Magical Girlfriend Anime Subgenre
One of the most well-known character tropes falls under possibly the least known subgenre – “magical girlfriend”. Although it sounds like a TVTropes category, magical girlfriend is a real subgenre of anime where everything about the setting is normal all except for the lead female character.
The magical girlfriend subgenre only hinges on one thing – that the world is (on the surface at least) completely normal, except for one girl who can be anything from god to a mermaid to an android. In this world, the extraordinary girl comes across a boy she takes a liking to and begins to change his life for the chaotic, completely oblivious to the normal way of life. As this subgenre often includes romance and harem, more exceptional girls can be drawn to the protagonist but aren’t representative of what’s normal.
Chance meetings. Whether it’s by falling out of the sky and landing on the male lead or when two eyes meet each other across the room, magical girlfriend series delight in setting up its lead characters through chance. This is often paired with nice-but-a-loser protagonists stumbling across their only chance at love.
These girls are not human. Or might be human, but are definitely not normal. Magical girlfriend as a subgenre hinges on its lead female character being extraordinary in some way, and can have them be anything from goddesses and aliens to human beings with exceptional powers. Regardless of their nature, these girls are always the epitome of cute or hot.
Hopelessly devoted. As a subgenre that is basically either an aspect of romance or harem anime, magical girlfriends often end up completely love-struck with the male protagonist. This can evolve into anything from sticking to them every chance they get or forcing their way into the protagonist’s house. Anything to get closer and stay closer.
Interference. Although the girls may be too good to be true, there’s no one-way ticket to the perfect romance. In fact, one or several characters would like to prevent a happy ending, either by sitting firmly between the couple, vying for attention or exposing the magical girlfriend for what she is. If the protagonist wants to stay with this girl, he needs to navigate some serious obstacles.
The world keeps spinning. Even when there are multiple magical girlfriends fawning over their beloved protagonist, the world as a whole is unaffected. The setting may change from high school to medieval times, but the crucial part of it is that the world is very much unchanged and the magical girlfriends are the sole anomaly.
Romance. You could think of the magical girlfriend subgenre as a more fantastical approach to romantic wish fulfilment, where you get the usual boy meets girl love story with a little extra flavor. While the protagonist is open to self-insertion though, the magical girlfriend is often the creator’s idea of the perfect woman.
Harem. A little extra never hurts, except when the core aspects of the magical girlfriend subgenre compound on the protagonist, making every waking moment complete chaos. The chaotic and slightly romantic life in both subgenres is very similar in feel to the point where you can easily switch between watching anime in either subgenre.
Comedy. Covering up the existence of the magical girlfriend leads to its fair share of comedy, whether it’s romantic misunderstandings or covering up the well-meaning chaos created by the girlfriend’s powers.
Slice of life. Romance usually has no structured development, leaving you to enjoy the daily life of the lead characters as they slowly fall (more) in love.
Here's our top 10 'Best Magical Girlfriend Anime Recommendations'
1. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Kyon is your average high school student with a dull outlook on life. But when the energetic Haruhi draws him in with her personality and endless interest in the supernatural, he soon finds himself surrounded by the very people who should, by all logic, not exist. A quirky magical girlfriend series with unique episodic style and development.
2. Urusei Yatsura – Ataru’s dream is to be surrounded by a harem of beautiful women, but by his bad luck, or twist of fate, the only woman after him is the gorgeous alien Lum. Undeterred by her advances, Ataru continues to be a lazy, lecherous shit as Lum follows him around and deals out punishment if she has to. An early incarnation of the subgenre that goes against most expectations.
3. Ah! My Goddess – Keiichi has never been the luckiest guy in life, but his endless kindness culminates in him encountering a goddess who wants to make one wish of his come true. When Keiichi blurts out that he wants the goddess to stay with him forever, he must now live together with Belldandy, an all-powerful goddess. The go-to classic magical girlfriend anime that defines the subgenre.
4. My Bride is a Mermaid – Nagasumi’s life almost comes to an end when he comes close to drowning in the sea. Thankfully, he is saved by Sun, a passing mermaid… except that in doing so, they’re both put in mortal peril by Sun’s yakuza family. The only way to escape is through marriage. An endlessly funny romcom that parodies the genre.
5. Spice and Wolf – Capable adult Kraft Lawrence dreams of settling down and opening up a shop, but his current situation means he must sell his wares on the road. His travels bring him to Holo, a forgotten goddess of harvest who seeks passage north. Striking up a deal, the two set off to roam the country while making good money, and Lawrence begins to dream of a different future. A magical girlfriend anime that has much more focus on setting and how the world works, though doesn’t forget romance.
6. Mysterious Girlfriend X – Mikoto Urabe is the strangest girl in school, what with her blatant disregard for learning and the hidden pair of scissors in her panties. Her latest obsession is Akira Tsubaki, and even though Akira knows she’s weird, he can’t help but be drawn to her… and her telekinetic saliva. A magical girlfriend anime with the most normal-looking girl by far.
7. Heaven’s Lost Property – Tomoki’s recurring childhood dreams of angels are answered in the most direct way when a wish-granting Angeloid falls from the sky. As he adjusts to the new girl who wants nothing more to serve him, he must juggle the three pesky girls around him to get some semblance of peace and quiet. A magical girlfriend harem with ecchi moments and character development.
8. Video Girl Ai – After finding out the girl he likes has eyes for someone else, Youta resigns to his fate as a single guy. He rents a video made especially for guys to feel like they have a girl in their life, but in an unexpected twist, the girl in the video comes to life and falls in love with him, angering her creator in the process. A dramatic magical girlfriend story with some sharp tone shifts.
9. Chobits – The future is abundant with personal androids and college loser Hideki wants nothing more than one of his own. As luck would have it, he finds an android in the trash and brings her home, only to discover she is a highly advanced android capable of thinking and learning for herself. A comedic/ecchi magical girlfriend anime with a touch of sci-fi.
10. Please Teacher! – After a tragic family event, Kei gets his new start when he moves in with his aunt and uncle, but his life is about to take another turn when he witnesses an alien landing. This alien is none other than Mizuho Kazami – his new teacher and next door neighbour – whose student x teacher misunderstandings prompt Kei to announce they’re married. A slightly ridiculous romance anime with a good heart.