Some weird merchandising ideas for Fairy Ranmaru made me think: who are magical boys for?
Let’s face it – by this point in the decade, an entire generation of magical girl fans has been raised on Sailor Moon and PreCure, among other magical girl series. However, what do magical girl fans move on to after those series?
An anime fan’s existence is, to some degree or another, dependent on whether they can move from one series to another and naturally, if people like magical girls, they’ll move on to similar series. Of course, magical girls have several different appeals to them and so the answer will vary on what the fan wants.
What I’m trying to get at is: by combining bishonen with magical girl tropes, magical boys could be considered a stepping stone for those who already love magical girls. With a combination of recognisable outfits and superpowers, magical boys should hypothetically be able to capture a varied audience, from those who love idol anime for their costumes to those who love the power fantasy that is the modern isekai anime, not just magical girl fans looking for their next fix. However, those who grew up consuming magical girl media are more likely to get the tropes of magical boys…although magical boy series tend to be rather blatant with their eye candy and that might be a turn-off for people who came specifically because of the girls, as opposed to their love of what magical girls stand for on the whole. In that case, magical boys could be the “end of the line” for those same fans, until we start breaking down the gender wall even more than we already have.
Then again, I feel like one reason magical boys didn’t really take off on the whole until Boueibu came around in 2015 is because people believed the gender flip of magical girls was superheroes and/or sentai heroes, which are both gender neutral (…to more of an extent than magical girls are, at least). Boueibu proved it could be done and, although it came later than manga iterations of its own subgenre (see, for instance, Mahou Shounen Majorian, which predates Boueibu by 8 years, and Mahou Shoujo Ore, the manga of which started about a year before Boueibu began airing and the anime of which was airing in the same season as Happy Kiss). Also another reason I can think of as to why magical boys haven’t taken off more than they have is because all the examples that exist, aside from Fairy Ranmaru, are inherently comedy, due to their riffing off of magical girl tropes. (Fairy Ranmaru’s got “campiness”, rather than comedy.) Comedies don’t always fly with everyone…and the fact some of Boueibu’s enjoyment is tied to wordplay and other cultural stuff really doesn’t help…
Obviously, I owe a lot to magical boys, as both a professed fan of bishonen and magical girls…but enough about me, what’s your opinion on magical boys?