Magical girl

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Magical girl (Japanese: 魔法 少女, Hepburn: mahō shōjo) is a subgenre of Japanese fantasy light novels, manga, anime, and video games which features girls who use magic or possess magical powers. Magical girls transform to unlock their powers and are often accompanied by an animal mascot, using wands or scepters as a weapon to fight monsters and the forces of evil.[1][2] Notable examples include Sailor Moon,[3] Sally the Witch and Cardcaptor Sakura.[citation needed]

Genre history[edit]

Anime and manga[edit]

Manga and anime historians regard the Princess Knight manga, released in 1953, as the prototype for the magical girl genre.[4]:77 Himitsu no Akko-chan, serialized nine years later (1962) in Ribon, is generally accepted to be the earliest magical girl manga.[5]:8 Sally the Witch, adapted from the manga of the same name, is regarded by historians as the first magical girl anime.[4]:78[6] Sally the Witch was inspired by the Japanese dub of the television series Bewitched.[2]

Mahōtsukai Chappy (1972) and Majokko Megu-chan (1974–1975) popularized the term "majokko" (little witch or witch girl) as a name for the genre. Megu-chan has been noted for its portrayal of multiple magical girls and the friendship between girls. Due to the women's lib movement in Japan, magical girls began displaying a "certain coquettishness" in the 1970s.[2]

In the 1980s, Magical Princess Minky Momo (1982) and Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel (1983–1984) showed girls transforming into a "grown-up image of themselves". This has been linked to the increasing prominence of women at this time (such as politician Takako Doi, the girl band Princess Princess and pop idol Seiko Matsuda) and the passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act in 1985.[2] Yuji Nunokawa, the producer of both Minky Momo and Creamy Mami, noted that male fans of the magical girl genre increased after Creamy Mami due to the shows' use of transformations and enjoyed watching girls using magic to solve their problems in ways men traditionally could not.[7]

Kumiko Saito argues that magical girl anime is best understood as "twenty-five-minute advertisements for toy merchandise", highlighting the high production costs and the involvement of Bandai in Sailor Moon and Pretty Cure. She acknowledges that despite this and the childish plots, magical girl anime discuss gender roles and identities.[8]

The Sailor Moon manga and anime are considered to have revitalized the genre in the 1990s and paved the way for later successful titles.[5]:199[9] A key feature of the heroines of Sailor Moon is that their transformations make them look more feminine, as well as make them stronger. The romantic relationship between Usagi Tsukino and Mamoru Chiba and Usagi's care for her future daughter, Chibiusa are seen as points of difference between Sailor Moon and "typical Western superheroines".[2] Another notable example is Cardcaptor Sakura, with its manga and subsequent animated series being highly popular in and outside Japan.[citation needed]

The magical girl genre earned renewed popularity in the 2010s with the advent of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, whose mature themes and darker approach earned acclaim from viewers and critics outside its target audience.[10]


Along with anime and manga, live-action magical girl series were produced as a female counterpart to tokusatsu series aimed at young boys, such as Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, and Ultraman; however, interest in the genre declined in the early 1990s due to competing toy sales with Sailor Moon and other magical girl anime.[11] Tokusatsu magical girl series were revived with the Girls × Heroine Series, beginning with Idol × Warrior Miracle Tunes! in 2017.[11][12]

Magical boy works[edit]

Some series are notable for portraying magical boys as protagonists instead of the traditional supporting roles. Cute High Earth Defense Club Love! is a 2015 television magical boy anime series created by Kurari Umatani and produced by Diomedéa, which parodies tropes and cliches common to magical girl anime.[13] Magical Girl Ore features magical girls who transform into manly-looking forms.[14] In Is This a Zombie?, a zombie is resurrected by a necromancer after being killed by a serial killer, inadvertently gains "magical girl" powers, and is forced to become a "magical boy" (and thereby cross-dress) in the process.[15] In Shugo Chara!, released in 2006, half of the series' main characters are males that possess the same powers as their female counterparts.[citation needed]

In Magical Trans!, main character Maki was assigned male at birth and presents masculine before joining the magical girl club at their high school, subsequently becoming more and more comfortable with exploring their gender identity and expression as a magical girl.[16]

In non-Japanese works[edit]

In Asia[edit]

Chinese animated series like Balala the Fairies, Flower Angel, Sweets Fairy and Rainbow Ruby have been influenced by and make reference to Japanese magical girl franchises.

In Europe[edit]

The Italian animated series Winx Club uses the magical girl concept for their main characters, including transformations for each character.[17] This concept also appears in the Italian comic book series W.I.T.C.H. and its animated adaptation, featuring five teenage girls with powers over the five classical elements.[18][19] In 2014, LoliRock debuted as a French anime-influenced animation series of the genre, and contains many references to Japanese magical girl franchises.[20][21][22] Miraculous Ladybug blends magical girl conventions with modern superhero action and adventure storytelling.[23][24] Ragazze dell'Olimpo (Girls of Olympus), an Italian series by Elena Kedros, portrays a trio of magical girls who are reincarnations of the Olympian goddesses.[25]

In America[edit]

American cartoon series such as Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Bee and PuppyCat and Steven Universe use the magical girl concept as a sub-theme.[1] Characters in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls are described as "full-time students and part-time magical pony girls".[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Donovan, Caitlin (September 15, 2015). "The Influence of Magical Girls on Western Animation". Epicstream. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sugawa, Akiko (February 26, 2015). "Children of Sailor Moon: The Evolution of Magical Girls in Japanese Anime". Nippon Communications Foundation. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  3. ^ "10 Undeniable Ways Sailor Moon Influenced The Magical Girl Anime". CBR. 2020-02-08. Retrieved 2020-07-19.
  4. ^ a b Gravett, Paul (2004). Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics (2nd ed.). London: Laurence King. ISBN 1856693910.
  5. ^ a b Thompson, Jason (2007). Manga: The Complete Guide. New York: Del Rey Books. ISBN 0345485904.
  6. ^ Boren, James (September 2003). "The Making of a Magical Girl". Animerica. Viz Media. 11 (9): 31.
  7. ^ Galbraith, Patrick W. (2019-12-06). Otaku and the Struggle for Imagination in Japan. North Carolina: Duke University Press. ISBN 978-1478006299.
  8. ^ Saito, Kumiko (2 January 2014). "Magic, Shōjo, and Metamorphosis: Magical Girl Anime and the Challenges of Changing Gender Identities in Japanese Society". The Journal of Asian Studies. 73 (01): 143–164. doi:10.1017/S0021911813001708.
  9. ^ Poitras, Gilles (2004). Anime Essentials: Every Thing a Fan Needs to Know (4th ed.). Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. pp. 31–32. ISBN 1880656531.
  10. ^ Ohanesian, Liz (October 22, 2012). "How Puella Magi Madoka Magica Shatters Anime Stereotypes". LA Weekly. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  11. ^ a b "大人気シリーズ第二弾『魔法×戦士 マジマジョピュアーズ!". Real Sound (in Japanese). April 8, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Yamamoto, Keisuke (2019-02-27). "プリキュア一強に終止符? 話題の「女児向け特撮ドラマ」担当者に聞く、子ども番組が"守るべきもの"". Oricon (in Japanese). Retrieved 2019-06-12.
  13. ^ Loo, Egan (September 26, 2014). "Binan Kōkō Chikyū Bōei-bu Love! Anime With High School Boys Unveiled". Anime News Network. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  14. ^ Hodgkins, Crystalyn (December 8, 2017). "Magical Girl Ore Anime Reveals Visual, Spring 2018 Debut". Anime News Network. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  15. ^ "Is This A Zombie?". Yen Press. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
  16. ^ Majitora : Majikaru toransu. 1. Kashi, Yutaka., 香椎, ゆたか. Fusosha. July 2017. ISBN 978-4-594-61173-6. OCLC 1003299904.CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ Anders, Ella (February 13, 2016). "Winx Club to Receive Live-Action Film". BSC Kids. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  18. ^ Altehenger, Jennifer E. (2013). "Chapter 4: Comic Travels: Disney Publishing in the People's Republic of China". In Yung, Anthony Y.H. (ed.). Asian Popular Culture: The Global (Dis)continuity. Hoboken, New Jersey: Taylor and Francis. pp. 66–70. ISBN 9781134089956. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  19. ^ Bellerby, Grace (August 15, 2012). The History of Magical Girl Anime: Sparkles Without Cullens (Speech). Amecon 2012. SlideShare. Keele University. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  20. ^ Anders, Ella (April 27, 2016). "Lolirock Arrives At Long Last to US". BSC Kids. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  21. ^ Jenkins, Bob (October 1, 2013). "Lolirock Gets Ready to Rock". License! Global. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  22. ^ Todesco, Bertrand (September 4, 2015). "BACK TO 2011 !: the creation of LoliRock - part 1: IRIS genesis". Tumblr. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  23. ^ Anders, Ella (July 2, 2015). "Part Magical Girl, Part Superhero; Ladybug Arrives State-Side in Fall". BSC Kids. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  24. ^ Collins, Elle (December 3, 2015). "Teen French Heroes Ladybug & Cat Noir Arrive On Nickelodeon". Comics Alliance. Archived from the original on February 16, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2016. The influence of the Magical Girl genre is inescapable; when Marinette's mother is captured in a bubble and carried off into the sky, apparently along with every adult in Paris, Marinette transforms into Ladybug in a series of twirls and poses, just as Sailor Moon and other magical girls always do. She even has the guidance of some kind of talking ladybug creature, fulfilling another Magical Girl trope.
  25. ^ "Girls of Olympus". The Animation Band. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  26. ^ "The Girls of Canterlot High Return to Discovery Family in Three New My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Specials to Air Throughout the Network's Annual "Summer Splash" Programming Event". Discovery. May 26, 2017. Retrieved October 28, 2018.

Further reading[edit]