7 Horrifying Magical Girl Anime
by Lynzee Loveridge,
One of the first Lists I ever wrote was titled "6 Trailblazing Shojo 'Deconstructions' You Should Be Watching." At the time, I wanted to write about other magical series that approached their formula the same way Madoka Magica was at the time, but the series I included weren't necessarily 'shojo' and looking back, I didn't make my point quite so well. Even at that time, I didn't know exactly how big of an effect Madoka Magica was going to have on the popularity of dark magical girl shows, launching a full-blown sub-genre in just a few short years. If you're a fan of magical girls in increasingly dark and sometimes voyeuristic situations, then hopefully this list has your number.
Madoka Magica It's not that magical girl stories hadn't ended in tragedy before Madoka Magica. It's actually incredibly common in older series like Fairy Princess Minky Momo, Nurse Angel Ririka SOS, and Sailor Moon, not to mention the cult hit Nanoha franchise. Madoka Magica just brought this niche interest to prominence for a wider audience, by killing off one of its leads in a gruesome fashion by the third episode and revealing its mascot as the team's main antagonist. The series also wasn't afraid to graphically illustrate its cast's emotional suffering, cementing it as a staple that would inform imitators for years to come.
Uta∽Kata Uta Kata predates Madoka Magica and while it deals with similar psychological themes, its approach is less artistically abstract and more straightforward. It also wallows in its misery more overtly and keeps its mysteries close to its chest for the majority of its run. Middle-schooler Ichika Tachibana receives a magical amulet from Manatsu, a girl in a mirror, that lets her commune with djinn and briefly gain magical powers. Despite its magical girl trappings, the series hinges on its portrayal of psychological elements dealing with adolescence, mental illness (especially obsessive-compulsive disorder) and sexual abuse.
il sole penetra le illusioni ~ Day Break Illusion Day Break Illusion is an original anime series spawned not long after Madoka Magica finished. Much of it seems directly cribbed from past influences with the horror drama turned way up, with monsters feeding on negative human emotions and transforming those people into monsters themselves. Much of the show's tragic tone relies on the character's guilt over killing humans, drawing even more direct parallels to Madoka Magica. It mostly stands out for more thoroughly expanding its magical cast and pulling themes from tarot cards, which is admittedly cool.
Yuki Yuna Is a Hero Yuki Yuna may be more optimistic than its predecessors by the end, but the show still has no problem putting its magical girls through the ringer. The cast's use of their magical powers is directly tied to their physical health, which goes about how you might expect. The entire team loses the use of appendages, hearing, sight, or their voice before the final episode. The show turns things around by the end, but that doesn't mean the path there isn't plenty disturbing.
Magical Girl Raising Project This brings us to the "magical girl death match" subgenre. Magical Girl Raising Project operates under the idea that there can be too many magical girls in one area, and when that happens they're going to cull the herd by pitting them against one another. This is when the story really gets dark for darkness' sake, making for a viewing experience that relies on having fun guessing who will die next, like you're rubbernecking a slowly unfolding disaster. Magical Girl Raising Project is a series dominated by villains and backstabbing, where the purehearted protagonist is pushed to her limits.
Magical Girl Site If Magical Girl Raising Project is about an ongoing emotional trauma in the present, Magical Girl Site applies all that misery to its cast's pasts as well. Everyone in this show, from family to classmates to friends, is a horribly awful person, ramping the disaster-watch draw up exponentially. Every single character is either the victim of abuse or a perpetrator, and the story still manages to fit magical panties into the mix. Murderers are forgiven at the drop of a hat and your best friend will stick by you even if you're torturing some dude in your apartment.
Magical Girl Special Ops Asuka This anime isn't even out yet, but the manga is readily available in English if you like your brooding magical girls with more action accessories and tragic baggage. Magical Girl Asuka Spec Ops is a military action spin on the concept with an alien invasion serving as the war that haunts its characters. Asuka battles PTSD and is heavily resistant to heroism unless it involves protecting someone she cares for deeply. Unfortunately for Asuka, duty always calls to keep aliens from destroying the world she cares about.
The new poll: What's your favorite currently airing American cartoons?
The old poll: Which male character do you wish would make you lunch?
- Sōma Yukihira (Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma)
- Sanji (ONE PIECE)
- Sebastian Michaelis (Black Butler)
- Jōichirō Yukihira (Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma)
- Rin Okumura (Blue Exorcist)
- Owner (Restaurant to Another World)
- Takeshi/Brock (Pokémon)
- Tonio Trussardi (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure)
- Shirō Emiya (Fate/? Today's Menu for the Emiya Family)
- Shiro Emiya (Fate series)
- Kimihiro Watanuki (xxxHOLiC)
When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.
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