Magical Anime Girls Unite!
Art credit: Akimiya
With the creation of anime came the creation of the magical girl genre. Sally the Witch is remembered as the very first magical girl anime to ever grace the screens of early anime fans. It premiered in July 1966, and unassumingly would go on to be the catalyst that spawned the magical girl genre that we know and love today.
Its plot resembles that of an average magical girl anime – Sally, the witch princess from the magic kingdom, decides she is going to visit the mortal realm. However, she mistakenly teleports herself to Earth, and immediately finds herself in some trouble! She defends two schoolgirls with her magic, and decides to stick around by disguising herself as a Human child. Here, Sally finds happiness and friendship, until she has to go back to her home world in the final episode.
With Sally the Witch came the magical girl genre, filled with stars and hearts and frills, along with adventures, friendships, and life lessons. Of course, over the years, there have been a few titles that have stuck out above the rest.
15 of the best magical girl anime
Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Takeuchi in 1992, and it follows the adventures of a young girl named Usagi Tsukino as she masters the powers she has been given by her new pet companion, Luna. Along the way, they meet new friends and foes that help to make their journey an exciting one. Luna gives the girls (Sailor Moon and the other Sailor Soldiers) their powers in the form of rods, brooches, and lockets, and each of them adopt their new magical girl name. Sailor Moon is one of the core inspirations that other magical girl anime producers use to structure their series. Sailor Moon is out of this world in so many ways!
Cardcaptor Sakura was created by Clamp in 1996, and serialized as an anime in 1998. It is hands down one of the most well know magical girl series, due in no small part to its adorable characters, exciting, well constructed story, and well known author. It tells the story of Sakura Kinomoto as she opens a book of cards in her basement and unleashes all of the magic of the sorcerer known as Clow Reed. Sakura goes on a journey – having been chosen by the guardian of the cards, Cerberus – to find and retrieve the missing cards that have been lost. It is up to her and the friends she makes along the way to prevent the world from turning to chaos!
Madoka Kaname was living a normal life before she started having strange dreams about a small, white cat-like creature and a black haired girl. Puella Magi Madoka Magica was created in 2011, and was thought to have been just another cute, frilly title in the genre. However, as the story progressed, anime fans realized that the show was portraying something much darker than they had initially expected.
The small, cat-like creature is actually an extraterrestrial incubator named Kyuubey, and came to Earth to take the souls of humans, young women in particular. He lures them in with sweet words and, under the guise of one wish, he turns them into magical girls who have to fight in order to revitalize their soul gems. It’s a thriller from beginning to end, and well worth the watch!
Premiering in October of 2003, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha swept across television screens and captured the hearts of viewers. The support it received allowed executives to green-light the creation of movies, adaptations, and several seasons. It showcases the journey of a third grader named Nanoha Takamachi after she stumbles across an injured ferret; a homage to Sailor Moon.
This ferret, by the name of Yuuno, gives Nanoha the task of collecting dangerous jewel seeds that have been spread across the Earth. Yuuno gives Nanoha a red jewel, which allows her to transform and use magic to combat monsters and other human foes alike. This magical girl anime is unique in its plot twists and character development, which is why it makes this list!
While this is definitely a magical girl anime, it’s a bit unconventional: the main characters are magical boys! They form a small club at their school called the ‘Earth Defense Club’. Initially, they want to be lax and laze around in a nearby bath house, but when a mysterious, pink wombat appears before them one day, he gives them powers to help save the Earth. The wombat forces them to become ‘battle lovers’ and fight against a villainous group led by a green hedgehog. This anime is wacky and zany, and the characters are positively handsome.
Shugo Chara! premiered in 2007 and revolves around Amu Hinamori, an elementary schooler. Her peers believe that she has a cool personality, although in reality, she is shy and anxiety ridden. Amu makes a wish one night that she can adopt a new personality, and when she wakes the next day, she finds three colored eggs beneath her pillow. These three eggs hatch into three guardians who are going to help her on her journey of self discovery. Amu joins a group of students at her school who also have their own guardians, and together, these magical girls all try to seal the X-characters who corrupt people’s dreams.
In a world of talking cats and crocodiles, Ahiru Arima doesn’t feel like an outcast — she’s a duck herself! She was turned human by a strange man named Drosselmeyer and given a magical, egg shaped pendant that turns her into the graceful Princess Tutu. She dances, light and beautiful, which relieves people from the turmoil that is in their hearts. The anime revolves around Ahiru’s fight for a ‘happily ever after’.
Twelve year old Mitsuki Kouyama, with dreams of being a singer, is diagnosed with throat cancer. Her dreams are shattered, until she comes in contact with two apparitions of death (shinigami) who inform her her that she has one year left to live. She decides, with determination, that she is going to do everything she can to make her dreams a reality before it’s too late. However, the shinigami try and stop her, and strike a deal with her: if she agrees to die peacefully, they will help her become a singer. They then give her the ability to transform into a sixteen year old, so that she can meet the age requirements of the audition she was trying to attend. She decides to go by the stage name of ‘Fullmoon’ after she wins over the judges with her voice. Full Moon wo Sagashite is filled with the heartbreaking realization of life and death, and how determination and willpower can help come a long way.
Pretty Cure premiered at a time when there was a lack of magical girl anime in Japan. Sailor Moon had recently come to a close, and there weren’t many anime that little girls and boys could quite relate to. However, when Pretty Cure debuted on Japanese televisions, children and adults alike fell in love with the characters and the similarities it held to Sailor Moon. Due to its popularity, there have been many sequels and spin offs of the show, which have all been well received.
Pretty Cure revolves around two girls by the names of Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro. They are both different from each other and live separately from one another – until a strange star shower binds them together. They meet two creatures named Mipple and Mepple, whose homeland has been conquered by the Dark Zone, an evil group that have their sights focused on the Garden of Rainbows. With the help of these two girls, they fight to protect their world from the Dark Zone.
Himeno Awayuki suddenly becomes the step daughter of a rich woman, and has been pushed into the life of an outcast. Her stepsisters and friends alike treat her differently now that her father has remarried. It’s then that she meets seven men who are Leafe Knights, and she becomes aware of a girl called Pretear. Pretear has the ability to merge with nature and control the powers of the Leafe Knights. It is up to Pretear to save the world from the evil called the Princess of Disaster.
Kamichama Karin tells the story of a young girl by the name of Karin Hanazono, who doesn’t really have much of anything to her name. She lost her parents, her cat, and seems to fail at everything she tries to do. However, she soon realizes that the ring her mother left her in death has the ability to change her into a goddess! She meets another boy with god-like magic and they form a solid team to defend her mother’s ring and the boy’s cousin from the vile Kirio Karasuma, who desperately wants Karin’s ring.
Doremi Harukaze classifies herself as the unluckiest girl in the world. Her life is filled with awkward interactions, fighting, and a sister who only makes fun of her, so she begins to believe that becoming a magical girl would make her life so much better. One day, she encounters a store called Maho-Do and realizes that the manager, Majo Rika, happens to be a witch. Majo Rika turns into a frog as soon as Doremi compromises her witch identity, and starts to train Doremi as a witch apprentice so that Doremi can change her back into a human. However, much like with everything else, she’s not a very good at being a witch apprentice, either! Lighthearted and fun, Magical Doremi has adorable animation and a pretty cute cast!
One of the earlier representations of the genre, Magical Princess Minky Momo premiered in 1982. It resembles Magical Angel Creamy Mami, another early magical girl anime, in both animation and style. In fact, both series were placed together in a small movie titled, Mahou no Princess Minky Momo vs. Mahou no Tenshi Creamy Mami, which featured both of the girls fighting one another.
Magical Princess Minky Momo is about a small princess from the land of Fenarinarsa, a land of dreams. However, these dreams are losing their meaning on Earth, so Minky Momo goes to Earth to help people regain them. Three of her friends assist her on this journey, and with the help of a magical wand which turns her into an adult, she is determined to make people’s dreams come true.
Filled with interesting animation and style, Day Break Illusion is definitely memorable. The character designs are unique and lovable, and the story line itself is a bit different than that of usual magical girl anime. A world ruled by two tarot cards is taken over by monsters called Daemonia, and 12 year old Akari Taiyou is chosen to wield an the elemental tarot card of the sun to fight them off. She joins a band of 22 other girls who all hold different elemental powers from different tarot cards. Together, they battle against the Daemonia and try to defend their world.
Tokyo Mew Mew is about five girls who are all enveloped in a mysterious light, which allows them to transform into ‘Mew Mews’. The main protagonist, Ichigo Momomiya, and the four other girls who were effected, have to save the world from alien intruders. The aliens are releasing parasites which turn animals into monsters, but Mew Ichigo and her friends are adamant that they will save the world!