The gender-bender trope, also known as “gender-bender” or “body swap,” is a common theme in anime and manga. It involves characters, usually of one gender, experiencing a transformation that changes their physical appearance and sometimes their gender identity. Either through reincarnation, a crazy spell going wrong, or a simple act of cross-dressing, many shows incorporate this theme into their storyline to kick things up a notch. Let’s look at some of them.
Top 10 Anime where Characters swap bodies
10. Otoboku: Maidens Are Falling for Me! (2006)
It is a gender-bender anime series that follows the story of Mizuho Miyasaka, a high school boy who is forced to attend an all-girls school after his grandfather’s death. Mizuho is given a makeover by his friend Mariya Shidō, and he is able to pass as a girl. However, Mizuho’s secret is soon discovered by the other girls at school, and he is forced to choose between living as a girl or revealing his true identity.
9. Birdy the Mighty: Decode (2008)
Birdy the Mighty: Decode is an anime series that follows the story of Birdy Cephon Altera, a space police officer who is forced to crude acts with Tsutomu Senkawa, a high school boy. The two must learn to live with each other’s bodies while also trying to stop a group of alien criminals.
8. Idolmaster: Xenoglossia (2007)
In a futuristic mecha anime, the protagonist Haruka Amami accidentally becomes linked to a giant robot called Imber. To pilot Imber, she transforms into a young man, creating a gender-bender twist.
7. Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl (2006)
The story follows Hazumu Osaragi, a high school boy who confesses his love to a childhood friend, Yasuna Kamiizumi. After facing rejection, Hazumu climbs a nearby mountain to gather his thoughts but is tragically killed when an alien spacecraft crash-lands on him.
In a twist of fate, the aliens resurrect Hazumu but inadvertently change his gender, transforming him into a girl. As Hazumu adapts to her new life as a girl, she must navigate complex emotions and relationships with Yasuna and others who are affected by the transformation.
6. Kampfer (2009)
The series follows Natsuru Senou, a high school boy who suddenly transforms into a girl without any explanation. Soon after, he receives a mysterious bracelet and discovers that he has been chosen to become a “Kampfer,” a warrior who must fight other Kampfers.
The twist is that Natsuru can only transform into a girl when he becomes a Kampfer. In his female form, he possesses enhanced combat abilities. As he battles other Kampfers, Natsuru becomes entangled in a complex love triangle involving various characters, both male and female, who are affected by his dual identities.
5. Ranma ½ (1989-1992)
The anime follows Ranma Saotome, a highly skilled martial artist who, during a training trip with his father, falls into a cursed spring called the “Spring of Drowned Girl.” As a result of the curse, whenever he is splashed with cold water, Ranma transforms into a red-haired girl. However, he reverts to his original male form when splashed with hot water.
4. Ouran High School Host Club (2006)
The series follows Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student at the prestigious Ouran Academy. While looking for a quiet place to study, Haruhi accidentally breaks an expensive vase in the school’s Host Club, a group of male students who entertain female clients.
To repay her debt, the Host Club mistakes Haruhi for a boy and enlists her as a host. However, they soon discover that Haruhi is actually a girl. Despite the revelation, Haruhi continues to cross-dress as a boy to work as a host and help pay off her debt.
3. Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (2015)
The anime follows Ryuu Yamada, a delinquent high school student, who accidentally kisses the top student, Urara Shiraishi, during a fall down the stairs. To their surprise, they discover that they have swapped bodies.
This accidental body-swapping leads Yamada and Shiraishi to learn that there are seven students in their school with unique witch powers. Each time they kiss someone with power, they can switch bodies with that person and gain access to their abilities temporarily
2. Your Name (2016)
The story revolves around two main characters: Taki Tachibana, a high school boy living in Tokyo, and Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school girl living in a rural town.
One day, Taki and Mitsuha discover that they have mysteriously started swapping bodies. They wake up in each other’s lives, living as the other gender for a day at a time. As they continue to swap, they leave messages for each other to communicate and navigate the challenges of living in different environments.
1. Kokoro Connect (2012)
It is a psychological drama and supernatural anime that follows five members of a high school club who find themselves experiencing strange and supernatural phenomena, including body-swapping, personality switches, and emotional turmoil.
In conclusion, the gender-bender trope is popular in anime due to its humorous and comedic potential, exploration of identity, romantic and emotional drama, and opportunities for character development. It provides escapism and fantasy for viewers, challenging traditional gender roles while creating memorable stories. To watch all the anime in the above list, head over to streaming sites like Crunchyroll or HiDive.