The Best Magical Girl Anime Series for Beginners

New to the Genre? Make Sure You Watch These Series

Cue the theme music and transformation sequence -- it’s time to power-up magical girl style. Entering the world of anime is a little like putting a kid in a candy store; there’s so much to take in that it’s hard to know where to start. Branching off into a world of high school romances and kick-butt heroines, there is a lot to offer newcomers itching to begin their journey in a candy land filled with enchanted objects and fantastical stories.

All beginners need to start somewhere, so in no particular order, here are five magical girl anime that should be on every fan’s radar.

Shugo Chara

Shugo Chara
Shugo Chara.

Everyone hesitates sometimes and shies away from their full potential, but there’s that little voice inside that encourages people to keep trying. In "Shugo Chara" that little voice comes in the form of Guardian Characters, who are born from a person’s would-be self. Focusing on strengthening self-esteem and building character, "Shugo Chara" takes viewers through the trials and tribulations of a group of young students trying their best to take things one day at a time while on the path to growing up. With a successful run of three seasons from 2007 to 2010, this series will help new fans test the waters of the magical girl world and have them splashing around in no time.

Princess Tutu

Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu.

Need a little something to keep you on your toes? Don’t be fooled by the title, "Princess Tutu" is not your run-of-the-mill storyline. This anime is a philosophical endeavor that tackles the notions of freedom and destiny, and all while incorporating ballet sequences that are metaphorical stand-ins for overcoming personal conflict. Bestowed with a pendant that can transform her from a duck into a girl, Princess Tutu is tasked with finding the broken pieces of a prince’s heart so that he can regain his memories and emotions. Through its unique delivery, the story captivates viewers from the very first episode. Complete with humor, artistry and concept-heavy writing, this is a must-see series that will not disappoint.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Puella Magi Madoka Magica. © Magica Quartet/Aniplex, Madoka Partners, MBS

Breaking the walls of convention, "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" challenges every preconceived idea of what a magical girl is.

Paired with the cheerful character designs, everything seems to point toward the typical girl-turned-superhero structure when Madoka Kaname is presented with the opportunity to become a witch hunter in the first episode. A handful of episodes later, however, it becomes evident that all is not what it seems and that Madoka Magica isn't the cute, family-friendly series it looks like on the Blu-ray cover.

Not intended for children, this particular anime is geared toward a 16+ audience interested in darker themes, where the lines between good and evil are blurred and the realities of despair are amplified.

Madoka Magica currently has one anime series and three movies released on DVD and Blu-ray.

Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura
Cardcaptor Sakura. ©1999 CLAMP/KODANSHA/CINEMA

As one of the most successful series coming out of the late ‘90s, "Cardcaptor Sakura" has managed to maintain its popularity more than a decade later.

Following the eventful life of young Sakura Avalon, the show starts off by depicting her as an ordinary 10-year-old that has a school-girl crush and is teased by her older brother, Tori. Things take an unexpected turn for Sakura when she accidentally releases a set of magical Clow Cards that she is subsequently instructed to recover, thus becoming a Cardcaptor. This beginner-friendly series will introduce viewers to the classic elements of transformations, magic, and sidekicks that have become staples in the magical girl genre.
"Cardcaptor Sakura" has had three anime series and two anime movies and was released in English speaking countries as "Card Captors".

Sailor Moon

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Season 2 featuring Sailor Mini Moon
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Season 2 featuring Sailor Moon's future daughter, Sailor Mini Moon. Naoko Takeuchi / PNP / Kodansha / Toei Animation

This wouldn’t be much of a magical girl list without the inclusion of the hit anime series, "Sailor Moon".

A pioneer of the magical girl genre, "Sailor Moon" set the standards for what it meant to be a super-powered heroine fighting against the forces of evil while trying to lead a normal life.

Based around the intertwined destinies of the Sailor Guardians (reincarnated superheroines from a time long ago), viewers see them strive toward their hopes of fulfilling life-long dreams and a peaceful future for both themselves and the entire planet. The popularity of today’s magical girls anime series would not have the same status of stardom without these cosmic women laying down the groundwork and introducing an entire generation to female-centered superhero stories.

It’s a perfect time to get in on the action, with the newest reboot of the series, Sailor Moon Crystal, currently available to view on several online streaming services for free.

The original Sailor Moon anime ran for 200 episodes and had three movies and several animated specials. There was also a popular live-action Sailor Moon TV series and numerous Sailor Moon musical performances.