Almost Otaku: What Happened to the Magical Girl Shows?

Topic started by No_name_here on Oct. 21, 2010. Last post by SingleDimension 3 years, 11 months ago.
Post by No_name_here (856 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Staff
 She's a girl... she's magic.
 She's a girl... she's magic.

Somebody asked me a while back (and a mea maxima culpa for missing the name) about what happened to all the magical girl shows. To be totally honest, I kind-of neglected the question because I didn’t know what the terminology was in reference to. Oddly enough, I got reminded of the question while reading THE TICK recently. My friends, Benn and Liz Robbins are doing a special “mangalicious” take on the hero and, in their afterward, they discussed how magical girls show were an influence of the comic - - the joke being that it’s this big dunderheaded superhero traveling to another world instead of a cute girl.

So, correct me if we’ve got it wrong, but magical girls shows are about a normal young girl getting transported to fantasy realm where they she, or may not, transform into powerful version of herself. I know ESCAFLOWNE fits the bill, and I imagine that FRUITS BASKET and SAILOR MOON do too - - though I'll confess to not being a devotee of either.

Snap reaction - - I don’t know if these can ever go out of style? Isn’t that the basic girl’s-oriented fantasy premise anyway? I remember comparing children’s literature in college and seeing the scenario I described above typically fit the mold of THE WIZARD OF OZ, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, PETER PAN, et al.  I don’t remember if I read some commentary on this or if it was my own conclusion, but there’s usually a revelation that the girl’s parents aren’t her plain ol' suburban 'rents, but are really kings and queens from a far away land who had to send her away. Though, I suppose that's a standard for male’s fantasies (STAR WARS) too?   

Once again, I'm turning the rhetorical mic and the metaphoric spotlight to you more seasoned lunatics in the Anime Vice community. Have I been informed correctly, here? Is it my assessment about right? Or am I way off? Are magical girls shows actually on the decline? Or is it just in our highly-fantastical imaginations?

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of    HYBRID BASTARDS!  &   UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon   here   &     here .

Post by vergilius (147 posts) See mini bio Level 13
Hmm...PRINCESS TUTU would be an example of a recent one.  It has the distinction of being the manliest thing ever produced in any medium.  It is so manly, lowercase letters cannot contain the manliness.
 
I also went back and watched Magic Knight Rayearth recently as part of an old-school binge I was on (the other half of the binge was G Gundam)...that show held up pretty well.
 
So I guess I know a little about this, albeit not a ton.  As for your definition--superpowers of some kind are required, travelling to another world is not.  A recycled transformation sequence is typically the giveaway.  Fruits Basket is a slice-of-life/romance show with some fantastical elements, but as the protagonist has no superpowers, isn't a magical girl show.  Sailor Moon counts.  I don't know about Escaflowne, since I haven't seen it.   WIkipedia offers 
Cardcaptor Sakura, Princess Tutu, Sailor Moon, and Shugo Chara! as definative examples.
 
Two other things the article mentions that are consistent with my experience with the genre are that usually some kind of artifact gives the protagonist her powers, and her powers are usually vaguely defined (compared to shonen fighting shows, for instance).  Sort of a matter of whatever the plot happens to need.
 
The only other wrinkle I can think of is that in addition to there being magical girl shows, the magical girl is also sort of a stock character/character archetype.  For instance, Akikan! Is a harem romcom (mostly) where the cast is comprised mostly of magical girls (they are paragons of different types of soda, and [spoiler alert] are made to do battle so that the government can decide whether steel or aluminium cans are superior...it works, somehow.  Probably *because* it's so insane.)
 
Bewitched Agnes (forget the Japanese name) is notable as something of a deconstruction...it features a magical girl who is really pushing it on the "girl" side of things.  Her younger counterparts want her to retire.
 
I couldn't really tell you whether we are seeing more or fewer shows in this genre being made, as it typically isn't something I look out for.  Hope this helped regardless.
Post by sotyfan16 (1,341 posts) See mini bio Level 20

Never been a fan of the Magical Girl genre but I am guilty of watching Sailor Moon when it was on Toonami (but who isn't, right?).

Post by FoxxFireArt (2,643 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator
Actually, most magical girl series are about a girl who either already has some magical ability, stumbles into magical events, or is given a magical item. It's quite often these series take place in the real world. Far more often it's the shonen series that involve magic worlds.
 
The magical girl never really disappeared. it's just the transforming idea faded into the background. They were far more popular among the shojo set, but a few years back there was a sort of melding between the shonen and shojo fan bases. More modern series have a cross gender appeal, but tend toward the more male audience. Pokemon being one such example.
 
Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura are just so well known because they were better mass marketed to the US audience on regular TV. There are still shojo series involving magic. There is just a playing down of the transformation. The over the top magical theme I think was just a fad. You could also ask what ever became of the Power Ranger-esque team series with the color coded heroes? They aren't really making those at all.
 
What I find really interesting is a series I recently finished watching. It's called Okamisan. I could basically describe it as being the anime equivalent of Shrek. How that movie took classic characters from literature and threw them all into the same fairy-tale based story and gave them such personalities. It was so cool how they worked classic stories into a more modern setting.
Post by metalsnakezero (674 posts) See mini bio Level 16
Well the last Magical Girl show that was lasted aired (In America) was Shugo Chara! and that came out about a year ago, so like FoxxFireArt said, the genre didn't really die off it just well "Transformed" and was mixed in with other genres. The Pretty Cure! series, another Magical girl series, has been going on for a while in Japan but never was able to come over seas so they are still going strong (In Japan at least). 
Post by Lurkero (412 posts) See mini bio Level 7
I'm no expert, but the way I see it is that magical girl shows turned into moe and fanservice shows. 
 
Like many other people the last popular magical girl show I can remember is Card Captor Sakura
Post by YotaruVegeta (584 posts) See mini bio Level 12
Do Panty & Stocking count? They're heavenly angels with magical garments. They really have not had a transformation sequence, though. Just an, um, stripper sequence.
Post by Count_Zero (344 posts) See mini bio Level 20
They're still here. The last big Magical Girl Franchise was the Nanoha franchise, which is maybe about 4 years old. However, that was a big of a twist on the concept as I've heard it described as (alternately) a Magical Girl take on a Gundam series, or a Magical Girl take on Western superheroes. There's also been the Pretty Cure franchise, which I haven't watched any of, so I can't speak for that.
Post by Gaff (213 posts) See mini bio Level 11
@FoxxFireArt said:
" Actually, most magical girl series are about a girl who either already has some magical ability, stumbles into magical events, or is given a magical item. It's quite often these series take place in the real world.  "
This. Also, obligatory suggestive transformation scenes.  

@lurkero said:
" I'm no expert, but the way I see it is that magical girl shows turned into moe and fanservice shows. "
And this. Speaking of which... 
 
@vergilius
said:
" I also went back and watched Magic Knight Rayearth recently as part of an old-school binge I was on (the other half of the binge was G Gundam)...that show held up pretty well. "
Magical Girls + mech =  

 This is why we can't have nice things.
 This is why we can't have nice things.
Post by vergilius (147 posts) See mini bio Level 13
@lurkero said:

"I'm no expert, but the way I see it is that magical girl shows turned into moe and fanservice shows."

The issue with this is the demographic.  Moe and fanservice shows are typically aimed primarily at males and get some female crossover, whereas magical girl shows are typically aimed primarily at girls and get some crossover male viewers who like action or fanservice.
 
@Gaff: lol Pantsu Witches.
Post by GrandMarshal (152 posts) See mini bio Level 10
You dont want to know what happend to the magical girl shows
Post by hitsusatsu11 (10,747 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Besides Mew Mew Power, Pretty Cure FTW in this genre. 
Post by Masanuke (1 posts) See mini bio Level 5
@hitsusatsu11 said:

"Pretty Cure FTW in this genre.  "

Hi i'm new :D anyway i generaly have to agree with this statement although i beleive the only reason most watch the show is the spectacular fight sequences and maybe the comedy. and with a new series every year it never gets stale.
Post by Dream (7,747 posts) See mini bio Level 21
Moderator
Since when does Hitomi of Escaflowne get lumped in with the likes of Sailor Moon, Sakura Kinomoto, Pretty Sammi and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha? Hitomi doesn't wear cute looking dresses, have a wise-talking animal sidekick, don a magic wand and have a transformation scene.
Post by Count_Zero (344 posts) See mini bio Level 20
@Dream said:
" Since when does Hitomi of Escaflowne get lumped in with the likes of Sailor Moon, Sakura Kinomoto, Pretty Sammi and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha? Hitomi doesn't wear cute looking dresses, have a wise-talking animal sidekick, don a magic wand and have a transformation scene. "
To be fair, partway through Season 2 of Nanoha, Nanoha doesn't have a wise-talking animal sidekick anymore either, and in Season 3 she's (depending on how you look at it) Magicial Girl the Magical Girl equivalent of Hal Jordan or Kyle Raynar. 
 
(No idea who in Nanoha Season 3 would be Magical Girl version of Guy Gardner, and I probably don't want to know)
Post by Count_Zero (344 posts) See mini bio Level 20
@Dream said:

" Since when does Hitomi of Escaflowne get lumped in with the likes of Sailor Moon, Sakura Kinomoto, Pretty Sammi and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha? Hitomi doesn't wear cute looking dresses, have a wise-talking animal sidekick, don a magic wand and have a transformation scene. "

To be fair, partway through Season 2 of Nanoha, Nanoha doesn't have a wise-talking animal sidekick anymore either, and in Season 3 she's (depending on how you look at it) Magicial Girl the Magical Girl equivalent of Hal Jordan or Kyle Raynar. 
 
(No idea who in Nanoha Season 3 would be Magical Girl version of Guy Gardner, and I probably don't want to know)
Post by Touji09 (6 posts) See mini bio Level 6
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is kinda Magical Girl.
Post by BobCat (95 posts) See mini bio Level 9
Love Hina.   Had two magical girls :)  
 
Episode 8: Shinobu
 
other episodes: Kaolla Su :)
Post by PenguinDust (1,008 posts) See mini bio Level 13
I see a lot of Magical Girl parodies in the romantic-comedy/harem shows I like.  In my mind, a "magical girl" show is more about a normal everyday girl who is gifted with a power to fight evil, there is usually some sort of transformation, and often it's rather light-hearted in tone.  In addition to the Sailor Moon shows, the Pretty Cure series and Card Captor Sakura.  There was a magical girl in the Negima series and one was on TV within the show on in To Love Ru

Recently I saw a mediocre series called Ultimate Girls which could be classified as a "magical girl" series in addition to being a Takusatsu/Kaijin series.
 
I think rather than the old transforming girl who saves the day stuff, anime producers are making shows where the heroine's dual-identity are less obvious.  The Strike Witches, Sekirei and Mai Hime might be considered the evolved form of the genre.  The girls still have magic powers but they aren't carrying around heart-shaped magic wands.   
 
In the West, WINX Club and WITCH would be non-anime approaches to the genre.
Post by SingleDimension (4 posts) See mini bio Level 3
I had these characters classified as "witch" or "superhero" until MegaTokyo had a schoolgirl discover that she and her classmate were conversing on top of a telephone pole.  Suddenly I had a "magical girl" category, for ladies with slightly implausible abilities.  It seems common for these to have the Naruto ninja leaping abilities, but the abilities often aren't ascribed to magic (or don't require two hours of spell-casting to invoke).  The women in Naruto aren't magical girls because Naruto magic is explained as being a mystical extension of martial arts.  Some magical girls have inherent powers, while others are dependent upon a tool or amulet.  Cuteness seems to be mandatory.  I'd find it hard to classify a mecha character as a magical girl, no matter how cute the mecha may be, due to the implied technology behind it.  The angels in Angelic Layer would seem to be magical girls if taken out of context, but their technical context takes them out of the categoy.
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