The intersection of Magical Girl
with Super Heroine
, and what happens when you combine Magic Knight
with Frills of Justice
The extended growth-to-maturity metaphor Magical Girl
archetype can mean a variety of things; some do more than use their powers to improve or complicate their lives. Some go out and battle Dramatic Evil
, usually with a lot of mystic firepower and weird outfits (usually a glammed-up Mini Dress Of Power
) and called attacks
, and very prone to Kicking Ass in All Her Finery
The origins of this trope as a genre date to early manga, with Princess Knight
generally regarded as the modern Ur Example
of the genres most basic defining trait: a cute and perky female heroine defeating bad guys and engaging in magical adventures. Most series that followed it, however, focused on the magical part and avoided fighting, creating the more whimsical Magical Girl
In the early '70s, however, Go Nagai
created the groundbreaking Cutey Honey
, and in doing so threw the Slice of Life
plot of your typical Magical Girl series out the window. A parody of different Henshin Hero
, this series codified
many of the tropes associated with the Magical Girl Warrior genre to come: giving the heroine the ability to transform into
a powerful alter ego activated with a magical phrase
and/or a Transformation Trinket
, an armory of weapons and abilities to use in battle, an evil organization to fight against, and a heroic introduction
. In a notable example of an Unbuilt Trope
, however, the show is about a Robot Girl
and all of her power relied on technology instead of magic.
The genre gained the remainder of its defining characteristics with Naoko Takeuchi
's series Codename: Sailor V
and its More Popular Spin Off
/Sequel Sailor Moon
, which took all these elements and blended them with classic Magical Girl
tropes and some Super Sentai
characteristics like a team of different heroines with balanced abilities and personalities. The result was a series simultaneously aimed toward and empowering to girls with large amounts of character building and storyline that still gave focus to the battles and allowed for fanservice. A virtually-unheard-of combination at that time, the series quickly attracted a rabid fanbase with a ridiculously-wide demographic. While many early anime and manga of the genre which followed were accused of being (and often were, at the start) rip-offs of Sailor Moon trying to repeat its success by copying the formula
, eventually they evolved into unique works
and a novel hybrid genre.
The action-oriented Magical Girl Warriors have the extra bonus of being marketed to male demographics, so they can be very lucrative; in this case, they often resemble Distaff Counterparts
of Japanese superheroes
, particularly Sentai
and other Henshin Hero
characters. This contributed significantly to the associated franchises being exported to the West. Due to sharing many of the typical teenage
, these characters ended up being much more representative of the Magical Girl
genre outside Japan, as opposed to, for example, Cute Witches
Characters frequently appearing in this type of franchise include the Dark Magical Girl
and The One Guy
in the Improbably Female Cast
, who is frequently a Magic Knight
or Badass Bookworm
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Anime and Manga
- The earliest prototype was Go Nagai's Cutey Honey franchise, which slowly mutated and grew to have an unexpected female fanbase whenever the Fanservice level fluctuated heavily.
- Pretty much cemented by the enormous popularity of Sailor Moon, which introduced the Sentai elements to the genre.
- The most popular show of this type in Japan appears to be Futari wa Pretty Cure and its sequels/spin-offs. Taken to extremes in HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, where the battles looks like something straight out of Saint Seiya (character designer Yoshihiko Umakoshi went on to work on Saint Seiya Omega).
- Parodied in the seinen series Pretty Sammy.
- Parodied within the shojo demographic with Ai to Yuuki no Pig Girl Tonde Buurin, which is about a girl who transforms into a super-powered....pig.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena particularly embodies the "growing up as a struggle" metaphor, with the added bonus of Gnostic metaphor thrown in for good measure. This was emphasized way more in the anime than in the manga, however.
- Lyrical Nanoha started as a standard Magical Girl Warrior anime but quickly found its true calling as Seinen Military Science-Fiction, of all things. By the time of third season, StrikerS, the entire cast are Space Police enlistees, making them magical girl soldiers, or, more accurately, living equivalents of tanks and jet fighters. Not that this prevents Nanoha from using her magical abilities to befriend the living hell out of people.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is a cross of this and Magic Idol Singer.
- Senki Zesshou Symphogear goes further and crossbreeds The Power of Rock with Magitek. Net result? Powered armor that runs on singing.
- Corpse Princess is a rather dark variant—the magical girls are undead corpses who must kill 108 other corpses in order to get into Heaven. Or so they're told. Actually they become unkillable monsters and are bound in a coffin for eternity. Also, they use guns.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: The Show Within a Show Magical Girl Biblion is a parody of this, complete with in-universe Rule 34 doujinshi that typically follows these character types. Since Chisame cosplays the characters featured there, her Pactio Card turned her into one with a cyberspace theme.
- Mai-HiME and Mai-Otome, both of which have strong elements of Deconstruction.
- Devil Hunter Yohko's eponymous heroine is just as adept at martial arts as she is with her sword and magic. She isn't afraid to get physical if that's what it takes to get the job done.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: A much Darker and Edgier take on the formula, deconstructing and subverting numerous tropes. It has been called the Magical Girl genre's Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- Kamichama Karin
- Nurse Angel Ririka SOS, which is often considered a forerunner to Lyrical Nanoha.
- Sweet Valerian features three girls who transform into superpowered monster-fighting...bunny rabbits.
- Kämpfer adds a Gender Bender twist—main character Natsuru turns into a girl whenever he transforms.
- Magic Knight Rayearth crosses this with Swords And Sorcery and the Super Robot Genre.
- Invoked in Mao-chan, where Earth is being invaded by aliens so cute that fighting them is viewed as bullying, forcing the heads of Japan's defense forces to have their cute granddaughters fight the aliens.
- Makeruna Makendo adds a kendo theme.
- Hyper Speed GranDoll is a very close follower of Sailor Moon with a sci-fi feel.
- Dream Hunter Rem is one of the earliest examples.
- Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel
- Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, part of the Nasuverse.
- Magical Canan uses this term to describe their magical girls (mahou senshi).
- Fushigiboshi No Futagohime starts off as a Cute Witch series before becoming this.
- Towa Kamo Shirenai: Himiko and Kosumo, the latter via organ donation.
- Umi Monogatari takes this type of show and tweaks it; among other things, the revelation of what the Big Bad really is allows for a conclusion that's more true-to-life than most shows of this genre.
- Every single woman in Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon; however, how much "mage" or "warrior" there is depends on the person and their abilities.
- Senran Kagura is big-breasted ninja girls with magical clothes and transformation sequences!
- Il Sole penetra le Illusioni is a darker take on the genre. The main girls' powers are tarot-themed.
- Vividred Operation: Technically, the heroines are empowered by technology, rather than magic, but they otherwise fit this trope point for point. It certainly helps that their technology is advanced to the point that it may as well be magic anyway.
- Kill la Kill is the team behind Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's take on the genre. It borrows a bit from Cutey Honey, including the fanservicey outfit and having the death of the main character's father as a starting point for their mission.
- Tokyo Mew Mew mixed the idea with Catgirls and a pro-environmental theme.
- Shamanic Princess: Tiara is what happens when you take a Cute Witch and make her a Badass while bypassing the super hero element.
- Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de aru has four middle-school girls fighting monsters bent on destroying the World Tree.
- Possibly originated with Shazam superheroine Mary Marvel in 1942.
- W.I.T.C.H., with less Sailor Moon-esque cutesy-ness.
- Wonder Woman has resembled this at times, with her magic origins, Transformation Sequence, and such. Most especially in the early Silver Age, when she was depicted having adventures as Wonder Girl, just as Superman was once Superboy. Later, a separate Wonder Girl character, Donna Troy, was introduced.
- Zatanna, especially in later years.
- The title character of Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, as DC Nation demonstrates.
- High School Girls RPG has the Magical Girl extension, allowing you to play just that type of character.
- Princess: The Hopeful, a New World of Darkness fan supplement, adds magical girls to the mix. No Princess is going to last too long without being able to survive a fight, but the Calling of Champion has an extra dose, as their purpose is literally to fight evil. There is also extra emphasis of this style in the Courts of Swords (as heroic larger-than-life figures), Storms (as an Ax-Crazy version), and Hearts (with an emphasis on noble traditions, which includes warrior traditions).
- El Goonish Shive: In the later comics, Elliot gains a superheroine spell after already having the ability to shapeshift into virtually any conceivable female human form including transformation of clothes. The spell comes with three "secret identities" that shift the user's personality somewhat to help with staying under the radar.
- Last Res0rt includes a faction known as the Galaxy Girl Scouts, which seem to be a cross between the sailor senshi and the Green Lantern Corps (i.e., alien girls in whatever the alien version of "schoolgirl" happens to be).
- Princess Chroma: A parody of the genre in which the magical girl is most definitely the hands-on type. She prefers fighting giant monsters with a mace over resorting to spells, despite magic being the more effective, easier way to end a fight.
- Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki is a parody of the genre with a Norse Mythology theme. It also is a Gender Bender series, like the Kämpfer example above.