When you become a Magical Girl you're often instantly gifted with enhanced physical prowess. You can run further, jump higher, punch harder. In Precure, it's even become a first episode trope that the girls are amazed by their new abilities to the point of comedic worry. The idea of magic granting enhanced physical performance is the core reasoning behind the joke in Magical Girl Ore.
If these enhanced physical traits aren't granted sometimes the characters are already predisposed to it. Cutie Honey and Miracle Limit-Chan are robots and there is no shortage of girls born as witches or magical princesses.
The reasoning as to why Magical Girls can do what they do usually ends at that, explained away in a mythos of magic. It makes sense! There's nothing wrong with that, there isn't need for anything further, but it's intriguing when the narrative delves deeper and connects real world talent with Magical Girl performance.
In Sailor Moon, Makoto's real life fighting talents translate flawlessly in Sailor Jupiter's combat style and Rei's shrine maiden influences gives her an extra edge as Sailor Mars. Several Precure series sometimes have training episodes dedicated to the girls improving their Magical Girl abilities in their civilian lives.
But my personal favorite example of this underused idea is Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne.
Energetic and Fearless
Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne is a manga/anime that started in the late 90s and ran until 2000 and was built around the underutilized Magical Thief subgenre. Maron, a sixteen-year-old with absentee parents, becomes the magical reincarnation of Catholic figure Jeanne D'Arc with the help of her mascot and friend an angel named Finn. With this power Maron becomes the Phantom Thief Jeane, which gets complicated as her best friend, Miyako, is the daughter of the police detective in charge of capturing Jeanne.
Sound familiar? Well, the similarities end there. Saint Tail may have a similar base plotline, but a couple of key components are swapped around and outright different making them two very different stories. For example Saint Tail's eventually love interest was the child of law enforcement, and her best friend aided and abetted her crimes. In Jeanne's story her best friend associated with law enforcement and her eventual love interest is another magical thief named Sinbad.
Saint Tail and Jeanne have one very important difference: Saint Tail was all parlor tricks while Jeane can do actual real and literal magic.
Strong and Serious
So, if Jeanne has magic why am I talking about her physical ability as a civilian? Because Maron is a gymnast and it directly plays into Jeanne's ability to do her thievery.
Throughout the anime and manga we're given glimpses (and sometimes full episodes) of Maron at her Gymnastics Club. She's practicing, performing, and we're shown what she can do outside of being a magical thief for God. This isn't all fluff either, we're shown that her talents directly influence her abilities as Jeanne. For example: Maron is shown performing a rhythmic gymnastics routine with a ribbon, and in the second half of the series when she gets her upgrade what magical weapon does she get? A gymnastics' ribbon.
Both anime and manga showcase Maron training her flexibility, agility and strength. It provides an easily acceptable explanation as to why Maron is so comfortable and so talented with her role as Jeanne.
Which is perfect because like Saint Tail we do not get an origin story episode one. We, the audience, jump head first into an already established and ongoing story. A couple of quick lines of exposition and a few scenes in the first episode tells the audience everything we need to know and allows us to go right into the action with belaboring some of the finer points.
This is possible in part to the introduction of Maron's interest gymnastics episode one. Of course Jeanne hasn't been caught, of course Jeanne is a wonderful thief who can do flips and cartwheels and fit herself into tiny spaces, she's a gymnast!
Miyuki helping Maron practice
Matchless and Marvelous
Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne is a lore heavy magical girl mystery romance that gives the viewers a lot of questions to start out with but why Jeanne is so powerful isn't one of them. Pre-establishing Maron's strengths and letting those strengths influence her magical girl talents in a tangible way is a clever bit of story telling I don't see utilized frequently in the genre.
We're more likely to see the opposite. Ahiru is a bumbling, clumsy girl with two left feet but when she becomes Princess Tutu she's a flawless Prima Ballerina. Smile Precure makes a point of showing how unathletic Yayoi is but when she's Cure Peace she's running and jumping along side the others with ease.
I like Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne the same reason I like Stephanie Brown as Batgirl or Saint Tail: they all work for it. Magic and gadgets help fill in the gaps but each one of these girls worked for their skills, and I really like that.
It's also, just like, super great motivation when I'm at the gym.
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