Top 20 Best Magical Girl Anime Of All Time (Ranked)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Beautiful girls who can kick evil’s butt have been empowering young girls since time immemorial. Or at least since the past few decades.
This is why mahou shoujo is one of the most popular anime genres of all time.
Whether you’re a young girl looking for a new role model, or an anime lover looking for a new icon to support, here are my picks for the absolute best magical girl animes you have to check out.
20. Revolutionary Girl Utena
Hailed as a better version of “Evangelion”, Revolutionary Girl Utena deserves a spot on this list simply because of its complex plot and symbolisms.
This means that no matter how many times you watch it, you’ll find different easter eggs each and every time.
If you don’t know anything about this series, well let me enlighten you.
The anime is about Utena, a girl who gets inspired to be a prince after encountering one royalty as a child.
She then meets a damsel who needs saving named Anthy, and vows to protect her. Not your typical princess charming, am I right?
19. Tokyo Mew Mew
From transforming ducks to humans transforming into cat-like creatures, this genre has definitely gone above and beyond the definition of magical girl anime!
And who would have thought that a radioactive spider isn’t the craziest Human DNA fusion we’d ever hear about in our lifetime?
Tokyo Mew Mew is about 5 school girls who got caught up in an earthquake and find themselves bathed in a mysterious light, which makes them turn into Mew mews or heroic cat girls.
To be honest. you might notice that this series is more about science than sorcery.
And for those of you looking for a sequel, it’s only available in manga called Tokyo Mew Mew ala Mode — where they introduce new mew mews and strangely enough, a bunny character!
18. Senki Zesshou Symphogear
If you’re itching for a hybrid anime with all the best parts of a magical girl, idol and mecha anime… well then you should really watch Symphogear!
I admit, it could have been a better series (in terms of production quality and plot later on).
But the transformations are pretty awesome!
My reservations aside, I still recommend this anime for anyone who enjoyed JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and wants to up their ante with singing teenagers and bombastic rocket launchers.
17. Magical Princess Minky Momo
Don’t dismiss this classic magical girl anime because of the old cartoon style.
There’s a reason why the adorable Minky Momo remains a big bop to young anime fans.
Even though it first saw the light of day way back in the ‘80s.
In fact, even if you remember watching this as a kid, a rewatch may still be in order!
You’d be surprised to realize how much of the jokes and puns you missed when you didn’t know any better. *wink*
There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a girl who’s constantly bullied get some dope responsibility to save the world.
If you look at the posters and nothing else, Pretear appears to be your typical bishounen harem.
But really, it’s not!
The Knights are not all in love with the heroine Awayuki Himeno.
Some of them think of her as an elder sister, while others think of her as an equal.
It is a breath of fresh air with just the right mix of drama, action, comedy, and romance. A bit of everything for everyone.
15. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya
Unorthodox title aside, there is nothing remotely generic about Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya.
It may start off like that.
But after a few arcs you get subjected to unwitting philosophy lessons around evey corner.
You’d be questioning what makes a person, and you’ll watch as characters face tough decisions like whether or not they’d be able to destroy all of humanity just for one person.
This is one anime series that will definitely keep you up all night.
14. Houkago no Pleiades
Space. Aliens. Magic. Throw all these elements in a huge pot and let it boil– that’s what Houkago no Pleiades is all about.
If you love mystery and guessing games, then this show will hook you right in.
For most of it you’ll be wondering what the story is all about– but that’s exactly the charm of this magical girl anime.
While most shows would make great effort to “explain” what’s happening, the makers of Houkago no Pleiades will throw you right in the middle of it all.
So you’ll feel like a wallflower just tagging along into God knows what.
When you finally realize what’s happening though, you’ll surely come to the conclusion that the entire journey was worth it.
13. Black Rock Shooter
Black Rock Shooter gets a lot of bad press. But I sincerely think it deserves better.
Granted, CG animation is really not for everyone.
But if you look past that you’ll find an intricate storyline revolving around our black-haired heroine with the mysterious blue eyes and cannons that can shoot rocks (hence the title).
It’s all sorts of weird and crazy, which is exactly why you have to give it a try!
12. Magic Knight Rayearth
This 90s anime is much like a good wine that has aged quite well over the years.
Sure, so many series right now probably have a much more expensive and colorful animation style.
But Magic Knight Rayearth has its own charm: injecting realism to the world of magical anime.
And by realism I mean suffering, adversity, and blood. I
t is not a gory anime.
But the magical knights do bleed, lose, and suffer.
Plus there’s an interesting reveal going on in terms of the villain in the story and the series’ damsel in distress.
Better to just watch the series and see it all for yourself.
11. Little Witch Academia
There’s something irresistible about a rookie, clumsy witch who hasn’t quite discovered the limits of her powers yet.
Yes, the best part about Little Witch Academia is how lovable all of its characters are.
Every single witch has her own standalone character development and I love that about this show.
Even if the show is mostly silly and sometimes funny, you’ll find yourself feeling deeply for each of the witches, cheering on their successes and crying when they get their knees bruised.
10. Pretty Cure
With over 600 episodes to its name, what kind of otaku doesn’t know Pretty Cure?
Well, I can forgive you if you’re a newbie.
So here’s the premise: Japanese school girls are given the power to become warriors known as Precure.
It sounds kinda generic but it has gone in many different ways since its conception in 2004.
What’s your favorite season?
I recommend starting with either HeartCatch, Smile!, or Go! Princess Precure.
9. Sugar Sugar Rune
You wouldn’t expect anything deep from an anime that’s set in what appears to be a world full of cotton candy, right?
And that’s exactly why Sugar Sugar Rune will catch you off-guard.
Kids nowadays have movies like ‘Inside Out’ to help them sort through different emotions.
When I was a kid, I had Sugar Sugar Rune. It was my introductory course to the complexity of human emotions.
The storyline is surprisingly consistent, and before you know it you’ll be swept away, investing a whole lot of emotions into the journey of two witches who are out there collecting hearts.
8. Ojamaju Doremi
Fun, lighthearted, and endearing, Ojamaji Doremi deserves to be ranked so high because of its fresh takes on witches.
Witches seem to always have these great quests and adventures to go on.
But the ones in Ojamaju Doremi are sometimes seen doing mundane stuff, safe and carefree in their own little world.
In effect, there’s not a lot of fighting.
It’s basically a slice-of-life for mahou sojou fans who are just so tired of girls having to save the world.
After all, sometimes girls just want to have fun right?
7. Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu puts a literal spin on the magical girl genre as the protagonist Ahiru is not your typical clumsy girl.
Nope she’s not a hero.
But she is definitely a magical being.
Much like the story of the ugly duckling who turns into a pretty swan, Princess Tutu is actually about a duck who transforms into a talented prima ballerina, who helps people through her awesome dance moves!
And of course, Princess Tutu has a mission: to collect her beloved’s heart.
Innocent, fun, and a perfect mix of comedy, action, and romance.
Princess Tutu is a good watch for anyone who wants to enjoy a classic anime tale.
6. Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch
Cards on the table, the story line of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch (and what about that title, huh) is messy.
The goal is to unite the seven sea princesses, but for most of the show it’s just the three main girls Lucia, Hanon, and Rina fighting villains with their high-pitched voices.
In this anime, the singing is the fighting. It’s chaotic, scattered, and unapologetically cheesy.
But I’m willing to ignore all of that to rank it high up here because of its incredible entertainment factor.
Prepare to sing along to some of the catchiest songs to have ever been written for an anime and buckle up for an exciting journey underwater.
The last time I watched an episode was 11 years ago, but I still have all the words memorized.
This is the unparalleled influence of Mermaid Melody: Pichi Pichi Pitch.
5. Shugo Chara
Shugo Chara is a prime example of a weird magical girl anime that does not rely on traditional outfits and transformation sequences.
But it certainly deserves a spot on this list for its interesting plot.
It’s all about a girl named Amu who meets her Guardian Characters. Together they help Amu understand her would-be self and gives her the courage to reach her full potential.
This series will help anyone who wants to explore their true selves on the path of improvement and growing up.
4. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
Nanoha’s adventure begins when she finds an injured ferret named Yuuno one day after school… who happens to be an archaeologist from another world!
Yuuno gives Nanoha a red jewel that enables her to transform and use magic.
Then this creature tells her to collect the rest of the jewels scattered across the world. (Something tells me I heard of this before… in terms of cards?)
Although Nanoha’s story starts off like a typical magical anime, it eventually evolves into a much darker, complicated story full of plot twists and side characters you’ll grow to love.
While this anime appeals mostly to an older audience, no one is stopping younger kids from enjoying the series.
Unlike Puella Magi Madoka Magica!
3. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Speaking of the devil…
If you’re tired of the cutesy transformations and the child-friendly plot of a lot of magical girl anime, then maybe it’s best to turn your attention here to Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
This specific series challenges every preconceived notion you may have of what a magical girl is.
Yeah, it still has that cheerful character design and that usual premise.
But after a few episodes of Madoka, you will come to learn that it isn’t anything like that.
So if you’re looking for something to watch with your younger siblings, maybe check out the next choice on my list.
However if you’re up for truth bombs and the darker side of magic then this is a must-watch.
2. Cardcaptor Sakura
CardCaptor Sakura is one of the most popular and successful series that has managed to retain its popularity across generations.
The story follows the typical life of 10-year-old Sakura Kinomoto with a crush on her brother’s friend.
But everything changes when Sakura accidentally releases magical and powerful Clow Cards.
After that, she was of course obligated to return them all back. Thus being a “Card Captor”.
This is a beginner-friendly series that will introduce you to the genre and all its craziness: transformations, classical elements, and magical sidekicks like Keroberos.
I cannot recommend this highly enough for anyone who loves the magical girl vibe.
1. Sailor Moon
Believe me, I wanted to be all unique with this ranking. So I thought long and hard about any other magical girl anime that could top Sailor Moon.
But it’s impossible.
As one of the pioneers of the genre itself, Sailor Moon set such a high standard for what a magical anime should be about.
The original ‘Sailor Moon’ franchise ran for about 200 episodes and had three movies, several specials, plus a live-action TV series to boot!
For those of you who might be too young to know about this show, Sailor Moon revolves around the story of ordinary school girls who transform into magical heroes destined to ward off evil. Wearing nothing less than cute schoolgirl outfits.
It’s magnificent, in every sense of that word.
And if you’re into the genre then you have to check out the Sailor Moon fandom(assuming you haven’t already!)