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Magical Girl

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"Magic Girls, no matter how frilly their dresses, high their screams, or incompetent their sidekicks, will be treated as the credible and dire threats they are, and I will direct as many, if not more resources to their destruction as I would for a more classical Hero."
— Rule #52, Evil Empress Guide

Known as mahou shoujo ("magical girl") or just majokko ("witch-girl") in Japanese, Magical Girls are empowered by various means with fantastic powers that both assist and complicate their lives, but manage to persevere despite this.

No matter how hard this may be for the Western world to believe, Magical Girls have high crossover popularity in different demographics with some minor but appropriate design modifications and make up a sizable portion of both Shōjo and bishoujo fandom.

A Super-Trope to:

Magical Girl Warriors arguably have the widest demographic appeal, and in the West are often synonymous with the entire Shoujo genre, let alone the idea of a Magical Girl.

History of the Genre

It may come as a surprise to learn that the entire Magical Girl genre is descended, effectively, from the American live-action Magical Girlfriend sitcom Bewitched. While two series claim the role of "first magical girl anime"—Mitsuteru Yokoyama's Mahotsukai Sally (Sally the Witch, 1966-1968) and Fujio Akatsuka's Himitsu no Akko-chan (broadcast 1969, but its manga predates Mahotsukai Sally)—the creators of both credit Bewitched as a primary inspiration for their work. Yokoyama explicitly adapted its concept for a younger audience, while Akatsuka merely says he was "inspired" by it.

Sally the Witch's American counterpart, Archie's Sabrina the Teenage Witch (then known as the Sabrina portion of Sabrina and The Groovie Goolies during its early years), was an early American example of a Magical Girl show, and the first animated magical girl series to be produced and aired in the United States, and it ran as a Saturday-Morning Cartoon. This early Magical Girl show was very unusual that it included a laugh track—which is not present in Sally the Witch (which didn't come to America), but more common in American-produced cartoons.

Another important early Magical Girl show was Majokko Meg-chan in 1974. This was the first show to be marketed to boys as well as girls, and featured a number of developments—it was the first Magical Girl show to...

Originally, all Magical Girl shows were produced by Toei Animation in Japan or Filmation in the US, so "Magical Girl" wasn't so much a genre as a Series Franchise. This lasted until Ashi Production's Magical Princess Minky Momo hit the airwaves in 1982 in Japan and DiC's Rainbow Brite in 1983, followed by Studio Pierrot's Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel in 1983 (the first Magic Idol Singer show). A one-shot OVA produced in 1987 featured a Bat Family Crossover between Studio Pierrot's four '80s Magical Girl shows (Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel, Persia, the Magic Fairy, Magical Emi, the Magic Star, and Magical Idol Pastel Yumi). This was the first instance of a magical girl team. (My Little Pony was not considered a magical girl series, but some series were indeed part of the genre.)

The Magical Girl Warrior subgenre didn't hit worldwide until She-Ra: Princess of Power in 1985 for Western animation and Sailor Moon in 1992 for anime, but 1973 Cutey Honey, despite not being aimed at girls but having a lot of influence on the genre, was the first magical girl warrior. This was essentially a combination of the earlier style shows with the Super Hero genre, particularly the Super Sentai formula. Sailor Moon was a huge hit, and, naturally, other shows were made in the same style. A small further subgenre of the Magical Girl Warrior is the Magical Girl Phantom Thief, seen in Phantom Thief Jeanne, Kaitou Saint Tail and Hatena Illusion.

The wave of shows inspired by Sailor Moon (anime) or She-Ra: Princess of Power (Western cartoons) eventually subsided, but new sub-genres spawned soon in its wake. As of present, most magical girl shows can be loosely organized into three broad categories.

  1. Neo-classical, codified by Cardcaptor Sakura. Essentially, old school magical girl coming of age stories updated with the sensibilities of the modern age and the roles of girls and women in it. Mainly aimed towards young girls but often with a significant Peripheral Demographic of adult males. Contemporary examples include Ojamajo Doremi, Shugo Chara! and the Pretty Cure franchise (though that also fits in the second set).
  2. Action Hero, created by Pretty Cure, but codified by Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Magical Girl Warrior territory, with emphasis on "Warrior" and often enough Hot Blood to put a Shounen fighting series to shame. Largely aimed at the teenage and adult male demographic, and as such placing heavy emphasis on Fanservice: from a lot of fighting scenes with Calling Your Attacks, to Magitek Technology Porn. The Improbably Female Cast is frequently used as an excuse for Les Yay. Examples include: My-HiME, Vividred Operation, Symphogear, and Kill la Kill.
  3. Deconstructive, codified by Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Debunking the very concept of a world where young girls are forced to confront evil as a Crapsaccharine World with plenty of dark secrets and delving deep into the psychology of its cast, often with religious or philosophical references. Tends to skew towards teens and adult males like the Action Hero variation, but there are a few works that aim towards young and teenage girls as well. Often borders on Surreal Horror territory; Madoka itself was considered the equivalent of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Berserk for the genre. Other notable examples include My-HiME (again), Princess Tutu, Day Break Illusion, and Yuki Yuna is a Hero.

Of course, there are other examples that feature similar themes but diverge even further from the old-style shows. Many fans felt that shows such as Magic Knight Rayearth were still Magical Girl shows, despite all the dissimilarities from the previous generation (others disagree, and feel that Rayearth is Shoujo RPG World Fantasy instead).

IMPORTANT NOTE: A girl who can use magic is not necessarily a Magical Girl in the sense of the trope or genre. A Magical Girlfriend, for example, usually does not fit into the same structure that defines a Magical Girl series.

For an index of magical girl works, see the Magical Girl Genre Index. Also see the Index of Magical Girl Tropes and our own guide on how to Write a Magical Girl Series.

Not to be confused with John Popadiuk's Magic Girl pinball machine.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

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Examples of Magical Girl works:

    Asian Animation 
  • Balala the Fairies was the very first major magical girl series in China, focusing on oridinary girls who are granted powers that turn them into a group of warriors known as the Fairies of Balala so they can fight evil.
  • Catch! Teenieping is a Korean example. It focuses on the princess of the Emotions Kingdom, Princess Romi, who accidentally releases "mind fairies" known as Teeniepings and sends them to Earth, prompting her to go to Earth and attempt to catch every Teenieping as they wreak havoc in one town in particular known as Harmony Town. She has the ability to transform into different forms depending on which Royal Teenieping she transforms with, which she then uses to catch the runaway Teeniepings.
  • Flower Angel is China's answer to Cardcaptor Sakura, featuring a young girl named Xia An'an capturing and using the powers of fairies with her companion, Prince Kukuru of the fairy continent Labelle, to fight evil.
  • Kung Fu Wa, an 8-year old girl named Tee Yang meets a Kung-Fu Master turned into a sock by a time vortex, she agrees to help him find and seal evil spirits called Kwei, she borrows his mystical powers by putting him on her foot and turns into a super heroine called Kung-Fu Girl.
  • Nana Moon, a Chinese series, has Keke being given a special badge that lets her transform into specific occupations (such as a makeup artist, for example) to help people.
  • Rainbow Ruby is a girl who uses a magical suitcase to transform herself into different job outfits.
  • Sweets Fairy, China's second Magical Girl series after Balala the Fairies.
  • Tea Tea Cherry, another South Korean example and a fairly modern take on the genre. It is about three (later five) teenage girls (all named after fruits) saving creatures in another dimension by solving puzzles and looking for clues that were left behind.

    Eastern European Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • W.I.T.C.H. is an Italian animesque comic about a team of American girls with magical powers. In Icelandic, the comic was renamed to Magical Girls, since W.I.T.C.H. obviously doesn't work in all languages. Also has an animated adaptation.
  • Wonder Woman and the Star Riders may have been a truncated property but what was made features Wonder Woman in a skirt and tights leading a group of gals with magical powers wearing sparkly outfits while protecting and using magic gems.
  • Goddess is a miniseries by Garth Ennis, of all people, that more or less reads as a Western take on the genre, albeit a far less kid-friendly one.
  • Zodiac Starforce is an American take on a Magical Girl team. Artist Paulina Gauncheau is a huge fan of the genre (and especially Sailor Moon), and it shows.
  • Magical Beatdown is a hyper violent street harassment revenge fantasy about an average video-game loving schoolgirl who transforms into a foul-mouthed and rage-fuelled Magical girl when provoked.
  • Strange Academy features Emily Bright, a young girl who has had magical abilities of unknown origins ever since she was a baby, and has enrolled in Doctor Strange's eponymous Wizarding School as a member of its first class.
  • Goodbye, Battle Princess Peony is about the titular Peony, a Battle Princess who fights to protect her world from dark villainesses known as the Divine Ladies, but accidentally gets transported to their world one day.

    Films — Live-Action 


    Live-Action TV 

  • Ark Angels features Magical Girls traveling through time to save endangered animals in order to stop God from wiping Earth clean of all life for its own good. As you can probably guess, the Green Aesop is strong with this one.

  • "Magical Girl" by Cate Rox comes across as a Magical Girl Warrior song.
    "I'm a magical girl
    In this ordinary world
    Where darkness has consumed all life
    And you need magic to survive
    Everyday is a fight
    I'm a magical girl."

    Puppet Shows 
  • Lavinia, the Cute Witch heroine of South African childrens' show Die Liewe Heksie, is a Magical Girl: her youth and cuteness contrast to the Wicked Witch qualities of the opposing GeelHeks.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Girl By Moonlight is a game built on the Forged in the Dark system, that includes multiple playbooks corresponding to different themes and tones within the Magical Girl genre, including a sci-fi Mecha playbook.
  • Pathfinder has the gender-neutral Magical Child archetype for the Vigilante class. The Magical Child can cast spells (like the Summoner) and comes with a familiar, that changes forms as the Child grows in levels, and eventually gets the ability to switch between them. And yes, it has a Transformation Sequence. One that starts at thirty seconds, and can get shorter with new talents.
  • Princess: The Hopeful is a Decon-Recon Switch of Magical Girls that's compatible with the New World of Darkness. Princesses are charged with improving the world, but doing so is going to take a lot of hard work, struggle, sacrifice, and more varied strategies than The Power of Love.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

Examples of the Magical Girl trope referred to in other works:


    Audio Play 
  • Spoofed in the Puyo Puyo drama CD story "Chain Sentai Puyorangers", where Raffina refuses to wear a Super Sentai outfit as Amitie expected and instead dons a red frilly magical girl outfit while naming herself "Miracle Raffina".

    Comic Books 
  • Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld combines Magical Girl with Changeling Fantasy and High Fantasy.
  • The Enchantress created by DC Comics in 1966, comes very close to being a proto-Magical Girl Warrior. Young woman June Moone goes with her slightly older boyfried to an alledgedly haunted castle for a party. Turns out that there are actual spooks. June stumbles into a secret chamber, where a mysterious being tells her she is The Chosen One and gives her a transformation word. June says it and gets magical powers, an appearance makeover (blonde to dark red), a miniskirted costume, and a kickin' witch hat. The Enchantress then battles a Monster of the Week and evacuates the civilians before the castle collapses. June reappears with a weak excuse and her boyfriend expresses an interest in her alter ego. There were two more stories where Enchantress fought random menaces, but the writers didn't have a good story arc beyond that, so she went into obscurity for years, including a phase as a Dark Magical Girl.
  • The Gen¹³ miniseries Magical Drama Queen Roxy, which reinvents Freefall as a Magical girl, is a parody of the genre. Turned out to be All Just a Dream.
  • Comic book Superheroine Mary Marvel, who first appeared in 1942, possessed several similar characteristics to the Magical Girl Warrior sub-type: skimpy costume, magical Transformation Sequence into a super-powered form, a Destiny, and (if you stretch it to include Tawky Tawny) a Talking Animal friend.
  • W.I.T.C.H. is an Italian comic following the formula of an Action Hero magical girl series. The main 5 girls all have magical powers, transformation sequences, and fight to defend the earth from evil forces. The animated TV show is based on the comic books.
  • Queen Bee

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Even the horror genre has nods to this trope. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master can be seen as a darker take on the Magical girl story, since Alice's dream powers at first only serve to make everyone around her bigger targets for Freddy Krueger and they are Personality Powers received from their deaths. Nonetheless, it has the typical tropes: shy and insecure teenage girl receives magical powers one day (from Kristen, the previous Final Girl) and, over the course of the movie, overcomes her insecurities and matures into her role as the titular Dream Master, freeing the children's souls from Freddy while getting the hot guy and reconciling with her abusive father.

  • The German fantasy book series (also adapted as an audio drama) Bibi Blocksberg is about a 13-year-old witch living in a small German town and going to school with other regular kids. The series started in 1980, long before anime shows or manga became popular in Germany.note 
  • The German book series Lilly The Witch is about a girl named Lilly who finds a magical book which turns her into a witch, as well as a Mentor Mascot in the form of a little green dragon named Hector, and who has many adventures all over the world. The books have been made into an animated series on CBBC, as well as an animated movie.

    Live-Action TV 


    Tabletop Games 

  • Balala the Fairies, which is basically a live action Pretty Cure.
  • In the 1980s and early 1990s, Shotaro Ishinomori had a hand in making the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series. While earlier series were kiddie Sci-Fi robot shows and friendly monsters, the later entries in the franchise were all live action magical girls, such as Mahou Shoujo Chuuka na Paipai, Fushigi Shojo Nile na Thutmose, Bishoujo Kamen Poitrine, and Yuugen Jikkou Sisters Shushutorian.
  • Cutie Honey: THE LIVE is Exactly What It Says on the Tin — a live-action version of Cutey Honey.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, a live action version of Sailor Moon.
  • The toku series Seishoujo Senshi Saint Valkyrie, which appears to have been inspired by Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki.
  • Even Super Sentai has an example. Gekisou Sentai Carranger, the parody series, had the kid sister of the series' main villainess transforming into White Racer, a racing-themed magical girl, to occasionally help out the heroes. Also, she had a cat/car-based mecha. Carranger was an odd year.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid's Poppy Pipopapo (Asuna Karino) transforms into her disguised civilian form or her true Bugster form when she says, "Costume Change" that bares some Magical Girl elements and and has a true bubbly and energetic personality like one of the protagonists from those magical girl series such as Usagi "Serena" Tsukino (Sailor Moon) from Sailor Moon, & Miyuki Hoshizora (Emily) (Cure Happy) (Glitter Lucky) from Smile PreCure! (Glitter Force). Also, as Asuna, she has a mature and no-nonsense persona, although her normal personality will momentarily surface if she is addressed by her real name. But as Kamen Rider Poppy, she uses with the Gashacon Bugvisor II (Buggle Driver II) & the Tokimeki Crisis Gashat, given from Amagasaki Ren (Lovelica Bugster) & her transformation sequence has some Magical Girl elements, like Sailor Moon, & Smile PreCure! (Glitter Force).
  • Once in Kamen Rider Wizard, in order to hide his identity from his Grandmother, Kamen Rider Beast refers himself as Magical Girl Beast.
  • The Girl x Warrior franchise in Japan is a magical girl tokusatsu franchise meant to rival the Pretty Cure franchise. The first installment, Idol x Warriors Miracle Tunes, which is about idols given the power to transform and fight evil, premiered in 2017 in Japan, and has recently gotten a European adaptation.


    Web Original 
  • In The Impossible Man Yuki Shimizu is a Magical girl, sent by her mother who leads a mysterious village of Magical Girls and Magical Women, to work as Michael Garcia's bodyguard at his store.
  • In Monster Girl Encyclopedia, magical girl appear to be a class of heroine, with Fallen Maidens book features a magical girl named Mimiru Miltie. As hinted by name of the book, she got corrupted and become a witch of Subbath cult.

    Web Videos 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mahou Shoujo, Majokko


Persia's Transformation

Persia Hayami is an 11 year old girl, but thanks to the headband given to her by the Fairy Princess, she turns into an older girl who also has longer hair and magical superpowers. In her magical girl form, she works to collect Love Energy and save the fairy world from thawing over.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / OlderAlterEgo

Media sources: