Magical Girls, Media and Maturation [OWLS Feb. ’20 Blog Tour]

Various magical girl series play with the concept of “magical girls passing on their duties”.

This is Aria of the Spellbook, as you guys probably know by now…then again, you never know when a new reader will come along, which is why I have to keep finding new ways to introduce myself on my blog. That aside, this is another OWLS post. OWLS are the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect, who accept all people regardless of their religion, gender, sexuality, race or disability. This month’s OWLS prompt is themed around the concept of a “legacy”:

We have mentors, teachers, coaches, and role models whose stories inspired us in some way. Even when these role models are gone, their stories will live on from generation to generation. For this month, we will be exploring stories that have inspired or taught us some important lessons about life.

Magical girls can seem a bit cookie-cutter to some, but this is because they draw from their legacy more than most genres do…because admit it: not very magical girl has to start out with an untested magical gadget. In fact, since the powers have to come from somewhere and it would be easier to show the audience what’s going on by having a talking mascot or experienced magical girl, that’s why the genre embraces legacies like no tomorrow. (Well, that and the superheroes it draws inspiration from – I fully expect a Boku no Hero Academia post, or at least a mention, in this blog tour.)

Magia Record‘s story of Iroha brings a new meaning to the phrase “forever alone”…(Image source: Magia Record OP)

All sorts of lessons can be derived from magical girl anime and their related works, but I’ve got a few that either make general statements about life or statements about media.

Media and Magical Girls

Sailor Moon arguably popularised an entire armada of copycats (or series that could be argued to be copycats only by those who don’t figure out what makes each series different), so its legacy is in a lot of other series from its airdate and onwards. Heck, you can see the Sailor Moon team structure (and rough colour allocation) in least, when it comes to season 1 of Sailor Moon. Basically, copycats aren’t necessarily a bad thing, especially in anime where so many different concepts can be explored even with some of the surface elements being the same.

Then there’s Magia Record, as straight of a legacy as they come for a work that ostensibly broke a good 30 or so years of legacy before it. Watching Magia Record is like 2011 came back again 9 years later (well, but we don’t want the Fukushima triple disaster to happen again…), but 9 years in seasonal terms is like an eternity. Magia Record basically proves that any source material – in this case, the much-maligned smartphone games – can make for good source material but only when the narrative material is of a decent enough quality. Exactly what constitutes “decent” is up to the viewer though, since someone could say “Magia Record is bad” for some reason and then have a legitimate complaint (although as a fan of magical girls, I probably couldn’t think of any).

Magical Girls on Life

For another way of interpreting the “legacy” concept, PreCure has this habit of doing “passing the baton” videos as a way of thanking those who’ve watched the previous series and hyping them up for the new one, while every now and again, older generations of PreCure show up in the movies and current incarnation. Within its universe, there are older PreCure (such as Cure Flower and Cure Moonlight, both from Heartcatch), similar to the Sailor Moon and Mahou Shoujo Ore examples mentioned later on, but also international PreCure, tan PreCure (both of which, in a series full of magical girls with pale skin and “Japanese but with a weird hair colour”, mean a lot) and even male PreCure in recent incarnations. This means that, experienced or not, regardless of your background, so long as you’re working towards the same purpose, it’s better to work together and combine what you’re good at (and try to hide what you’re not good at, while you’re at it) rather than be alone because although there are some successful PreCure that have the philosophy of working alone, generally they’re part of handing down the legacy and/or get brought into the team soon enough.

Within Sailor Moon, the series creates a legacy through the Moon Kingdom and its (eventual) future generations. Similarly, Mahou Shoujo Ore, while presenting its buff magical “girls” as novel at first, establishes that Sayori, Saki’s mother, was also a magical girl in the past. Similarly, having a magical girl “graduate” from being “magical” (commonly employed as an ending trope, for obvous reasons), as explained with Subaru from Houkago no Pleiades here, is also a way of conveying a coming-of-age story without necessarily having to age up the character. These series prove that even if you get old in age, you don’t have to get old in spirit – just wiser and more experienced.

This post was a lot more free-flowing than usual, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…so long as the post reads like it wasn’t written in chunks that were then moved around. Is the post like that, do you think?

Anyways, we have more OWLS content from the 8th with Takuto and Hikari is next on the 12th.

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