Since the first airing of a mahou shoujo (magical girl) anime, Mahoutsukai Sally in 1966, the genre has had its up and downs with its most recent success being the Puella Magi Madoka Magica series. Originally intended for young female audiences, the mahou shoujo genre has evolved over the years to cater to both genders, and in some cases even have a larger male than female following. Some mahou shoujo have achieved unimaginable popularity around the world whereas others have fallen into obscurity, so what are the elements of a mahou shoujo series that makes it so appealing, particularly the fighting-focused ones?
There are several elements that are present in many mahou shoujo series that involve fighting: attractive appearances, a source of magic, an animal sidekick, transformations, character growth, and an adherence to ideals. These elements alone, however, do not constitute all of the parts needed to create a successful mahou shoujo series. Tokyo Mew Mew, for example, had many of these elements but many people probably haven’t even heard of it. To determine what really makes a good mahou shoujo series, lets examine three titles: Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha.