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Most anime fans are likely familiar with the concept of magical girls. The elaborate transformation sequences. The secret dual life. The insane special attacks. These should all be pretty familiar tropes to anyone with even a passing interest in anime.
Yet, often overlooked are the males of the genre. While not as common, there are actually a decent number of male characters that tend to be forgotten in the discussion of the magical girl canon. Today on Honey’s Anime we’d like to highlight the most memorable of these types of characters!
10. Alpha Omega Nova from Uchuu Patrol Luluco (Space Patrol Luluco)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2016 to June 2016
Kicking off this list is a character you may not consider a traditional magical boy, but we assure you that Nova more than fits the bill. A transfer student at Luluco’s middle school, Nova works for the Space Patrol. Armed only with his Space Patrol suit that allows him to transform into his amazing Justice Gun Morphing form, Nova seeks to bring order back to the Ogikubo district with the most passive and uncaring attitude possible. Yet, in spite of his cool demeanor, Nova has a heart that’s just waiting to explode with the awesome power of burning justice.
With just 7 minutes to spare per episode, Space Patrol Luluco manages to fit an immense amount of character development into Nova. He is an alien species called a Nothingling, which are expected to be without emotion. And yet, the series manages to define his character in just a few simple words in the 3rd episode: “I don’t mind either way”. This is done to set up the viewer’s expectations that Nova simply isn’t the type of guy who will ever find any sort of passion in the world and Luluco’s crush will remain one-sided. However, the series breaks that view by actually having Nova reciprocate those feelings and have his mind almost quite literally explodes with a newfound set of emotions.
9. Erio Mondial from Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2007 to September 2007
The character at #9 comes from one of the longest running and iconic magical series of them all. Despite being seemingly human, the Erio we see in StrikerS is actually an Artificial Mage that was created at the behest of the Midchildan family to replace their original human son of the same name. Long story short, however, he discovers his origin at the young age of 4 and is abandoned by his parents. This naturally embitters him to the world, and as a result becomes distant from other people and angry towards the world. This is broken by the presence of Fate Testarossa in his life, who is the first person to get him to break out of his shell.
What makes Erio Mondial unique is his relationship to Fate Testarossa. Most of the time, magical boys are used largely as a male counterpoint to the female lead, and are generally set up as a romantic interest. Yet, in StrikerS, not only is Erio not even involved with the series’ main character Nanoha, but his relationship to Fate is less romantic and more that of mother and son. Fate would have actually adopted him herself, if not for the fact that she was too young. But her maternal influence is what allows Erio to finally come into his own.
8. Natsuru Senou from Kämpfer
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2009 – December 2009
Anyone looking at the image above from Kämpfer may be thinking we made a mistake somewhere, but we assure you that Natsuru Senou fits the bill. See, Natsuru is actually a boy, but when he activates his Kämpfer form, he morphs into a woman. And he’s got fire powers to boot! Watch as Natsuru battles other Kämpfers just to survive in high school while also dealing with undue attention from other guys and girls who are hot under the collar for this new Natsuru.
Really, we couldn’t properly have a list about magical boys without at least one example from a popular subgenre: the gender-bent magical girl. And it’s hard to think of a gender-bent magical boy who has a more outlandish set-up than Natsuru. It’d just be one thing if he was simply dealing with the pressure of being one of the Three Beauties of Seitetsu. Then he’d only have to deal with warding off unwanted suitors. Natsuru also has to make peace with the fact that his childhood friend and crush, Kaede Sakura, is only attracted to his Kämpfer form. The struggle is real.
7. Ayumu Aikawa from Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? (Is This a Zombie?)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011 to March 2011
How do you follow a character with as bizarre a premise as Natsuru Senou? You take roughly the same presence and turn them into a zombie, that’s how! Ayumu Aikawa at least started out as a normal boy… that is, until he was murdered, and by a serial killer, no less. Luckily for him, a necromancer by the name of Eulcliwood Hellscythe was looking out for him at the time of his murder and brought him back to life. After vowing to track down his killer, he encounters a magical girl by the name of Haruna and, long story short, somehow manages to absorb her powers due to his state of being the living dead. Aikawa ends up continuing Haruna’s quest to rid the world of Megalos, evil creatures who walk the Earth.
Everything about Ayumu Aikawa is about one thing: escalating his character to new, unknown extremes. We’ve already mentioned how he manages to inexplicably acquire the powers of a magical girl. How about when he takes on a vampire ninja by the name of Seraphim and manages to turn her into his servant? How about how Sarasvati becomes enamored with his posterior, affectionately referring to it as her “Butt Love”? Aikawa is constantly thrown into more and more bizarre situations, and that is really what makes him a fun character to follow.
6. Blue Knight from Tokyo Mew Mew
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: April 2002 to March 2003
Gonna throw this out now: there are going to be some huge spoilers for Tokyo Mew Mew in this section.
The Blue Knight is a constant ally of main character Ichigo Momomiya. He generally follows a pretty standard formula: Ichigo has a problem with a villain and comes out of nowhere to save her. He claims that he was born to protect her, and honestly says very little else on the matter, as he himself has no real idea where he came from. After an extended investigation, it is revealed that the Blue Knight’s true identity is actually Masaya Aoyama, Ichigo’s long running boyfriend.
Really, what gets the Blue Knight onto this list is how his character uses the tropes of what constitutes a “magical” character against the viewer. Because the identity of a “magical” character tends to be hidden from the rest of the world, the Blue Knight’s identity is kept a mystery to the viewer as a magical girl’s identity would be kept a secret from the rest of the world. Yet, despite this, he’s still painted as an ally to the Mew Mews until he is finally tragically revealed to be a villain. All this time, throughout the entire series, Masaya remains one of Ichigo’s only sources of comfort, yet in the end she is forced to stand up to the hidden evil within him that manifests in Deep Blue. Due to this conflict, Blue Knight is worthy of the #6 spot.
5. Negi Springfield from Mahou Sensei Negima! (Negima!)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: January 2005 to June 2005
Going onto #5, we have a magical boy in every sense of the word. In Mahou Sensei Negima, Negi Springfield trains to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a master mage. His final test, however, isn’t quite what he was expecting. Rather than performing some grand feat of wizardry, at 10 years old, he is placed in a teaching position at Mahora Girl’s Junior High. Negi must learn how to become a proper teacher to his class of 31 junior high girls if he wants to fulfill his dream of becoming a true mage.
Truly, Negi would be considered a magical boy due to the diversity of his wizardry. With fearsome wind and lightning based spells, Negi’s magic is a force to behold. But that’s not all! Due to training with Ku Fei (one of his students), he’s not entirely defenseless when it comes to a pure scrap. Yet, what really makes him a magical boy in the classical definition would be his “pactio” sequences, where he forms a magic bond with one of his students (usually the female lead, Asuna) and summons a magical artifact unique to the girl. For this sheer variety of magical tricks, we give Negi the #10 spot.
4. Souta Kishibe from Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku (Magical Girl Raising Project)
- Episodes: 7+
- Aired: October 2016 – present
In the #4 spot we have the most recent addition to the magical boy canon. He is the childhood friend of Koyuki Himekawa, aka “Snow White”. Despite being a boy, he actually transforms into La Pucelle, a magical girl with the ability to adjust the size of her blade so long as she can see it. Souta was given this power through a game called The Magical Girl Raising Experiment, which gave a chance, for anyone who wanted it, to become a magical girl, male or female. However, the influx of magical energy has caused issues in his district, and as a result the administration in charge is set with the task of reducing the number of magical girls in half. Souta competes with the other 15 magical girls for the right to keep his power.
Souta Kishibe shows how the popularity of magical girls has transcended the gender boundary. His motivation for becoming one isn’t rooted in deep personal tragedy or desire for great power. No, Souta enters the project just because he’s really a big fan of the character archetype and really wants to know what it’s like to become one. His desires reflect that of every male fan who wishes to be a part of that world but feels embarrassed by how traditionally it’s a genre for girls. And, as luck would have it, Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku is still airing as of the time of writing of this article, so we still have lots more development of Souta to see!
3. Shaoran Li from Cardcaptor Sakura
- Episodes: 70
- Aired: April 1998 to March 2000
We finally have one of the icons of magical boys at #3. Shaoran Li is a distant descendent of Clow Reed, aka the creator of the Clow Cards. Naturally, coming from such a prestigious heritage, Shaoran fully believes that it is his birthright to become the next master of the Clow Cards. Unfortunately for him, Sakura Kinomoto takes the lead in this race for mastery, and he totally resents her for usurping what he feels should be rightfully his. Once Sakura manages to achieve mastery, however, Shaoran takes his loss in good grace and begins to warm up to Sakura. From there, he slowly develops feelings for the young mistress of the Clow Cards and ends up falling in love with her.
Shaoran’s major appeal comes from the range of emotions we see from him. He’s a slow burn of character development, going from cold disdain towards his greatest rival in Sakura, to a blushing elementary school student incapable of expressing what he feels to the very same girl. We actually get to watch him grow up. The moment his feelings are finally returned by Sakura through her acceptance of his homemade teddy bear is still one of the most iconic moments in a magical girl series, and will be remembered for years to come.
2. Yumoto Hakone from Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! (Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2015 to March 2015
Yumoto Hakone is probably the character who most fits this list when thinking of magical boys as just a variant of the magical girl trope. I mean, just look at his outfit. If you just swapped the stylin’ short shorts with a skirt, he’d basically be dressed up as a magical girl. This really serves the entire point of Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE!, though. From the pink wombat named Wombat who bestows his powers to him, to battling a villainous trio being bossed around by a green hedgehog, this is a series that is largely a parody.
Keeping that in mind, Yumoto largely makes this list due to just being largely entertaining. Heck, the moment Wombat is introduced and Yumoto proceeds to not think twice about it should give you a good indication as to what to expect from him. He is not a person who is affected by really much of anything, and the series uses that to point out how insane this situation is. His character causes us to really reflect on what a magical boy really means.
1. Tuxedo Mask from Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
- Episodes: 46
- Aired: March 1992 to Feb 1993
Anyone who follows magical boys has probably been waiting for Tuxedo Mask to finally show up on this list. Donning his iconic mask to hide his identity, he shows up with that dapper black suit and white rose with elegant aplomb. Yet, there’s more to him than just being a handsome, mysterious gentleman. He is effectively the alter ego of Mamoru Chiba, a man who carries the pain of being left parentless due to an accident when he was young. He manages to find some comfort, though, in Usagi Tsukino, his girlfriend and also the main character of Sailor Moon.
Tuxedo Mask tops this list because he is the quintessential magical boy. Everything you could ask for, from the costume to secretly also being the main character’s boyfriend in disguise. He’s not just the best magical boy. He sets the standard by which all other magical boys are judged. Every character who appears on this list at least draws some inspiration from Tuxedo Mask. And, chances are, any more magical boys in the future will continue to be influenced by him as well.
Well, that’s our take on the best that magical boys have to offer. It’s a wider spectrum than what people may expect, though. Any readers interested in this subject should keep researching to see who else is out there. And, hey, if you feel we missed anyone, please, leave a comment down below!