Making this list was a LOT more of a pain than I thought it would be! I was thinking I had a lot more anime series options that fell under the “magical girl” category than I actually did. Characters that I used to think were considered “magical girls” probably were a bit too old, and their powers were either more supernatural oriented, or not as magical as I remembered them being. I probably still don’t understand what a magical girl category really is, and there may be more series/characters applicable to this than I considered. But below are characters from my favorite series that I thought were best qualified as the “magical girl” genre. The magical girl genre in general seems to be mostly hit or miss for me. The series I like, I REALLY like, and the series I dislike, I REALLY dislike. Plus…as I made this list I had terrible urges to re-read some of these series, I already got distracted at least once to re-read one of these series and have been resisting the rest until later. My next manga review may have to be a magical girl series
10. Umi Ryuuzaki (Magic Knight Rayearth)
Umi is sooooo beautiful, I really love her look. I admit that like all the other Magic Knight Rayearth gals her personality is a bit predictable, she’s the slightly spoiled/rich beauty that acts like a bit of a brat at times. Umi initially refused to fight but picked up her sword when a friend was in danger. I found that even though the art in the manga was by far more beautiful to look at than in the anime, I actually preferred her in the anime. In the anime Umi developed an unrequited love that tugged on my heartstrings for her, she also gained the attention of a sweet guy character that seemed simply happy to love her. I thought their love line (not a triangle lol) was a beautiful bittersweet situation. Plus I like that her weapon is delicate (fencing) sword but at the end of the day I admit my love of her might be just my shallow love of her beauty.
9. Airi Hoshina (MeruPuri)
I used to find myself re-reading MeruPuri quite often, the series was beautiful to look at, and I got an entire satisfying tale in just 4 volumes. BUT one of my biggest reasons for enjoying this series so much is that I liked the heroine Airi, and especially how she interacted with Aram. Aram is a little boy that appears out of her great-great-great-grandmother’s mirror, turns out he’s a prince from another world that would like her protection. However, Airi lives a fairly average life and she dreams of a warm and peaceful married life like what she sees on her favorite TV drama, Tales of Marriage on the Plains. I like how sweet and quaint her goals are initially and how she changes as she becomes more and more involved with individuals from Aram’s magical world.
8. Utena Tenjou (Revolutionary Girl Utena)
I watched the Utena anime and enjoyed a lot of aspects of it, but I admit I think a lot of the symbolism and metaphysics parts of the series went right over my head when I first watched it years and years ago. At some point I’d like to try watching this series as an adult and see if I like it better now that I’m older. However…the manga…I REALLY loved both manga series! I thought they were really well done, it was easier to understand, and the plot wasn’t as drawn out. In the manga series I felt the love behind everyone’s relationships a lot more too (Touga’s especially). I also thought Himemeya was considerably less annoying in the manga. So why love for Utena specifically? Just look at her! She looks awesome! I love her feminine long pink hair and the contrast with her cute boyish outfit. She really looks like a female prince, and I love how strong her desire to break stereotypes and become a protective force is. When she was a child she was rescued by a “prince”…she admired him and his actions so much that she decided to become a prince herself! Rather than just be content to fall in love with a prince she wanted to help others like she’d been helped.
PS – I was torn over if Utena was considered a magical girl or not, in the end I let Wikipedia decide when it called Revolutionary Girl as having the “appearance of a yuri magical girl series”. If you’re curious about who Utena bumped off my list it was Mai Tokiha who was at spot #10.
7. Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter (Sailor Moon)
My love of Jupiter is something that developed more-so as an adult, when I was a kid I only had eyes for Usagi (and ok fine I thought Rei had the best heels). After a few re-watches I realized how much I liked Makoto, I like her strength and straight forward personality. I also liked how she and Usagi got along, their friendship dynamic was simple and sweet. IF I had to pick a sailor scout that shared the most traits with it would be Makoto, minus her martial arts skills, cooking ability…and her ability to control lightning. She seems to be the only one of the (inner senshi) Sailor Scouts/Senshi that can actually put up a fight without tapping into her magical powers. Although her perpetual ability to fall in love over and over again has the potential to be a bit annoying, I usually find it pretty cute. Part of the reason I realized I liked her so much was when I was re-watching the first two seasons a few years ago (*SPOILER ALERT*) I felt the saddest over her “death” to protect her friends.
6. Chocolat Meilleure (Sugar Sugar Rune)
Chocolat is a witch from the demon world that was sent to the human realm to collect the energy of human hearts. But even with such an overly cutesy sounding plot this series had a lot of well developed character relationships. Chocolat herself cares a lot about those around her and will go out of her way to help people out, because she has such on open mind and heart she slowly begins to question how the demon world treats humans, their heart energey, and the exiled witches now known as the ogres. Although she sounds quite sweet and sugary she has a definite temper and won’t back down from a fight. Her tomboyish energy and charms really carries the story very well, she’s a VERY likeable character, I consider her the mangaka’s (Moyoco Anno’s) best character.
5. Madoka Kaname (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
I REALLY didn’t want to see this series when I saw the advertised image for Puella…in particular it was because of this insanely girlie/frilly outfit. I developed a wrong impression that this series would be a cheap attempt at re-capturing my love of the magical girl genre. Little did I realize that this was the defining magical girl series of this decade. I gained a lot of respect for Madoka when she laid in bed trying to calmly (and unbiasedly) try to think over the situation of the world she knows falling apart all around her. No matter how terrible the situation time after time Madoka chooses the option that protects those around her even if it means sacrificing herself. I’d go into more details about everything that makes her great…but if you’ve seen the series you know what I mean…and if you haven’t seen the series than you should make it your next series to watch.
4. Ahiru/Duck (Princess TuTu)
I was initially resistant of watching the series, but once I finally sat down and watched it I was really surprised with what I found. The first few episodes were a bit unexpected, but eventually I thought this series was going to follow a certain predictable (boring) pattern, but it didn’t, and part of that reason is probably that Ahiru wasn’t your average run of the mill heroine. I’d go into details but…you really have to see it for yourself. Ahiru is a character with a powerful personality that turns this series on its ear (much to the surprise of the narrator/author).
3. Mami Tomoe (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
I was already pretty fond of Mami because of her cute curly look and collected personality, but I was completely sold on Mami the moment I saw her fight for the first time. That fight scene completely changed the series for me (although I admit a few panels of the first fight sequence were lazy). I love characters with great weapons, and the more weapons the better, and she pulled dozens of guns from her body like it was nothing. This wasn’t just another magical girl series…this was a BADASS magical girl series! Of all the Puella I like her fighting style, skills, personality and reason for becoming a Puella the best.
2. Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
My original magical girl is Usagi (or as I first knew her, Serena), in fact Sailor Moon is my first anime series. This was first TV Show I had watched that I felt treated me as a young female adult, I loved how beautiful the characters were, how they fought, and how the show had a plot that was continuous from episode to episode. When I was a kid running around playing “Sailor Moon” with my sister I always wanted to play Usagi, my sister preferred Rei. I found Usagi’s hair fascinating, and loved how strong she was when she got serious. I liked her clumsy/carefree side and her sad honesty over how much she didn’t want to fight if given the option to live a peaceful “normal” life. The manga has a lot of little differences I really like that the anime doesn’t have, but for me Sailor Moon is an ANIME. I prefer Sailor Moon in its anime form, and I’m particularly fond of the first movie. But I haven’t read the ENTIRE manga series yet, I’ll have the whole series read when Kodansha USA finishes off re-releasing Sailor Moon.
1. Sakura Kinomoto (Cardcaptor Sakura)
After years of being utterly obsessed with only Sailor Moon, everything about Cardcaptor Sakura blew Sailor Moon away. Sakura is my favorite magical girl and it will take a lot to unseat her as my top choice, not only was Cardcaptor Sakura one of my first dozen anime series (so it has the nostalgia factor), but I also feel it’s a series that really aged well that I can still enjoy a lot as an adult. The characters have a lot of depth to them and you really believe in their relationships. Sakura has an incredibly sweet and caring personality that makes me adore her. I ADMIT as an adult I can’t re-watch the entire anime series over and over like I used to (I just don’t have the spare time), but it’s never a dull day when I settle down to re-read the manga every once in a while. I’ve bought this manga series 3 times, first the “Pocket Mixx” version, then Tokyopop’s 100% Authentic version, and now Dark Horse’s Omnibus releases. Also, the art for Cardcaptor Sakura completely melts me away, I love it! In my opinion CLAMP’s finest work is Cardcaptor Sakura. For me, Cardcaptor Sakura is the most beautiful manga series ever created, and a lot of it has to do with how many costumes Sakura gets to wear. With regard to Sakura’s power I like that she has the cards and that she has a personal relationship with each one.
Homura Akemi (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
Sae Sawanoguchi (The Magic User’s Club)
Amu Hinamori (Shugo Chara)
Mai Tokiha (My-Hime)
Sailor Venus (Sailor Moon)
Sailor Mars (Sailor Moon)
Mitsuki Koyama (Full Moon)