I start all my panels off by addressing this: What is A Magical Girl?
It seems cut and dry, an easy answer, but there is tons of in-fighting in the fandom as to what shows count. "Revolutionary Girl Utena isn't a Magical Girl series", "Bee and Puppycat doesn't count because it's a western show", "Black Rock Shooter is definitely a magical girl series."
This gets particularly frustrating when I'm choosing which content to consume. So after being unsatisfied with the definitions online I've created my own.
The definitions on Wikipedia and TV Tropes don't really do it for me
"Magical girl ... is a subgenre of Japanese fantasy anime and manga which features girls with magical powers or who use magic."
The definition is too broad and too constricting at once. It ignores girls that don't use magic, shows like Cutie Honey and Vividred Operation which focus on Technology based feats, not magic. And if a Magical Girl piece of media is about any media that features a girl with magical powers that's just way too broad for my taste and would subsequently include things like Harry Potter and The Adventure Zone: Amnesty.
This also kinda ignores the history the genre and the cultural exchange, the article goes on to site Winx Club as western example of the genre (which it is) but doesn't even mention things like She-Ra and Jem and the Holograms. Even if you use the most strict definitions of girls who transform using magic adjacent elements, those two shows definitely fit.
The T.V. Tropes definition is a bit better.
"Magical Girls are empowered by various means with fantastic powers that both assist and complicate their lives, but manage to persevere despite this."
While better, it still feels very broad. This definition would include technology based shows like Lyrical Nanoha and Corrector Yui but it feels that bu this definition you could include things like Supergirl or Captain Marvel.
TV Tropes does go on to include a foot note that not every girl who does magic is a Magical Girl and they provide pages for the Tropes found in Magical Girl series but when it comes time for me to make my watch list for the season I'd have to actually watch the show to see if it contains those tropes.
So this is the definition I've come up with to help me narrow down the content I consume. This definition is personal and based off my experience after consuming over 200 pieces of Magical Girl media for over 20 years. You don't have to agree with it, I am not the official arbitrator of what a Magical Girl is or isn't. There are definitely people who don't agree with me- I know I've been confronted by them- and that's fine! Despite the title of this article, this isn't the end all be all end definition of what a Magical Girl is, but my personal definition of them to help explain why I include the shows I include on these lists.
Magical Girls have to check all for boxes for me to consider and include them:
There’s nothing about transformations because many early Magical Girls like Esper Mami didn’t have transformation sequences and even some of the more popular pivotal series like Cardcaptor Sakura don’t include a transformation sequence (an attack sequence, but no transformation).
There’s nothing about mascots because shows like Day Break Illusion and Magic User’s Club are very obviously magical girl shows that don’t have mascots.
There’s nothing about items because shows like Sally The Witch and Shamanic Princess didn’t really put a huge emphasis on items.
All the shows I mention on any list I make check my boxes.
Anyone is welcomed to disagree! I’m not fighting anyone on their opinion as to what counts and doesn't count as a Magical Girl piece of media. I’m not the gate keeper of magical girls, but at the end of the day neither is anyone else.