Top 25 Magical Girl Anime
With the boom of shounen series brought over to English in the 90s, another genre was warmly welcomed by the world: magical girl anime or mahou shoujo anime. While championing love and justice, magical girl shows are widely regarded as series that feature a young girl who, with the help of an item or system, can transform from an ordinary person to a powerful hero who can save the world. And while there's always a strong focus on girls, their problems and their friends, magical girl anime has become a beloved genre for male and female fans alike. That's why we've searched the world over to bring you the very best of this genre, from old classics to current masterpieces.
It should be known that magical girl anime can be hard to get into. Sometimes it's because it's aimed at children, other times it's because of the aesthetic, a few times it's down to taste. But you can't have a best of magical girl anime list without acknowledging that Madoka Magica is the most accessible magical girl anime to date. And that's why it sits here at our number one spot.
In a world where little girls are granted big wishes, Madoka finds herself faced with the choice of giving her life to make something impossible happen or sitting back knowing that people will die at the hands of witches. As her new and old high school friends grab at the glory that is fighting witches and getting bitches, Madoka is thrown into a mental spiral when she discovers that heroes of justice and magical saviours are only on a path of despair.
Those who delight in the sadness of others are the only ones who will laugh themselves silly with this show, but it's never a bad thing. Madoka Magica gives you the standard lovable characters and magical world but twists everything to reveal the sinister intentions behind giving little girls power. Because not everything is about escapism. It is still about cute girls though.
Why it's on the list: Madoka is a breath of fresh air for anyone keen on watching magical girl shows but is sick of the regular set-up. While it likes to lull you into assuming it's like everything else, Madoka Magica is keen on its twists and dramatic turns, and that's what makes it special. It's also very easy to get into as your first magical girl anime.
Watch if you like: Bright colours, dark twists, Faust, Yuki Kajiura, colour-coded characters, time travel, short series, recent series, small cast of characters, watching the movies.
Magical girl shows aren't strangers to despair, but our next entry on the list is a depressing premise turned hopeful. And it's part of why Full Moon wo Sagashite makes it to our second best spot.
Mitsuki Kouyama is just twelve years old when she discovers she has throat cancer, a disease which robs her of her dream to one day become a singer and meet with her beloved childhood friend, Eichi. As two shinigami (gods of death) arrive to tell her she has only one year left to live, Mitsuki resolves to make her dream come true, and with their help transforms into a healthy sixteen-year-old girl to make it all happen.
Full Moon wo Sagashite is a beautiful story not only because of its hopeful tone and bright outlook but also because it delivers an emotional but satisfying ending that wraps up Mitsuki's journey perfectly.
Why it made the list: Full Moon wo Sagashite may look like an unusual sobfest for a magical girl anime – and, in part, it is – but its tone and outlook are unique. Its journey is moving but not drenched in drama, and everything leads to a neat and satisfying resolution.
Watch if you like: Singing, idols, Shinigami, school setting, childhood friends, romance, drama, the supernatural, finding love, long series, older series.
The Precure series is magical girls' longest running franchise. With twelve series and more on the way, it's hard to decide which one is the definitive Precure experience. But whether you're nostalgic for the days of Cure Black and White or have only seen bits of the newest series, many can agree that Heartcatch Precure is the Precure to watch.
Tsubomi Hanasaki moves to the small town of Kibougahana to live with her grandmother. It's not easy starting over in a new place, but even though she's quiet and shy, Tsubomi is determined to make friends and have a normal school life. But when she dreams of a great battle and fairies, the very same fairies appear before her and turn her into Cure Blossom, giving her a whole world of battles and evil to contend with… along with new friends.
Heartcatch Precure is no stranger to Precure's traditions, but between the usual monster of the week, escalating battles and becoming near-divine, Heartcatch Precure has a lot of self-awareness and plays up its tropes it hilarious ways.
Why it made the list: Heartcatch Precure might be long down the line of a franchise with established traditions, but it doesn't stop the show from having a quirky, fun personality that shines through the usual tropes with a fresh take on it all. It's the Precure anime to watch.
Watch if you like: Colours, stylistic art style, long series, kids' shows, friendship, action, slice of life, school setting, fairies, good vs evil, growing up stories.
Next on our best magical girl anime list is the show that's no stranger to little girls, fairy tales and dancing. But while you might back off because it's a bit too girly, you're missing out on a wonderful show about fate, true love and ducks.
Once upon a time, a kind and heroic prince fought to defeat an evil raven. In order to seal the raven away forever, the prince shattered his heart, leaving him an emotionless husk. While the kingdom moves on and its residents live peacefully as they attend ballet classes, Ahiru (literally, "duck") realizes why she's here. She's living in a fairy tale and, through the power of her pendant, she can transform into Princess Tutu and collect the lost shards of the prince's heart. But as she struggles against reality and fiction, another force conspires to raise the evil raven.
Princess Tutu blurs the borders between Western fairy tales and the reality of the show, putting a very interesting spin on the usual. It also helps that the show is all kinds of great.
Why it made the list: Princess Tutu is an incredibly "girly" anime. But while you might think that's a setback, it's all part of its style. It has a tasteful mix of magical girl transformations, fairy tale setting, adventure and romance, all wrapped up in a clever meta story about fate.
Watch if you like: Ballet, comedy, romance, Western fairy tales, pink, classical music, ducks, standard length series, meta story, good vs evil, animals, shoujo anime.
Often hailed as the one brightly coloured magical girl anime that is finally different to all the others, Shugo Chara makes it onto our number five spot, but not without its hitches.
Amu Hinamori is described by her classmates as "cool and spicy" but her true personality couldn't be further from the truth. She's shy and awkward, and wishes she could be someone better. It just so happens that one day she wakes up to three eggs that hatch into Guardian Characters, manifestations of her possible future self. But she's not the only one with these, and since she can use them to transform and gain special powers, Amu is recruited by her school's student council to seek out corrupted dreams (eggs) to purify them
Shugo Chara is a fresh experience for those sick of the usual magical girl scenario, but while it's new and quirky, it comes with its own faults. Episodes can drag on and sometimes there's too many characters for its own good, but when the series is good, it's stronger than anything.
Why it made the list: Shugo Chara brings some new elements to magical girl anime, keeping some traditions but willfully leaving behind others. It's refreshing and exciting, especially when it comes to the romance aspect and questioning the self, but can drag along when it comes to formulaic episodes and recaps.
Watch if you like: Comedy, romance, eggs, large cast of characters, friendship, monsters of the week, formulas, school setting, evil organisations, long series.
For those who missed Sailor Moon or simply watched every magical girl show to hit TV, Cardcaptor Sakura was the big hit of late 90s. It's both your standard magical girl show and something different, and how it mixes tradition with new elements is what makes it great.
Ten-year-old Sakura Kinomoto stumbles across a book containing mysterious cards. Upon reading the name of one of the cards aloud, a large wind suddenly kicks up and whisks all fifty-two cards away. Keroberos, the guardian of the book, is quick to appoint Sakura magical powers and send her a quest to get them all back. With her cosplay-keen friend and strange rival behind her, Sakura sets off to right her accident.
Cardcaptor Sakura is your standard magical girl show, no doubt. It has a monster of the week every episode, likes to use the same jokes and has the main character go on a large fetch quest. But midway, it changes direction and brings its sincere childhood tone to more serious topics.
Why it made the list: Cardcaptor Sakura isn't a terribly different show, but past its cute adventures with an impressive array of costumes, the series starts to focus on its characters, showing how Sakura grows throughout her journey and interactions with her mysterious rival.
Watch if you like: Dressing up, collecting cards, long series, older series, comedy, action, romance, monsters of the week, animal sidekicks, magical sticks, school setting, shoujo anime.
An oldie but a goodie, Cutie Honey may seem weird but it's the kind of show that grabs you and pulls you in with its quirks and exciting personality.
Honey Kisaragi is an average, fashionable high school girl but her everyday life is interrupted when the death of her father sets off a journey of violent action and bloody revenge. For Honey is actually an android capable of transforming into Cutie Honey, a sword-wielding warrior who is more than capable of revenging her father. Along with a small group of non-magical boys, she sets out on a journey to take down the evil Panther Claw organization.
Cutie Honey is a welcome mix of genres, throwing together an ample mix of sci-fi, action, adventure and – yes – magical girls. It's sometimes over the top and full-on, but is very enjoyable for how differently it handles the genre.
Why it made the list: Cutie Honey has way too much personality to ignore. The show may mix weird genres, but it comes out strong, creating a magical girl anime unlike any other and being damn entertaining while it's at it.
Watch if you like: Go Nagai, action, adventure, sci-fi, androids, evil organisations, ninjas, super sentai shows, colours, fanservice, older series, standard length series, watching the next seasons.
The whole magical girl phenomenon is rumored to have started with none other than American TV show Bewitched, and what better to celebrate the start than with the best anime version of that early witch aesthetic than Kiki's Delivery Service?
As a rite of witchly passage, thirteen-year-old Kiki leaves her home for a year to experience the world beyond the cauldron. She settles down in a far-away city where she has to learn the ways of regular people. As she stumbles about trying to be independent, she discovers the one thing she can do well: deliver things to the people of the town via her flying broomstick.
Kiki's delivery service isn't heavy on transformation scenes, the power of friendship or many of the magical girl traditions you see today, but it has the very beginnings of the magical girl genre beautifully captured in a simple movie.
Why it made the list: As with every other Studio Ghibli movie, Kiki's Delivery Service is a simple and charming tale of growing up. Kiki's struggle with newfound independence is a lot like many people's experiences in real life and the equal focus on that and magic gives a nice balance.Watch if you like: Studio Ghibli, coming of age stories, independence, witches, movies, older anime, European setting.
Our next series combines the classic aspects of magical girl series with good old sword and socery-like fantasy, delivering an anime that combines magic with knighthood. It's Magic Knight Rayearth at our number nine spot.
When three high school girls are summoned to the world of Cephiro, a master mage shoves some armour and powers on them and tells them to seek out the three Rune Gods, because these girls are Magic Knights now. As the girls start their long quest to save the world, they discover that friendship and comradery will pull them through, just like with any group of magical girls, but not everything is sunshine and rainbows.
Rayearth uses just about every commonly known trope in magical girl anime, but it combines with it the feel of a classic RPG and even throws in some mecha. It has aged a fair bit, but not so much that it's unwatchable.
Why it made the list: Magic Knight Rayearth isn't the most original magical girl anime, given all the shows to borrow from it over the years, but it doesn't disappoint with the good old story of having to save a mysterious new world with the power of magic and friendship.
Watch if you like: High school girls, cute animal mascots, saving the world, older anime, adventure, mecha, shoujo anime, standard length series, watching the second season, friendship, large cast of characters, CLAMP.
Another sneaky addition to this best magical girl anime list is Revolutionary Girl Utena, a series that really needs to be seen to be understood. While technically a magical girl series, this anime isn't quite like anything else – and definitely not about the power of friendship.
After her parents' death and her near-drowning, young Utena is saved by a prince who gifts her a rose crest ring. Wanting to be just like the prince, Utena grows into a boyish teenager who is adored by girls but gets into trouble with the teachers. After a chance meeting with a bullied girl called Anthy, Utena challenges a student to a fight, not knowing that in doing this, she will be sent into a series of duel to decide the fate of the Rose Bride – Anthy.
Those not familiar with the director, Ikuhara's, way of presenting things may find the series confusing or boring. But behind the symbolism and repeated lines is a deeply interesting show that challenges roles, perceptions and questions how we think and why we act.
Why it made the list: Revolutionary Girl Utena is likely the weirdest magical girl anime you'll ever see. But behind the repeated dialogue, abstract images and wtf moments is an interesting psychological twist on a fairytale where not everything works out how you expect it to.
Watch if you like: Psychological anime, drama, strong directing, imagery, metaphor, thinking, gender, sword fighting, cars, transformation, long series, older series, fantasy, shoujo anime.
For a long time, magical girl anime was targeted towards kids. But though there may have been efforts to appeal to older audiences, things only really changed when Nanoha came into being. Nanoha was one of the few new shows to target older audiences, and even though it still looks like a show for kids, it's very much for people older.
After a long battle of wills and goals, Nanoha and Fate are the very best of friends. While they part for a while, they're very soon reunited as a new force threatens the world's peace. The Cloud Knights are on a mission to steal magical power to complete a dark tome, and even though Fate and Nanoha are the most powerful mages around, they can't come close to beating this new force. Not until they get new power ups, at least.
While technically a sequel to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Nanoha A's outclasses its first season in every way. The fact you can catch up to everything before it through the first movie makes getting into the second series even easier.
Why it made the list: Even though Nanoha A's is a sequel to the much-loved Nanoha season one, it can be watched after a little filling in of the setting and how the world works. Once you know what's going on, you can get right into the good stuff as this series improves on everything before it.
Watch if you like: Super powers, magical sticks, animal sidekicks, school setting, younger characters, action, rivals, friendship, understanding, battling factions.
You can't look at magical girl anime without acknowledging that Sailor Moon basically brought the genre to what it is today. It may not have started the trend, but it gave life and excitement to a new wave of fans – and set the stage for many wonderful anime to come.
Usagi Tsukino is your typical teenage girl: she loves to eat, can't live without plentiful sleep, has her eye on cute boys and… is the reincarnation of the moon princess. After meeting a mysterious talking cat, Usagi is urged to reunite her fellow sailor soldiers and return to her rightful place on the throne. But with Usagi's power for all that is good, there are dark forces preying on her to steal what gives her strength.
Sailor Moon is a fairly old series now, and it does have a very recent remake, but what makes the old series good is its older art style, longer episode count and devotion to fleshing out characters. It does show its age, but the older series has a more lovable quality than Sailor Moon Crystal.
Why it made the list: Sailor Moon is a classic anime that is often attributed as the start of the magical genre. But while it wasn't the first show of its kind, it certainly gave the genre new life and lead to many great shows. It also still holds up today, being a fantastic series to watch for nostalgia or a magical girl fix.
Watch if you like: Shoujo, romance, fighting monsters, evil plans, school setting, royalty, reincarnation, space, cats, large cast of characters, long series, older series.
Food and cats have long been the favourite things of many people. Now, fortunately, both combine with magical girls to make the quirky anime Tokyo Mew Mew.
Ichigo Momomiya is on a date with the cutest boy in school when she is zapped and her DNA is casually spliced with that of a rare Japanese cat. In addition to developing some unmanageable cat habits, Ichigo discovers she can transform into Mew Ichigo, a magical girl who can team up with other catgirls to save the world from aliens determined to wipe out the human race. But as powerful as she is, she still needs to keep it a secret from her boyfriend!
Tokyo Mew Mew takes a lot of cues from Sailor Moon, and for much of the series it follows pretty closely. But after enough monsters of the week, magical shenanigans and romance, the series starts to consider its characters more and develop its own style.
Why it made the list: Tokyo Mew Mew is Sailor Moon with cat girls, but after finding itself later in the series and moving away from tradition, it becomes an enjoyable and quirky anime about being part-cat, part-hero.
Watch if you like: Cats, food, Sailor Moon, monsters of the week, long series, comedy, colours, aliens, sci-fi, adventure, romance, dubs or subs.
Next on our list is something that might seem a lot like Madoka Magica, but instead of a thinly veiled copy, Yuuki Yuuna is a series that makes its own path and struggles with its own unfair world.
By day, middle school girls Fuu, Itsuki, Tougo and Yuuna carry out acts of community kindness as part of the Hero Club. At night (well, any time), they transform into magical girls to save the world from monsters called Vertexes. It's all fun and punching action until they realise that being a magical girl demands more of them than they want to give. Oh, and did we mention that they're basically living on a small patch of land that was spared from the apocalypse?
A lot of Yuuki Yuuni rings similar to Madoka Magica, right down to its deceptive slice of life set-up to the outside force controlling the girls. But when it comes down to it, the tone and eventual conclusion of the series gives it a different identity.
Why it made the list: Yuuki Yuuna is the optimistic alternative to Madoka Magica. It deals with disability and more concrete consequences for being a magical girl without drowning in drama and angst (at least for too long). The series has some interesting ideas that make it a more enjoyable show inspired by Madoka Magica but that doesn't get lost up the earlier series' ass.
Watch if you like: Disabled characters, apps, optimism, reading the LN, short series, gods, slice of life, slices of life, unusual soundtracks, Madoka Magica.
Between fun magical adventures and colourful but depressing magical girl anime is the mixed genre greats. It's between super sentai action series and magical girl anime that Symphogear shines.
When Hibiki attends the concert of the famous ZweiWing, the last thing she expects is to see the singers transform into magical girls to defeat a sudden alien invasion. But everything goes wrong and one of the singers dies, though not before a shard of her power is shot through Hibiki. Years later, Hibiki chants the song she heard long ago, awakening the power of symphogear within her and drawing her into the world of fighting aliens.
The appeal of Symphogear isn't in the genres it mixes but how it's completely, unashamedly anime. It's ridiculous and over the top, but it always pushes the limits. And the music is amazing.
Why it made the list: Symphogear isn't your usual magical girl anime. It's still about transforming and fighting, but it's a lot more action-heavy and likes to outdo itself with every episode. It puts the ridiculous back in anime and is a delight because of it.
Watch if you like: Action, sentai shows, mecha, singing, music, "oh Japan", aliens, science fiction, ancient weapons, short series, watching the sequels.
Magical girl anime and children's shows go hand-in-hand. And while some magical girl kids' shows touch on serious topics, others are fine to dabble in the daily lives of magic-users. Magical DoReMi is the latter.
Doremi isn't the luckiest girl out there, but she just might be the one who gets into the most trouble. If she was a witch, she could magic her problems away. And that's just what happens. Thanks to string of weird events, Doremi is taken on as an apprentice witch with powers that let her do whatever she wants. Of course, this means she recruits her friends as witch apprentices too and they go around solving problems as they prepare for their witch exams.
Magical DoReMi is, of course, a show for eight-year-olds, but if you love magical girl anime, it has all the usual charms. It's a very safe watch that handles everyday magical life happily, not ignoring reality but never going too deep. Perfect for a relaxing time.
Why it made the list: Magical DoReMi takes Western magic ideas and mixes it with Eastern flavor to make a cute show about the everyday adventures of magical children. There's nothing too serious about the show, and that's what makes it charming to watch.
Watch if you like: Children's anime, colours, shoujo anime, older series, long series, watching all the seasons, school setting, animal sidekick, Western magic, slice of life.
Making a surprising debut on the list is an AU of the fantasy anime Fate/Stay Night, except this time it's less depressing and more colourful, magical and cute.
Illya is no longer a master in the Holy Grail War but just an average elementary school student who wants to be special. When her wish to be special is granted in the form of a magical talking stick who transforms her into a magical girl, Illya's realises that her fantasies of saving the day are not exactly going to happen. She's tasked with finding several powerful Class Cards scattered around the land. But she's not the only one searching for them.
Prisma Illya is the more cheerful Fate/Stay Night AU but is still capable of the drama and seriousness of its original story. At the same time, it's not too wrapped up in being an alternate story, and has plenty of original characters and story itself.
Why it made the list: Prisma Illya is the spin-off of a series you'd never expect, but even though it's mostly different from the gore and suffering of Fate/Stay Night, Prisma Illya delivers both feel-good slice of life and dramatic action with plenty of original story.
Watch if you like: Fate/Stay Night, Nanoha, alternate universe stories, school setting, magical sticks, magical forces, collecting cards, rivalry, fanservice, watching the sequels, cameos, short series.
If little girls are fans of anything, it's mermaids, singing and bright colours. Fortunately, Mermaid Melody: Pichi Pichi Pitch has all three, along with romance and fighting bad guys.
The ocean is home to several mermaid kingdoms, each reining over a part of the sea. While saving a boy from drowning, Princess Lucia of the North Pacific kingdom entrusts the boy with a magical pearl… only, she needs to find him years later to get it back in order to save her kingdom. So starts Lucia's journey to the human world, aided by several other mermaids, where they also transform into humans who can slay evil with their voice.
Mermaid Melody is a show about music above all else, and for that it's great to listen to. Of course, it's also very much a show for younger kids, so jump into it for good fun and to sing along, not for a deep, moving plot.
Why it made the list: Mermaid Melody isn't anything terribly new, and if you're keen to watch it for the plot, it will end up disappointing. The draw of the show is in its music and the interaction between the two lead characters, and for that it's pretty good.
Watch if you like: Children's anime, mermaids, singing, The Little Mermaid, idols, humans, monsters of the week, non-violent fighting, watching the second season, long series.
With Madoka Magica's revelation that there must have been magical girls throughout history, it's no surprise that important historical figures would be the source of inspiration for a few series. Though some, including Phantom Thief Jeanne, were a little before their time.
Jeanne de Arc is a magical girl, except she's reincarnated in the form of Japanese high school student Maron Kusakabe. Thanks to her angel companion, Maron transforms into a phantom thief at night in order to steal demons residing in pieces of art. But with the police always hot on her tail and the sudden arrival of a handsome rival, Maron's job isn't easy.
Phantom Thief Jeanne is a bit more of a low-stakes Sailor Moon, but with angels, demons and police thrown into the mix, it manages to coast through to the second half where things get more interesting.
Why it made the list: Phantom Thief Jeanne borrows a lot from more popular magical girl anime and doesn't offer terribly much back, but when it comes to character, interaction, romance and saving the day, it keeps its own take for a slightly more down-to-earth magical girl series.
Watch if you like: Comedy, phantom thieves, historical figures, adventure, drama, romance, shoujo anime, monster of the week, demons, Sailor Moon, long series, older series.
Don't mind the name – the next series on our best magical girl anime list is a classic, and combines the butt-kicking action of magical girl shows with crazy Japanese idol antics to make for something weirdly fun.
After spotting a space ship and helping an alien, ten-year-old Yuu Morisawa is granted magical powers for a year – powers that let her transform into a sixteen-year-old beauty. While getting a feel for her teenage form, Yuu accidentally ends up on TV as a talented singer named Creamy Mami who becomes an overnight success. Now with fame and power, Yuu needs to manage her home life, idol job and school, all while fighting aliens and bad guys.
Creamy Mami is an odd title on this list but a welcome show where the main character is a brat, the main romantic interest makes some bad decisions and everything's all still fun all the time.
Why it made the list: Creamy Mami is a comedy first, questions later kind of show. It doesn't think about the technical stuff and tends to stick to jokes and romance, making it more something you watch for mindless fun and pure entertainment over anything terribly deep.
Watch if you like: Comedy, sci-fi, aliens, shoujo anime, romance, school setting, age, animal sidekicks, idols, singing, action, small cast of characters, older anime, long series.
Maybe in your insatiable search for anime you found yourself wanting a sports anime with a chronic case of sameface, or something so old you can only find it on video tape. Well your wishes have been answered in the form of Captain Tsubasa, the soccer sports anime.
Tsubasa is a kid full of dreams and incredibly talented with a soccer ball. When he moves to the town of Nankatsu, he hopes to play for its famous team, but ends up having to join a loser team that is in direct competition to his dreams. Can Tsubasa’s talent pull the team through? Of course it can, it’s a sports anime.
While Captain Tsubasa is based off an incredibly successful manga, it has aged incredibly. It’s an old man hobbling down the street. Watch it for the classic factor.
Why it made the list: Captain Tsubasa is strong on the classic factor and generally okay everywhere else. While it has aged incredibly since the early 80s, it’s still a classic anime that’s highly regarded – at least by Japanese fans.
Watch if you like: Soccer; older anime; long anime; the underdog; tournament arcs; rivals; reading the manga; classic anime.
Another old and hard to find anime on this list is Magical Princess Minky Momo (more known worldwide as Gigi), a series that features another girl who can transform into an older version of herself, though with less singing and more magic.
Fenarinarsa, the land of hopes and dreams, is in peril: it's disappearing from Earth because humans no longer dream or have hope for the future. In an effort to save the land and help the people of Earth regain their dreams, princess Momo is sent to Earth with the power to transform into an adult with a job that suits what she needs. Through every good deed Momo succeeds with, Fenarinarsa is brought closer to Earth.
Magical Princess Minky Momo is another series that makes it onto this list as part of recognizing magical girl anime's long history. It was so popular that if you can't find places to watch it, the series has spawned a number of sequels and OVAs that do the trick just fine.
Why it made the list: Magical Princess Minky Momo is another classic series that has contributed greatly to the magical girl series of today. While the show is hard to find and falls to last on the list because of it, it has its moments… including some shock turns.
Watch if you like: Children's anime, shoujo anime, comedy, fairy tales, long series, older series, animal sidekicks, shock twists, collecting jewels, magical shenanigans.
American football in your Chinese cartoons?! It’s more likely than you think. With support from the American National Football League itself, it’s easy to think that maybe this series is boring blockheads butting muscles, but it’s just the kind of over-the-top shounen anime you’re used to.
Deimon High School is aiming for the championship American football game, known as the Christmas Cup. The captain of this team – an actual vampire, probably – spots a young promising player called Sena and shoves him in the team with a visor over his face to keep his identity secret. Now that Sena’s training to make it big time, the whole team needs to crunch down hard to unlock his secret ability of… lightspeed running?!
Eyeshield 21 has the exact feel of those shows you used to watch on TV in the morning, where characters larger than life gradually fought their way up the ladder to achieve their dreams.
Why it made the list: Eyeshield 21 is another one of those unrealistic sports anime series, though this time with a bit less force behind the Overpowered Skills bit. Whether you hop into the series for the fact it covers American football or if you just want to get to know a team full of quirky characters, Eyeshield 21 has it.
Watch if you like: Amaerican football; super powers; long series; shounen anime; comedy; exaggerations; the underdog; running; older anime feel; demons; Shounen Jump.
Close to last on our magical girl anime list is Akazukin Chacha, the pleasant comedy series about a bright girl in a red hood who doesn't exactly fight wolves but tries her best to save the day anyway.
Chacha is a bumbling magician training under the world's greatest wizard. Even though she can't get things right and often makes a mess, Chacha pulls through for her friends when they're in need. Thanks to her pendant, the Princess Medallion, she can transform into a magical princess capable of taking on the great evil set on conquering the land.
The only drawback to Akazukin Chacha is that story-wise there's not much going on. Things repeat themselves a little too often and solutions get overused, but the characters and comedy remain strong.
Why it made the list: Akazukin Chacha doesn't win any medals with its story or premise, but it remains a fun anime where Western fairy tales and Japanese animation blends nicely.
Watch if you like: Comedy, parody, Little Red Riding Hood, fairy tales, animal sidekicks, reading the manga, good vs evil, journeys.
Another old series makes it onto this list. This time it's Magical Fairy Persia, the anime that has nothing to do with Persia and everything to do with magic and dreams.
Eleven-year-old Persia lives with animals in the wilds of Africa, but old man Gouken decides it's time for his twin sons and Persia to pack their bags and travel to Japan. While on the plane, Persia is visited by the Fairy Queen from Lovely Dream, a land of dreams that is suffering. The fairy asks for Persia's help and gifts her a magical headband that can bridge the dream world and real world, as well as transform Persia into her older self.
Magical Fairy Persia is a weird magical girl show in a lot of ways. It combines a kind of Tarzan premise with magical girl traditions, some weird older male romance and free use of magical powers. But that's part of what makes it fun.
Why it made the list: Magical Fairy Persia is another hard to find anime but also another title that shows you how weird early magical girl anime were. It's fun for the weird characters it has and the unusual premise but has aged a little bit.
Watch if you like: Africa, animals, Tarzan, dreams, older boys, young protagonist, animal sidekicks, twins, comedy, older series, long series.