She's a blond princess who doesn't know she's the princess of a lost magical kingdom. She's being raised on Earth with a new family with no knowledge of a former, more magical life. Suddenly, on her 13th birthday she finds out she has a magical destiny to defeat the evil force that destroyed her home world. She's granted magical powers, a cool animal friend, and some friends to help her fight.
Nope, Amethyst Princess of Gemworld
DC Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld (1985) | Paris Cullins
Do you need a transformation sequence to be considered a magical girl show? No. Is it one of the most instantly recognizable parts of the genre? Absolutely.
The transformations have become interwoven into the fabric of the magical girl genre and have caused genre fans to spend hours on YouTube looking up compilation videos of sequences of transformations from decades past, specific series titles, and more. Even non-fans can recognize the iconic sequences. Throw in some glitter, ribbons and posing and you've got a dozen or so people saying "Just like Sailor Moon!".
The entrancing nature of the whole affair can sometimes make you forget the five minute time chunk the transformation eats up.
Transformations have become so popular it's made it's way into non-Magical Girl shows like DC Super Hero Girls on Netflix or Cartoon Network's Craig of the Creek.
How did this glee inducing genre staple start? Where did it come from? And why can a good transformation make or break a series for genre fans?
Let's roll on back to the 60s and find out.
Sparkle Cadet from Craig of the Creek
When it comes to mixing genres with Magical Girls there is a lot of obvious choices that you can chose from - Romance, Drama, Comedy. Even if you wanted to boil it down to more specific genres like Isekai and Slice of Life feel like more obvious choices. Mecha seems like a far cry for a genre that usually centers around softer aesthetics of frills and lace, and yet from the 90s till now there are about a dozen or so Magical Girl shows with mecha influences, and vice versa.
There's something about the combination of cute girls and robots that makes for a winning formula. Long running franchises like Lyrical Nanoha had definitely figured it out- the series started in 2004 and has an installation as recent as 2018 at the time of writing this- but Nanoha wasn't the first. The genre mixing goes way way back to a show called Magic Knight Rayearth.
Vita from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's
Battle Girl High School
Magical Girl Site
Assault Lily Bouquet
Majo no Tabitabi
Not Out Yet
Fairy Ranmaru: Anata no Kokoro Otasuke Shimasu