What are majokko manga and anime?

What are majokko manga and anime?

Love, magic, dreams and metamorphosis: these are the perfect ingredients for the so-called majokko. The world of anime and manga is so varied that it offers its audience an innumerable amount of stories and tales for all ages. We have already talked about shoujo manga, aimed at a childish and adolescent female audience. The majokko fit right into this broad spectrum. But what exactly are they? What are the main characteristics to distinguish them from other genres and sub-genres? It will be useful to review their history and their best-known works.

What are majokko manga and anime?

What does the term majokko mean? A bit of history The main sub-genres How to tell if a manga is a majokko? The most famous majokko

What does the term majokko mean?

When we talked about shoujo, we specified that the term doesn't really indicate a genre but a reference target. Therefore, it is for this reason that different genres coexist within them: one of the most widespread is certainly the majokko, i.e. the manga / anime of a purely magical and fantastic nature. The term majokko literally means "little witch"; it is also called mahou shoujo, which means "magic girl". This widespread genre was born from the fusion of comedy and fantasy and combines romantic and sentimental themes for girls with magical elements.

A bit of history

The birth of the shoujo dates back to the 60s. Up until that moment, in the first post-war period, the manga for girls had the task of educating them on a sentimental and sexual level, making a clear distinction from the male audience. But in the 1960s the world of manga changed, as did its audience: women had more autonomy and greater purchasing power, and the Japanese market focused much more on shoujo, also setting aside the educational purpose and focusing more about entertainment. Osamu Tezuka , considered the father of modern manga with Treasure Island of '47, again makes a fundamental contribution with The Sapphire Princess . A work very dear to the young public because it mixes male and female identity and sexuality.

The Sapphire Princess At this point, we can say that mahou shoujo was born in 1966: the mangaka Mitsuteru Yokoyama publishes the first volume of Mahōtsukai Sari. In the same year, Toei Animation produces the first television series destined to inspire many subsequent works. We are talking about Sally the sorceress, but we have to wait until 1982 before the episodes of the anime are broadcast in Italy, on the Italia 1 channel. From this moment, the image of the young witch becomes very popular among the public, especially the female one, so much so that there is a continuous contamination between the Eastern and Western worlds - think of Bewitched (1964 - 1972), a very popular television series also in Japan, known by the name of Oku-sama wa Majo ).

Majokko got a great response from the public in the 80s and 90s. Naoko Takeuchi's manga, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (1991), is destined to leave a new mark on Japanese tradition, redefining many fundamental characteristics – which we will see later. In the decades just following, thanks to television, numerous animated adaptations brought an ever wider audience closer to mahou shoujo, with a real boom in the early 2000s.

The main sub-genres

Based on the typology of protagonists, in mahou shoujo it is possible to trace three sub-genres: little witches , little wizards and heroines .

Little witches : They are girls with supernatural powers since birth, not belonging to the terrestrial world. They often work their magic through an item, but that's not a requirement. In this sub-genre, the theme of the mission is alive, a goal that the protagonists want or must achieve. An example is Sally the sorceress .

Sally the sorceress Magicians: These are terrestrial girls who are given magical power by supernatural creatures, often through a particular object that transfers its magic to the protagonists. It is precisely through these artifacts that they are "transformed", in a more or less radical way, changing their identity. An example could be The magical world of Gigì , which will be discussed later.

Heroines: They are girls with special powers who have the task of protecting planet Earth from other extraterrestrial creatures. In this subgenre, the powers of the protagonists are not exactly magical, but alien or divine, sometimes technological. Hand in hand with the theme of the mission there is also that of battles and fights, born for noble ends such as peace or love, never for revenge. A sub-group called sentai mono belongs to this sub-genre: we no longer speak of a single protagonist but, literally, of an "attack group". It is therefore the case of Sailor Moon .

This triple distinction, however, is not always categorical. There are, in fact, the so-called hybrids, which combine elements of each sub-genre to create something new and articulated. A valid example is Magica Doremi, in which the magic girls join the mono sentai of the heroines.

How to understand if a manga is a majokko ?

As we have seen, for example, for the shonen and the seinen, even the majokko manga and anime clearly have characteristics that are repeated from time to time and which are useful for distinguishing a work of this type from the others, especially within the shoujo spectrum. The main constants are the following:

Magic, fantasy and transformation: As mentioned, the majokko stands out among the shoujo for the fantastic element, which manifests itself through magical powers or objects that generate the transformation of the protagonists. Sometimes fantasy can also embrace science fiction, as in the case of the sub-genre of heroines.

The protagonists: During the early years, a fundamental element was the presence of a single protagonist who, grappling with everyday reality , take advantage of its magical powers. Over time, and in particular with the birth of Sailor Moon, the single character gives way to a group of "colored" girls, a group of similarly dressed heroines ready to fight evil with their own magic. The multiplicity of characters is always accompanied by a diversified characterization for each girl, almost always according to different stereotypes of young teenagers (the ditzy, the tough, the snob, the clumsy and so on).

The double identity: The transformation of the protagonists ensures that they have a double identity and, consequently, a double life: an ordinary and peaceful one and a magical and eventful second, a dimension through which a mission can be completed. The metamorphosis can both change the age – from a child to a young woman – and reveal a dual nature.

Magic magic Emi The helpers of the protagonists: Whether it is a single young girl or a group, the protagonists of the majokko are very often helped by secondary characters who do not have human features. Generally these are animals, familiars, goblins or bizarre magical creatures with a sweet appearance, capable of speaking like human beings.

The sentimental component: The main protagonist, in her adolescent phase, is often in love with a peer with whom he first tries to establish a friendship. The boy is always unaware of the girl's magical powers.

The most famous majokkos

The magical world of Gigì

Freely inspired by Momotarou's fairy tale, the mahou anime shoujo was broadcast by Japanese TV from 1982 to 1983, branded Ashi Production. The protagonist Minky Momo (Gigì in Italy) is the little princess of the kingdom of Fenarinarsa, a dimension born from the dream world, detached from that of human beings since they stopped dreaming.

The protagonist will be sent on the Terra to solve this tragic problem, and is adopted by a couple of terrestrial parents, together with some cute little animals, adventure companions. Thanks to a wand, she can turn into an adult woman and help people even more.

The enchanting Creamy

Born as an anime produced by Studio Pierrot, The enchanting Creamy soon comes adapted into a manga published by Kodansha in Japan and by Star Comics in Italy. Yu Morisawa, a 10-year-old girl, one day sees a mysterious ark in the sky that no one else can see. On board she meets the elf Pinopino who gives her a magic wand, which she will have to return after a year. This artifact is able to transform her into a sixteen-year-old with the pseudonym Creamy Mami, a singer destined to become an idol. Thus begins the double life of Yu, who cannot reveal his great secret.

The enchanting Creamy Retrieve our review of the manga Creamy Mami Magical magic Emi

Broadcast from 1985 to 1986, Magica Magica Emi ( Mahou no Star Magical Emi ) is an anime for girls which has become very popular in Italy too with its 38 episodes. Mai Kazuki, 11 years old, dreams of becoming a magician like her idol Emily Howell.

Magic magic Emi Despite being very small, she manages to fulfill her dream thanks to the meeting with Mouse, the elf in the mirror capable of scrutinizing his dreams. When she wants, she can turn into Magical Emi, a teenager ready to establish herself in the world of illusionism. Like the previous examples, a leitmotif is the transformation of a little girl into a young woman, thanks to which the protagonist can accomplish her mission more easily.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

Pioneer of a new way to make majokko, Naoko Takeuchi's Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon manga is the real big draw of the 90s. Usagi is a carefree 14-year-old whose life seems to go by peacefully. One day she comes across a cat, Luna, and from this moment she discovers that she is a Sailor Moon, a warrior of love and justice who, together with other girls just like her, has the task of redesigning the destiny of the entire planet Earth.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Published by Star Comics in Italy between '91 and '97, the work of the “heroines” sub-genre dictates the new fundamental characteristics of mahou shoujo manga . There is not only a child protagonist, but a group of young teenagers who, thanks to the transformation, become skilled colorful warriors. Over the years, five different animated series by Toei Animation were drawn from the manga, along with various feature films.

Buy the first volume of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon New Edition on Amazon Card Captor Sakura

In the late 90s, another magical protagonist is ready to write the history of majokko. The Card Captor Sakura manga, written and illustrated by CLAMP, landed in Kodansha's Nakayoshi magazine in 1996, ending in 2000. Sakura Kinomoto attends the fourth grade. She has been entrusted with a difficult task: to recover some cards scattered around the city, created by a powerful wizard. With new special powers and with the help of Kerberos, keeper of the book in which they were once contained, he will have to ensure that the curse of the broken seal does not cause irreparable damage to humanity.

Card Captor Sakura Again, the two seasons of the Madhouse animated series and several feature films contribute to the fame of the courageous protagonist. The Card Captor Sakura film is available on Anime Generation of Prime Video .

Magica Doremi

From the original title Ojamajo Doremi , the manga by Izumi Todo and illustrated by Shizue Takanashi , author of Hello Spank . It is published in Japan by Kodansha from '99 to 2000 with only 3 volumes. It is taken from the famous Toei Animation television series, born the same year, consisting of four seasons.

Magical Doremi A clumsy elementary school girl named Doremi Harukaze comes across the witch Majo Rika . By mistake of her, during their meeting, Doremi transforms her into a frog and is, unintentionally, recruited to become an apprentice witch. Between exams and tests of magical skills, the protagonist hopes to be fully accepted, in order to then break the curse inflicted on Majo Rika. She will not be alone in this mission.

Tokyo Mew Mew

Tokyo Mew Mew , written by Reiko Yoshida , enjoys the illustrations of the mangaka Mia Ikumi , who sadly passed away last March, even before being able attend the debut of Tokyo Mew Mew New , the remake of the first animated adaptation of 52 episodes (in Italy Mew Mew – Winning Friends ). It is, in fact, Studio Pierrot's anime that made the five protagonists famous among children and pre-adolescent audiences.

Tokyo Mew Mew Strawberry, during a date with the boy whose she is in love, acquires special powers. Her DNA is combined with that of a cat. Thanks to her new powers, she manages to transform into a cat-girl. Become a Mew Mew, champion of justice who will have to protect the Earth from aliens together with four other teenagers who share the same destiny.

Mermaid Melody – Mermaid Princesses

From the original title Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch , this very special majokko manga by Michiko Yokote and Pink Hanamori was born in 2002 and is published in Italy by Play Press. The animated adaptation of SynergySP also finds its fortune in the Western world, thanks to the trend of sirens – think of the Australian TV series H2O .

Nikora and Lucia are two girls who run a public toilet. In reality, they are two beautiful mermaids. Lucia, in her world, is a princess who has a difficult task: to save the seven seas from a terrible threat.

Sugar Sugar Rune

For the subgenre of witches, impossible not to mention Sugar Sugar Rune , manga by Moyoco Year of 2003 published in Italy by Star Comics, which inspired the anime of the same name two years later, broadcast on Italia 1.

Sugar Sugar Rune Chocola and Vanilla they are two young witches from a magical kingdom called Extramondo. They are competing for the title of new queen. Despite the rivalry, the two protagonists have been good friends since birth. To win the challenge, they will have to disguise themselves among human beings by pretending to be two very normal girls, and will have to steal their heart crystals, which contain feelings and emotions. All this will happen with the help of mentor Rockin' Robin and two familiars.

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