Welcome to Henshins Magical Girls Blog’s third theme week! This week we will not focus on a single series, as we have before, but on a category of works: magical girl video games.
The bond between magical girls and video games might have had its roots in 1992, with Naoko Takeuchi’s seminal Sailor Moon. The early arcs of this series are permeated with a love of gaming: Usagi models her crime-fighting persona off the heroine of her favorite video game; she has a crush on the boy who works at the local arcade; she wins new weapons as game prizes. Games are one of the few things that the directionless Usagi is passionate about at the manga’s beginning. Takeuchi, writing about the idea behind the series, specifically lists games as a key influence on the story: “I really wanted to write a story with a sexy girl, a good-looking guy, some romance, video games, and cute school uniforms!” Sailor Moon does indeed have a video game sensibility that later “fighting magical girl” series inherited: the heroine blows through stages of pesky monsters, minor villains and finally the all-powerful boss in a distinctly Nintendo-esque succession.
After Sailor Moon, video games starring magical girls grew more plentiful, including spinoffs of older franchises like Cutie Honey and Creamy Mami, and, of course, the endless Sailor Moon game tie-ins. However, original video games starring magical girls also emerged. One of the earliest was the Makeruna! Makendo franchise (1993, pictured.) The original game stars a magical girl with kendo-themed powers battling supernatural creatures in a side-scrolling platformer system reminiscent of the 80s’ Valis the Fantasm Soldier, or, indeed, the fictional Sailor V game. Later additions to the franchise would branch out and stage themselves as fighting games and RPGs. Each successive game introduced new magical girls, who proved quite popular— popular enough to warrant an OVA spinoff.
Many of these quirky little games and spinoff series have been buried over the decades, but hopefully this week we shall be able to uncover a few.