Tag Archives: W.I.T.C.H

The World Needs Magical Girls

Sailor Moon Crystal

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


Filed under Archetypes and Genre

Frill-Clad Warriors of Justice and Girl Power

Madoka Magica

[Post comes with severe Puella Magi Madoka Magica spoilers. Ye hath been warned.]

The Magical Girl is a special type of superhero, one that will take all things traditionally feminine and stab evil through the face with it.

The Magical Girl genre is exactly what it sounds like: a TV series about girls with magical abilities. Classic ingredients for a Magical Girl show include a band of young women, aged anywhere between ten and sixteen, gaining magical powers by some twinge of destiny and the goodness of their soul, and becoming figureheads in the battle against some outlying enemy.

To get into battle mode they will have to undergo an often sparkle-filled, musical transformation into their magic outfit, which may not seem very suitable for off-road travel to the untrained eye with its frills, bright colours and cuteness, but don’t be fooled! Magical girls will kick your ass with the power of goodness, compassion and hope, sometimes aided by a cute animal sidekick or mystical mentor.

These adorable little freedom fighters are much more of a staple in Japanese media, especially when conforming to the recipe above, but they extend beyond that as well: Disney tried their hand at it a while back with the W.I.T.C.H. show and comics, and The Powerpuff Girls could be said to fit into this too. Even My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has elements, especially the early episodes.

The W.I.T.C.H. characters in magical girl gear

Anyone who tries to tell me this series wasn’t awesome is picking a fight with my eleven-year-old self

While it’s a huge genre in the anime world, interestingly enough the first studios to play into it claimed they drew inspiration from the American show Bewitched. Which does make sense if you think about it: it’s the story of a female with supernatural abilities, trying to balance her everyday suburban life with her magical one, but tweaked and aimed at a younger audience.  The most obvious example of this is Sally the Witch, a manga and then anime from the 1960s, featuring a cute heroine with magical powers trying to deal with life on earth using her magic, and learning valuable lessons about friendship and the power of good over evil in the process.

From these beginnings the genre has evolved, the most well-known version being the Magical Girl Warrior as described up there—the most famous example would have to be Sailor Moon, which has been enriching the lives of kids everywhere since the mid-1990s, beaming to an entire generation the wonders cosmic girl power.

Because in essence, that is what Magical Girls are all about: girls, kicking ass and taking names, defending their world and the ones they love from whatever evils their story may throw at them. This is fairly standard superhero stuff, but the genre emphasises the power of the young woman and shows the audience that being a girl doesn’t make you weak. Continue reading


Filed under Archetypes and Genre, Fun with Isms