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When an immensely powerful character has to have their power sealed for some reason, the artists (usually overly fond of Super-Deformed or "chibi" characters) will represent this by drawing the character in her depowered or "sleep mode" state as a tiny, delicate, and incredibly doll like version of her normal self with the wardrobe to match. This can vary, be it Elegant Gothic Lolita or a more standard Kawaiiko. A normal sized character can be turned into Sleep Mode Size if she has her powers temporarily drained.
Another version is the character just looking like a child version of herself. Sometimes the cast knows about only that version despite suggestion. The Reveal will show her to be extremely powerful... and probably really good looking.
This can also be done with dragons or other large monsters -- they may enter Poké Balls or turn into playing cards, or into an adorable baby or plushie form. The small form may be their normal form and they can only power-up for short periods of time or if given a special stimulus, much the same as a Transformation Sequence.
Anime & Manga
- Possibly invented by Osamu Tezuka for The Three Eyed One. The sweet and naive middle schooler Sharaku happens to have a third eye hidden under a bandage, and once it's removed it unlocks his much smarter and quite evil true self.
- In Fairy Tail Pantherlily has his own version of this, where he becomes the same size as the other cats in Fairy Tail.
- Many magical characters in Ah! My Goddess can do this, usually to save energy; Urd is often seen making many copies of herself, so long as it doesn't tax her concentration. The bonus manga strip and spinoff series, Adventures of the Mini-Goddesses, features the tiny-sized girls having adventures within their own house.
- In both the manga and television series, the demon queen Hild leaves behind a tiny fraction of her power after visiting, which is still enough to take the form of a little girl. While Urd finds it embarrasing, Hild's introduction suggests that simply appearing in the mortal world without throttling her power somehow would easily take out a few city blocks.
- In CLAMP's manga Wish, all but the most powerful angels take on a Super-Deformed, powered-down form at night, while demons do so during the day.
- Haré+Guu has a "mysterious pink-haired woman" according to Guu who no one recogizes except Hare, who loudly complains is obviously supposed to be her. That the two interact certainly doesn't clarify matters.
- Kerberos from Cardcaptor Sakura is supposed to look like a lion, but since his power is sealed for most of the series he usually resembles a small, golden teddy bear with wings. Season 2 takes this even further with Spinel, who does this in the form of a super-cutsie black cat. With wings.
- From Tenchi Muyo!, Washu is an extraordinarily powerful entity, perhaps even a literal goddess, who can change her appearance at will. For whatever reason, almost all the time she chooses to look like a precocious red-haired nine-year-old girl. She is quite capable of looking like a very attractive adult woman when she feels like it, though she doesn't do it very often.
- The OVAs have a reason - Washu was badly burned in a relationship when her husband Mikamo had to leave her (and took their kid Mikumo away) due to their social standings AND in the heat of political strife. She decided that she'd rather be a child and not worry about those responsibilities than deal with that again. Of course, she'd throw that away in a heartbeat to be with Tenchi...!
- From the same series, Ryo-Ohki. Normally a cute fuzzy "cabbit", she can transform into the universe's most powerful space battleship. This is doubled up in the OAV, after she gains a Humanoid form. Though it has an adult size, she normally shrinks it down to a little kid's when she uses it. She has trouble walking bipedally in a form so top heavy, y'see. The manga spinoff even featured a storyline where she practiced how to walk with boobs.
- Zenki is about a demon prince sealed into a childlike form in order to control his powers. His handler can transform him into his bad-assed adult self with the help of a magical bracelet.
- Chrono in Chrono Crusade is another sealed-into-child-form demon, thanks to a crippling (for demons) injury suffered in the past; though he can temporarily re-adopt his adult form, he is loath to do so, since it requires draining time from his partner's lifespan.
- Amusingly, he looked fairly cool in his chronologically first appearance in this shrunken form, with a serious face and tattered mod on his nineteenth-century Indian leathers, but during the main storyline he seems to have chosen a 'ridiculously cute' tailcoat and shorts style. Possibly for harmlessness points, since he's a known demon working with a Church organization.
- In the manga of Sailor Moon, it's revealed that the talking cats Luna and Artemis (and by extension, their Kid From the Future Diana) are actually Humanoid Aliens but are forced to take the form of adorable cats while on Earth. Luna temporarily gets her human form back in the Princess Kaguya story and its animated rendition, while Artemis also temporarily returns to his own to save a depowered Minako.
- In addition to getting more or less being Brother Chucked, Arf from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha takes a puppy form to "conserve energy" for Fate, which also reduces her usefulness to that of "Babysitter".
- Caro's pet dragon Freidrich spends most of his time the size of a large cat. In serious fights however, he can be unsealed to about the size of a truck.
- And then there's Vivio and Einhart. While their normal forms are that of kids, they can use their magic to take up older forms. Vivio says that this form is much better in terms of fighting, as the two use martial arts, compared to Nanoha and Fate at their age.
- Belphemon. an antagonist from Digimon Savers, literally has a form called Belphemon Sleep Mode that he spends most of his time in, that looks like an adorable demonic koala bear chained up (albeit, "Sleep Mode" is nonetheless about the size of an elephant). He only awakens once every 1000 years. When he does, he becomes a giant bestial demon that mindlessly wreaks destruction. "Tamed" Digimon are capable of assuming three or four (depending on the individual) extremely powerful, often gigantic battle forms by feeding off their partner's energy. Most seem incapable of maintaining these states for any extended periods, forcing them to spend their non-combat time in their Rookie/Child stages: usually small, animal-like creatures that represent the lowest stage when they are capable of fighting.
- Cz (yes, that is her actual name) from Scrapped Princess is introduced as an innocent-looking seven- or eight-year-old girl. However, her true form as one of the Peacemakers is that of a fully-grown adult woman.
- Kon from Bleach is a borderline example. Technically, he doesn't HAVE a body, but for the most part, he inhabits an animated, lion-like teddy-bear. However, if he inhabits a human body, he can supercharge its legs, providing tremendous running, jumping and kicking abilities. Too bad Flanderization kicked in...
- Later in the Arrancar arc there's Nell Tu, formerly the third Espada, who was locked into a child's body after receiving a serious head wound and losing her memory. In the last manga arc, Urahara creates a device that fixes this and lets her permanently return to her adult form.
- Dohko, Shiryu's teacher and saint of Libra in Saint Seiya has been in powersaving mode for centuries, until the beginning of Hades' saga. Then he goes from an quiet Old Master to the handsome and powerful Gold Saint he's been all along.
- Koenma from Yu Yu Hakusho has a "toddler" form (for which he is teased mercilessly) and a "teenage" form that he begins to adopt more and more frequently as the series progresses.
- Mind, the latter is an illusion--he's hundreds or thousands of years old, but gods take a long time to grow up. His ascension to being King Enma after a coup toward the end of the manga may or may not have accelerated the maturation process.
- He also displays considerable power as a floating baby, but none whatsoever in his first 'human form' arc, and in the second he still has no combat ability, just 'raise dead' and 'force field of destiny' (which doesn't even work). The power for both has been stored up in his pacifier.
Yusuke: You're not ready to die. You've just stopped teething.
- Frieza from Dragonball Z adopts this practice, with each of his lesser forms being more or less a limiter he placed on himself - however, his true form is the smallest and most fragile-looking of all of his forms.
- Maya from Tenjou Tenge passes as a child to conserve her chi. Amusingly, her clothes don't change size. They're designed to (barely) fit both sizes; in child mode they look like a kimono, while in adult mode they become a miniskirt and barely-there shirt.
- In Macross Frontier Klan Klein is a Zentraedi whose natural form is a fifty-foot tall, well-endowed adult woman. Like all Zentraedi she can "micronize" her body to human-size, but due to a genetic defect her micronized form resembles a short pre-teen girl. Though this is often Played for Laughs, it plays hell with her love life: as her childhood friend and romantic interest Michael points out, no adult would be caught dead making a move on her for fear of getting arrested.
- In Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, Loki looks about ten most of the time. If he gathers enough power by draining the evil from people's hearts, he can transform into an adult for a while.
- Mic Sounders the 13th looks like a giant child's toy, but when he unlocks his limiter, he turns into the Humongous Mecha embodiment of The Power of Rock.
- Evangeline A.K. McDowell, the powerful vampiress in Mahou Sensei Negima, was captured, De-powered and cursed with "School Hell", stuck to remain a middle-schooler to atone for her sins. An inversion; her "sleep mode" is her real appearance (turned as a child) and her full power form is an illusion.
- Worth mentioning that Kotarou changed into a small dog when his powers were sealed.
- Don't forget the age-changing pills introduced during the School Festival arc, and used heavily during the last arc to age Negi and Kotaru and loli-fy the girls to disguise them considering they're all wanted in connection to the gate port terrorist attacks thanks to Fate. Also, Kaede can use her ninjutsu to take on a child-like form (which she uses mainly to rub it into Mana's face) as demonstrated in the second chapter of vignettes right before the Magic World arc.
- Poyo Rainyday has an impressive demon form, although she starts out resembling a human girl. The same is probably true of her younger sister Zazie.
- So does Poyo's rival, Mana Tatsumiya.
- Mugetsu from XxxHolic. There's an interesting inversion in that it generally takes less effort to keep him in his larger form, as "shrinking" him requires a massive purifying aura. So why do they bother doing it? Because having a massive, taloned kitsune of death is generally not a good idea when said kitsune also happens to enjoy giving bear hugs.
- If Luffy uses Gear Third, he gains gigantic limbs capable of smashing walls like eggshells. After using it, he reverts to a form where he is incapable of using his devil fruit ability for an amount of time roughly equal to gear third time. This form, of course, is about two feet tall.
- Two examples from Soul Eater:
- Ragnarok becomes a smaller and cuter version of himself after a Heel Face Turn, justified by the fact that they apparently removed all the good souls he had eaten.
- Medusa, who after being cut in half, took over the body of a little girl named Rachel and apparently twisted her appearance into a younger version of herself. She then says she's temporarily borrowing the body until she recovers her power, but then again she's a liar. However, she keeps her word this time, after taking her sister Arachne's body for her own, of course.
- After using half of her soul to resurrect Kazuto Tokino in the first episode, the Space-Princess Valkyrie of UFO Princess Valkyrie is more-or-less permanently stuck as a 6-years old girl. By connecting to the half of her soul stored in Kazuto (read: kissing him), however, she can temporarily assume her full-sized, superpowered form.
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de has the Great Tengu of the Kita Mountain, who, after one battle with Yasuaki, gets reduced to a cute Small Annoying Creature, dubbed Kotengu ("small tengu") by the central cast. He continues to stick around, repeatedly trying to get Yasuaki to turn him back. He eventually does have his powers unsealed, only to get killed in the battle he was sent into; although in the anime adaptation this ends up being a Disney Death.
- Mashiro in Tayutama first appears in the form of a young girl. Only some of her power is intact, though she can still command her group of spirits and use her hammer. After getting married to Yuuri, she comes into her true adult form, though still goes into her young form sometimes.
- Gid, the Devilukan Emperor from To Love Ru, is currently stuck with the appearance of a four-year-old after using up most of his powers to win a series of galactic wars prior to the start of the series. Of course, even his weakened form can still destroy planets unaided.
- Shiron the Windragon in Legendz is a large blue and white dragon with white feathered wings and an aviator's cap and goggles. However, he prefers to spend his time in the form of a small blue and white hamster-like creature who retains a small version of his cap and goggles. In this form he can only speak by making 'ga-ga-ga' noises. His saga often calls him "nezuccho" meaning "small rat".
- The whole premise of Kurohime.
- Biske looks and acts like a 12yr old girl in Hunter X Hunter. In reality, she's about 3 meters tall, and incredibly muscled. She uses the smaller form most of the time, because her real form is 'too bulky'. And not feminine or cute at all, which she does not like. How she trained herself up to look like that while retaining such ditzy priorities the world shall never know.
- Tanaka-san from Black Butler usually appears as a chibi tea drinking Miniature Senior Citizen since his real form drains a lot of energy.
- Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica's Corticarte Apa Lagranges is when introduced, originally depicted in her true form as a tall, beautiful, mature woman. However, for the majority of the series, her massive destructive power is sealed away, and this causes her to take the form of a young girl barely into her teens.
- Zarame from Zombie Loan has been reduced, after a human tricked him, into a cranky chibi whose squeaky noises no one can understand (except for Michiru and Koume) and who is small enough to sit on Michiru's shoulder - but he's still capable of throwing chibi-sized scythes at the forehead of whoever pisses him off without fail, and most he says are threats and insults. While Chika and Sotetsu were rightfully weirded out, Michiru could only say one thing, since this is what he looks like.
- Envy and Pride from Fullmetal Alchemist go into this when beaten to the verge of death: Envy becomes a creepy worm-thing with way too many teeth, Pride a maybe even more creepy human baby that's small enough to fit on your palm which it keeps saying 'Mama.' Which they take home to his former adoptive mother to raise. At the very end he's shown as a normal child.
- Envy spends ages as the bug thing, recovers for a while, gets blasted down again, and commits suicide out of spite toward Mustang and resentment at Ed understanding his personal issues.
- Shinobu Oshino of Bakemonogatari is something like this, being the remnant of a powerful vampire after she was destroyed.
- Touhou Fuhai from Rosario to Vampire has one that makes him look like a Miniature Senior Citizen. That, or he's just powerful enough to regain his youthful appearance at will.
- Kirara of Inuyasha goes into battle as a flying giant saber-toothed cat but spends most of her time as a cute little kitten.
- Nyanko-sensei from Natsume Yuujinchou takes the form of a maneki neko (lucky cat statue) when he's not in his true one.
- When Miko from Ayakashi Koi Emaki met the incubus Kagura, she tried to exorcise him... but something went wrong with it and this trope took place, "reducing" Kagura to an adorable chibi who still has part of his powers so now he has Miko as his Kid with the Leash. He can recover his hunky true form in counted times, like in Miko's dreams.
- Osushi from Burn the Witch is a mighty dragon, but he tends to be in its smaller form - which resembles a super cute and fluffy Pomeranian puppy. His Kid with the Leash, Balgo, even has him in an actual leash as if he was a doggo!
- Mogget and the Disreputable Dog from Lirael are both considered to be similar types of Eldritch Abomination that have been forced into much smaller, handily compact, forms.
- Olloch the Glutton from the Fablehaven series. To contain him, he was shrunk into a tiny stone statue of himself. If you feed him, he awakens, starts eating anything in his path, and grows at an incredible rate. He only reverts to statue form if he eats the person who fed him (though apparently he doesn't shrink again). At the beginning of the second book, Seth gets tricked into feeding Olloch, who eventually catches up with him and swallows him. Fortunately, at the time he gets eaten, Seth is wearing an impenetrable cocoon, so Olloch reverts to statue form and Seth passes through the digestive system and escapes with his life.
- In Power Rangers, this happens more times than to mention. The most famous example is Rita Repulsa in the original seasons, who was about the size of a Barbie doll after losing her power. In Power Rangers Time Force, most every Monster of the Week was "captured" as a tiny doll in a container.
- Recent Super Sentai mecha are stored as smaller forms when not in battle.
- Barney the Dinosaur.
- From The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna's true form is a striking blue-skinned woman slightly taller than Link, but she spends most of the game small and impish, due to a curse placed on her. When wearing all four Mc Guffins, she turns into a giant octopus-looking monstrosity.
- The main character of Shadow Hearts: From The New World spends most of the game looking like a 12-year-old boy - albeit a boy with the mysterious ability to manifest an Energy Blade from an ordinary knife - but towards the end, his true form awakens, turning him into an adult - and an unstoppable Badass at that. Which makes it somewhat more acceptable that he ends up dating the VERY adult ensemble babe in the ending. To be fair, he would be in the same age as the said chick had he not died once. It took five years for his father to gather everything required to revive him and his body didn't age during that time.
- Happens with monsters a lot. One example: In Final Fantasy XII, one of the hunts is for a giant tortoise monster that turns out to be someone's escaped pet. While you're fighting it, it's enormous - twice as tall as your party members and just as wide - but after you defeat it, it returns to its owner (a moogle) and is suddenly only about a foot high.
- Also, the Ice Titan from Kingdom Hearts. Taller than the colosseum when you're fighting it, but once you beat it, it suddenly becomes so small that it has to run away lest Sora kill it by stepping on it.
- Misha from Ar tonelico spends the entire first half of the game looking like a twelve year old girl. It's later revealed that her body reverted to this form when Bourd extracted the Hymn Crystal Chronicle Key from her.
- The Animesque Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki this happens to the Auroch, who ends up as Chiaki's pet.
- This strip of Loserz. (It's in the 4th panel, you have to look for it)
- Reynardine in Gunnerkrigg Court is trapped in the form of a stuffed wolf toy; but when Annie loosens the leash, he can assume the form of a full-sized wolf. His personality changes drastically based on his form, since (according to him, at least), the form has a great impact on one's mind.
- Word of God is that, in truth, he changes form according to his mood rather than the other way around.
- Toni of Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name is a werewolf who, so far, seems to be the most competent supernatural odditity in series. However, due to her power source being damaged, she has to take a...slightly less indimitating form than usual. Aww!
- In Looking for Group, Richard got depowered and reduced to a cherub size when Elttil Hctib, his abused pet devil... thing... cursed him.
- Pasquale on Rose Is Rose has a gentle guardian angel who is a regular member of the cast. Most of the time he looks just like a floating, robed, and winged version of Pasquale. However, if he senses any threat to Pasquale, or is caught off guard, he instantly transforms into a 300+ foot tall colossus with an enormous, mountain-cleaving sword and a huge spiked buckler.
- Likewise, Rose herself ordinarily looks like your basic American housewife. But given the right provocation, her alter ego, a Badass biker woman who relishes jalapenos, fast cars, and other "dangerous" things, will emerge (invisible to everyone but Rose).
- Robotboy's sleep mode size is an actual sleep mode. In it, he is inanimate and The Kid With the Leash passes him off as an action figure. His 'normal mode' is also similar to this in many respects, looking very cute and no bigger than his 10 year old owner. It isn't until he needs to kick ass that he extends into his largest form.
- Mulan has a little quote from Mushu to the title character after his Big Shadow, Little Creature moment.
Mushu: I'm travel-size for your convenience. If I was my real size, your cow here would die of fright.
- Plasmus from the Teen Titans was a normally looking man when asleep. They kept him that way as much as possible.