Genre Talk: Magical Girls (Spoilers ahead for a few things)

March 27, 2018

Magical Girls, those often barely-dressed teenage heroines from Japan. I’m here today to talk about them as a genre. They’ve been around for a while, with the most commonly known Magical Girl team being the Sailor Senshi (or Scouts, in the 90s anime), and their leader (the single most overpowered healer in anime),  Usagi Tsukino, AKA Sailor Moon/Super Sailor Moon/Neo Queen Serenity/Sailor Cosmos.

Let me get one thing straight right now – I am a fan of this genre. I have been for years, because I love a good strong female lead in a story. Usagi, while she starts out as a crybaby, grows into her role as Sailor “I’m just gonna blow up this evil planet now with the help of my future child” Moon. Hell, Sailor Moon is one of my all-time favourite series. Yes, even the 90s show…even though that was poorly done. Thank God for Crystal, then.

Back to the Genre Talk. Magical Girl stories are, for the most part (and this is my own opinion, mind you), tales of female empowerment, which is always cool. The 90s Sailor Moon anime, however, started an unfortunate trend of having the protagonist being a bit…ditzy (though in the manga, and in the Crystal anime, Usagi isn’t as ditzy as she was in the 90s anime, though she had her moments) and a bit too innocent for their own good, and with a penchant for ridiculous speeches in the middle of a fight.

Seriously, girls, if you want to be taken seriously, don’t stop and pose in the middle of the fight. Not every enemy is going to be so dumbfounded by this action that they forget to tear you in half while you leave yourself open.

ANYWAY, on to the Senshi themselves. Sailor Moon, as I stated previously, is the most overpowered healer in anime. Don’t believe me? In the original Stars arc in the manga, after Galaxia eradicated all life in the galaxy and erased Mamoru from existence (via feeding his soul to freaking Chaos, which effectively erased his soul), Usagi not only beat her with her insanely overpowered white magic (purifying her body in the process and allowing her to be reborn later), but she actually resurrected the entire galaxy and revived Mamoru…who had just had his soul erased from existence. That’s not just power, that’s godlike power.

The scary part? Each of the Senshi are a walking army in their own rights. Guns can’t stop them. In the manga, Sailor Uranus was shot with a machine gun. An entire clip emptied into her. All it did was bruise her and piss her off. It takes very, very, very powerful magic to hurt them.

Think about that for a second. Every foe they face has the capacity to hurt or kill the Senshi, and they face these things all the damn time. It’s very possible that if the Senshi go down, the Earth goes with them, because no army on the planet has a chance against the monsters the Senshi fight. Part of this is probably due to one very  simple fact: each Senshi is empowered by a celestial body. They aren’t just Magical Girls, they’re Planetary Avatars.

Sailor Moon is powered by the Moon, and gifted with her purifying and healing powers.

Sailor Mercury is powered by Mercury, is probably the smartest girl on the planet, and uses water and mist to confuse and misdirect.

Sailor Mars is powered by Mars, the War Planet. How fitting, then, that she wields the power of flames to burn away evil.

Sailor Jupiter  is powered by Jupiter, and wields the power of lightning and nature. Physically the strongest of the Inner Senshi, not many  monsters can handle her lightning or her fists.

Sailor Venus is powered by Venus, the Planet of Love, and as the former (in her old life) captain of the Royal Guard, she has the most experience in battle, having run around as Sailor V for years before returning to Japan and joining her fellow Senshi. Her powers seem to be purely energy based, though she can wield the Holy Blade from the Moon Kingdom if she has to.

Sailor Neptune is powered by Neptune, another water planet. As one of the more powerful Outer Senshi, tasked with keeping invaders out of the system entirely, her water powers are far, far more offensive than Mercury’s. She’s also a lesbian, deal with it.

Sailor Uranus (stop giggling!) is powered by Uranus (stop. Giggling!), and uses the raw power of Earth. Where her girlfriend, Sailor Neptune, is all grace, Uranus is the type to get in your face and break you.

Sailor Pluto is powered by Pluto (which isn’t even a planet anymore, but don’t tell her that), the Planet of Death and the Afterlife. As guardian of the Gates of Time and child of Kronos, God of Time, she’s one of the most dangerous Senshi. If you hear her deathly whisper of, “Dead Scream,” don’t run….you’re already dead. She can also stop time, but this literally kills her.

Sailor Saturn is powered by the planet Saturn. Physically the youngest of the original Outer Senshi, she is effectively the galaxy’s reset button. If she has to, she can eradicate most life in the galaxy and force everything to start over. This kills her too, of course.

Chibi Sailor Moon is Usagi’s Successor as Sailor Moon, and shares her source and powers. She’s also deadly despite her size and apparent age (she’s not six, she’s nine-hundred) and can break monsters just as easily as the others can.

Yeah, so you can see that the Senshi are very, very powerful. Magical Girls in this genre generally are. Like I said, female empowerment. Now onto the flip side – what about the male characters?

Well, they’re generally there as the emotional support. Very rarely do they have the capacity to fight, and even if they do, they’re useless when they’re the good guys. If they turn bad (I’m looking at you Dark Prince Endymion!), they suddenly become a force to be reckoned with.

Then again, I hate Endymion as a character anyway so I’m biased in my opinion of the useless sack of potatoes.

We’re done with the Senshi, but not with the Genre. The next show I want to discuss is one of my favourites… Magical Lyrical Nanoha, which has one of the scariest freaking protagonists ever…

Nanoha Takamichi. In her first anime series, she was 9 years old, very cheerful and upbeat, and in a refreshing change of pace, not at all ditzy. In fact, an early scene displays her intelligence when she answers a difficult mathematical question after not paying attention to the teacher. She answered correctly too. The thing about Nanoha is that her scepter, Raising Heart, is a focus. All the power she displays in the show when she fights is all her. There’s a reason the fandom calls her the ‘White Devil’. She’s a terrifying force on the battlefield, and when she’s 19 she can do crap like this:

Do. Not. Fuck. With. Nanoha. Takamichi. She will break you, and then she will arrest you. Because she’s technically a cop. Her poor victim (there is no other way to describe her here) had no idea what this lady was capable of. The kicker? That’s not even her biggest attack.

This is:

The mother-trucking Starlight Breaker. She created that when she was a child and she’s only gotten stronger since then. There’s a reason everybody that knows her urges others not to piss her off. When angered, her happy go lucky, childish personality goes bye-bye and in its place is the White Devil.

….goodness, I’ve gone on for a while, haven’t I? I think I’ll end this here.  Was this even about the genre, or just me fanboying? Oh well.

Justin J.