Transformer. Captivating. Touching. The magical girl genre has become an anime staple over the past three decades, with its own charming tropes, unforgettable anime characters, and legions of fans. But if you want to venture outside of classics like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, where should you venture? Not only is this list a definitive ranking of the best the magical girl anime genre has to offer, but we also hope it introduces you to some new favorites, underrated gems, and contemporary offerings to fill that magical girl void in your life. So get ready for witches, cat DNA, magic wands and much more.
10. Little Witch Academia
Little Witch Academia is an extremely cute wizarding school story that reimagines the magical girl trope for a post-Harry Potter generation. When Akko walks into the fantastical Luna Nova Magical Academy, she can hardly believe it. She has wanted to learn magic all her life, but it has been difficult, because although she adores the famous witch Shiny Chariot, she Akko is not magical. Everything changes when she discovers a magical artifact related to her idol. Soon Akko finds herself on a mission to rekindle a love of magic in a world that is fast forgetting her existence. Coming of age and witchcraft collide in this charming series that focuses on a cozy friendship and a unique take on magic. It is a great anime series on Netflix that you should definitely watch.
This 1986 series is one of the earliest examples of magical girl anime, so it couldn’t be missing from our list. Also, it focuses on one of the best tropes in anime and manga: a main character who wants to do the manga. Yumi is an aspiring artist who all she wants is to become a mangaka. Her love for her art is matched only by her passion for flowers, which comes from growing up with her florist parents. When she saves a flower from being picked, she receives two magical gifts, a wand and a locket, which allow her drawings to come to life. Retro and charming, Sandy is an understated gem well worth a look.
8. Tokyo Mew Mew
Adapted from Reiko Yoshida and Mia Ikumi’s manga, Tokyo Mew Mew is a very unique take on magical girl anime. In this cute story, our heroine Ichigo Momomiya gains her powers after an accident that leaves her with big cat DNA. In a werewolf-like transformation, Ichigo becomes increasingly feline and uses her powers to find the other girls affected by the accident. Before long, the group is faced with a strange alien threat related to her newfound powers. It is a very funny series. And the new reboot elevates the series to even more incredible levels.
Combining the magical girl trope with boarding school drama is a match made in heaven on My-HiME. Entering the elite and enigmatic Fuuka Academy is a radical change for Mai. She is sure that she will never fit in at this strangely secret school, where unusual figures lurk around every corner. However, she soon realizes that she is there for a reason and that there are others like her: those marked with a special symbol that allows them to summon a familiar to protect the world from nightmarish creatures. But this being known as “Child” is deeply connected to someone they love, which adds serious risks to battles.
6. Pretty Cure
Do you need a magical girl series that you can lose yourself in for several seasons? Then try Pretty Cure, which boasts a staggering 800 episodes, all centered around the same premise. A group of young girls acquire magical powers that allow them to fight against the forces of evil. It’s the most classic version of the magical girl story, and it doesn’t stop working. This super-cute, technicolor series has lasted so long for a reason and that’s because it’s absolutely charming. Plus, if you need a pretty creature or two with your magical girls, Pretty Cure gets that too.
5. Madoka Magical Girl
Taking the magical girl trope and adding more magical (and ultimately heartbreaking) reasoning, this series takes its core group of young women and transforms them into supernatural witch fighters. However, they must first accept a contract that offers them what appears to be a cat, giving them its magical powers to fight witches. Although the setting seems quite traditional, this is a story that deals with the realities of being a magical girl. Exploring the trauma, exploitation, and lies told to young people to keep them in line, this is a fascinating examination and excavation of the trope.
4. Legendary fighters
The artist collective known as CLAMP is behind many of your favorite manga and anime. And one of the most famous is this ambitious magical girl series that jumps from one universe to another. Who among us has not wanted to travel to an amazing magical world instead of studying all day and going to school? In Fighters of Legend, that dream comes true when friends Hikaru Shidou, Umi Ryuuzaki, and Fuu Hououji find themselves involved in an interdimensional adventure during a school field trip, transported to a world they can control with their will. This high fantasy epic showcases what has made CLAMP a cultural powerhouse. With extensive world building, beautiful animation, and complex relationships, it’s the kind of series you can get lost in over and over again. There have even been a number of games in the 90’s that you can play.
3. Utena’s Adolescence
One of the most influential and subversive magical girl anime of all time, Chiho Saito and Be-Papas’s Adolescence of Utena is unlike anything on our list. Romantic, elegant and inspired by the chivalry of yore, this story centers on a young orphan, Utena, who, after an encounter with a charming prince, decides that she must become a prince herself. It’s a choice that influences the rest of her life and plays a pivotal role in the story, as it leads Utena to enter a secret dueling contest at her school, where she suddenly finds herself entangled with a mysterious girl known as the Pink bride. This surreal take on the genre also acts as an exploration of the tropes and expectations of it, making for a wonderfully meta journey.
2. Sakura, card hunter
This CLAMP classic was a truly transformative experience for viewers of a certain age. Following Sakura, this trendy and action-packed series combines the magical girl genre with the card-collecting craze from series like Yu-Gi-Oh and, of course, Pokémon. When Sakura discovers a strange book in her basement, she accidentally releases the mysterious and dangerous Clow Cards. She soon realizes that she, aside from being a normal elementary school girl, is a powerful magic user and sets out to capture the cards. Luckily, she has the help of a friendly and enigmatic creature called Cerberus, who guards the artifacts.
1. Sailor Moon
There was only one option to top our list and of course that was Naoko Takeuchi’s groundbreaking Sailor Moon, hands down one of the best anime of all time. The story of Usagi, an ordinary girl, and her unexpected role as Sailor Moon is a classic for a reason. The gorgeous animation, stunning character designs, and the all-time great transformation sequence make it the granddaddy of all magical girl anime. It also helps that each of the Sailor Scouts is as well-constructed and unique as Sailor Moon, allowing audiences to find their own favorites by rewatching this fun, heartfelt, action-packed series over the course of the series. of the years. Sailor Moon is, without a doubt, the most influential and impactful series on our list, and is a must-watch for anime fans.