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Magical girl

Magical girls (mahou shoujo) belong to a sub-genre of Japanese shoujo anime and manga. Magical-girl stories feature young girls with superhuman abilities who are forced to fight evil and protect the Earth. Notable examples include Card Captor Sakura and Sailor Moon.

Magical girls generally obtain their powers from some sort of enchanted object such as a pendant, a wand, or a ribbon. By concentrating on this object, a girl undergoes an intricate transformation sequence and changes to her fully powered form. A major theme of magical-girl stories is learning to harness these powers and develop them fully. Teams of magical girls often learn to combine their powers to perform massive, super-charged attacks. Powers or no powers, though, magical girls are rarely pushovers even in mundane form, as they tend to learn ordinary acrobatics and martial arts to supplement their supernatural talents.

Magical girls are not alone in their adventures. They occasionally receive the help of mysterious, magical boys. These boys sometimes disdain their female counterparts, but other times, they show romantic interest in one of the girls (or vice-versa). Another common ally is some sort of talking animal sidekick with magical powers of its own. These pets rarely participate in combat; instead, they offer advice and help train the girls in the use of their abilities.

Much of the magical girls' time is spent trying to keep their powers and their mundane identities secret. The reasons for this vary; perhaps they wish to keep their friends and family hidden from their enemies, or maybe they enjoy the thrill and the freedom their secret identities grant them -- traditional Japanese ideals of womanhood have little to do with running around fighting evil in skimpy outfits. Other times, magical girls may simply be too embarrassed to let their friends and family know about their secret powers; perhaps it is their fault that the evil they fight escaped into the world in the first place, or maybe they don't want anyone to see them in their silly costumes. However, despite their best attempts to keep their normal and supernatural lives separate, strange events tend to occur to magical girls in mundane life with alarming regularity, forcing them to transform and fight.

Magical girl stories tend to be upbeat and cheerful. The characters fight for idealistic causes such as love, peace, hope, and beauty -- never for revenge. By forming teams, the heroins learn the values of friendship and cooperation[?]. Even the magical girls' enemies leave them alone most of the time; the girls are the ones who pursue the enemies and attempt to thwart their plans. The genre may seem silly at first glance, but it can be intriguing due to the contrasts and conflicts the magical girls represent, caught up as they are between the masculine and feminine, childish and mature, helpless and powerful.



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