The 90s was the heyday of magical girl anime. Between shows like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, you would be hardpressed to argue that any decade produced more memorable magic girl shows than the 1990s.
There is a certain appeal to stories of romance, friendship, and magical battles which is hard to resist. And the 90s helped establish many cliches that are present in modern shows.
So if you love magical girl anime, you are in luck! Below is our list of the best magic girl anime of the 90s.
9. Magical Project S (Pretty Sammy)
Magical Project S is an offshoot of the Tenchi Muyo series that takes place in an alternate universe. It stars Sasami as a normal school girl who is given a magical baton by Tsunami to serve as her magical earthly representative.
Magical Project S is a 26 episode series that was spawned from the Magical Girl Pretty Sammy OVA that came out a year earlier. It also has many of the same supporting characters from Tenchi Muyo who have been repurposed into different roles.
Given Sasami’s initial reaction to becoming a magical girl and some of the offbeat humor, the show is often considered a parody of the magical girl genre, which makes for an enjoyable watch.
8. Wedding Peach
Wedding Peach is a 51 episode series that centers around Momoko Hanasaki and her two friends, Yuri Tanima and Hinagiku Tamano.
The three friends are members of their school’s newspaper club, and on their way home from school one day they are attacked by a devil sent by the evil queen, Raindevilla. After the situation appears to grow dire, an angel descends from the sky and presents Momoko with a compact case.
Upon opening the compact, Momoko transforms into the legendary Love Angel, Wedding Peach, and defeats her attacker.
Later on, it is revealed that Momoko’s friends are also Love Angels, and the girls battle through devils as they seek out the Sacred Four Somethings for the purpose of defeating the evil queen once and for all.
7. Magical Stage Fancy Lala
Third-grader, Miho Shinohara, is an aspiring manga artist who is one day gifted two “stuffed” dragons by a complete stranger. In reality, the stuffed dragons are two lost fairies who give Miho a magical sketch pad and pencil that gives her the power to bring the objects that she draws into reality.
The sketch pad also allows Miho to transform into one of her creations, Lala, a beautiful teenage girl. As Lala, Miho attracts the attention of a talent agency and begins her rise as a model and idol singer.
Fancy Lala is a bit of a departure from the typical magical girl show. So if you like catchy pop music and quality animation, then you might find yourself enjoying this hidden gem!
6. Phantom Thief Jeanne
Maron Kusakabe is a gymnast at her high school. One day she is visited by an angel who tasks her with collecting God’s power, which has been scattered throughout the earth.
To achieve this, the angel gives Maron the ability to transform into the reincarnation of Jeanne D’Arc. With this power, she hunts demons that have been sealed within works of art.
Because the art disappears after the demons are defeated, Maron becomes known as the “Phantom Thief.” Further complicating matters, Maron has close relationships with the people who seek to stop her from “stealing” these works of art.
5. Mysterious Thief Saint Tail
Meimi Haneoka is an average 14-year old girl who attends St. Paulias Private School. But at night, she transforms into Saint Tail, the magical thief.
Meimi was born with her father’s magical powers and inherited her mother’s abilities as a thief. She uses these powers to galavant about as a magical phantom thief who rights wrongs (often by retrieving stolen items back for their original owners).
Although her intentions are good, one of her classmates has resolved himself to track down the mysterious Saint Tail. Further complicating matters, a budding romance develops between Meimi and her detective classmate.
4. Magic Knight Rayearth
This story begins with Hikaru Shidou visiting Tokyo Tower during a class trip. While there, she meets two other 8th-grade school girls. Like an act of fate, the three strangers are blinded by a flash of light and stolen away by a giant flying fish to the medieval land of Cephiro.
There, Master Mage Clef informs the three girls that they have been summoned to restore peace and balance to the kingdom. He then bestows upon them magic powers, and they take up the mantle of “Magic Knights.”
The girls then set off on an adventure where they grow in their powers and the truth behind the chaos in the kingdom is slowly unraveled.
3. Revolutionary Girl Utena
Utena Tenjou is a tomboy who wears a boy’s uniform and is adored by her female classmates at the Ohtori Academy. And she has resolved herself to become a noble prince after a chance childhood encounter at the funeral for her parents.
One day at the school, Utena witnesses a male student council member mistreating a female classmate. After challenging the male classmate to a duel in the kendo dojo, he invites her to meet him in the forest behind the school.
In the forest, Utena discovers a gate that is opened by a ring given to her by the prince in her childhood. Inside the gate, she finds her male classmate and defeats him in a duel. At this point, Utena learns that she is now the fiance of the rose bride and must defend her standing by winning a series of duels against other classmates and using her power to revolutionize the world.
Although the show has funny moments, it also touches on themes of abuse, depression, and grief. As such, some consider it to be a dark yuri magical girl series.
2. Cardcaptor Sakura
Sakura Kinomoto is a young girl who accidentally releases a set of magical cards known as Clow Cards from a book in her basement. It turns out that the cards were created and named after the ancient Chinese sorcerer Clow Reed, who was known as the greatest magician of all time.
Each card has its own unique ability and can assume an alternate form when activated.
The guardian of the cards, Cerberus (nicknamed Kero), emerges from the book and explains that only a person with magical powers could open the seal, and tells Sakura that she can do magic.
Kero chooses Sakura to retrieve the cards, and she sets off on a global adventure with her best friend to recapture the Clow Cards.
1. Sailor Moon
It should go without saying that Sailor Moon is the top magic girl anime of the 90s. The show is perhaps the most recognized magic girl anime of all time and has spawned many spin-offs and reboots.
The quality of the animation has withstood the test of time and the story is as charming today as it was in the 90s.
Usagi Tsukino, a middle school student, meets Luna, a talking black cat who bestows upon her a magical brooch enabling her to transform into Sailor Moon, the Guardian of Love and Justice.
Facing a global threat, Usagi sets out to assemble a team of fellow Sailor Guardians. Along the way, she meets Ami Mizuno (Sailor Mercury), Rei Hino (Sailor Mars), Makoto Kino (Sailor Jupiter), and Minako Aino (Sailor Venus). And occasionally, they are assisted by the mysterious Tuxedo Mask.
Together, Sailor Moon and the sailor scouts band together to defend the earth and galaxy from the forces of evil.
Now that you’re done, take a stopover at the drunken anime blog to check out the top magical girls of the 90s!
This Post Has 2 Comments
I’m happy to see Fancy Lala on this list. I just finished it last week and I was absolutely blown away by how good it was. More people need to see it!
Also, hi! I just found this site, it’s very well put together and scratches that nostalgia itch I always have. I’m looking forward to reading more articles, they’ve shown me a few anime I wasn’t even aware of, and I’m known as the retro anime nerd in my friend group lol. I need to step up my game.
Hi Austin! Thank you for dropping by and for the wonderful compliments 🙂 I look forward to reading more of your comments on my other posts.
Glad to hear from someone else who loves Fancy Lala, and I agree, it could always do with more attention!