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How "Magical Girls" Became Such A Big Thing In Anime

Updated 15 Sep 2017 7.5k views16 items

What do you get when you mix sparkly eyes, frilly skirts, endless curls, punchy catchphrases, unbeatable optimism, and magical powers together? Why, a whole lot of sweet, cute, and gutsy girls! These are the key ingredients that define Magical Girl anime today. But where did this sugary world of bright heroines come from?

Most Western fans credit '90s classics like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura as the earliest examples of their exposure to this genre, but Magical Girl TV shows have a history in Japanese comics and animation that stretches all the way back the early '60s. Once upon a time, the neon-colored, plucky girls parading around today as "magical warriors" were once gender-bending knights, kick-*ss female superheroes, and "cute witches" from other dimensions. 

Also known as "Mahou Shoujo" or "Majokko" in Japanese, this unapologetically girly genre has come a long way, and its unwavering popularity has meant it's still developing in new and unexpected directions as time goes on. Some universities even have college courses on Magical Girl anime, as the genre has evolved and heavily influenced animation on various levels. Read on to discover how Mahou Shoujo anime started and how it has developed through the decades. 

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