Why are most Magical Girl protagonists in Middle School?

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Oct 23, 2014
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#1
If you watched a good amount of anime, chances are, you've seen at least a few Magical Girl shows. Sailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth, Madoka Magica, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Tokyo Mew Mew, The Pretty Cure Franchise. The majority of them have one thing in common, the female protagonists are almost always Middle School students. Yes, no matter how dangerous or sinister a threat the big bad villain is, the fate of the universe always lies in the hands of a group of 13/14 year old girls. Shows with an Elementary School lead like Cardcaptor Sakura are less common, and you'll almost never see a Magical Girl who's in High School. Why do Magical Girl shows set the characters in Middle School?

In my opinion, it's seen as a sweet spot. Middle School in anime at least, is a setting where you can make the protagonists teenagers, but still have them maintain a sense of childishness, possibly one of the reasons Middle schools in Japan still have the Sailor Outfit the standard girls uniform. And since Middle School is typically when kids become more aware of the adult world (Puberty and all that), it make sense to give these characters a sense of adult responsibility, all while still being allowed to wear frills and glitter.

It'd be a bit weird to see a High School girl don the Magical Girl getup, as girls are expected to be more mature by that point, so that's probably why High School protagonists are almost non-existent in the genre. What's interesting is that most similar shows in the US have the characters at High School age, probably because western children look forward to High School more than Middle School.
 
Oct 23, 2014
976
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320 5
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#3
Same reason why battle Shonen mcs are in the 14-15 age range

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True, But I'd say shonen is a bit more diverse with the ages of its protagonists. You have the Jojo's Bizzare Adventure characters who are well into High School, if not past it. Then you have shows like One Piece, Dragon Ball Z, and Fairy Tail, where the main characters don't even go to school at all due to the fantasy settings.
 

TnAdct1

Ravioli, Ravioli
Aug 3, 2002
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Chiyo-chan's America
#5
If you watched a good amount of anime, chances are, you've seen at least a few Magical Girl shows. Sailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth, Madoka Magica, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Tokyo Mew Mew, The Pretty Cure Franchise. The majority of them have one thing in common, the female protagonists are almost always Middle School students. Yes, no matter how dangerous or sinister a threat the big bad villain is, the fate of the universe always lies in the hands of a group of 13/14 year old girls. Shows with an Elementary School lead like Cardcaptor Sakura are less common, and you'll almost never see a Magical Girl who's in High School. Why do Magical Girl shows set the characters in Middle School?

In my opinion, it's seen as a sweet spot. Middle School in anime at least, is a setting where you can make the protagonists teenagers, but still have them maintain a sense of childishness, possibly one of the reasons Middle schools in Japan still have the Sailor Outfit the standard girls uniform. And since Middle School is typically when kids become more aware of the adult world (Puberty and all that), it make sense to give these characters a sense of adult responsibility, all while still being allowed to wear frills and glitter.
I definitely agree that middle school is meant to be a sweet spot as somewhere between childhood and becoming an adult, especially when you're dealing with the frills and glitter. When you see some of the more "sexualized" outfits that some mahou shoujo characters wear, it's usually more comfortable to see someone who is slowly reaching adulthood in Japan wearing this type of outfit than someone who is still in grade school. There's a reason I was initially uncomfortable when an early episode of Sailor Moon SuperS gave Sailor Chibi-Moon a henshin sequence similar to the other Sailor Senshi rather than maintaining the simple "civilian clothes change into sailor outfit" change that I'm used to.
 

CyberCubed

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Sep 25, 2004
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#6
The Sailor Moon girls especially all look like 17-18 year olds. It's extremely weird they're drawn like late teenagers if they're only 14, etc.

Wasn't the artists of the Sailor Moon manga a woman? Doesn't she know what she looked like as a 14 year old?
 

Light Lucario

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May 11, 2007
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#7
The Sailor Moon girls especially all look like 17-18 year olds. It's extremely weird they're drawn like late teenagers if they're only 14, etc.

Wasn't the artists of the Sailor Moon manga a woman? Doesn't she know what she looked like as a 14 year old?
I never thought that they looked that old. They're really tall in both the anime and manga, especially Usagi, but I wouldn't put them any older than fifteen or sixteen based on their designs. They certainly didn't really act like they were nearly adult aged characters, especially in the first couple of seasons.

Besides that, since when do anime/manga designs need to look realistic or in this case have the characters look like semi-realistic teenagers? There are plenty of shonen leads that don't look like regular teenage boys, so getting on the creator of Sailor Moon for this just seems rather questionable at best to me. Given the art style she was going for, she clearly wasn't trying to make the girls look like realistic anyway.
 

jaylop97

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#8
It's usually around this age that has potential to connect with a demographic. Most Middle School settings tend to have more stories to tell and a sense of understanding for the main characters and audience.