Originating in Japan, magical girl or Mahou Shoujo is a genre/category of manga and anime that includes tales about..well…magical girls. The name basically says it all. The classic storyline/origin story usually involves a young girl of around middle or high school age being granted a device which allows her to transform and fight evil. The girls usually end up juggling normal teenage life issues with saving the world.
Fluffy animal sidekicks, heart motifs and ribbon and lace covered outfits are also frequently used staples in the genre. It’s also not surprising for a magical girl story to be drawn in a sort of rosy, sweet style. Magical Girls and cute often go hand in hand.
But it’s ultra important you don’t confuse cute as a synonym for weak here. These girls are far from it.
The cute equals weak idea is forever being challenged. This is totally just one of the reasons the magical girl genre is so important. Right now, we’re in a world where things that are classically associated with being female are still being written off as childish, petty or just less important than things that are deemed more masculine.
Ridiculous right? Don’t worry you’re not the only one out there who thinks so.
Everyday, content is being released that pushes these boundaries and classic stereotypes. The old mold is being broken and right in the fray of things are magical girls. This isn’t just exclusive to their home nation of Japan anymore either. Right here in the United States, creators have opened their eyes to the genre and the potential power it holds.
I’ve listed a few examples of American Magical Girl Comics below. [Click the images for more info]
There are plenty more out and not only in US. Magical Girls continue to not only pop up in their origin site of Japan but around the world as well.
And as if simply continuing to create new magical girl stories wasn’t enough, many artists are using already established staple characters from the genre in pieces as an opportunity for spotlighting feminist values. A simple google search of the statement “Fight Like A Magical Girl” will give you countless images, posters and patches created that include the slogan Fight like a girl/magical girl combined with classic magical girls in some way.
These artist use the cute, popular magical girl imagery to call attention to the cause.
I’m sure some of you out there are like “but wait..violence is a feminist value?” When used here fighting isn’t so much as attacking people as it is protecting one’s self. The idea behind the whole thing is to basically stand up for yourself. Don’t take any abuse quietly. Fight Back.
Some would write this and the whole magical girl boom off as a simple trend but I feel it’s so much more. The magical girl genre has provided girls and woman with a sort of space to explore the idea of being a powerful female superhero. My hope is that artist continue to run with this idea and create content for years to come.
Long live the Magical Girl!