Thoughts on Magical Girls

From Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Recently it dawned on me that magical girl shows are complicated when thinking about gender. For those who are unfamiliar, a magical girl anime is one that involves one or more girls who transform into crazy costumes and gain magical powers in order to battle monsters. In itself this seems to tackle gender roles that say girls shouldn’t be rough. Also, there is power given to the girls in that they are able to make their own decisions and interact with one another independent of men (Bechdel test, anyone?).  Also, though they do transform into sparkly, colorful versions of themselves, they show that being feminine isn’t necessarily a sign of weakness and can be used to be empowering. Ultimately one major thought comes to mind: are magical girl shows empowering to girls because they show girls being brave and fighting for what they want, or are they oppressive because from a male perspective they can be viewed as a way to combine interests of a male dominated society: sexualized women and violence? Regardless of how they are perceived, I think magical girl shows are important since they are targeted usually at girls in a society where most media is targeted at a male audience and allow them to have role models they can relate to.

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One thought on “Thoughts on Magical Girls

  1. Jonathan Paz

    I am a bit more skeptical of these caricatures. Although I do agree with you that it is great that they are powerful and independent, I still wonder why there is little variation in body image and physical portrayal. In order to create a norm, one has to showcase a fair number of girls consistently. I think that’s what is happening.

    Peace.

    John Peace

    Reply

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