Magical Girls

Definition of Magical Girls

According to Wikipedia the online encyclopedia, Magical Girls refer to any young girl with supernatural power and they use this power to save the world from evil power. The encyclopaedia also had divided the magical gals into 3 different categories.

Firstly, the Magical Girl like witch or angel comes down to earth from another planet and tries to fit into the ordinary life that humans lead, an example would be Video girl Ai, where Ai, who is from another realm, tries to adapt to the ordinary lives humans lead.

Secondly, an ordinary girl is given the power by another magical being with no need to fight any form of evil. One famous common power is for the character to turn into an older version of her self. This is so that she can relish some of the freedom that is bereft from youths. An example would be Fancy Lala.

Lastly, either the normal girl would be given the power or her innate powers would be awakened so that she could fight evil powers. Like Card Captor Sakura or Pretear.

Common Characteristics of the Magical Girls

The most common trait would be the way these girls transform into full power. They typically use enchanted objects like ribbons, wand or pendants to transform. In addition, they chant incantations or phrases while summoning their full power. Generally, the girls would have learned or would be learning some form of skills like acrobatics, martial arts or any other defensive skills that would harmonize their power.

Most of the time, Magical Boys would be an adjunct to the Magical Girls. These boys either disdain the Magical Girls or will have a romantic interest with the girl. Apart from these, the girls also have a talking animal sidekick.

The girls have a tendency to keep their power as a secret from either their family or friends. Furthermore, they fight for peace, love or hope and never for revenge. The Magical Girls are usually without one or both parents. Typically, they would be without their mother. The creators design the character in such a way to generate sympathy toward the Magical Girl and to account for the loud and extroverted nature of the Magical Girls.

Common Traits of Magical Girls

In terms of appearance, these Magical Girls are adorable and good-looking. They own big beautiful eyes that designers religiously draw on nearly all characters in Japanese anime. These girls also wear elaborate and fanciful battle outfits. In terms of character, these girls are usually extroverted and often full of energy. They are normally well-liked by friends and other characters in the anime. They are also benevolent and hence they are able to win people over.

Character development

One of the universal traits in Magical Girls would be the character development process they go through. Before the girls get their power, they appear to be blur and clumsy. Most of the time, they lack confidences in themselves and are naïve. They accept and view issues superficially and fail to scrutinise it. Some Magical Girls have low sense of worth. However over time, their character develops. As they become more skilful in using their powers, their character traits changes too. Now they are more confident about themselves and their capabilities. They have a propensity to face problems without hesitation.

Japanese Vs American Magical Girls

There are many similarities and differences between Japanese and American animation. For this report, we will only be looking at the relevant points to this theme.


In both animations, Magical Girls have talking animal sidekick. For example, in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Salem is always seen with Sabrina while Keroberos is always seen with Sakura in Cardcaptor.


Firstly, in American animation, there is always the strong female character but she is always accompanied by a male character that is normally added for comic relief. As in the case of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, where Harvey is quite foolish in his behaviour. However, in Japanese anime, the male character is usually added in for romance or sometimes to aid in completing a certain task. This can be seen from Pretear and Cardcaptor Sakura.

Secondly, the Magical girls in American animation seldom question their abilities. As they do not have any serious problems to face, hence there is no need for them to reflect deeply about their life. Magical girls in anime would question their own abilities and lack confidences in self at the beginning of the anime. As they need to face much serious problems such as saving their loved ones and the world.


Our research is collected from a range of sources mainly from Internet articles. Most importantly, we get the information on the storyline and the characters of the anime through watching the anime and analyzing it.

Through watching the anime itself, we are able to get first-hand information about the anime. We can also observe the characters and how the plots of the story flow, as well as analyze the story and extract relevant values shown in it.

Finally, we use articles to substantiate our points to aid in understanding the values and reflections that are raised.


After looking at all these common features, traits and the differences between American and Japanese Magical Girls, we now look at specific anime to draw out the common features and differences. We also intend to link the concepts plotted in the anime to the contemporary society.

Out of the copious number of animes that belong to the genre “Magical Girls”, we have selectively picked three dissimilar animes of the genre. They are Kiki’s delivery service, Cardcaptor Sakura and Pretear.

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki’s delivery service is a movie by Miyazhki, one the famous anime directors. The movie is based on the book MAJO NO TAKKYUBIN by Eiko Kadono, a Japanese writer of children’s books4. Unlike other anime from this genre, the movie emphasises realism far more than any other anime. “Miyazaki reaches new heights of not only physical but psychological realism,” states a credible newspaper.

The movie breaks away from the stereotyped plots and features of Magical Girls’ anime. KIKI varies from the typical “witch” films that are shown in Western countries, because Kiki’s abilities serve not as a symbol for evil or for ultimate power, but for the talents that lie within the reach of every girl.6 Unlike the other Magical Girls animations and TV series, “magic” in Kiki’s Delivery Service is put forward as a talent that anyone has.


The story begins with Kiki leaving her home in search of another city to complete her apprenticeship as a witch. Along with her talking cat Jiji and her mother’s broom, she sets off. She finds a city, Korico, and starts the kind of business most suitable for a witch who can fly on a broom: an airborne delivery service. As her business becomes more and more successful, she meets various friends who teach her about independence, inspiration, and what to do on days when both seem to vanish. Finally, the movie ends with Kiki getting her powers back with sheer determination and confidence and captivating the heart of the city dwellers in Korico.



The protagonist, Kiki, is full of doubts and questions about herself and her worth.8 She is not very sociable especially with teenagers of her age.

Mrs Osono

Mrs. Osono is the owner of the bakery. She offers Kiki accommodation in exchange of Kiki’s help in the bakery. Mrs. Osono plays a crucial role, in the sense, that she becomes a surrogate mother to Kiki. She will offer advice and motivates Kiki.


Tombo is joyful, sociable and compassionate. He always makes the first move to befriend Kiki or to get close to her despite being told off several times. Tombo is also fanatic about flying. This common interest brought them together as good friends.


Ursula is another salient character in the movie. She acts as a big sister to Kiki. She offers valuable advice on how to cope with the loss of talents. By living alone in the woods, Ursula shows independence. At times, she can be masculine in terms of behaviour and the way of talking.


Madame is the caring and loving surrogate grandmother that Kiki has. She is used in the movie to express several values and truths about life by Miyazhi.


The underlying value instilled by the creator Miyazhi, is the importance of self-growth9. Apart from that, there are other messages sprinkled in the movie as the story develops.

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The concept of “no pain no gain” is used as a value. This means that nothing in life can be achieved without going through difficulties or struggles. These could be seen from the various problems that Kiki faces during her initial attempts to fit in and run her business. In addition, another value that could be adopted by viewers would be to trust yourself even when you feel like a failure. This could be decoded from the scene where Kiki reaches for the broom even though her powers were very weak. This shows the confidence in herself that she “can do it” The movie further tries to instil the value of integrity among viewers.


In this context, integrity would mean deny any rewards that are not rightfully yours. Deciphered from the part of the movie where Kiki refuses to accept the money offered. In a conversation with her talking cat, she states ‘But I can’t take her money without doing anything”11.

Cardcaptor Sakura


Sakura Kinomoto discovers a magical book in her father’s office. When she easily opens the seal, which secured the book, she finds that the book is filled with magical cards. As she picks up the Windy card, a great gust of wind came and sent all the cards flying in different directions. Then the guardian of the cards, Keroberos, appears. He explains to Sakura that she must capture all the cards or strange things will begin to happen in her world. She ends up teaming up and fighting with several people and like many other anime, there is violence and romance. Eventually, she succeeds in transforming all Clow cards into her own Sakura cards.

Magical Transformation

Sakura uses the ‘Key of the Seal’ to transform. She chants the incantation: “Key of Clow! Power of magic, Power of light, Surrender the wand, The force ignites! Release!”, to transform the key into a sealing wand. She uses the wand to summon, to use or to seal up Clow cards.


Sakura Kinomoto

She is a fourth grade student when she became the card captor. With her cheerful and lively personality, she is always full of energy. When appointed as the card captor, she has doubts in herself and lacks confidence initially. Eventually, she becomes brave and learns to take responsibility as a card captor.

Touya Kinomoto

He is Sakura’s elder brother. Even though he is always teasing, squabbling with Sakura, he is very protective of her. He will always stay near Sakura when he sense that she is in danger with his hidden magical powers. He also plays the role of a father.


Keroberos is the beast of the seal to the Clow cards. He has similar personality like Sakura, lively and cheerful. As oppose to Sakura, he tends to take things easily or in his stride. He plays an advisory role to her.

Li ShaoRan

Initially, he appeared as the competitor of Sakura in capturing the Clow cards. As the descendent of Clow Reed – the creator of Clow cards he tends to be proud and arrogant. However, he is extremely shy and bad at expressing his feelings. As the story develops, he and Sakura became good friends.

Eriol Hiragawa

He is the reincarnation of Clow Reed. Clow Reed is the world’s greatest magician of the past. He created a great deal of disturbances and chaos for Sakura. However, he means no harm to her. His motive in creating these disturbances is to train Sakura.

Yukito Tsukishiro

Yukito is the best friend of Touya. However, he is just the borrowed form of Yue, the judge, also the other guardian of the Clow cards. Opposing to his counterpart, Keroberos who represents masculinity, he is feminine. Playing a male character in the anime, he has masculine side in view of the fact that he is good at various sports.

Tomoyo Daidoji

She is a classmate and distant cousin of Sakura. Contrasting to her sweet and demure appearance, she is mature in both thinking and dressing. She is calm, rational and smart. As the biggest fan of Sakura, she is always filming Sakura with her video camera. She is also an advisor and a good helper to Sakura.


Family / Kinship

From the anime, we can see that Sakura has a strong bond with her family. One example would be from the episode where a Clow card turned into Sakura’s form and led Touya into danger. Sakura was very worried about her brother’s safety that she broke into tears. Upon finding and seeing her brother hurt, she becomes determined to seal up that Clow card.


Throughout the anime, we can see that Sakura cares for all her friends. Even to someone who is hostile towards her like Shaoran, she showed care and concern for him.

There is one episode where Mei Ling, who is Shaoran’s close friend, quarreled with him. Mei Lin was leaving Japan and going back to her home in Hong Kong. Not wanting to see them unhappy, she invited Mei Lin over to her home even though Mei Lin was hostile towards her. She encouraged Mei Lin, regained her confidence and helped her patch up with Shaoran.

Sakura and her friends would always help one another when in trouble. Shaoran saved Sakura’s brother in an episode when he fell from a great height though he did not like Sakura then.

Sacrificing for others

“I couldn’t be sad about anything as long as you are smiling. Because the thing that makes me happy is seeing you happy” quoted from what Tomoyo told Sakura in one of the episodes.

The spirit of sacrificing for others is evident in the anime. Characters in the anime always put the ones they care for before themselves. Seeing the ones they love being happy will make them happy too. They can even sacrifice their lives for them.

Through the character Mei Lin – ShaoRan’s cousin, who is in love with him, we can see this value. Despite the fact that she does not have any magical powers, she follows him around to capture the Clow cards. She is always prepared to get hurt on his behalf and even willing to let him go when he told her that he is in love with someone else.

Power of love

Love is one of the main topics for this anime. From the anime we can see that the power of love is invincible. It enables one to overcome fears and odds for loved ones. One example would be when Sakura defeated Yue in the Final Judgment. Initially she is of no match to Yue. The reason that she was able to defeat Yue is that she realized that if she loses the battle, the people associated to Clow cards and the ones she loves will forget her. She could not face this and so she put in all her effort in defeating Yue.


There is an episode in where Sakura and her friends become obsessed with ‘magic’ cards that were being sold in a shop. It was said that possessing the magic cards could help them do well in the areas that they want. In the end, they realized that it was not the doings of the ‘magic’ cards that made them achieve their goals, but their hard work and determination that paid off. From here, we learnt a lesson: If we put our minds into doing something, we will definitely be able to do it.


Pretear is a short 13 episodes serial anime. It is a much darker anime present in this genre. It contains elements that resemble American animation such as Snow White and Cinderella.


The story starts with the escape of the Disaster Queen Fenryl who was imprisoned by the Leafe Knights 16 years ago. She is out to destroy the world by absorbing all the Leafe and creating chaos in the world. Leafe is the source of life for the world. They need the help of the Pretear to capture her.

Himeno Awayuki is a high school girl who is trying to fit into her new life. Her mother had died and her father just remarried to a rich widow, who has two daughters of her own. She felt left out in this world and think that she is of no use at all. Hayate was the one that found her as the Pretear. She also learnt the truth of Fenryl being the previous Pretear.

Sasame turned against the Leafe Knights and became the Dark Knight for Takako as he still loves her. However, Takako make use of his love to get revenge on the Leafe Knights and to turn Mawata Awayuki into her dark puppet. Chaos broke loose as Takako summons the Great Tree.

To stop Saihi from killing Takako, Sasame died for her. Touched by his love, Takako finally realized that someone still cares for her and she turned back to human. Himeno’s will to save the world and to protect Hayate was so strong that she turned into the Snow Pretear without merging. She defeated Saihi and sacrificed herself for others. She resurrected Sasame and save the world. Miraculously, she was awaken by Hayate’s Kiss.

Magical Transformation

The transformation for Pretear is different from that discussed in Cardcaptor Sakura. Pretear gets her magical power by merging with Leafe Knights. Merging means that Himeno and a Leafe Knight will combine. This is done by clasping their right hand and with the Knight turning into a ball of light entering her body. This explains why Hayate was able to tell that Himeno is the Pretear by touching her hand. She is given different magical powers and costumes according to which Knight she merges with. For example, she gets the Wind sword and a blue battle outfit when Hayate merge with her. Another part of the transformation is that when the Knight merges with Himeno, he becomes her shield and weapon. He will protect Himeno from any attacks and gets hurt in the end.



Himeno Awayuki – Pretear

Himeno is the Pretear Princess. She is a 16 years old high school girl who has problems fitting into her new family. She is a very cheerful person and does not show her emotions easily, always hiding her problems. She is also loud and can be quite violent especially towards Hayate. Initially, she lacks confidences in herself and can be willful at times. As she gains more experiences, she becomes more confident.

Hayate – Wind Knight

Being the leader of the Leafe Knights, he is very serious and stubborn. Though he looks calm and cool, he is in fact quite temperamental. He is against the idea of finding the Pretear and always bickers with Himeno. Gradually, he develops feelings for Himeno15 and is always there to protect her. He works as a messenger for his daytime job.

Sasame – Sound Knight

Unlike Hayate, Sasame is the more gentleman and sensitive type. He works as a DJ and listens to people’s problems. He became the Dark Knight due to his love for Takako. He is willing to do anything for her and even die for her. He is always there to encourage Himeno.

Go – Fire Knight

Being the “babysitter” for the children Leafe Knights, he is very caring, cheerful and humourous. He works as a waiter and is always the one who cheers Himeno up.16

Kei – Light Knight

He is smart and philosophical. From the way he places his photos and dolls of himself in his workplace shows that he is a narcissistic. He dresses a lot like a woman and has great for them. Being straight-forward, he does not keep anything from Himeno.17

Mannen – Ice Knight

He is the oldest among the children Leafe Knights. Always up to his tricks and wants to be treated like an adult. However, he dislikes taking up responsibilities and always go against Go.

Hajime – Water Knight

He is sweet and quiet, always seen with Mannen and Shin. He tries to keep out of trouble but is always stuck with helping Mannen with his tricks. He is always eager to merge with Himeno.

Shin – Plant Knight

Though he is the youngest among the Leafe Knights, he plays a very important role in capturing the monster worms. He will cast Beyondios to create a containment field that will trap the monster and also to ensure that no damage is done to the environment.18 He cries easily but is also easy to please.

Takako – Disaster Queen Fenryl

She is the evil character in this anime. She was the previous Pretear but joined the evil power when Hayate rejected her love. She felt that no one cares for her and develops a strong hatred for the world. She is also very scheming, making use of Sasame’s love to get to the Leafe Knight. Eventually she was touched by Sasame’s love and was able to turn back to her human form.

Mawata Awayuki – Himeno’s stepsister

She is the opposite of Himeno, quiet and keeps to herself. Like Takako, she feels that no one wants to understand her. She likes Sasame as he listens to her problems and cares for her. However, she was totally crushed when she knew that Sasame likes Takako. As a result, Saihi make use of her hatred for the world as the main source of absorbing all the Leafe in the world. Fortunately, she was saved by her family’s love.



To put others before self is the value of sacrificing. This is shown in the last episode when Himeno give out her Leafe continuously to save the others, regardless of her well-being. In return she saved the world, her loved ones, Hayate and resurrected Sasame. She even sacrificed her well-being for the safety of Takako.

Power of Love

The love for one is able to transform a person. Love shown in Pretear is more of the love for your partner rather then for family and friends. For example, Sasame was willing to give up his knighthood for Takako and die for her. When he died, their clothes which were covered in black, as they were being possessed by evil power, were blown away revealing their normal clothes. This shows that Sasame’s love was able to let Takako feel love again and turn her back to human.


The need for family support is important as well. When Mawata was trapped in the Great Tree, her family was there to save her. Even though they knew that they were of no match for the evil power, they still never give up. In the first place if her family had shown care and given her the attention that she needs, Mawata would not have felt despair and loneliness.


We can only achieve our goals when working together. In every battle, each Knight has a role to play in assisting the Pretear. For the youngest Knight, Shin, his job is to bind the monster worm and create a field to prevent destruction. One of the knights will then merge with Himeno while the others protect her as she search for the core of the monster worm to destroy it. Only through teamwork can they succeed in defeating the monster worm.


Firstly is to improve one through constant practices and experiences. Like most magical girls, Himeno learns Karate for self-defense and also to protect the Leafe Knights. If she is unable to avoid attacks, the Knight that merges with her will end up getting hurt.
Next is the will to face problems rather than running away from it. Himeno starts off as a girl who will rather stay in her comfort zone and ignores the problems that are happening around her. Gradually, she learns that it is much easier to face her problems than running away from it if she wants to save the ones she cares most.

Reflections in society

Some of the values and concepts adopted from the anime are reflected in the contemporary Japan.

Fighting spirit and Responsibility

In the 3 anime that we have analyzed, the protagonists – the magical girls never give up when met with problems. For example when Sakura (Card Captor Sakura) meets a Clow card, or when Himeno (Pretear) is fighting the Disaster Queen. Initially they may doubt their capabilities either as a Card Captor, Pretear or young entrepreneur, later on they learned to take responsibility in the roles that they play. Also, more than once in Cardcaptor, Sakura said that she is determined to round up all the Clow cards so that no one will get hurt.
The strong fighting spirit and responsibility displayed here reflects the Bushido values in Japan. The Bushido values “emphasize on loyalty, self-sacrifice, honour, modesty, sense of shame” etc.

Struggling to fit into harsh society

In the Pretear anime, Himeno’s father remarried a rich widow. Himeno, from a class of lower status, was outcast by her step-mother’s family. She was not able to fit in. When Kiki (Kiki’s delivery service) left home for the city, the people were initially hostile towards her. They ignored her when she tries to befriend them.

This reflects the fairly hierarchical society of Japan. “In the Japanese society, be it in schools, communities or companies, there is always a clear distinction between who is a member of the community and who is not.” When two people interact with each other, they will have to communicate in a socially acceptable way. People are also expected to understand and know their social standing and that of the people that they are interacting with.

For example, the way to interact with a more superior person is different from the way to talk to a person of a lower status. If a person does not follow this rule, there is a high chance that he may offend or cause awkwardness to the person.

Hence, for Himeno to fit into the high-class society, she will need to learn the correct skills which are acceptable by the high-class society. This is also true for Kiki’s case.

Shinto Religion

It is known as Shintoism in Japan. This religion is deeply rooted in Japan’s ancient mythology and history. People who believe in Shintoism are known as Shintoists. They show their respects for the Kami, the God, through shrine worship, rituals, customs and even festivals. This religion places great emphasis on rituals and ceremonies to express the acceptance of nature. Unlike western religion where the good and evil are clearly divided, in Shintoism there is no good or evil. The most important part of Shintoism is the rituals that emphasize on purity as well as loyalty to his superior such as ancestors, emperor, family and Japan. Loyalty is demonstrated through the observation of taboos and rituals.

There are 4 affirmations found in Shintoism in which 3 are shown through the anime are:
Tradition and family ties: it represents the Channel through which tradition is passed between generations as well as the rites of life. For example in Cardcaptor Sakura and Pretear, both anime portray the need for family support and love. In Cardcaptor Sakura, there is a strong bond between Sakura and her family. It is shown through the help and support that they give one another. As for Pretear, the need for family support is shown when Mawata is trapped in the Great Tree, where her family stood by her to save her. This represents the importance of family values in Japan.

Love for Nature

Every object in nature is sacred because it embodies a spirit and represents a connection to the Gods. Pretear portrays the need for the love for nature. Great emphasise is placed on the Leafe that are life-givers in the anime. For example, if the Leafe are sucked from the Leafe Knights, they will not be able to survive. This shows that nature is an important source of life and contains the spirits that give us life.

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Physical cleanliness

The importance of cleanliness, especially in the presence of the Gods, is emphasized and Shintoists frequently bathe and wash themselves as a purification ritual. In the last episode of Pretear, Himeno turns into the Snow Pretear and sacrifice herself by giving off Leafe which falls to the earth as snow. Snow represents purity and hence cleanses those who are injured and who have sinned. It cleanses people physically and spiritually.

Women in Japan

From the anime, we can conclude that Japanese women view love above all. A good example can be found in Pretear. The reason for Takako to turn to the evil power and gave in to Saihi was because Hayate rejected her love. She felt that without Hayate’s love, this world mean nothing to her. Another example is when Himeno was able to transform into the Snow Pretear by herself because of her will to protect her loved ones and Hayate. These examples show women placing love as the most important aspect in their live. They are willing to do almost anything for love.

As stated by Mary Brinton, women in the past view love with great importance. They were taught to serve their husband and look after their children. They were less recognized in the workforce as well as less educated as compared to men. As a result they look towards love and marriage. Comparing with the past, modern Japanese women are given more opportunities in education as well as in the workforce. They receive same or even better education and their salaries are about the same. There is a growing equality between the men and women.

As cited in an article in Cultural Anthropology by Karen Kelsky, women “still hold marriage, love and full-time motherhood as their primary life goals.” Furthermore, Mary Brinton also states that “very few Japanese females marry before the age of 20, but by the age of 27 over three-quarters have married.”

Cute Culture

The apt description of magical girls is “Kawaii” which means cute in English. Majority viewers and artists of Magical Girls genre are young Japanese females. This fits in with the cute fashion those Japanese girls and women are pursuing. The word “Kawaii” is usually associated with childlike, naïve and vulnerability. The underlying idea of cute fashion is actually rebelling against growing up and nostalgia for childhood. Therefore through pursuing of cuteness, Japanese young women are able to “go back in time” to their childhood temporarily.

Desire for Freedom and self- realization

In Kiki’s Delivery service, the fact that Kiki has to leave home for the city is inspired by the current culture in Japan. “In Kiki’s life we see reflected the lives of so many young Japanese girls who are loved and supported economically by their parents, but who long for the bright lights of the city, and are about to go there and become independent. The weakness of her determination and shallowness of her understanding are also reflected in the world of today’s young people.”23 States Miyazhi the creator of the movie.

Problems faced by young Entrepreneurs

The development of the story that Kiki faces problems such as slow business, misplaced merchandise, not-so-nice customers, and a rainy day,24 is a reflection of what Japanese young businesspersons face. This problem is not just concentrated in Japan but is universal.


Common values found in most anime under the genre ‘Magical Girls’

Generally, there are 3 values which we feel that it is common in most anime under the genre ‘Magical Girls’.

  1. Striving

The Japanese believe in no pain, no gain. If you do not work hard, you will not achieve anything. There is no such thing as a ‘born hero’ in real life. Heroes or heroines are all developed from a normal person like anyone of us. It is through hard work that they become stronger and more skillful in their respective areas.

  1. Friendship

The protagonists all value friendship very much. Support from and the well-being of their friends is always a form of motivation for them.

  1. Power of love

Under this point, the love that we are talking about here does not only limit to love between a man and a woman. The power of love let the protagonists do tasks that are hard to accomplish.

Transformation is a symbolic representation of growing up

Most ‘magical girls’ anime, the protagonists will all need to transform when they want to use their magical powers. This transformation, we feel that is a symbolic representation of growing up.

After the protagonists transform, sometimes they will have a whole new form of appearance. For example, some teenagers will tend to dress more like adults; some will dress in style and in a way that can show their identity.

After the protagonists have transformed into their “battle mode”, they become stronger, gain more power and control over things. As we grow up and get older, we gain the abilities to do things, which we were unable to do when we were younger.

Usually, we can also see some changes in their character after the magical girls transform. They are more mature in their behavior and decision making. In their transformed role, they cannot take things or their enemies lightly. We also grow more mature in our thinking as we grow up and gain more experiences along the way.

A platform to express their desire to have control over their lives

The Japanese lead a very hectic lifestyle. Their working hours is generally very long and hence they have very little time for them to commit to their hobbies or to do what they like. Also, the Japanese social system is restrictive of what an individual can do. So, the Japanese, in general, have little control over their lives.

The fantasy element in the magical girl anime provides the platform for them to express their desire to have control over their lives. The dream of the type of lifestyle they want to lead can be expressed freely through the magical girls who are able to control the unexpected situations with their magical power and do whatever they want. On top of this, the fantasy element in anime made it clear that it is unrealistic and therefore the ideas presented in the anime are viewed as less socially offensive. In this way, the writer and artists are free to express what they wish to but unable to do it in reality. From this it shows their desire to control their lives to do what they want.

Desire for freedom

The characters in the ‘Magical Girls’ anime usually have the ability to fly using their magical power. Objects related to them usually have wings symbols printed on it or itself have wings. We feel that this shows the Japanese’s desire for freedom. This, too, be associated with the hectic lifestyle of the Japanese and restraining Japanese social system.

The Japanese being bound by their social system yearn for freedom, especially the young Japanese who are entering adulthood. For these young Japanese, they realized that their responsibilities and restrictions have increased as they enter their adulthood. It is a struggle for them to accept their roles in the society that is so different from their current role. Therefore, they developed a desire for freedom and this is expressed through the wings symbols and ability to fly in the ‘Magical Girls’ anime.

The contemporary culture in Japan does not only limit to popular culture

We feel that from the anime that we have analyzed, the contemporary culture in Japan, does not only limit to popular, trendy cultures like Jpop music, the Harajuku girls and cosplay. In Japan, the people still retain the older cultures like the Bushido values and Shinto religion as reflected in the anime. These cultures continue to form part of their daily life.

How they deal with being magical girls

Initially, they were reluctant to accept their role as a magical girl and they have doubts about their own capabilities. They were neither upfront nor embarrassed about the fact that they were different from others because have magical powers. They still continue to lead a normal life but at the same time hide the fact from other normal people. However, they feel happy and contented that they are able to help people with their gifted abilities.


Wikipedia last modified 21:30, 12 October 2005.:
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Terebi II October 05, 2000

Welcome to Shiroi Tsubasa ~ White Wing Version 6.0 ~ Ice Blue Eyes
Shin Shirayuki Hime Densetsu Pretear

Reshelles! A Shrine to Adorable Shin-Chan
Version: Pre With Me

Pretear – Wearable Bishounen! (Pretear 2001, Junchi Kaori Naruse/Project Pretear)
New legend of Snow white-Pretear ,Ryu Tenshi:
Shintoism -Created by Stacy Buko University of Virginia: 01/10/01 1997-2003 by Frank Sanchez and Asuka.
Gender Roles in Japanese anime: Vandread

Official Cardcaptors Website: cardcaptors Kodansha and Clamp/Kodansha.nep21 all rights reserved

Published in Women Media and Consumption in Japan: Lise Skov & Brian Moeran eds.
Kinsella, Sharon “Cuties in Japan” 1995 at:

Bushido – The Way of The Warrior; Copyright © 1996 James Clark / Pacific University
Last updated: May 2, 1996:

Asia for educators:; copyright Columbia University
Contemporary Japan: Culture and Society;

Sources from Reader in Animation Studies, Jayne Pilling, 1997
Chapter 11 Disney, Warner Bros. and Japanese animation: Three world views

Kiki’s Delivery services
Director, Screenplay, Production: Hayao Miyazaki
Based on the book by Eiko KADONO

Cardcaptor sakura
Based on the Manga Card Captor Sakura

Directed by: Koyu, Kiyoko SayAma, Kenichi Tajiri

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About the author

Nadia Petrova

I'm running this blog because I love Japanese culture, especially the art of geisha. When I was a little girl, I used to dream of becoming a geisha myself. In my spare time, I enjoy watching good anime and reading some manga.

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