So for all who may not know, Maho Shojo is a genre for manga and anime. It means magical girl, and these stories revolve around young girls that use magic. Usually the trope is that a magical and cute creature brings these chosen girls items that help them transform. Then they use the power of beauty, kindness, friendship, or other corniness to fight the throngs of evil doers that fail at being bad guys. Any ways, I have always loved magical girl animes, and I have seen SO MANY, but to be honest most of them kinda suck. So here I will list my top 5 favorites because these are good, and they deserve to be watched.
OF COURSE FOR ALL ANIMES, I RECOMMEND THE MANGAS MORE, BUT IF YOU JUST WANT TO WATCH SOMETHING FOR FUN THESE ARE GREAT BOTH WAYS.
The best part about magic girl animes: the super cute clothes and the transformations into them!!!
I had so many more (when I say so many, I mean about 20+). But lets be honest, it may be annoying to have nothing but cute gifs in this post. So now let me begin explaining my favorite magical girl animes.
5. Houkago no Plieades
It may not be fair to pick this one, since it is not a full on television anime series, but i am still gonna do it. I was not sure if I should pick this or Little Witch Academia, which is a full movie. I picked this one cause I saw it recently, but check Little Witch Academia anyways; it is fantastical. I saw this one recently and I really liked it. It is on YouTube, and it is a short that is divided into four videos, each with about five to six minutes worth of footage. The animation style is topnotch and beautiful. It is heavily witched themed and also heavily star themed so it gave off the feel of Howl’s Moving Castle, but during modern days (in a school).
A young girl named Subaru is on a hill watching the stars when a star shower occurs. The next day at school, she wishes to go to the viewing room, but when she enters she finds a magical garden instead. In there, she meets a boy named Minato who seems to be sick. When she leaves she steps on a strange green blob that steels her compass and leads her to a room where other classmates (one of whom is her friend) are dressed kind of like witches.
In the next clip, the other girls are confused as to how she enters. But a star shower happens again, and they jump into action. The green blob, who is their president, transforms Subaru into a magical girl and gives her a broom so she can fly up with the others. They chase after a large star that is called the Engine Fragment, which they are collecting to send the club president back to his home planet. Working together, they are able to catch the fragment, but while they are shrinking it down to an appropriate size, Minato arrives revealing that he is their enemy.
In the third clip, the girls try to fight Minato. Subaru loses concentration when she recognizes Minato and causes them to lose the fragment to him as he escapes. Before leaving, he tells them to have a final battle in three days over the final fragments. Subaru wants to help the girls, but her friend Aoi is against it. After some ‘fighting’ (in which Aoi gives her friend the nasty cold shoulder), they make up.
Finally in the fourth video, the girls\ confront Minato. He attacks the school while looking for the other fragments. As Minato prepares to attack Aoi as she protects t which upsets Subaru as he is destroying a precious place. The battle goes on. I do not want to ruin the ending so I will stop there.The story is super magical and whimsical. It is really entrancing, and I wish it was a full TV series. It has been officially released that they plan on making it a full anime, but up till now nothing yet has happened.
As beautiful as it is, there are like 2 cons. One, I hate how Subaru, herself, and her friend refer to her (Subaru) as ‘a bit slow’. That is not OK. Its mean of her friend to do that and weird for her to call herself that. It is not an interesting character trait, and I really would hate to see the TV series continue with the idea. She repeated the phrase like 6 times in four five minute videos! I found it slightly upsetting. Also, I did not like the end to much. If there is a continuation in the form of a full series, then the ending is great. But if they do not make good on their promise, then I will be left feeling un fulfilled. Either way, the story is so pretty and a lot of fun to watch. I suggest it very much.
4. Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon is in my top five because she is my childhood. This anime was the first one I ever watched, she got me into anime and manga. I love Sailor Moon, and till this day, I am still a huge fan. Most people who know magical girls will know Sailor Moon. This is becasue, though she was not the first maho shojo, she is the one that made it famous. She made this genre what it is, and most of the major tropes come from this cartoon. For those who do not know Sailor Moon, let me give a brief plot summary.
Usagi Tsukino, a 14 year old high school student, is a major klutz. She has awful grades, eats too much, is a cry baby, and can be overly dramatic. One day she finds a talking black cat named Luna who reveals to her that she (Usagi) is a magical solider named Sailor Moon Protector of Love and Justice. She also learns that she must defend the universe from an enemy that succeeded at destroying the world in the far future. She meets many people, with differing stories and forms strong bonds of friendship with some team members that at first she did not work well with. Though she is hesitant at first, Usagi grows into a great hero, protecting the world in the name of the moon, she collects other sailor soldiers and, together, learn about their true identities, distant pasts, and pressing futures.
Sailor Moon is full of silliness, romance, magic, and drama. It will take twists and turns that you would not have guessed in the beginning. Even some side characters will get story time that will make you cry. And when I say colorful cast, I really mean it. Not only do you get the whole rainbow in turns of outfits, but you also get all the personality types. As always, the girls learn about love, friendship, and sacrifice. But of course this is happy ending.
The one draw back, is that the story is as stereotypical of magical girls as it gets (it did set those standards). Also, Usagi is a whiny girl and that gets annoying at times. I have a childhood love connected to this, and I understand those who may not be hundred percent in love, but it is an amazing story. If you are not into the more vintage anime looks, a revamped Sailor Moon will be released some time in 2014. It is so cute, but still does not compare to the original for me. Here is the trailer for anyone interested:
3. Kaitou Saint Tail
Kaitou Saint Tail is an anime I found completely by mistake a few years ago. I had not really heard of it before, and it was older so I new the cartoon was not drawn in the same way as the ones now-a-days are. I just started to watch cause I was bored, and I am so grateful I did. Kaitou Saint Tail is one of my most favorite animes ever. The story is so wonderous, and when I watched it, I was completely hooked on it. It is not super dramatic and there is only a light hint to the of romance. But it is so simple and whimsical that I could not stop watching.
Meimi Haneoka is a middle school student that moonlights as a Robin Hood under the name Saint Tail. Each night she steals stolen objects that were taken dishonestly and brings them back to their rightful places. Soon to be nun and classmate, Seira, is the only person who knows of her identity as the night time thief. Seira listens to those plagued by problems and reports back to Meime, aiding her in finding people who need the thief’s help. Yet, the police force sees her as nothing but a common thief and aims to stop her. Her classmate and son of a detective, Asuka is most interested in bringing her down. Meimi, having a crush on Asuka, always makes sure to tell him in advance of her next job, giving him a fair chance in catching her.
I do not think I could praise this cartoon enough. It is lighthearted and easy to get into. You learn to love the characters fairly quickly. It gives off an older feel that, at least for me, always seems to bring nostalgic feelings. The few cons is that the characters are a little bit lacking. I love the fact that we start the story with her having been Saint Tail for a while, but I wished it was explained at some point. Also, they are not developed very much through out the series. Meimi does not really have a major personality flaw that could deter her as a hero that she needs to grow out of (like lack of confidence, being a crybaby, being a coward, or even being selfish). Yet for the most part, this anime is fulfilling, and the entire thing leaves a happy impression. I entirely recommend watching Kaitou Saint Tail.
2. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
You see this anime, and you think to yourself “This is so cute. It is so colorful and magical. I am so excited to watch this.” You believe that it will follow all the major tropes of the magical genre, and you are not wrong. It follows every rule and every standard of magical girls, except for one: it is not happy. This cartoon is dark. It plays on all the tropes with a dark twist creating a more realistic version of how young girls with great powers would break and why they would even be given such responsibilities. I am not even joking when I say this is messed up and heart wrenching and sickening and awesome.
A few years ago, Puella Magi Madoka Magica was very big on the internet. It was as famous as an anime could get, mostly one that was not a shonen like Naruto. Madoka Magica was huge, and I remember trying to start it but stopping because I did not like how their faces were drawn. Three years later, I have become enthralled in the story. It will destroy a person. The drama is beyond exciting, and there is no love story (probably because these girls are too focused on bigger issue problems like despair and depression then to focus on boys). I wish I could better explain to what capacity this anime is psychologically disturbing, but I could not with out ruining one of the best written plots I have ever encountered. Most people will know what cartoon this is, but for those who have been sheltered from this dark gem, please watch it. The battle scenes are ridiculously good, and way more action packed then you would expect. The girls face psychological demons that would completely destory a grown adult , let alone children. And their story haunts the audience even after they finish the 13 episodes (thirteen episodes, THIRTEEN! This told a story that was so complicated and disturbing in the shortest possible time. Developing characters completely and scarring people in the shortest time span that animes go).
The story revolves around a 13 year old girl named Madoka Kaname. She and her friend Saki meet a cute cat creature named Kyubey. It promises them a wish as long as they sign a contract to become magical girls and defeat witches (seems basic enough so far). They do not sign the contracts at the time, and at school they meet a transfer student named Homura who is also a magical girl. Homura tries at all costs to stop Madoka from signing with Kyubey. Together, the three also meet Mami, a magic girl and upperclassman, who lets them accompany her in her battles against witches so that they can learn what it is like before making the leap.
Through out most of the anime, Madoka is trying to figure out if she wants to be a magical girl. While doing so, she witnesses all the darkness that come along with the job. She sees people die, some suffer, and other become monsters. With out giving away to much, she learn why magical girls and witches exist; as well as the endless cycle that creates all their suffering. The ending is messed up. Madoka makes a huge sacrifice that alters all of reality and leaves you unsettled. The entire story is amazing, thrilling, and mind blowing. Seriously go watch it right after you read this post, if this was a book or a movie, it would be huge.
1. Shugo Chara
The story of Shugo Chara may not be as radical as Madoka Magica, but I can promise you it is not your basic magical girl either (at least not completely). Shugo Chara is my number one because it struck a personal cord. This one focuses on average everyday problems that young people may feel, and most importantly, it focuses on the idea of being yourself (corny? yes, but still aren’t most of them). Anyways, I watched this when I felt most unhappy about myself, struggling to like myself and to feel like I am not just trying to be a fake person people would readily accept. Shugo Chara means a lot to me. I really like Amu, and I feel for her struggle.
Amu Hinamori is an elemenatry student struggling to find herself. All her classmates, and even her family, see her as this cool, calm and collected, type of girl who is strong and distant. They praise her for this and love her for it, but really she is just a lonely girl with many faces trying to live up to people’s expectations. She is actually really shy and has trouble being herself in front of everyone. One night, she makes a wish for courage to be herself, and she wakes the next morning with three eggs (pink, blue, and green). From them, these little mini chibi-type creatures are born, personifications of her true self. They are called Guardian Characters and they give her magical powers to battle X-Characters, when a person struggles and is unable to be themselves and their dream selves take over because of their despair. She helps others realize themselves while trying to accomplish her own dreams. Along the way, she makes many new friends. Her enemy is the Easter company that uses kids with these character powers so as to find and harness a mythical and powerful egg called Embryo.
I loved Shugo Chara. The story is amazing, and there are so many parts that are hilarious that it adds to how lighthearted it is. I also love this anime because I ended up growing a taste of music at this time and Buono was introduced to me by this cartoon. I love Buono. Anyways, there is like one and half cons. One: by the end, the story kind of tries to shift away from Amu and to two little kids that represent the torch being passed down. The only problem is that 3 seasons go by this way, and the audience only cares about what will happen to the characters they fell in love with not these new kids. The half comes from the romance part. The love story is great, but Amu is in elementary school and the boy you root for is 17. It feels natural and OK, and because he is all fangirls’s dream, everyone wants him to win (almost everyone). So when you are reminded about the age gap, which is not apparent during most of the episodes, you feel conflicted. No matter, Shugo Chara is wonderful. It is a growing of age story, one of loving yourself flaws and all, and one of friendships and bonds forming on mutual acceptance. There is no story better for me.
Please note that there is a total of 3 out of 5 animes listed where the heroine has pink hair. Coincidence?