant transformation lies within – he evolves from an underdog to a true hero, never backing down and always standing up for his friends and ideals.
5. Palm Siberia (Hunter X Hunter)
Palm Siberia starts as an eccentric and overly emotional woman in the series Hunter X Hunter. She initially appears as an ordinary human, her most distinct feature being her large, unblinking eyes. However, after being captured and transformed by the Chimera Ants, Palm undergoes a significant glow up.
She becomes a hybrid human-ant creature with diamond-like skin and a third eye that grants her incredible powers, such as tracking people. This transformation makes Palm visually more striking and a significantly stronger character. Yet, her humanity remains
6. Saitama (One Punch Man)
Saitama’s journey in One Punch Man is unconventional and fascinating. Once an average young man with a mundane job, he undergoes a mind-boggling transformation after rigorously following a strenuous workout routine for three years. His metamorphosis is not just physical but also in terms of power. The most obvious change is his bald head, a side effect of his intense training.
However, his extraordinary strength truly marks his glow-up, making him capable of defeating enemies with a single punch. Saitama becomes a character unlike any other – one who defies the norms of superhero narratives. His transformation serves as a commentary on the pursuit of power, making his glow up a satirical yet influential one in anime.
7. Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto)
Naruto Uzumaki’s transformation journey is perhaps one of anime history’s most profound glow-ups. From a naughty, often ostracized kid in the village of Konoha, Naruto evolves into its most admired figure and Seventh Hokage. His physical growth is noticeable – he grows taller, his facial features sharpen, and he adopts a more mature attire.
However, his true glow up lies in his character development. He learns to harness the power of the Nine-Tails Fox within him, becoming an exceptional ninja, and his steadfast commitment to his nindo, or ninja way, makes him a beloved character. Naruto’s transformation inspires, embodying the themes of perseverance and growth.
8. Rize Kamishiro (Tokyo Ghoul)
Rize Kamishiro, the infamous binge eater Ghoul of Tokyo Ghoul, presents a different kind of glow up. Initially appearing as an attractive, sophisticated woman, her true nature is chillingly different. After a near-death experience, Rize becomes a ghoul organ donor, unintentionally triggering the transformation of the series’ protagonist, Kaneki.
While Rize herself does not undergo a typical glow up, her character’s influence does. Her transformation from a physical being into an abstract embodiment of Kaneki’s ghoul side marks a unique glow that’s more psychological than physical.
9. Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan)
In Attack on Titan, Mikasa Ackerman’s transformation is both profound and subtle. Starting as a frail, scared child who loses her family, Mikasa evolves into one of humanity’s strongest soldiers under Eren Yeager’s influence. Her physique changes to reflect her strength, her features become more defined, and she adopts a more serious demeanor.
Her character shines through her unwavering determination to protect her loved ones, no matter the cost. Mikasa’s glow up is about her physical prowess and emotional fortitude, making her a beloved figure in the anime world.
10. Hinata Hyuga (Naruto)
Hinata Hyuga’s glow up in Naruto is an inspiring journey of self-improvement and determination. Initially presented as a shy, soft-spoken girl with low self-esteem, Hinata grows into a strong, confident woman. As she matures, her physical appearance subtly changes – she grows taller, her hair lengthens, and she adopts a more combat-ready attire.
However, the true glow up is her personal growth and development. Hinata refines her Byakugan abilities, becomes a master in her clan’s Gentle Fist technique, and, more importantly, overcomes her self-doubt. Her transformation from a timid heiress to a brave ninja embodies the theme of inner strength and growth, making her glow up a pivotal element in the series.
11. Simon (Gurren Lagann)
Simon’s transformation in Gurren Lagann is an awe-inspiring journey from uncertainty to unyielding determination. Initially introduced as a timid, small boy who mainly relies on his adoptive older brother Kamina, Simon experiences a powerful glow-up after Kamina’s death. Regarding physical change, he grows taller, adopts a more robust build, and his attire shifts to reflect his newfound leadership role.
Yet, the essence of his transformation lies in his character growth. From the depths of despair, he evolves into a charismatic leader, brimming with the confidence and courage that his brother had always envisioned in him. His ability to wield the Gurren Lagann mech is a testament to his strength and the evolution of his spirit, solidifying his iconic status in the anime world.
12. Koby (One Piece)
Koby, from One Piece, provides one of the most rewarding transformation narratives in the series. From a timid, physically weak chore boy under the pirate Alvida, Koby evolves into a promising Marine officer. His glow up isn’t just his change in hairstyle or his grown physique; it’s his complete character overhaul.
Koby develops from a fearful boy to a brave individual who stands up against the tyranny of pirates, even confronting the infamous Luffy. His transformation embodies the power of will and determination, demonstrating that true change comes from within.
13. Shinichi Izumi (Parasyte)
The transformation of Shinichi Izumi in Parasyte is both drastic and emotionally stirring. After a parasitic alien takes over his right hand, Shinichi evolves from a naive high school boy into a critical player in the war against Parasites. His physical change is noticeable – he becomes leaner, more muscular, and his demeanor grows colder.
However, the real transformation lies in his personality and moral compass. He becomes more pragmatic and ruthless, often conflicting with his retained human emotions. Shinichi’s glow up profoundly explores identity and humanity amid extreme circumstances.
14. Akira Fudo (Devilman Crybaby)
Akira Fudo’s transformation in Devilman Crybaby is both shocking and emotionally charged. Starting as a sensitive and timid young boy, Akira becomes the host for the powerful demon Amon during a Sabbath party gone wrong. His physical transformation is extreme, gaining a muscular build, sharp features, and the ability to transform into Devilman.
While Akira’s heart remains kind, his newfound demonic powers and the harsh reality of his existence compel him to embrace a more aggressive, assertive demeanor. His glow up explores the blurred line between humanity and horror, making it a thought-provoking narrative in anime.
15. Prompto Argentum (Final Fantasy XV)
Though primarily a video game character, Prompto’s glow-up depicted in the anime series “Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV” is noteworthy. Starting as an overweight, lonely child, Prompto becomes a skilled gunslinger and an indispensable part of Prince Noctis’s retinue. He sheds his excess weight, becomes physically fit, and develops sharpshooting skills.
However, his real glow up is his change from an isolated individual to a loyal friend and dependable team member, showing that true transformation goes beyond mere physical appearances. His transformation journey is an inspiring tale of self-improvement and companionship.
16. Masamune Makabe (Masamune-kun’s Revenge)
In Masamune-kun’s Revenge, Masamune Makabe provides an intriguing take on the glow up concept. Once a chubby, kind-hearted boy who was cruelly rejected for his weight, he transforms himself into a handsome, athletic student with one goal: to exact revenge on the girl who broke his heart.
His physical change is dramatic, but his emotional shift is even more pronounced. He becomes more calculated, less naive, and more confident in his abilities. Despite his vindictive intentions, Masamune’s transformation journey is about confronting past demons and growing from them, making it a significant glow-up.
17. Kae Serinuma (Kiss Him, Not Me)
The transformation of Kae Serinuma in Kiss Him, Not Me is both humorous and insightful. After the death of her favorite anime character, she loses a significant amount of weight due to her grieving, inadvertently becoming the school’s beauty.
Her physical transformation is drastic, but Kae remains the same otaku at heart, which creates a unique contrast and humorous situation. Her glow-up explores themes of beauty standards and the idea that change should come from personal desire rather than societal pressure, making her transformation meaningful.
18. Yuri Katsuki (Yuri!!! on Ice)
Yuri Katsuki’s transformation in Yuri!!! On Ice is a poignant depiction of personal growth and self-discovery. Starting as a talented but insecure figure skater, Yuri’s encounters with his idol Victor lead him down a path of remarkable change.
His physical transformation is subtle, with a slightly more toned body, but his true glow up lies in his performance on ice and his increased self-confidence. As he breaks free from his insecurities and embraces his unique style, viewers witness a man stepping into his own power and identity.
19. Eren Yeager (Attack on Titan)
Eren Yeager’s transformation in Attack on Titan is nothing short of radical. From a headstrong, impulsive boy who dreams of eradicating the Titans, Eren evolves into a complex character with a more pragmatic and somewhat cynical view of the world. Physically, he grows taller, his features harden, and his body becomes more muscular due to his intense military training.
Yet, the most noticeable change is his transformation into a Titan, a physical and symbolic representation of his fight against the oppressive reality. His character development, combined with his physical transformation, creates a captivating and multifaceted glow up.
20. Ken Kaneki (Tokyo Ghoul)
Ken Kaneki’s transformation in Tokyo Ghoul is one of anime’s most heart-wrenching and dramatic glow-ups. Initially a gentle, bookish university student, Kaneki’s life takes a horrific turn when he becomes a half-ghoul. His physical transformation includes a shift in his hair color from black to white and the manifestation of a ghoul’s red eye.
However, the real glow-up is his shift from a naive human to a key player in the ghoul world, straddling two realities. His journey is marked by struggle and resilience, making his transformation a profound exploration of identity and humanity.
In the diverse realm of anime, character transformations or ‘glow ups’ are powerful plot tools that often define the narrative’s trajectory. This article explored the remarkable glow-ups of twenty distinctive anime characters, detailing their physical and psychological transformations.
From the bravery of Naruto Uzumaki to the evolution of Kae Serinuma, each character’s glow-up was a testament to their growth and resilience. These transformations provide entertainment and profound insights into identity, strength, and personal growth themes. Ultimately, the glow up in anime is a celebration of change and evolution, resonating with viewers across the globe.