Image of Sailor Moon wielding her magic wand from the magical girl anime Sailor Moon
Image via Toei Animation

10 Best Magical Girl Anime, Ranked

Looking for anime about girls with magical gifts? We've got you.

Anime fans love a good Magical Girl anime, especially those of us who grew up looking for TV shows that center the experiences of young women. Young women who happen to have powerful, magical alter-egos, of course. Whether you’re looking to revisit that Sailor Moon nostalgia or are curious to get into magical girl anime for the first time, our list of the best ones around is here to help.

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The 10 Best Magical Girl Anime

While many of us immediately think of Sailor Moon when we think magical girls, the genre offers many options to explore. Here are the most consistently loved fan-favorite magical girl anime so you can pick your next watch.

10. Magic Knight Rayearth

The three main characters of Magic Knight Rayearth
Image via Tokyo Movie Shinsha

While Magic Knight Rayearth had a relatively short two-season run, the series has nevertheless cultivated a fan following.

This magical girl anime follows three eighth-grade girls who are transported from their lives in Japan to a mysterious and magical world called Cephiro. Once there, they learn they’ve been summoned to help save the world, stepping into the role of Legendary Magic Knights to save the captured Princess.

9. Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Image of two of the main characters from the Yuki Yuna is a Hero Magical Girl Anime
Image via Project 2H

With a third season released as recently as 2021, Yuki Yuna is a Hero is a more recent addition to the magical girl anime universe.

Set on a fictional island, Yuki Yuna is a Hero centers on the Sanshu Middle School Hero Club. These girls are dedicated to helping out others in need, but didn’t quite expect that to mean becoming magical heroes protecting the world from supernatural forces.

8. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha

Screenshot from the anime Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, showing the main character using their magic wand
Image via Seven Arcs

Despite its origins as a spinoff series, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has become a force in the anime world all its own, with a total of five seasons.

Our protagonist is Nanoha Takamachi, an elementary school student who rescues an injured ferret, only to discover he’s actually a powerful shapeshifter with magical powers. The mage has come to Earth to collect the dangerous Jewel Seeds. Now that he’s injured, the mage recruits his rescuer Nanoha to help collect the seeds, granting her a magical wand that imbues her with powers.

7. Princess Tutu

Screenshot from the anime Princess Tutu Magical Girl Anime, showing the main character as a ballet dancer
Image via Hal Film Maker

This ballet-inspired anime has two seasons and a unique storyline to entice fans.

In Princess Tutu, a duck is transformed into a mythical ballerina called Princess Tutu. Her mission is to save the shattered heart of a fairytale prince, who she fell in love with. She is granted the ability to transform into a human girl and a magical ballerina and the mission to recover the fragments of Prince Mytho’s heart.

6. Revolutionary Girl Utena

Screenshot from the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena, showing Utena looking concerned
Image via J.C. Staff

Revolutionary Girl Utena was created in part by one of the directors from Sailor Moon, who wanted to make something where he had a bit more creative control. The show has three story arcs and is beloved for its LGBTQ+ themes and avant-garde tone.

Our protagonist, Utena, was gifted a signet ring by a visiting prince, which inspired her to want to become a prince herself. As a teenager, she enters a sword dueling tournament and soon discovers others have signet rings just like hers. Soon, she is drawn into a bigger and more dangerous plot.

5. Gushing Over Magical Girls

Image of the protagonist of Gushing Over Magical Girls, looking menacing
Image via Asahi Production

Gushing Over Magical Girls is a more recent addition to the genre, with 13 episodes running at the start of 2024.

Introverts who grew up watching magical girl anime will see themselves in the protagonist of Gushing Over Magical Girls, Utena Hiiragi. Utena is offered magical powers, but she soon realizes it’s as an evil general, not a savior of the world. She finds herself battling against the magical girls she once idolized but realizes she just might enjoy it.

4. Symphogear

Screenshot of a battle scene in the anime Symphogear
Image via Satelight & Encourage Films

This short-running series has only 13 episodes but has garnered a dedicated fanbase nonetheless.

As the name suggests, the magical powers in Symphogear are musical ones, specifically in the form of armor imbued with the power of song. Our protagonists are the Symphogear Users, who battle against evil forces who would use the Noise for destruction.

3. Cardcaptor Sakura

Image of the two main characters from the anime Cardcaptor Sakura
Image via Madhouse Studio

If you grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, you no doubt remember Cardcaptor Sakura, which ran on US network WB in the early aughts. The show has a total of three seasons, which were heavily edited and censored when dubbed into English.

Cardcaptor Sakura (known as Cardcaptors in its US version), follows Sakura, who accidentally releases the magical Clow Cards. Her ability to unlock the seal reveals that she has magical powers, and the book’s guardian selects her to track down and retrieve the cards. Before she can seal it, she must battle each card’s personification.

2. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

The three main characters of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica anime
Image via Shaft

Another series with a short run but truly dedicated fans is Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which boasts just 12 episodes.

In this anime, a group of middle school students are offered a magical contract that will turn them into magical girls, tasked with fighting evil witches. As any middle schooler would, they accept, but soon learn that the contract isn’t as straightforward as they initially believed.

1. Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon screenshot, showing Usagi and Luna sleeping, with Usagi's arm over Luna
Image via Toei Animation

Of course, who can forget the most famous magical girl anime of them all? Sailor Moon is one of the most well-known magical girl anime, often cited as an example to explain the genre. As such, it simply must earn the top spot on our list.

Sailor Moon has many iterations, with several anime series and movies to its name in addition to the original manga. In each, the Sailor Guardians / Pretty Guardians must battle evil forces to protect the world and secure the future of the Moon Kingdom.

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Amanda Kay Oaks
Amanda Kay Oaks has been a freelancer writer with The Escapist since February 2024. She's a lifelong gamer with an affinity for Pokemon, RPGs, and cozy games, especially The Sims. Amanda has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, with prior work on pop culture and entertainment at Book Riot, Fanfare, and Gamepur.