Top 5 Magical Girl Anime

Welcome to another top 5 list for Tuesday and this week I am counting down my favourite magical girl anime, mostly inspired by how much I’ve been enjoying Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka (while not perfect, it has been quite fun as a darker magical girl series). I’m not convinced I haven’t already done this but if I did I can’t find it so let’s all just go with this is the first time I’ve put this into a top 5 list. Now magical girl anime and I have a real nostalgia thing going on as some of these were the shows that got me into anime and they really stuck with me. While there are some more recent entries in the list, the nostalgia is strong with this one.

With that in mind, I’d love to know what magical girl anime are your favourites and why. Is it something a bit older that reminds you of your childhood or are you into some of the more recent entries into the genre. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Honourable Mentions: Kamichama Karin

This one is a bit of a weird one, but for whatever reason I kind of got stuck on it a few years ago and I’ve binge watched it a couple of times since. While it doesn’t stand out as much as some of the other entries on this list, it is a fairly functional magical girl show and it is very easy to get caught up in it and lose track of time.

Number 5: Is This A Zombie

It feels weird to give the number 5 spot to a comedy anime about a male zombie character who manages to acquire the power of a magical girl and then undergoes a transformation into a cute pink dress complete with chainsaw. I do love that as his power level rises the frilliness and flowery add-ons on the dress get even more over the top. It is a great jab at some of the impractical magical girl costumes out there. Whichever way, when I think about magical girls, there is literally no way to not think about Ayumu so that is why he got the number 5 spot on the list even though technically he’s a zombie who is borrowing magical girl powers.

Number 4: Madoka Magica

The only ‘dark’ magical girl story that made it onto my list. What can I say? As much as I love horror and dark stories, when I got to watch a magical girl story I kind of go wanting something a little bit more sparkly. Madoka Magica managed to balance its darker subject matter with some really great magical girls, cool powers, and spectacular fight sequences in a way that while it was dark and serious, it still felt like a magical girl story and not a horror that just happened to feature magical girls right before they got slaughtered. I really did enjoy Madoka Magica and it is another anime I regularly binge watch.

Number 3: Cardcaptor Sakura

Despite the heavily edited version of this that I saw originally, complete with a truly terrible English OP, I really did get caught by the plot of Cardcaptor Sakura so when I was older and I could access a translated but less edited version of it, I jumped at the chance to watch this anime again. Syaoran and Sakura are beautiful in the leading roles and I just love how cute and happy this anime is. While Sakura doesn’t include some magical girl tropes, no spinning costume transformations, Sakura actually has to change clothes if she wants to wear one of her friends’ hand-made costumes, it very much captures the spirit of Magical Girl anime and is an excellent started anime if you have kids you want to introduce to something without worrying too much about some of the anime tropes out there.

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Number 2: Shugo Chara

Another super adorable, super pink Magical Girl anime. This one grabbed me because of Amu. She’s got such a mismatch between her inner and outer personality and I love how she struggles with figuring out who she is, particularly when she has so many guardian characters with each one presenting a different aspect of who she might be. While the overall plot of this one is a bit harder to take seriously, there are some really excellent character arcs for a lot of the cast and it ends up being a story well worth the effort of investing your time into.

Number 1: Sailor Moon

Did you expect anything else to top this list? I mentioned at the start that this was a nostalgia fuelled list in the first place and Sailor Moon is the starting place for me and anime so of course it was always going to be number 1. Serena and the Sailor Scouts are characters I grew up loving and I don’t think anything is going to change that anytime soon. While Sailor Moon villains might border on the idiotic or ridiculous, the core cast remain full of heart and life and if you want cute costumes and pretty sparkles, Sailor Moon has you covered. Also, some darker moments and real danger which certainly pushed beyond what a lot of ‘girls’ TV shows were doing when it came out.

So that is my list of my favourite magical girl shows. I’d love to know yours.


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Karandi James



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32 thoughts on “Top 5 Magical Girl Anime

  1. I definitely have not seen enough Magical Girl shows as I was struggling to think of more than 5.

    5. Swan Princess
    -This one may not count, but I can’t think of any other titles that I’ve seen. It was a pretty fun show with some mystery and action elements.
    4. Cardcaptor Sakura
    -While Sailor Moon tended to overshadow it back in the day it was always consistently good. I never saw the full show so I’ve got to do that someday.
    3. Luck & Logic
    -While not quite as amazing as the top two shows, it had some good action scenes and a nice cast. It may be a bit of a stretch to call this one a magical girl show, but for the most part they all filled the bill. (Except the main character)

    2. Sailor Moon
    -Definitely a fun show that I grew up watching and it’s aged really well. The animation is good and I always thought the writing script was excellent.
    1. Madoka Magica
    -I loved this show and it even made it to my top 5 all time anime. It did a good job of taking a dark look at the genre without being over the top gritty or mean spirited. It was a real masterpiece to me.

    I’d throw in RWBY as number 1, but that definitely doesn’t count. I read the manga for other big magical girl titles like Shugo Chara, Pichi Pichi Pitch, and Tokyo Mew Mew so I definitely need to check those out at some point. It’ll be nostalgic seeing those animated.

    1. Of the ones you’ve read but not watched the anime, the only one I’ve watched is Shugo Chara, but it was really fun. A bit kiddy at times but just great fun to watch and I loved the character growth throughout.

  2. Shugo Chara! Glad to see it in your list! I don’t think a lot of people watched it or even liked it. But how could they not like it?! Ikuto’s such a precious existence! XD

    My list would probably include your top 3 as well, plus Ultra Maniac and Magic Knight Rayearth. 🙂

  3. I mostly remember the Kamichama Karin anime as having some horrid, LOL-worthy art. But I was also sad that the Chu sequel wasn’t adapted.

    Otherwise, Sailor Moon would top my list as well.

  4. All little girls are magical. In fact, all little children don’t you think? Staying magical as you grow up and then grow old is the hard part. What happens when a magical girl hits 40? 60?

    I would have put Flip Flappers on my list.

  5. Magical Girl has always been one of my favorite anime genres. I’m not totally sure why; initially it might have just been the novelty of seeing girls as action heroes when that was so rare in western media (I enjoyed the Powerpuff Girls back in the day, too), but nowadays it’s just one of my staples.

    Anyway, you have some good choices on that list. Haven’t seen Zombie but I know 1-4 are all good picks, even if the only Sailor Moon I’ve actually seen was the first season of Crystal (no thank you). I’ve never actually been a big Madoka guy, but its craftsmanship and impact are both undeniable.

    My own top 5:

    1) Yuki Yuna
    2) Lyrical Nanoha (this is a blanket ranking for the whole franchise: all 3 seasons + movies and spinoffs)
    3) Cardcaptor Sakura
    4) Kiki’s Delivery Service
    5) Princess Tutu

    Favorite magical girl parody series: Magical Witch Punie-chan

    I own all of those on DVD/BD except CCS, and the only reason I haven’t bought that one is because as good as it is, it’s so long I can’t really see myself rewatching it more than maybe once every couple of decades. I have the really old late 90’s DVDs of Revolutionary Girl Utena, and when I finally went to watch those again a while back for the first time in 15+ years, I discovered that they looked unwatchably awful on my 4K TV. I don’t want to shell out $100+ for CCS and have the same thing happen when I feel like seeing that again in 2035.

  6. Oh, nice! Sailor Moon was part of my childhood.

    But, have you seen Mahou Shoujo Ore? It’s a decent comedy and parody for the mahou shoujo genre – even if you’re not a yaoi/yuri fan.

    1. Tried the first episode but it wasn’t really for me. I’m not hugely into comedy and while I know I’ve got Is This A Zombie on the list, even I think it is weird I like that.

    1. I’m incredibly biased but it is definitely worth trying. That said, without the nostalgia lens, it is difficult to know how someone older would take it the first time.

  7. A part of me wants to say Cardcaptor Sakura, because that show just captivated me as child, but Madoka Magica is one of my all time favourite anime and utterly destroyed me when I first watched it, so that has to take the top spot. I do have a soft spot for Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R, but I’ll admit that comes nowhere near the other two.

    1. You should definitely finish Cardcaptor. It was really such a great story. Not sure about Clear Card. We’ll see if we ever get an end to that story or not.

  8. Turns out I haven’t watched enough magical girls shows to make a proper top 5 list…

    But two in particular that I think I’d mention:

    Yuuki Yuuna – because (prior to Asuka) it’s the only one that I’ve seen that actually explores the consequences that being a Magical Girl can have on their psyches. It also raises the questions of what kind of monsters would send young girls out to face such horrors… but balances that against the knowledge of the value gained by such sacrifice.

    Magical Girl Raising Project – mostly for the final sequence, which asks the question – what could happen if Magical Girls decided to use their powers as superheroes against more mundane threats? (Threats that we’d normally consider a law enforcement, military, or political problem.)

    1. I am wondering where Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka will end up in my list when it finishes. Magical Girl Raising Project I didn’t end up getting through because I wasn’t in the mood for another death game style anime at the time and Yuuki Yuuna remains one of those forever on my watch list that for some reason I haven’t gotten around to.
      Thanks for sharing your choices.

  9. I figured Sailor Moon would be #1. Hahaha! One show I thought was interesting was Pretear. I would put Shamanic Princess on my list, but I don’t consider it to be a magical girl show, but rather a dark fantasy show with some magical girl elements thrown in.

    1. The number one was pretty obvious in this case. Still had fun creating the list, but no surprise.
      Never watched Shamanic Princess. Is it available for streaming?

      1. Yup. I know you’re a big Sailor Moon fan.

        I don’t know if it’s streaming or not. I’m not sure who has the Australian distribution rights, but it’s something to look into. Shamanic Princess is a quick watch at only 6 episodes though.

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