Once upon a time, Disney made a magical girl series, and once upon a time a ten-year-old girl got sucked into it with the force of a black hole—a magical, colourful black hole filled with messages about friendship and girl power and positivity. So a pretty fun and influential black hole, all in all.
My magical girl story began truly by accident in a train station, where my parents picked the most fun looking magazines to keep their daughters entertained on the long ride home to a holiday house. Purely by chance, and probably because I’d finished with mine and my sister and I decided to swap, I opened the residing Disney Girl despite its abject glitter and girliness (yech. More on that in a moment) and stumbled across the comic they were serializing, a magical girl story called W.I.T.C.H—it dumped me right in the middle of a story arc, of course, so I had little to no idea what was going on, but I was enthralled. Enough to spend the rest of the trip on an inspiration buzz, and to make sure to buy the next issue when it came out.
Thus the adventure began. I think everyone has a story like this, whether it’s discovering a newfound power in their school uniform because the dub of Sailor Moon was airing on kids’ TV, or recognising their wanderlust and animal love fantastically portrayed in Pokémon, giving them a world to escape into and crazy pets to imagine (I grew up in the era when 4Kids roamed the earth, and Western stations decided anime was cool and bought a bunch to aim, sometimes with mixed results and bizarre escapades with censorship, at children). The magical girl genre is especially interesting to note with this though—so many people praise it for giving them a first look at powerful girl characters, making them feel better about otherwise looked-down-upon femininity and introducing them to pop culture feminism before they even knew that was A Thing and could never predict they’d be blogging about it in ten years’ time. Or, these shows just captured their hearts because they were fun, and had characters they related to and liked to watch save the day over and again, and that’s an equally important thing to get right. Continue reading