Magical girl anime has garnered plenty of fans over the years, especially since anime itself was grown in popularity. There are times when watching a magical girl series can get a little complicated. Sometimes, it's because there are certain stigmas placed on fans of the genre, while other times it's how the genre itself is treated.
There are even things that regularly pop up in magical girl series that can be taxing for even the most hardened of fans. Despite all there is to love in the genre, even the most hardened viewers can admit magical girl anime has some issues.
10 Magical Girl Anime Have Many Sub-Genres
Pinning down a typical magical girl can be difficult because there are so many different types. Children of the 1960s cute witch type, like Sally The Witch. Children of the 1980s had the magical idol genre, like Creamy Mami. The following decade popularized the idea of combining magical girls with the superhero genre, like Sailor Moon. The 2010s also saw a slew of dark reimaginings of the premise, like Kill la Kill. Because of this, finding a series to like could end up like comparing apples and oranges. There's also a tendency to treat one trend as superior to another.
9 Telling The Difference Between A New Trend Or A Copy Is Difficult
A genre naturally gets codified when similar stories are told, so when a similar work comes out off the heels of something more popular, it's hard to tell if it's a rip-off or an homage. Fans of Magical Girl anime know this all too well. There have been debates over whether Sally The Witch or Himitsu no Akko-chan is the first series and whether Wedding Peach is a sister series or knock-off of Sailor Moon. Magical idol shows of the 1980s tended to avoid this because Studio Pierrot worked on a lot of them but there was still competition between studios.
8 Western Viewers Are Lucky To Get What They Can
While some early magical girl shows were able to find fans in Europe, North American anime fans really haven't been so lucky. Magical girl shows often go undubbed and unreleased for a variety of reasons. Fans of retro anime have an especially hard time finding good subtitled versions of an older series, let alone a dubbed version. Studios themselves often have concerns with releasing magical girl shows. The English dub of Mermaid Melody, for example, never received an English dub because dubbers were unable to secure a mandated TV deal.
7 Magical Girls Are Considered A Niche Topic
Even within the anime fandom, magical girl shows have a lot of forces working against them. Shonen series, for example, are often given preference in TV anime lineups. Other times, magical girl shows are seen as childish, and even shojo fans favor series that appeal to adult viewers.
Even the magical nature of the genre can be a hindrance since the supernatural elements are often written off as inferior to more down-to-earth stories.
6 Male Magical Girl Fans Sometimes Receive Criticism
Shojo is, by definition, aimed at young girls, but shojo anime can appeal to anyone. Younger male fans are often seen as inferior to female fans since it's assumed males won't see themselves represented in shojo characters. Male fans who enjoy shojo or magical girl anime are sometimes even considered perverse, which can be especially unfair if they're fans of magical girl shows because they grew up with them. This isn't universal, however, as even Dic knew boys would want to watch Sailor Moon.
5 Fans Debate Where Western Examples Fit Into The Genre
Magical Girls aren't completely unheard of in Western works. After all, the genre has its origins in Japan's love for the American sitcom, Bewitched. Over the years, there have been Western franchises that predate magical girl anime examples with similar ideas, like DC's Princess Amethyst or She-Ra. Other series are clearly inspired by anime, such as Winx Club. Because of this, there's often debate whether these series should be included among the ranks of Japan's magical girls or treated as something else entirely.
4 Magical Girl Series Are Frequently Edited Or Censored
There seems to be an unspoken rule that magical girl stories are limited in what they can portray. Naoko Takeuchi wanted to kill off the Sailor Scouts at the end of the series before being told she couldn't do that in a shojo series. Similarly, Tokyo Mew Mew was meant to be a horror series before being rewritten.
This can become an even bigger issue in international releases since Western releases are frequently censored further. Dic's 1990s dub of Sailor Moon, for example, was heavily edited for North American release. There are also series that have pushed the boundaries, like Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
3 Magical Girl Shows Tend To Be Short
Sailor Moon had 200 episodes during its original run and the PreCure franchise might outlive us all, but they tend to be the exceptions to the rule. Most magical girl shows are short-lived. Studio Pierrot's '80s work became gradually shorter. In their chronological order, Creamy Mami had a minimum of 50 episodes, Persia had a minimum of 40 episodes, Magical Emi had a minimum of 30, and Pastel Yumi had a minimum of 20. Some modern magical girl series have received only 13 episodes, while others are lucky to get a second season.
2 Magical Girl Anime Have Tons Of Stock Footage
Animation is expensive and time-consuming, so TV anime productions often cut costs with stock footage. Transforming magical girls often have a transformation sequence. If the series stars a magical girl warrior, her attacks and magical spells entail even more stock footage. While critics can overstate how often stock footage is used, some anime have gone overboard. In the Third Season of the '90s Sailor Moon anime, the infamous Crisis power-up was added in addition to Sailor Moon's transformation sequence and her attacks, taking up a lot of screen time.
1 Magical Girl Heroines Frequently Lose Their Lives
Magical girl warrior heroines who fight evil almost always perish during their final battle with the villain. Even when the heroine doesn't fight evil, she might still lose her life, like when Minky Momo got ran over by a truck. While it's not always guaranteed that the heroine will stay dead, it can still be traumatic. The first season of Sailor Moon ends with the Sailor Scouts all getting killed one after another in a story that allegedly traumatized children in Japan.