Whether you wanna be the very best, like no one ever was, or you’re fighting evil by moonlight and winning love by daylight, you’ve likely watched an anime where the characters exhibit extraordinary powers. Regardless of genre, anime has cultivated all sorts of inventive fictional abilities to bestow upon its characters, ranging from the simple yet awesome, to the subtle yet complicated.
We often theoretically pit our favorite heroes and villains against one another, breaking down and assessing their skill inventories to see who would come out on top. Others entertain thoughts of how their lives might be different if only they had that move in their arsenal. If you grew up under the wing of Dragon Ball Z, there is an approximately 100% chance you have tried to launch a Kamehameha Wave at some point in your life, so you know what I’m talking about.
In this article, the resident anime enthusiasts of Geeks Under Grace team up with guest contributor, Lynna (heralding from Christian/anime aficionado, Beneath the Tangles), to bring you our picks for the best, coolest, most awesomest (that’s a word now) abilities in the medium. Some might be familiar to you, while others may be fairly obscure. Read on for mind-blowing powers your imagination can chew on.
Lynna is a writer at Beneath the Tangles and an aspiring author who always seems to be trying to find a balance between writing and the turmoil of life. She lives in the western side of Canada, which could mean anywhere really. She also enjoys singing, drawing, and brilliant stories that hold her attention for weeks.
Of the vast array of powers available in anime, the one that has stuck with me over the years comes from a minor character, Kaoru Hyuuga, in the Gakuen Alice series. The power functions under the assumption that when an event occurs, it is stored not only in the minds of the people who witnessed it, but also in the animals and inanimate objects surrounding it. A person with this power can read the memories of people, plants, animals, buildings, and items.
When I first read the manga, it struck me as a really useful ability! You could return lost belongings, solve crimes, and make historical discoveries. No secret would be unknowable, and you could uncover any mystery easily. It’s like having the gift of knowing everything, but more fun, because you have to interact with your environment to obtain that knowledge. This power is portrayed as both more powerful and less powerful than regular telepathic abilities. For example, it can’t be used to read random thoughts, only specific memories, which makes it a little less intrusive than typical mind reading (although Kaoru does sometimes find out personal things through it without anyone’s consent). This makes it a good plot device, as it allows Kaoru to discuss something another character has no intention of revealing to her. I think it’s fitting she became a journalist, especially considering many characters never bother pursuing a career that suits their powers.
Although Kaoru’s ability isn’t always immediately useful or helpful in a fight, I feel like it uncovers more meaningful information about the world around her. And wouldn’t that make ordinary life more interesting?
Cooper D. Barham
Figuring out my choice for this article was daunting, exhausting, and seemingly impossible. I could prattle on for hours about different abilities I find fascinating, either because they are conditionally interesting (the Geass) or a spectacle to behold (the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagaan mech). To preserve my sanity, I’m going to bar entire series from my options, as the prospect of considering every ability in Hunter x Hunter and One Piece sounds spiritually draining.
My first pick is from a series of moderate popularity, D.Gray-man. Miranda Lotto is a scarecrow of a woman when she’s first introduced into the story, easily victimized and profoundly weak in both mind and body until the main characters come along to help. Miranda possesses the only non-offensive Innocence in the series (Innocence being the power curriculum for D.Gray-man). It’s time-control done right, allowing her many useful skills, but none without consequence. Most notable is her Time Reverse invocation, which allows anything nearby, with the exception of the dead, to revert to its original state.
But here’s the kicker: Time Reverse is a temporary effect, and any new damage acquired to the target in the meantime will be delayed only until the limit is reached, at which point whatever condition the target was in before the ability commenced will return to that state–possibly worse off, if the target was fighting in the meantime. In short, it’s temporary invincibility, at the cost of receiving all the debt due in the end. Miranda uses this ability to keep a sinking ship afloat long enough to reach land, as well as to help protagonist Allen Walker endure the attacks of a stronger enemy until it can be felled. In this latter instance, both Miranda and Allen knew how much danger Allen would be in once the spell dropped, so she was already rushing off to find medical assistance for that inevitability.
Perhaps the most memorable use of Time Reverse however, occurs in the same scene as the aforementioned sinking ship. Miranda has cast her ability over a large area, influencing the wounded crew as well. Knowing that Miranda is the only thing keeping them all from drowning, several crew mates use themselves as meat shields to take fatal injuries in her defense. When she asks why, they only smile at her. They know that, regardless, they were going to die, so they opt to be her bodyguards until the spell eventually passes and their lives end.
It is a healing spell of tragic proportions.
My second choice is vaguely similar in that it causes a lot of damage all at once. Shibushi Shibuki is a minor character from the series Medaka Box (this entire series is a master class in off-the-wall abilities). She is a sadist, and has no reservations about that fact. Readers are left in the dark as to her full potential for a long time, only getting glimpses of the terrible power of her Minus (one of many different types of abilities in this series).
If you’ve read Rave Master, you’ll know a character with a similar ability. In short, Shibushi’s Minus, Scar Dead, can reopen any wound her opponent has ever received, no matter how old. So the more violent the opponent, the easier it is to beat them, as they will have already endured many battles and thus weakened themselves against Shibushi. Fighting experience is a crutch, rather than a boon, when facing off with her. If you’ve weathered enough damage in your life, she can reduce you to bloody pulp by simply wishing it.
But what separates her from the previously referenced Rave Master character is that her ability extends beyond the physical. If she so chooses, Shibushi can conjure the same thing from mental wounds, instantly bomb-shelling her opponents with all the loneliness, depression, anxiety, and mental abuse they’ve accrued throughout their lives, leaving them in a state of hysteria, suicidal ideation, or vegetation.
Still, there’s more: Shibushi can use this ability at a distance, so she doesn’t even need to risk harm to herself by getting too close to the enemy. She can also use it on inanimate objects, “reminding” a building or car of any “wounds” it might have sustained during construction or since completion. To round out this nightmare of an ability, even if you were to drug, suppress, or even kill Shibushi, the effects of her power cannot be withdrawn.
It’s exactly as overpowered as it sounds.
I’ve often imagined how cool it would be to have certain anime abilities. Who wouldn’t want to launch balls of energy or magic from their hands, taking down would-be assailants with ease? When it comes to my “favorite” power, though (and by favorite, I mean the one I would choose if I could), I’m a bit more practical. Namely, I would have to go with the power of flight. This could be flight based on harnessed inner energy (like Ki in Dragon Ball Z) or through wings that I could summon and dismiss at will (Angel Sanctuary). Either way, I’d want to fly. I could give some deep, artistic explanation why, but the honest answer is that flight would be convenient.
No more sitting in traffic on the way to work, no more being bound by streets and traffic laws. A fifteen-minute delay because of an accident? Not if I can fly over it! Admittedly, I have trouble getting to work on time, and have often fantasized about how much easier it would be if I could fly. I suppose teleportation would be an even faster option, but it doesn’t have the finesse of flying.
Oh, and I would definitely want to choose the wing option, because wings are cool.
Nobody messes with the Avatar.
My favorite anime power would probably be the collective abilities harnessed by the Avatar. We did another collaboration article about “Avatar’s Bending in our Modern World,” which highlights how beneficial elemental bending could be to our society, so I imagine having the ability to manipulate and control not one, but all four elements, would be pretty epic.
As discussed in the article above (and we saw some of this in The Legend of Korra), the Avatar is able to help in so many areas of society, such as contributing to natural energy advancement, search and rescue, disaster prevention, healing, building, and transportation. Not to mention that, while in the Avatar State, you’d have access to the ancient wisdom of all the Avatars in history, providing tangible guidance whenever you needed it.
Also, as part of your job of maintaining peace and balance in the world, you’d naturally have contacts and teachers in all four elemental practices and regions, making your travel and experience of the world vast.
These three benefits–having a large potential to positively affect society, receiving access to the wisdom of all Avatars past, and constantly being “in tune” with the world as a whole–are why the Avatar comprises my favorite anime power.
This is a super fun topic for us, so we genuinely want to hear your feedback in the comments if you have any powers you think are worth special mention (I’ve heard JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has some awesome abilities… but I haven’t seen it yet, so please put down the pitchforks).
Next month’s theme is going to be “Remove One Character From an Anime to Make it Better.”
As always, God bless, and take care.
Cooper D Barham
Aspiring author, marriage and family therapist, and active behavioral health technician, Cooper fills his world with God, music, videogames, anime/manga, drawing, reading, writing, and some physical stuff in between. If you ever want to talk about the big or little things of life, fire him a message. Helping others through tough times is both his passion and way of living. 'Got it memorized?'
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