Girls Need Heroes, Too: In Defense of Magical Girls
Of all the
different types of anime, the magical girl anime is probably the sub-genre that
is most looked down upon. Magical girl animes are bright and colorful, they
always involve middle- or junior-school-aged girls gaining superpowers and
having dramatic transformation scenes, and there’s plenty of fan service in
terms of skimpy outfits and simpering looks.
People, even the
more open-minded anime watchers, have a tendency to dismiss magical girl animes
due to what they perceive as a standard storyline and stock characterization;
they’re blinded by the plethora of pink, the frills and short skirts, and the
girlish laughter, and they miss the more serious and frequently dark side of these shows.
television show, anime or otherwise, magical girl animes have stories and
messages that are both entertaining and relevant. Few shows have as much
optimism and determination as magical girl animes, yet these shows also provide
a realistic (at least as realistic as you can get on shows where girls are
granted magical powers to fight the forces of evil) look at the sacrifices and
pain that heroes must face. Magical girl animes are able to blend important
lessons with joy and levity, and there are a number of reasons that they’re
One of my
favorite things about magical girl animes is the way they portray friendship.
Even if a magical girl starts out on her own, it’s inevitable that she’ll end
up surrounded by a team of other magical girls and occasionally a token magical
boy. Like any story involving teamwork, there’s going to be some conflicts and
some drama, but ultimately, it’s the strength of the team and their friendship
that helps them save the day.
don’t always start off as friends-in fact, they sometimes start off as
annoyances at best and flat-out adversaries at worst-but there are few things
that bring people together quite as well as having to save people (or the city
or the earth or the universe or all of space and time; you get the idea).
But despite the
task of working together to save the day, the friendships in magical girl
animes are always realistic. As I said, magical girls don’t always get along
with one another. Becoming a magical girl is rarely a choice; it’s typically
the result of some outside circumstance such as a perceived aptitude for being a hero, an accident, or a grand destiny, and as a result, the chosen girls are very
different types of people with different personalities, motives, and attitudes
towards their new role.
clashes are typically the direct result of these differences, yet as the girls
work more and more as a team, these conflicts become less and less common. It’s
hard to rely on someone to have your back without forming some sort of more personal
bond, and eventually, even those magical girls who would rather work alone find
themselves forming friendships with their fellow magical girls. There are still
plenty of ups and downs, but that’s true of any friendship, magical or
otherwise, and these shows aren’t afraid of portraying the good times along
with the bad, giving viewers a well-rounded look at the personal relationship
of magical girls. Yes, there may be more makeovers or shopping trips or
sleepovers than other animes, but these types of scenes go to show that magical
girls and other heroes have lives outside of saving the day, and they enjoy the
time they have with their friends doing things they enjoy.
But that doesn’t
mean these magical girls don’t enjoy kicking some bad guy butt. They’ve got
superpowers and awesome weapons and they know how to use them. Magical girl
animes are really at the top of the list in terms of girl power. These ladies
can fight, they can strategize and plan, they can work as a team and take down
any villain or monster that stands in their way, and they look cute while doing
In the world of
superheroes, there are infinitely more men than women, leaving young girls at a bit of a loss in
terms of role models. Magical girls provide female heroes for people to
look up to and admire. Magical girls fight for a cause, they don’t compromise
their values, and they’re willing to sacrifice themselves to save others.
They’re just as capable and worthy of admiration as any guy hero, yet they’re
often brushed aside because of their girlishness.
Which is really a
shame, because these magical girls are proof that you can be girly and still
totally kick butt. Whether it’s straight-up physical combat, mastery of
weapons-everything from guns to swords to archery to a yoyo- or actual
magical powers such as control over an element, these ladies are fearsome and
they’re powerful enough to hurt more than they help, particularly when it comes to getting hurt themselves. Magical
girls sometimes find themselves in situations that their weapons and skills
can’t overcome, and they must sacrifice some part of themselves, be it their
magical girl status, a physical ability, or their humanity itself. These are
frightening and painful decisions to make, yet magical girls never seem to back
down from making them. They know what has to be done, and they’re willing to do
whatever it takes to save the day.
being a magical girl of any kind would have its downsides might deter some from
accepting such a role, but those who do become magical girls always do so because
they believe in what being a magical girl embodies. Even more, they have hope
that their sacrifices and pain will make the world a better place. No matter
how dark things may get, it seems like magical girls have an ability for
endless hopefulness: hope that evil can be overcome, hope that people can
change, hope that their choice to do the right thing will be enough.
Their hope is not
always realistic and it’s not always rewarded, yet their unfailing willingness
to hope for something better even when all seems lost is admirable. Just seeing
magical girls pushing back against their enemies no matter what makes viewers
believe that their own problems can be overcome. Even when everything seems to
be falling apart, there’s hope that tomorrow will be better, and people have a
tendency to forget that. Luckily we have characters like magical girls to
remind us to be hopeful and to do whatever we can to bring hope to
animes truly have a lot to offer everyone. There are complex characters,
twisted and dramatic storylines, and epic fight scenes. Many of the shows have
fantastic animation as well, along with great scores and visually-stunning
Critics aren’t wrong when they say magical girl
animes are usually fluffier and more lighthearted than other animes or other
animated shows, but that’s not what makes these animes so good. These fluffy moments
provide a brief respite between the truly hard choices, the sacrifices and the
animes show that girls can be just as good as the boys. They can be just as
tough, just as powerful, just as heroic. And they can do it all while wearing a
combat skirt and heels, something I’d love to see their male counterparts
attempt. Magical girls and magical girl animes deserve the same acknowledgment
and appreciation as their contemporaries for being unabashedly what they are:
celebrations of the great things girls can do with hope, determination, and a
bit of magic.
Despite my complaints that people don’t write enough awesome female characters in fiction, once I started listing them, the list just went on and on. It was so hard picking my top 10, so I had to throw a few honorable mentions in…
1. Rell (LoL, my own fantasy novel OC)
Well, being my original character and the badass action hero of the story + comic relief with a kind/loving soul, she’s basically my idea of a perfect woman. So ofc she is my number one. ^^
2. Homura Akemi (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
No one does the things Homura does for love. No one dares the things Homura dares to do. No one is that courageous. No heart loves so much. Homura is fucking epic. And she’s damn stylish and cool too! XD
3. Moana (Disney’s Moana)
THE PERFECT HEROINE. Everything about her, from her adorable voice (which is EPIC when she sings!!), her extraordinary hero’s journey arc, to the way the narrative treats her with the respect and dignity a hero of whatever gender deserves. Loved her movie, loved her compassion, loved her bravery, loved her closeness with her family, loved her love of the sea, loved everything about Moana.
4. Daenerys (Game of Thrones)
People build shrines to her both in real life and in the world of Game of Thrones for a reason. She’s so epic, dares so much and accomplishes so much. She also suffered terribly in the beginning and started from nothing, building everything she eventually grew to have with her own hands. And through it all, she kept her compassion, and still tries to do what’s right, even as she grows wiser and strong enough to do the hard things a ruler must do.
5. Aquila Yuna (Saint Seiya Omega)
A female underdog hero story done RIGHT. In terms of her journey as a young warrior/Saint of Athena, the way she dresses, carries herself, fights like an utter badass, relates to her friends, and earnestly seeks her way makes her the perfect teenage girl protagonist for me. Plus, she’s just so graceful-looking despite packing such a wallop, and looks epic in armor (my eternal weakness) like all my favorite male Saints.
6. Tachibana (Aoharu x Machine Gun)
Lol, this girl is teenage me in another life. Her extreme passion for justice, her compassion that balances her towering wrath and extreme smiting power against the evil and the unjust, her tomboyish looks and sensibilities, her kindness, her intelligence—I love this girl.
7. Mrs. Bradley (Diana Rigg – The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries)
When I grow up, I want to be Diana Rigg. She mixes high intelligence, dignity, and a deep capacity for love and compassion into the perfect, elegant package in any role she plays. I loved her especially as the wry, smart, and modern Mrs. Bradley, who is her own woman, has carved a place of respect for herself in the male-dominated world of Edwardian England, and has a fun, scintillating relationship of wits (and romance?) with her chauffer George. A lady so ahead of her time and making it work—I love her.
8. Historia Reiss (Attack on Titan)
Easily the most interesting and fascinatingly developed/grown female character in AoT despite not being one of its many awesome badass warrior women. Her outburst against her father in the cave (and the way she bosses Eren around there XD) is one of my favorite moments in the entire series. Plus, the way she uses her political power when she gets it is proof of the kind of genuinely good person she is.
9. Marinette/Miraculous Ladybug (Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir)
A perfect teen heroine–full of dreams/hope/excitement, smart, relatable, adorable, fully fleshed out, and fun. The entire show is just so well done and does excellent, diverse characters in spades. I love this unabashedly girl-centric show, its beautiful graphics/aesthetics, its hilarious scripts, and its appealing character designs.
10. Madoka Kaname (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
Had to get her on here, because even if her story arc isn’t as epic as Homura’s, the decision she makes in the end with full knowledge, intent, and foresight, is one for the ages. She’s the very picture of an empowered woman, who grabs back charge of her mind/body/soul/DESTINY from those who tried to disempower and manipulate her, finds clarity, and delivers to us not only the right/perfect answer to an impossible-seeming dilemma, but does so with selfless love and grace. Those who detract from Madoka, saying she doesn’t do anything for the majority of the series, clearly didn’t pay attention to what was going on behind this big, sweet eyes—there was a very intelligent, observant, compassionate soul there, seeing and learning and piecing together the things she needed to to save us all.
Dowager Countess Grantham (Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey) – in terms of cool factor, few female characters can top the Dowager Countess—and she’s an old lady, which kicks up both her adorable-ness factor and badassery. XD Sharpest of all wits and tongues, and style and dignity for days. I love this lady.
Sailor Neptune/Michiru Kai’ou (Sailor Moon) – with her quiet intelligence, charm, elegance, brimming talent, and courageous/fierce inner character, she’s the perfect role model. I also loved that she holds love and her beloved above all else. As a fellow “follower of Aphrodite” so to speak, I really relate to her.
Ms. Marvel/Kamala Kahn (Marvel Comics) – the first truly relatable American comic book character I’ve ever read. And she reads/writes superhero fanfic. XD I love Kamala.
Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan) – not sure if this is more props to Isayama-sensei, her creator, but I love that Mikasa is universally acknowledged by her peers as the physically strongest warrior among them and is never undercut by the narrative like so many other purportedly “strong female characters,” especially in Shounen manga. I can’t relate to her much in personality/thought process though, which is the only reason she doesn’t make my Top 10.
Oscar François de Jarjayes (The Rose of Versailles) – the badass beautiful lady with a compassionate heart and endless dignity who started it all. The Rose of Versailles, the godmother of badass warrior women in manga/anime ever after (and the savior of my beloved Takarazuka Revue ;-)).
Chloe (Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir)
This is probably a shocking mention because Chloe is AWFUL–the consummate Mean Girl and petty, entitled brat extraordinaire. But she’s just so absurdly over the top in her awfulness that she almost becomes lovable for being so flawed. Also, she has the most hilarious lines and I respect that she’s a girl who definitely knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. ^^
Holy smokes,it’s done!
And now,I proudly present to you the Miraculous Ladybug/Magi crossover!
Here we have:Djinn!Tikki and Plagg with djinn equipped Marinette and Adrien!
I’m sorry for the low quality and the crappy lighting of the image!
I’ll upload close-ups tomorrow as well as the story!
*clears throat* CAN WE JUST APPRECIATE THE GLORY if somewhat low-key a bit cringeworthy OF THE THEME’S EXTENDED VERSION?? i *know* they’ve been out for like forever and i just discovered them but are we gonna ignore the fact these two dorks are basically singing the plot to us and in each version they say something different, like nice character reveal there fuck u youtube why would you suggest me this video we’re on hiatus you monster
also the HSM au comes to mind for some reason…
THE FANDOM SHOULD DO A SINGALONG VIDEO, LIKE A VIDEO COLLAGE OR SOMETHING. WHAT? WHAT.
also, the lyrics and translation from the French version’s vid description are below the cut. this has been a psa, you may resume your scrolling.