The Magical Girl genre has a long and storied history. Since Himitsu no Akko-chan, the first Magical Girl series, launched in 1962, the genre has gone through many changes. There have been countless anime series that have taken the genre in numerous directions, from the dark to the comedic. Of course, whenever a genre grows large, some series simply get overlooked. It could be because of bad timing, release issues or just being overshadowed. But many great shows never get the attention they deserve. So if you're looking for new Magical Girl horizons, here are five underrated Magical Girl anime series.
5. Kamichama Karin
Koge-Donbo's Di Gi Charat and Pita-Ten series are exceptionally well known. However, their magical girl series Kamichama Karin is mostly forgotten. It originally started life as a manga but was turned into an anime by Satelight in 2007. The series follows Karin Hanazono, a regular teenage girl who, when her parents and cat die, falls into a deep depression. However, she soon learns that the ring her mother left her has the power to transform her into a goddess. These new powers attract several unsavory characters, all of whom want Karin's powers for their own nefarious ends. Some of these people even have god transformation rings of their own.
Initially, the manga was meant to be a one-shot parody. However, the series ended up being so popular that Koge-Donbo continued it for several more volumes. Because of its origins as a parody, the series is delightfully over-the-top, turning a very standard setup into a hilarious one. The lead characters, especially Karin and her friend Kazune are fun, and it is hard to not get pulled into their strange story.
4. Corrector Yui
Created by Kia Asamiya, Corrector Yui is set in an undefined future where the internet has expanded into a massive VR network called ComNet. However, Yui Kasuga is totally computer illiterate despite being the daughter of a software developer. However, when the evil host computer Grosser attempts to take over both ComNet and the world, a sentient program called IR contacts Yui and asks her to upload herself into the ComNet to fight Grosser, becoming a digital magical girl in the process. While the series' approach to technology and the internet is heavily dated now, it is still a fun and original series. Unlike many heroes in the genre, Yui willingly accepts the role of a magical girl, and the digital setting allows for some unique fights and memorable characters. The show also gets better as it goes on due to it diving into some deeper (and darker) territory.
3. Magic User's Club
Magic User's Club was created by Triangle Staff and Junichi Sato. First released as a six-part OVA in 1996, it got a 13-episode follow-up series in 1999. When a massive alien spaceship, nicknamed The Bell, lands on Earth, it sends out a message that it has arrived to take over. The military tries to attack, but The Bell obliterates their weaponry, leaving humanity defenseless. A year later, The Bell starts to send out robotic probes to watch life on Earth, and while these probes are harmless unless attacked, several girls are unhappy with the situation. Takeo Takakura and the rest of her school's Magic Users Club decide to fight against The Bell. Others find this idea silly as they think the Magic Users Club only knows basic parlor tricks. However, Takeo actually knows real magic as she discovered a lost grimoire, and plans to use this magic to defeat the aliens. Featuring a cast of fun comedy characters, Magic User's Club is worth a watch just for its unusual premise that turns several Magical Girl tropes on their head.
2. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! is about Magical Boys rather than girls. However, it is a hilarious love letter to the Magical Girl genre. Five boys at Binan High School are approached by Wombat, a creature from outer space.
Wombat tries to convince the boys to become Magical Boys and spread love while defending the Earth from aliens. And, while the boys are initially hesitant, they end up agreeing to Wombat's offer. Each of the boys is then given a Loveracelet that lets them transform and use special elemental powers. However, the boys quickly find themselves facing off against the Earth Conquest Club, another group of boys who have decided to take over Earth by turning loveless people into monsters. This leads to a fantastic show packed full of charm that balances being a parody with being a super-fun show in its own right. The characters are fun and loveable, and their interactions are always hilarious.
1. Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu is one of the most original and imaginative Magical Girl shows in history. In the story, a writer named Drosselmeyer could bring his stories to life. However, when he died, The Prince And The Raven, his final tale, was unfinished, locking both characters in an eternal struggle. When the Raven broke into the real world, the Prince shattered his heart to trap it, causing him to lose his memories.
The ghost of Drosselmeyer realizes he needs to end this cycle and finds salvation in the form of a young duck who has fallen in love with the amnesiac Prince. He gives her a pendant that lets her become human and transform into the magical Princess Tutu. With this new power, the duck sets out to restore the Prince's heart. However, Raven's daughter aims to stop her. A fantastic twist on storybook and fairytale tropes, Princess Tutu, is a magical series that pairs beautiful animation with a gripping plot and believable characters. Once you start, it is hard to not be sucked into this beautiful and complex setting.