It seems like the world of magical girl anime and manga has been getting bigger and bigger during the last decade, and while that might be true, the genre has been around for a while. Generally, this type of anime revolves around a young girl who gets to fight the forces of evil. While the genre might not be hugely popular with Western audiences (compared to other types of anime), it actually received a fair bit of attention.
This might not sound like a familiar title for many – especially fans outside the genre – given the fact that it never received an anime adaptation. The manga was published from 1990 to 1997, and it blends elements of adventure, mystery, supernatural and horror. The story follows Naomi Morimura, who has the task of protecting her school from evil spirits using her powers. For those who are avid manga reader and are interested to see what the magical girl genre is all about, Code Name wa Charmer could be an interesting starting point.
This one might sound familiar to readers from the West, given that the manga got fairly popular. Not only that, but the first 26 episodes of the anime series got an English dub from 4Kids Entertainment (being compressed to 23 episodes after getting edited), receiving the name Mew Mew Power. Despite the edits, the series received interest from the audience. The show follows a cast of school girls whose DNA get merged with beasts, and who have the task of protecting the earth from aliens.
If you’re looking for a magical girl anime with a darker edge but at the same time with a more positive outlook, then Yuki Yuki Is A Hero manages to blend both those sides. The original series has only 12 episodes and it follows a group of 4 girls who have to fight mysterious monsters in order to save humanity. Despite its fairly standard plot, the show has a post-apocalyptic side to it and it’s not as lighthearted as it might seem.
Not only did Sally the Witch kickstart a whole genre, it’s also considered to be among the first mangas to be aimed at teenage women. The manga had one volume and it began publishing in 1966. Moreover, it quickly received an anime adaptation that same year, running for 109 from ’66 to ’68. A second anime series got made in the late 80s, running for 88 episodes from ’89 to ’91. Whether you decide to read the manga or watch one of the anime series, it’s important to keep in mind that this helped start it all.
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The genre of magical girl can get dark as well. The series follows Aya Asagiri, who gets transported into a dangerous world after she enters a website titled Magical Girl Site. The protagonist then has to fight in order to stay alive, making new friends along the way. While the show has the basis of a magical girl anime, it’s horror and dark fantasy elements make it stand out in a weird way. This could be an interesting watch for those who dismiss magical girl anime or for those who enjoy the genre but want something different. Magical Girl Site has only 12 episodes so it makes for a quick watch.
A title that is definitely familiar to fans of the genres, and even to anime fans who are not into magical girl anime, given that this series received a lot of attention. Despite its appearance, the series has elements of dark fantasy and thriller in it. It ran for only 12 episodes in 2011, with the story following a group of students who chose to have magical powers, and then learn to deal with their new lifestyle. The show received praise, and was the source of 2 video games and 3 films. Overall, it’s considered to have an unconventional approach to the genre. Honorable Mention: Slayers
While Slayers is not considered a magical girl anime, the show has enough elements to deserve more attention. The series follows Lina Inverse, who is a teenage sorceress who journeys through the world. The protagonist is portrayed as stubborn yet powerful, and the anime itself reached a high level of popularity during the 90s. Nowadays, it doesn’t get talked about as much, but the show has enough seasons for interested fans to check out – the latest one airing in 2009.
7. Sailor Moon
It’s hard to talk about magical girl anime without mentioning Sailor Moon. Arguably, the show that brought the genre to the West. Not only that, but it was hugely successful at the time. The eponymous character gets instructed by a talking cat about her duties and her alongside her friends get to battle various villains. Both the anime as well as the original manga wrapped up in 1997, and despite being over 2 decades old, the franchise continues to be ranked as one of the best of its type, and the one that helped kickstart the craze in the West.