- This article is about the technique. For the video game, see Dragon Ball GT: Transformation.
Frieza and Cooler's act of transforming from one form into another in order to tap into greater stores of his energy. In Frieza's first two transformations, his body simply changes size, shape, and appearance. His third transformation into his final form is a full metamorphosis, with his third form (far left in image) becoming as a shell or carapace and his final form exploding out of it.
None of Frieza's race are seen regressing back into earlier forms in either the Dragon Ball anime or manga. It is possible the transformation is one-way, though this is not likely since Freeza is spoken of having chosen his first (tiny) form in order to limit his immense power. In some games, Frieza mentions things that might confirm this like "It has been a long time since I had to take on this form".
Frieza is shown transforming through three different forms (2nd, 3rd, and 4th), while his brother, Cooler, transforms into a fifth. Their father, King Cold, only appears in a form similar to Freeza's second form.
Cell has this same ability due to having some of Frieza's DNA within him. However, he cannot simply transform as Frieza and Cooler can. He must first absorb the bio-matter of Android 17 and Android 18 to advance from his Imperfect form to his Semi-Perfect and Perfect forms. He is returned to his Semi-Perfect form after Android 18 is removed from him by force, but thanks to his Saiyan and Namekian DNA coupled with a near-lethal injury, he is able to regenerate and advance into a Super-Perfect form.
As henshin means "transformation", this technique can also refer to the Great Ape and Super Saiyan transformations of the Saiyans.
- Character Meaning
変 (Hen) = Change
身 (Shin) = Person