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We’ve all probably seen a magical girl (mahou shoujo) anime whether we intended to or not. Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon, while very different in how they told their stories, experienced immense popularity due to their kick-butt portrayal of superheroes! When magical girl anime first came out, the demographic was young girls who could see themselves innocently enjoying magic and transformations.
Nowadays, there are many more male fans, as well as older fans in general. While many cute and funny magical girl anime still exist, we are finding more and more of them with serious themes of pain and loss. Whether you’re looking for something good and wholesome where justice prevails thanks to cute girls, or you want a nitty gritty story of the challenges and sacrifices cute girls would face when taking on the responsibility of a magical protector, enjoy our updated top ten magical girl anime!
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: Oct. 2009 – Dec. 2009
Natsuru holds only the simple desire that his childhood friend and crush Sakura would one day develop feelings for him. Natsuru finds his dreams fulfilled, but he has transformed into a girl! And a magical one at that. He and other (female) students at his school end up transforming into Kampfers and battle each other based on the color of their bracelets. None of them know why; they just figure they should probably battle since they have magical weapons and cool transformations and what not. Natsuru is eager to keep his changing identity a secret not because he fears danger very much, but what would Sakura think if she knew the new female Natsuru she was crushing on was really the male Natsuru of her childhood??
Kampfer is a big step away from older mahou shoujo, mostly because of the intended audience. This is NOT A SHOW FOR YOUNG GIRLS. Not only is it a harem anime, but also ecchi. Female Natsuru keeps it fun and sexy for everyone even though in either male or female form, he/she does try to keep things PG. This is against nearly everyone's wishes, however, and he finds himself fighting off pursuers as much as he fights off enemies. There are several magical girls in the show, each with unique weapons and transformations, so the appeal of magic and fighting is not lost even with all the sexy overtones in the show. It may not be a shining example of ‘girl power’ but if you want your magic with a slew of boobies, this is for you.
9. Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z (Powerpuff Girls Z)
- Episodes: 52
- Air Date: July 2006 – June 2007
Professor Utonium and son Ken accidentally create a new chemical when a mochi cake slips into Chemical X, thus creating Chemical Z. Deciding the best way to understand something is to immediately test it, Ken decides to test the reaction of Chemical Z and a glacier, which causes black and white lights to erupt from the combination. The black lights cause negative, violent feelings in those they hit while the white lights transform 3 young girls into magical girls! With the help of the clumsy scientist and his son, they seek to understand the nature of the light that changed their lives while keeping the town safe.
So if you wanted to watch this show because you loved the American Powerpuff Girls be warned things are VERY different in this world. While the addition of a son for Professor Utonium is an interesting yet endearing choice, the switch from Blossom’s fair, cool-headed, intelligent personality to a whimsical, gratification-seeking type is a bit jarring for those who grew up on the original. However, on its own, it is a funny, light-hearted show with slapstick humor and awesome bad guys that's especially entertaining for a younger audience or those not amused by violence.
8. Shugo Chara!
- Episodes: 51
- Air Date: Oct. 2007 – Sept. 2008
Elementary school student Amu is known for being an aloof, cool girl who doesn't care what people think of her. At home, however, she's really a lonely and shy girl who doesn't know how to break this character everyone knows her as. After wishing for the power to be her true self, she discovers mysterious eggs. One by one, the eggs hatch, revealing character guardians! These tiny beings can merge with their owner and instill in them a new character and new abilities. Amu meets other students with character guardians and learns of an on-going battle against those that would manipulate the pain in people's hearts to create X-characters that cause suffering. While unsure if her current self has any chance of keeping up, Amu believes in the strength the gets from her character guardians!
Shugo Chara is both really cute and really poignant in that it talks a lot about the difference between how one represents themselves and how they truly wish to be. Shugo Chara is special in that, while most magical girls have one magical form and maybe a super rare form, Amu has several transformations available to her which help keep it fresh. No need to worry about sitting through the same animation over and over like some other shows.
7. Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku (Magical Girl Raising Project)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: Oct. 2016 – Dec. 2016
Magical Girl Raising Project is a fun phone app that is very popular among middle school students. When it is announced that several players will get to become real magical girls, one player named Koyuki is overjoyed at the chance! It’s decided later on that the city cannot support the 16 real life magical girls, there is a notice that every week the player with the least amount of points will be removed from the game. When the first week rolls by and a player is eliminated, everyone is shocked when the player in the real world faces horrifying consequences. There is much more to lose than a character, but it’s already too late for Koyuki and the others to back out.
Yet another show that is not for young girls, Ikusei Keikaku is a combination of shows like Mirai Nikki and Madoka. No one is safe in this battle royale and people aren't even allowed to back out. This anime certainly lacks the themes of the power of friendship and teamwork, as betrayal and self-service run rampant. Due to its focus on a mobile game as a medium for recruiting girls, it also has a slightly more technological feel than many other mahou shoujo.
6. Tokyo Mew Mew
- Episodes: 52
- Air Date: April 2002 – March 2003
Things seem to be going well for young Momomiya Ichigo as she plans to go on a date with her crush, Masaya. Instead of a romantic evening together, however, Ichigo is unwittingly infused with cat DNA and transforms into the magical girl Mew Ichigo and now must save Masaya from a monstrous creature! After the battle, she learns that there is an organization that has infused 5 girls with various animals' DNA in order to fight off the parasitic aliens hoping to reclaim the Earth. Ichigo must try to find the other magical girls as well as protect innocent people from the rising monster attacks, but can she do that AND make it to school on time?
Tokyo Mew Mew another show aimed at younger girls but holds a lot of nostalgia for people to this day. You can tell Kish, one of the male villains, was made with little girls in mind seeing his flamboyant dress and flirty personality. The combination of magical AND animal properties the girls have makes it stand out for a lot of viewers. It’s not as heavy on the friendship thing as some mahou shoujo can be but it does show the importance of working together and trying to understand others.
5. Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou (Day Break Illusion)
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: July 2013 – Sept. 2013
Akari is a bright and happy child despite having lost her mother and now lives with her aunt, uncle, and female cousin. Her childhood innocence is lost one night when a mysterious creature attacks Akari in her room and the sun tarot card given to her by her mother binds with her, somehow causing her to gain fiery powers and destroy the monster. When she comes out of her near dream-like state, she sees to her horror that where the monster once stood is now only the corpse of her beloved cousin. The monsters her mother fought against, and now that Akari must fight against, are humans possessed by creatures called Daemonia. In order to stop their murderous intent, they must be killed… along with the human they possess.
Akari is such a sweet, optimistic girl that the bloody fate before her is incredibly jarring and depressing. While lots of mahou shoujo anime have fighting and maybe the girls getting roughed up sometimes, this anime shows creatures being actually killed. You see the blood pouring out with each new wound. The knowledge that this creature is possessing a human host that also will die and that poor Akari must carry this heavy burden makes viewing this show all the more painful. It’s got the pretty transformations and magical powers down, but this is definitely not a show aimed at young children.
4. Heartcatch Precure!
- Episodes: 49
- Air Date: Feb. 2010 – Jan. 2011
Tsubomi wants to make the best of having to move with her family and start at a new school, even though she’s a shy girl. Together with her new friend Erika, Tsubomi feels like she can start anew. She certainly does when fairies visit her and beg her to become a magical girl herself, Cure Blossom! Later, Erika answers the call from her dreams as well as Cure Marine, and vows to fight alongside Blossom to protect people's hearts. As they fight back the villains more and more, the two grow stronger physically and as friends!
We see a lot of the same features that make more recent mahou shoujo stand out. You have your beautiful transformation scenes, very clear villains, and adorable sidekicks. What makes Heartcatch Precure stand out is the balance of magical and physical fighting that takes place. These girls really kick butt and are not afraid to take a hit in order to land their own. It’s similar to Futari wa Precure in that there are two main characters and the danger seems more real, but Heartcatch is more recent, so the artwork is prettier.
3. Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru (Yuki Yuna is a Hero)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: Oct. 2014 – Dec. 2014
Yuuki Yuuna is a proud member of the Hero’s Club at her middle school. It seems on the surface to be a fun club for her and her friends Mimori, Fuu, and Itsuki; until one day, a destructive creature appears and the girls are transported to another dimension. They learn that the Hero's Club is actually a front for bringing together girls with the potential to become heroes for the Divine Tree Shinju and that if Shinju is destroyed, so will the world fall to ruin. Blessed with Shinju's powers, the girls must fight to keep the world safe no matter what that means.
Yuuki Yuuna is a great magical girl anime because it has a good balance of friendship themes and fighting. As a more recent addition, the artwork is sharp and pretty and the enemies are monstrous and intimidating. This is different from the common choice in older mahou shoujo anime where villains were sexy human-like beings in eccentric outfits. What really makes this show stand out is the character Mimori, who is confined to a wheelchair. The appeal of mahou shoujo is that any girl can become a hero under the right circumstances, and including a character that many would have written off is inspiring for a new generation.
2. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: Jan. 2011 – April 2011
Madoka is a good, hard-working girl who enjoys her everyday life. She has a loving family and precious friends at her side. When she’s exposed one day to a different dimension containing witches and magical girls, she’s utterly stunned. The veteran magical girl Madoka meets tells her how her dreams were fulfilled by becoming a magical girl, and a mysterious transfer student warns Madoka that if she wants to keep the things she loves, she must never become a magical girl. She cannot remain ignorant and yet can’t fight as a human, but without a wish to grant she can’t commit to becoming a magical girl. As more people she loves are pulled into this endless way, she must decide what is most worth protecting.
While not the only violent or sad mahou shoujo, Madoka manages to create a realism that is often not seen. The focus on school and home life, as well as waning relationships with 'normal' people, really bring home the sacrifices these girls face. Madoka has everything you want in a magical girl anime and some things you don’t want as well (Don’t hurt the cuties!!) and an intriguing story to boot. The shifting artwork between the human world and witch dimensions help create a more dramatic shift.
1. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal)
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: July 2014 – July 2015
Usagi is a clumsy girl with little ambition in life. Her world is turned upside down when a talking cat tasks her with becoming the magical girl Sailor Moon and obtaining the silver crystal while also finding the other sailor scouts. That’s a lot for a girl who can’t be bothered to finish her homework. To top it off, she now has to deal with the evil Queen Beryl who wants the Crystal to further her own evil plans.
Sailor Moon is arguably THE mahou shoujo people think of when you ask them to name one. It’s got it all from a group of girls, episodes about friendship, and awesome magical transformations. Things can get kind of confusing, which is why Sailor Moon Crystal is so great! It’s more faithful to the manga and skips so much of the filler episodes that made the first Sailor Moon hard to watch at times.
While mahou shoujo anime use to be more focused on one very young girl enjoying her everyday life with magical powers, the more battle-focused anime with multiple magical characters of today makes for an exciting watch! Shows both new and old, though, have their merit, and it’s fun to see the changes over time. With grittier magical girl anime being popular now, what is next in store for us? Hopefully, the cute outfits will remain unchanged! We hope you enjoy these magical entries.
What superheroes are for boys, Magical Girls or Mahou Shoujo are for little girls. All around the world girls grow up watching anime heroines living normal lives during the day and fighting evil at night. Who wouldn't want to be a Magical Girl at least for one day? Their daily lives are filled with adventures, good friends and amazing outfits. They also show that girls in anime don't have to be helpless and lost - they can be strong and fight for what they believe in.
We have come up with a personal Top 10 list of Magical Girl (Mahou Shoujo) anime. No matter if you are already a fan of this genre or just getting started, these shows are sure to entertain you. Let's go!
10. Happy Seven
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2005 - December 2005
First up on our list is Happy Seven, a Mahou Shoujo anime set in a school environment. Protagonist Amano Sakogami is the typical unlucky girl that cannot get her life together. The "Better Fortune Research Organization", a club at her school, seems to be just perfect for her. But soon Amano has to realize that this club is just a cover for a group of seven girls who hold the power of the seven Lucky Gods.
What is great about this show is it introduces a bit of Japanese mythology to international viewers. Depicting the seven Gods of Fortune as school girls is a fun twist. Also, the comedy of this show is actually funny and not as cheap or cheesy as the jokes of other shows. Definitely check Happy Seven out!
9. Cardcaptor Sakura
- Episodes: 70
- Aired: April 1998 - March 2000
Cardcaptor Sakura feels like a time machine back into your childhood. This anime shows the story of Kinomoto Sakura who sets out on a journey as a magical girl to collect the cards of the winds she has scattered by accident. But she is not alone on her quest since her friend Tomoyo is always by her side.
Cardcaptor Sakura has one of the cutest sidekicks imaginable: Keroberos. This orange creature with tiny wings on its back is the guardian of the book that holds the cards of the winds. But be warned, Cardcaptor Sakura is aimed at a rather young audience so only give it a try if you're ready to laugh at cheesy jokes and the struggles of elementary school life.
8. Futari wa Precure (Pretty Cure)
- Episodes: 49
- Aired: February 2004 - January 2005
Classmates Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro are best friends despite their differences. But their friendship is being tested starting from the day two mythical creatures step into their lives. Mipple and Mepple might look like cute animals, but they are actually residents of the Garden of Light. With their help the two girls gain magical powers to become magical girls and fight against the Darkness that threatens Mipple's and Mepple's home.
It's nice to see an anime from time to time that focuses on one friendship. Most of the time you either have a romantic relationship that's in the center or a rather big group of friends. Here, we just have two girls growing up and going on magical adventures together. Pretty Cure shows how opposites attract and how much the two girls can achieve when they work together.
7. Princess Tutu
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: August 2002 - May 2003
This one is for all the fairy tale lovers out there. Our heroine is called Ahiru and has the ability to transform into a ballet dancer. With her dance she can calm people's hearts and with this ability she goes on an adventure to save her prince. Can she get her "happily ever after"?
The story might sound a little bit trashy and too cute, but since Princess Tutu is inspired by old fairy tales you can read a lot more into the story than just Ahiru's adventure. In a real fairy tale, our heroine encounters many struggles on her adventure as a magical girl and has to improve herself constantly. If you either enjoy watching characters struggle with fate or dancing ballerinas then you should give Princess Tutu a try.
6. Kamichama Karin (God Karin)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2007 - September 2007
Karin's story is one of those that make you appreciate what you have: her parents died, her remaining relatives don't appreciate her and she performs poorly in school. Her life changes when she realizes that she's not a normal school girl after all, but a goddess. Using a ring that her parents have left her behind she can transform into her goddess form and fight against evil.
It's not like Kamichama Karin does anything outstandingly different from other Magical Girl anime, but it has a nostalgic and innocent feel to it. Karin is a cute and happy-go-lucky girl without getting too annoying. And compared to other magical girl anime, there is a consecutive story line from the first until the last episode.
5. Shugo Chara!
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: October 2007 - September 2008
Heroine Amu Hinamori doesn't know what she wants to be once she grows up. She pretends to be a cool and sophisticated girl, but in reality she doesn't know who she really is. This changes on the day she receives three colorful eggs with three Shugo Charas inside of them. They each represent a different personality of hers and with their help Amu is able to transform into a Magical Girl and protect the unborn dreams of children.
The concept of this anime is truly heart-warming. It teleports you back to your own childhood and makes you remember all the dreams you had for your future self. Of course we also have some romance in here. We have the prince-like Tadase and the mysterious Ikuto, both showing a little bit more than casual interest in Amu. Who will she choose?
4. Ojamajo Doremi (Magical DoReMi)
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: February 1999 - January 2000
Ojamajo Doremi is another childhood classic. It follows Doremi and her friends Hazuki and Aiko on their journey to becoming witches. Their adventure starts on the day they find a mysterious house in their neighborhood, together with a witch and her fairy living inside. The three friends become her students and try to solve problems with their new powers.
One of the strengths of this show is the fact that you can start and stop watching it as you please. Even though there is a main story line, it's easy to get back into this magical girl anime after taking a break. Ojamajo Doremi is perfect if you want to watch one or two quick episodes to brighten up your day.
3. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
- Episodes: 46
- Aired: March 1992 - February 1993
This magical girl anime list just wouldn't be complete without Sailor Moon. The story of Tsukino Usagi has influenced girls all over the world. She is an ordinary student during the day, but in the night she transforms into a magical girl or heronine named Sailor Moon. Usagi then goes on adventures together with the other Sailor Soldiers.
But why should you watch Sailor Moon even today? Of course there is a certain nostalgic feel to it, but more importantly this anime is timeless. The scenes that entertained you as a child are still able to make you laugh now. The characters are lovable and watching their friendship grow is still heart-warming.
2. Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011 –April 2011
Next up is a show that has shocked many viewers. Puella Magi Madoka Magica might look like an ordinary Magical Girl anime, but consider yourself warned: this show is not for little kids.
The story of Madoka and her friends will show you the dark side of being a Magical Girl. It is filled with loneliness, danger and fear. Until the very last episode Madoka tries to find out the right thing to do and how far she is ready to go to protect those important to her. This show will give you goosebumps and take you on an emotional rollercoaster. Watch at your own risk!
1. Kore wa Zombie desuka? (Is this a zombie?)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2011 - March 2011
Our top and final recommendation might is also the biggest exception to Magical Girl anime. It's an Ecchi and Harem anime that turns the term "Magical Girl" upside down. Our protagonist Aikawa Ayumu is - like the title might suggest - in fact a Zombie. Not only that, but he also gains the abilities of a Magical Girl and is forced to fight as one.
This recommendation is perfect if you want a show that doesn't take Magical Girl anime too serious. I mean, seeing a high school boy transform and fighting in a pink dress just cannot be seen as a serious representation of this genre. Yet, this is the special charm of Kore wa Zombie desuka. It will make you laugh with every new scene and show you a new side of Magical Girl anime.
One of our strongest recommendations!
Some people might think that Magical Girl anime just consist of girls getting dressed up and fighting cute-looking monsters. Hopefully I could show you how diverse Magical Girl anime can be and that there is much more to them than playing dress-up. The heroines are actually good role models for girls since they are powerful, passionate and take matters into their own hands.
Which one is your favorite Magical Girl anime? Comment down below!