Magical girl: Wikis


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Sakura Kinomoto of Cardcaptor Sakura, a classic example of a magical girl.

Magical girls (魔法少女 mahō shōjo?, also known as mahou shoujo or majokko) belong to a sub-genre of Japanese fantasy anime and manga. Magical girl stories feature young girls with superhuman abilities, forced to fight evil and to protect the Earth. They often possess a secret identity,[1] although the name can just refer to young girls who follow a plotline involving magic and a transformation (such as Full Moon wo Sagashite). (Ojamajo Doremi features magical girls as protagonists, but its plot differs from the standard as the girls use magic for friendship and behavior, rather than for attacking antagonists). The Japanese language identifies magical girls as majokko (魔女っ子?, literally "witch girl"), though this term does not generally apply to modern magical girl anime. Sally, the Witch (1966) counts as the first magical girl anime.[1]

Magical boys occur much more rarely, but one can readily identify them: they operate along similar lines (as with D.N.Angel). Magical girls generally differ from catgirls and from magical girlfriends. Sometimes, the catgirl and magical girl character types cross over; the magical girl may have cat-ears and -tail as part of her costume, or a catgirl could have some form of magical powers. Examples of these include Tokyo Mew Mew and Hyper Police. A magical girl and a magical girlfriend typically differ in that the magical girlfriend is not the protagonist.


General examples

As a general example of a magical girl, Cardcaptor Sakura, a normal girl, late in her story uses magical powers, with the help of a sidekick usually appearing as an animal. Other magical girl subjects may appear in the guise of witches, or (rarely) of psychics (such as Hailey from Queen Bee). Examples of conventional magical girls include the protagonists of: Ultra Maniac, Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon, Tokyo Mew Mew, Minky Momo, Corrector Yui, Mamotte Lollipop, Kamichama Karin, Ojamajo Doremi, Uta Kata, Super Pig, Petite Princess Yucie, Shugo Chara, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne , Pretty Cure, Princess Tutu, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Mermaid Melody.

Genre history

In 1962 Secret Akko-chan introduced the convention that the magical girl gets her powers from a "special object".[2] Paul Gravett regards Princess Sapphire as a prototype for magical girls. Born with two hearts, one of a girl and one of a boy, she must pass as a boy in order to save her kingdom from falling into the clutches of her evil uncle. In feminine guise (with aid of a blonde wig) she romances a prince.[3]

The Japanese dub of the American TV series Bewitched became popular among young Japanese girls in the 1960s.[4] This occurred in the formative[citation needed] years of Japanese animation as a genre, and animators wanted to produce a series aimed at young girls; since the target audience approved of Bewitched, animators decided to make a series about a witch[citation needed] — not a witch in the usual Western sense of the word, resembling the evil witch in Hansel and Gretel, but a witch in the same vein as Bewitched's Samantha: a witch who looked just like a normal person and used her magic for everyday tasks and the good of others around her. This inspired Mitsuteru Yokoyama — best known in the U.S. as the creator of Tetsujin 28-go — to create Sally the Witch,[5] which aired on television in serial form in 1966.[2]

Commentators regard Cutie Honey, which began in 1973, as the prototype for the transforming magical girl genre.[citation needed] Sailor Moon, which began in 1992, later popularized the genre. Typically, such transforming sequences involve pirouetting, loss of normal clothes (usually censored) and the sudden appearance of a magical girl uniform and weapon.

According to the analyst John Oppliger of AnimeNation, after 2003 magical girl anime—marketed (at least partially) to male audiences—has become a prolific trend alongside the traditional female-oriented works, coinciding with the rise of moe-genre popularity.[6] As a prime example of this, note Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.

Common themes and features

Magical girls generally obtain their powers from some sort of enchanted object: such as a pendant, a wand, a compact, or a ribbon. By concentrating on this object, and in some cases speaking a special phrase or command, a girl undergoes an intricate transformation sequence and changes to her fully-powered form. A major theme of magical girl stories involves learning to harness these powers and develop them fully. Teams of magical girls often learn to combine their powers to perform massive, super-charged attacks. Powers or no powers, though, magical girls rarely suffer defeat even in normal form, as they tend to learn ordinary acrobatics, martial arts, or other offensive or defensive actions to supplement their supernatural talents, although they do need to use their power against whatever villains they have to fight.

Magical girls do not operate alone in their adventures. They occasionally receive the help of mysterious, magical boys. These boys sometimes disdain their female counterparts, but at other times they show romantic interest in one of the girls, or vice versa. Another common theme involves some sort of talking-animal sidekick with magical powers of its own. These pets rarely participate in combat; instead, they offer advice and help train the girls in the use of their abilities.

Magical girls' abilities usually remain ill-defined. While their powers evidently have a source behind them, the extent and exact nature of those powers usually remains unknown or unclear. Thus a magical girl may summon extraordinary new magical powers - powers previously unavailable to her - in the last moments of an epic battle. Such powers can serve as a deus ex machina to resolve the major conflict in a climactic fashion. Therefore, it differs from shōnen in that shōnen tends to define a hero's powers specifically and to indicate what those powers can achieve (in most cases said powers increase as time goes by, usually by extensive training), whereas magical girl series tend to leave these factors ambiguous, and instead allow her powers to be more free-flowing and open to change based on the situation.

Magical girls spend much of their time trying to keep their powers and their normal identities secret. The reasons for this vary: they may wish to avoid capture by the enemy, they may simply feel embarrassed, and sometimes they have even received severe warnings not to let their friends and family know about their secret powers. However, despite their best attempts to keep their normal and supernatural lives separate,[7] strange events tend to occur to magical girls in normal life with alarming regularity, forcing them to transform and fight.

Magical girl stories tend to the upbeat and the cheerful. The characters fight for idealistic causes such as love, peace, hope, and beauty—rarely for revenge. By forming teams, the heroines learn the values of friendship and co-operation. Even the magical girls' enemies leave them alone most of the time; the girls need to pursue the enemies and to attempt to thwart their plans. The genre can be intriguing due to the contrasts and conflicts the magical girls represent, caught up as they are between the childish and the mature, or between helplessness and power.

Mahō shōjo in Japan

Until the appearance of Sailor Moon, the original term mahō shōjo in Japan referred primarily to girls who did not transform themselves and who used magic for acts of mercy and succor rather than for heroism against evil; for example, Mako of Mahō no Mako-chan. In fact, magical girl series such as Himitsu no Akko-chan and Fushigi na Merumo existed in which the heroines received the power to transform themselves into whatever they wished, not for the sake of fighting evil, but for the sake of adventure. However, the term is generally used in the west to refer only to evil-fighting magical girls. The series Sally, the Witch and Minky Momo are hardly known in the United States[citation needed] although they are popular works of magical girl series in Japan.

One series transcended these two cases: Akazukin Chacha, a Japanese mahō shōjo manga, portrayed the adventures of the protagonist Chacha and her friends. When Nihon Ad Systems and Studio Gallop adapted the manga into anime, Chacha became a "Magical Princess" in order to battle with villains. Another genre-crossing series, Majokko Megu-chan (Toei, 1974-75), sees the heroine, Megu, use her magic not only to fight villains but also to deal with everyday situations (such as teaching her younger brother to swim). In 2004 Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha premiered, featuring a set of magical girls whose powers are predominantly combat-related.

See also


  1. ^ a b Patrick Drazen, Anime Explosion!: The What? Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation, p 123, ISBN 1-880656-72-8
  2. ^ a b Gravett, Paul (2004). Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics. Harper Design. p. 78. ISBN 1-85669-391-0. 
  3. ^ Gravett, Paul (2004). Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics. Harper Design. p. 77. ISBN 1-85669-391-0. 
  4. ^ Drazen, Patrick (October 2002). Anime Explosion! The What? Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation. Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. pp. 281. ISBN 1-880656-72-8. OCLC 50898281. 
  5. ^ Boren, James (September 2003). "The Making of a Magical Girl". Animerica (Viz Media) 11 (9): 31. 
  6. ^ Oppliger, John (2007-10-22). "Ask John: Is Magical Girl Anime for Male Viewers a New Trend?". AnimeNation. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  7. ^ "Short anime glossary [Краткий анимешно-русский разговорник]" (in Russian). anime*magazine (3): 36. 2004. ISSN 1810–8644. 

Further reading

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