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In Japan, the extended growth-to-maturity metaphor Magical Girl archetype can mean a variety of things; some do more than use their powers to improve or complicate their lives. Some go out and battle Dramatic Evil, usually with a lot of mystic firepower and weird outfits (usually a glammed-up Mini-Dress of Power) and called attacks. This is not magic for magic's sake; the character rarely finds this enjoyable but gets morally cowed into it.
The action-oriented Magical Girl Warriors have the extra bonus of appeal to male demographics, so they can be very lucrative; in this case they often resemble Distaff Counterparts of Japanese superheroes, particularly Sentai and other Henshin Hero characters. Importers of Magical Girl series to the West tend to favor these characters, so Magical Girl Warriors tends to become the established trope over Cute Witches.
Anime and Manga
- The earliest prototype was Go Nagai's Cutey Honey franchise, which slowly mutated and grew to have an unexpected female fanbase whenever the Fan Service level fluctuated heavily.
- Pretty much cemented by the enormous popularity of Sailor Moon, which introduced the Sentai elements to the genre.
- Currently, the most popular show of this type in Japan appears to be Futari wa Pretty Cure and its sequels/spin-offs.
- Parodied in the Seinen series Pretty Sammy.
- Parodied also within the Shojo demographic with Ai to Yuuki no Pig Girl Tonde Buurin about a girl who transforms into a superpowered.... pig.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena particularly embodies the "growing up as a struggle" metaphor, with the added bonus of Gnostic metaphor thrown in for good measure. This was emphasized way more in the anime than in the manga, however.
- Wedding Peach
- Tokyo Mew Mew
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is a Seinen example that starts as a standard Magical Girl Warrior anime then takes a more militaristic bent after its first season. Contrary to the trope description, Nanoha thoroughly enjoys using her magical abilities to befriend the living hell out of people.
- In the StrikerS season, the girls are in a military, so they are literal magical girl warriors.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is a cross of this and Magic Idol Singer.
- Shikabane Hime is a rather dark variant - the magical girls are undead corpses who must kill 108 other corpses in order to get into Heaven. Also, they use guns.
- Mahou Sensei Negima has many examples.
- Mai-HiME and Mai-Otome. Both have strong elements of Deconstruction.
- Cyber Team in Akihabara
- Black Rock Shooter
- Devil Hunter Yohko
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which viciously deconstructs the idea of young girls fighting eldritch horrors in their spare time.
- Kamichama Karin
- Nurse Angel Ririka SOS, considered a forerunner to Nanoha.
- Sweet Valerian features three girls who transform into superpowered monster-fighting bunny rabbits.
- Kämpfer adds a Gender Bender twist - main character Natsuru turns into a girl whenever he transforms.
- Cardcaptor Sakura has elements of this; Sakura's mission is to capture all Clow Cards, sometimes using direct combat, sometimes by using other means. In later seasons after she capture all cards, she must turn the cards into her own cards, by applicating it in various task, often involving some kind of combat.
- Shugo Chara
- Corrector Yui
- Magic Knight Rayearth crosses this with Swords and Sorcery.
- Invoked in Mao-chan, where aliens Earth is being invaded by aliens so cute that figthing them is viewed as bullying, forcing the heads of Japan's defense forces to have their cute granddaughters fight the aliens.
- Makeruna Makendo adds a kendo theme.
- Hyper Speed GranDoll is a very close follower of Sailor Moon, except with more of a sci-fi feel.
- Dream Hunter Rem is one of the earliest examples.
- Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel
- Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya comes courtesy of the Nasuverse.
- Magical Canan actually uses this term to describe their magical girls (Mahou Senshi.)
- Fushigiboshi no Futagohime starts of as a Cute Witch series before becoming this.
- Senki Zesshou Symphogear follows in the footsteps of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch by crossing this Magic Idol Singer.
- Himiko, and Kosumo via organ donation, in Towa Kamo Shirenai.
- Possibly originated with comic book superheroine Mary Marvel in 1942.
- WITCH, with less Sailor Moon-esque cutesiness.
- Wonder Woman has resembled with at times, with her magic origins, Transformation Sequence and such.
- Zatanna, especially in recent years, has become more like this.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Nonoko temporarily acts as one, equipped with Kyon's Badass Longcoat Longcoat and Morph Weapons.
- Most mages from Avalon: Web of Magic, but Adriane (the designated 'warrior mage') especially.
- Keeah of The Secrets of Droon.
- Sophie of Sophie And The Shadow Woods.
- In High School Girls RPG, you have the Magical Girl extension allowing you to play just that type of character.
- If you think about it, Final Fantasy X 2 presents a Video Game example.
- Mystica from Fading Hearts. Ryou meets her in the forest while he is fighting shadow monsters.
- El Goonish Shive: In the later comics Elliot gains a super-heroine spell after already having the ability to shapeshift into virtually any conceivable female human form including transformation of clothes.
- Fey of the Whateley Universe. Down to the backstory, the ancient Faerie who rides along in her head, her ability to summon armor magically, and a magical battle in Boston in which she and The Necromancer spent most of the fight trying to intimidate each other by calling their attacks.
- Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders
- The Powerpuff Girls
- Tenko and the Guardians of the Magic's Tenko and her friends.
- She Ra Princess of Power is an early one, and many fans argue that her brother He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a Rare Male Example.
- Winx Club is an academy of this.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is essentially Magical Girl Warrior Ponies, but outside the season premires it ignores most of the warrior aspects and mostly it's Magical Girl Slice of Life. With ponies!