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10 Most Iconic Magical Girl Anime | ScreenRant – Screen Rant

From early trendsetters like Sally the Witch to modern-day classics like Little Witch Academia, here are 10 of the most iconic magical girl anime.
The magical girl genre of anime is one that has remained popular since its first appearances, following a through-line of young girls and women with magical powers that typically explores themes of transformation, friendship, and romance.
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From the genre’s beginnings in the mid to late 1960s to the ever-iconic mid-90s phenomenon that was Sailor Moon, the magical girl genre played a crucial role in the development of Japanese animation, and it’s safe to say that anime, especially in Western territories, wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is without some of these shows.
Sally the Witch focuses on its titular character, a witch princess of the Magic Kingdom who accidentally teleports herself to Earth, which she has longed to visit. Upon her arrival, Sally makes two great friends that are around her own age, and she decides to stick around rather than venturing back home. She is also joined on her adventures by her assistant, the troublemaking shape-shifter Cub, who takes on the guise of Sally’s younger brother.
Whilst this premise of a magically powered girl and her life on Earth may seem a staple of such stories now, this black and white anime was influential in establishing much of the genre’s groundwork for both later magical girl and also shōjo works of anime.
Majokko Megu-chan follows the witch Megu, who comes to Earth as part of her training as a young teenager, where she is taken in by a retired witch who left magical life to marry a mortal. Though Megu is powerful, she struggles to control her magic, and the series follows her as she learns how to do this, whilst also teaching her to be worthy of the throne in her homeland.
Throughout the series, Megu is exposed to the complexities of human life as she also takes on battles against monsters and her rival, the sorcerer Non. Her distinctive looks and the show’s more mature themes make it a memorable early entry for the genre, though it does at times dip into unnecessary displays of fan service that can seem bewildering to modern viewers.
The princess of a land where fairy tale characters reside, Magical Princess Minky Momo sees heroine Momo sent to Earth by her parents to help secure the dreams of her people which have been disappearing and causing their home to disconnect from its orbit.
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Througout the series, Momo takes on the form of a teenaged girl and an adult in various professions to help restore people’s particular hopes and dreams, and, later, after an infamously dark episode in which Momo is hit and killed by a truck, she is reincarnated as a child on Earth. This darker take on the genre helped influence later series to do the same, and Momo’s popularity led to two further series.
As perhaps the most recognizable magical girl anime of all time, Sailor Moon follows the Sailor Guardians—or Sailor Scouts, as one English dub refers to them—led by Usagi Tsukino as they fight to protect the Silver Crystal and the Earth from those that would do it harm.
Remaining a classic of the genre, Sailor Moon‘s most touching friendships also contribute to its enduring status as a fan favorite, with additional praise being given for its distinctive characters and their development, as well as its humor. Its continuing popularity led to the series reboot of 2014, entitled Sailor Moon Crystal.
Released in some parts of the world under the shorter title Cardcaptors, Cardcaptor Sakura follows 10-year-old Sakura Kinomoto, who accidentally frees a set of magical cards upon which she gains powers and must retrieve the cards in order to stop them from causing havoc.
The positive reception of the series has led to some fans feeling the magical girl anime needs a live-action adaptation, and a sequel series called Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card was also adapted into an anime that aired from 2017 to 2018. Its unique magical system combined with classic magical girl elements made for an enduring and memorable show.
Tokyo Mew Mew, or Mew Mew Power as it was retitled in some parts of the world, follows a group of girls led by Ichigo Momomiya whose DNA is fused with that of endangered animals, granting them powers and the ability to transform into the Mew Mews. The team fights against aliens who wish to “reclaim” the Earth.
Although the English dub of the series was highly unsuccessful—being so dramatically edited that it removed huge aspects from the original—Tokyo Mew Mew’s unedited anime is a fun and bright story that, although it takes clear inspiration from works like Sailor Moon, remains entertaining.
As a franchise with almost twenty anime series to its name, it remains impossible to narrow down Pretty Cure to its single most iconic series. Instead, the franchise as a whole is remarkable for its enduring prominence and huge roster of Pretty Cures, magical girls who can turn into incredible warriors.
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The characters’ continual battle against evil and each series’ changing theme—whether the Cures are associated with fashion, nature, or outer space—make the franchise a staple of the genre.
The main character of Shugo Chara Amu Hinamori has a reputation for being cool and aloof, in total contrast to her actual introverted personality. Wishing to be able to explore and show her potential selves, she discovers three eggs that hatch into her guardians.
Amu then joins a group that fights against those with corrupted eggs to purify their dreams. Though the initial premise can sound strange, the execution of the story is well done, delving into surprisingly nuanced looks at people’s struggles while remaining fun to watch.
Puella Magi Madoka Magic follows a group of girls who gain magical powers after signing supernatural contracts, focusing on the danger they face because of the role while they are tasked to fight witches.
As an anime that passes the Bechdel Test while approaching the magical girl genre from a new angle, Madoka Magica takes a dark and thrilling look at the perils of power in a series that is both emotionally and visually spectacular. Its widespread acclaim also helped to revitalize interest in the genre.
Little Witch Academia sees protagonist Akko Kagari enrolled at a renowned school for training witches despite her non-magical background. The show looks at the reality of a magic world as contrasted with Akko’s expectations and follows her adventures after she discovers a magical relic.
With the history of witches in the magical girl genre stretching back to its earliest days, Little Witch Academia provides viewers with an updated look at a classic premise with a clean animation style and interesting characters.
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Stacie is a List Writer for TV and Movies. If not writing, she’s probably reading a fantasy epic, baking cookies, or playing Hades.

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