Guest Post by Rowegn (blogger at, your resource for 90s Anime).

There’s hardly an anime fan alive who isn’t aware of the classic magic girl anime, Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura. And it’s hard to argue that any decade surpasses the 90s when it comes to magical girl anime.

At this point, it may seem cliché, but there is something mesmerizing about a transformation sequence that sees an average everyday girl unlock her potential and save the day. So, if you’re looking for adventures in friendship and self-discovery, then magic girl anime might be right up your alley!

So who are the best magic girl heroines of the 90s? Read on and find out!

5. Meimi Haneoka – Mysterious Thief Saint Tail 

By day, 14-year-old Meimi Haneoka is just your average everyday girl who attends St. Paulia’s Private School. But at night, she becomes the mysterious and magical thief, Saint Tail.

Saint Tail uses her power to steal treasured items from thieves and return them to their original owners. And she does all of this without the expectation of a reward or acknowledgment of her good deeds.

With a classmate detective always hot on her trail, Meimi masterfully balances her Robinhood-Meets-Sailor-Moon secret lifestyle while dealing with the trappings of teenage life and developing love interest.

4. Hikaru Shidou – Magic Knight Rayearth  

During a class trip to Tokyo Tower, Hikaru Shidou and two other schoolgirls suddenly find themselves transported to the magical world of Cephiro upon the back of a giant flying fish. Upon arrival, Hikaru and her traveling companions learn about the kingdom’s plight and volunteer to take on the responsibility of becoming “Magic Knights.”

Hikaru’s background as an exceptional fencer and her headstrong and enthusiastic attitude allow her to settle in as the group leader. And during their travels, she must contend with deception, loss, and betrayal.

Despite this, Hikaru proves to be a capable leader, and the three heroes grow in friendship during their travels to save the princess of the kingdom.

3. Sakura Kinomoto – Cardcaptor Sakura 

After opening a mysterious book in her basement, 10-year-old Sakura is shocked to discover that she has just unleashed the magical “Clow Cards” upon the world. Cerberus, the guardian of the cards, then reveals to Sakura that she has magical powers and is chosen to retrieve the cards.

Sakura accepts her responsibility and sets out on a global adventure to recapture the Clow Cards. To do this, she must battle magical creatures and reveal the secrets of the cards.

Along the way, Sakura’s optimistic and trustworthy personality allows her to make new friends and allies in a bid to save the planet from a catastrophe.

2. Utena Tenjou – Revolutionary Girl Utena  

After losing her parents at a young age, Utena Tenjou hides away at their funeral and is found by a traveling prince who gives her a rose crested ring and a promise to one day meet again. This kind and generous gesture inspires Utena to one day become a prince herself.

Later on, at the Ohtori Academy, Utena is challenged to a duel by a student council member. After defeating her opponent, Utena learns that she has become the fiancé of the “Rose Bride,” Anthy Himemya. This sets off a series of duels against other students wherein Utena must defend her standing as the Rose Bride’s fiancé and use her power to “revolutionize the world.”

Utena slowly uncovers the secrets behind the “end of the world” and the floating castle through duels and other events. She also resolves herself against manipulation and to protect Anthy from her abusive would-be-suitors.

1. Usagi Tsukino – Sailor Moon  

On her way home from school, Usagi Tsukino happens upon a group of cruel children who are torturing a cat. After running the children off, she discovers that the cat has a crescent moon on its forehead.

The cat later reveals that it can talk and informs Tsukino that she is the guardian of love and justice, Sailor Moon. Soon thereafter, a local jewelry store is attacked by an evil youma, and Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon to save the day.

Initially, Usagi displays an immature and cheerful outward demeanor, but over time she shows that she is kind, courageous, and strong.  And at times, Usagi finds that trying to maintain her life as an average middle-schooler is at odds with her role of a planetary guardian.

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9 thoughts

  1. I love the magical girl genre in the 90s (and still do). I was like 4 or 5 years old back then and I remember how much I consumed this genre because I though of how cool they were. I remember I would play pretend with my cousins and be one of these characters especially Sailor Moon. Even though I still like the magical girl genre and the present magical girl series, for some reason the magical girls in the 90s just feels really different to me.

    Also like that Saint Tail is in it. I only knew about it a few years later, but was instantly hooked as soon as I watched it. It’s too bad I could only find like 3-4 VHS tapes of it so I couldn’t watch the whole series.

  2. Glad to see the magical girl genre getting a bit of a resurgence, although a lot of the recent manga are just sequels versus new titles.

    Also nice to see St. Tail on there. Especially cool since technically she doesn’t have any special powers and she is mostly a solo act.

  3. Ah, I remember the 90s when anime was available only on TV. Cardcaptor Sakura was God Tier back then. I wasn’t even in school and didn’t know much, but it just hit so different from other animated shows available.

    Also from that era (not on TV) I’ll always remember Ninja Scroll (1993). I saw it much later, of course, but damn it left an impression on me. Wild times… ¬‿¬

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