The mahou shoujo (魔法少女) genre is undeniably one of Japan’s biggest exports into the global entertainment industry, serving as an introduction to the world of anime to overseas fans. Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura and the various Pretty Cure series are classic examples of the genre although in more contemporary times, various magical girl series have also taken on a darker turn with Puella Magi Madoka Magica being the most famous example of such a show. Even non-Japanese multimedia has taken a liking to the genre, spawning Western magical girl shows such as W.i.t.c.h. and Winx Club. The famous Korean MMORPG, MapleStory has even incorporated a magical girl-esque playable character into the game known as the Angelic Buster.
With so many mahou shoujo series being aired on Japan television as early as 1966 with the anime, Sally the Witch, it is hard to say which magical girl character is the most iconic in Japanese pop culture as there are just so many of them! CHARAPEDIA has once again conducted research, surveying 10,000 different users about who is the magical girl that fascinates them the most! Without further ado, here are the results!
20. Mahou no Tenshi Creamy Mami’s Yu Morisawa with 92 votes
19. Magic Knight Rayearth’s Hikaru Shidou with 106 votes
18. Mahou Girls Precure!’s Riko Izayoi with 109 votes
17. The Irregular at Magic High School’s Miyuki Shiba with 115 votes
16. Magical Witch Punie-Chan’s Punie Tanaka with 125 votes
15. Nisekoi (Magical Patissier Kosaki-chan)’s Kosaki Onodera with 132 votes
14. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon’s Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury with 152 votes
13. Slayers’ Rina Inverse with 160 votes
12. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha’s Hayate Yagami with 172 votes
11. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Kyoko Sakura with 191 votes
10. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon’s Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon with 194 votes
9. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Sayaka Miki with 226 votes
8. Ojamajo Doremi’s Doremi Harukaze with 260 votes
7. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha’s Fate Testarossa with 265 votes
6. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Mami Tomoe with 277 votes
5. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya’s Illyasviel von Einzbern with 326 votes
4. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha’s Nanoha Takamachi with 403 votes
From this list, it seems that the more contemporary magical girl series are dominating the top 20 although a fair mix of classic characters have made their way to the top such as Sailor Moon and Hikaru Shidou. The girls from Puella Magi Madoka Magica are certainly soaring in the popularity charts and all three of the main protagonists from the Lyrical Nanoha franchise managed to enter the top 15 of this very competitive list as well. With that said, there are some very prominent names that are absent from this list. Have they made it into the top three?
3. Cardcaptor Sakura’s Sakura Kinomoto with 560 votes
-With all the hype on the franchise’s 20th anniversary coming up alongside her overall iconic presence in the otaku world, excluding Sakura would seem like a travesty to fans of the mahou shojo genre. Fans around the world were definitely enchanted by Sakura’s Clow Card collecting adventures and her sweet, endearing personality. To make things even better, Cardcaptor Sakura will be receiving a fully fledged sequel in manga form this June! Newcomers to the series may want to read the earlier volumes of the manga to see what magic this series holds before diving into the sequel. Sakura is also very relatable to many viewers and perhaps her journey of personal growth throughout the series is what makes people return to reminisce their childhood.
2. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Homura Akemi with 597 votes
–Homura is undeniably a very endearing character and is a pivotal player in the Madoka Magica franchise to the point that she is the protagonist in Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion. Her devotion to Madoka, her mysterious aura and her moe previous self are definitely qualities that make her a sympathetic character to the audiences. While we will not spoil much with regards to the Madoka Magica franchise, expect Homura’s actions to heavily impact the plot. Homura continues to remain a puzzle to many otaku and perhaps that is what makes people so fascinated by her. Her complexity as a character is also a definite factor that makes her so alluring to otaku all over the world who want to know the motivations behind her actions and how her tragic backstory has made her who she ultimately becomes.
1.Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Madoka Kaname with 605 votes
-Topping this list is the eponymous character of the Madoka Magica franchise, Madoka herself, edging out her best friend, Homura by a mere eight votes! Madoka herself possesses her own charm, be it her own natural cuteness to her very relatable insecurities as a growing girl finding her own path in life. Perhaps what really draws people to Madoka as a character is the magical potential that she possesses and the actual magical capabilities that she has proven to possess in the conclusion of the series, empowering viewers in the process. The movies and drama CDs that were released as part of the franchise have also given otaku a further glimpse into her character prior to the various timelines, revealing more aspects of her that only make her even more endearing and likeable to the crowd.
CHARAPEDIA has also tallied the results for the male and female voters who participated in this poll.
Top 10 Magical Girls as voted by male participants:
10. Nisekoi (Magical Patissier Kosaki-chan)’s Kosaki Onodera with 121 votes
9. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha’s Fate Testarossa with 149 votes
8. Slayers’ Rina Inverse with 150 votes
7. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha’s Hayate Yagami with 151 votes
6. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Mami Tomoe with 210 votes
5. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya’s Illyasviel von Einzbern with 217 votes
4. Cardcaptor Sakura’s Sakura Kinomoto with 262 votes
3. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha’s Nanoha Takamachi with 264 votes
2. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Homura Akemi with 332 votes
1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Madoka Kaname with 383 votes
Top 10 Magical Girls as voted by female participants:
10. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon’s Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon with 97 votes
9. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya’s Illyasviel von Einzbern with 109 votes
8. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha’s Fate Testarossa with 116 votes
7. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon’s Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury with 117 votes
6. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha’s Nanoha Takamachi with 139 votes
5. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Sayaka Miki with 147 votes
4. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Madoka Kaname with 222 votes
3. Ojamajo Doremi’s Doremi Harukaze with 245 votes
2. Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Homura Akemi with 265 votes
1. Cardcaptor Sakura’s Sakura Kinomoto with 298 votes
As evidenced by the results when segregated by gender, the female voters leaned a little bit more towards the classic mahou shoujo anime with Sailor Moon and Ojamajo Doremi’s characters entering the top 10 of the females’ list while being conspicuously absent from the male’s list. It it also interesting how differently the characters from Lyrical Nanoha and Madoka Magica ranked in the lists of the female and male voters.
To conclude, the poll leaned heavily towards the more contemporary mahou shoujo anime. The names of some very iconic mahou shoujo characters such as Princess Tutu, Amu Hinamori and Cure Blossom to name a few, are conspicuously absent from the list. One thing is for certain though, Madoka Magica has proven itself to be a force to be reckoned with in the realm of the mahou shoujo anime and this is evident through the slew of darker, more adult magical girl anime that have been on the rise lately such as Senki Zesshou Symphogear, Black★Rock Shooter and soon, Magical Girl Raising Project. Does this mean that mahou shoujo will evolve into a domain that is more geared towards a more mature audience? On the other hand, Toei Animation’s Pretty Cure franchise continues to work its magic while the currently airing Sailor Moon Crystal Season III and upcoming Cardcaptor Sakura manga are set to draw now-adult viewers back into the respective series.
We like to see it as an alternative sign – a positive sign that the mahou shoujo genre is being made accessible to all, irregardless of age group or gender.