Ria is an avid anime and sci-fi fan who loves gushing about her latest favorite shows.
Even since 2011's smash hit Puella Magi Madoka Magica, fans have been begging for more of the magical girl series' dark drama and stunning animation. A movie series was released a few years later, but fans were still left wanting more.
The Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story mobile game became a smash hit, though, so it makes sense that studio Shaft is creating a spin-off anime. Though the plot of the mobile game is somewhat less depressing than the plot of the original PMMM anime, the trailer for the Magia Record anime seems relatively dramatic.
If you like dark and magical series focusing on a female cast, here are ten more recommended series for you.
Yuki Yuna is a Hero
If you prefer the lighter tone of Magia Record to the original PMMM anime, then Yuki Yuna is perfect for you. The five main characters of Yuki Yuna have to battle magical creatures in a way that is very similar to that of Magia Record, and face high stakes that aren't as lethal as in the original PMMM.
In addition to the first Yuki Yuna TV anime, there have been two additional short spin-offs and a movie. There are also light novels and manga adaptations. Some of the spin-offs focus on supporting characters, so the series overall is great for fans who enjoy getting to know side characters.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
This classic series is less about magic and is more about swords, rivalries, and metaphors. The main characters relationship evolves in subtle ways over the course of the show, and it's worth watching a second time to see what you missed the first time through. It's a great show to watch if you loved Sayaka and Kyoko's relationship in the original PMMM, or if you enjoy the more dysfunctional characters in Magia Record. Its surreal animation is also a treat for fans of Shaft, though it's old enough that it's no longer as visually stunning.
The series has 39 episodes and a movie retelling, and no new material has been created since the late '90s. It still has a cult following among female anime fans in both Japan and the West, though. Since the series is a little more adult than most magical girl series, some of the later episodes may be a little surprising, but it's a truly memorable coming-of-age story.
This early 2000s underrated gem is a great magical girl anime for fans who want something lighter than the original PMMM. It's similar to the Magia Record mobile game in terms of characters and tone. Each girl in the series transcends tropes and is memorable in her own way. It starts a little slow and focuses too much on slice-of-life school stories at times, but the plot twists throughout the show are excellent.
The Mai-Hime anime ran for 26 episodes, and it wraps up its plot quite nicely in that time. A manga and visual novel also exist, though the visual novel has a dramatically different plot. There is also an alternate universe spin-off called Mai-Otome that has a few new characters, but it isn't as good as the original.
This magical girl anime is a little more fairytale-like than PMMM, and has heavy romance themes throughout. However, it's a great show for anime fans who like a little bit of dark surrealism in their fantasy anime, especially since its animation is very smooth for its time. Though the plot moves a little slowly at times, its endearing characters make it well worth it. Princess Duck will definitely remind viewers of Madoka.
At just 24 episodes long, Princess Tutu's story wraps up neatly. Unfortunately, there is no other material in this franchise, and interest in the show has died out enough that a sequel or spin-off is unlikely. However, this classic series is the perfect show to marathon over a long weekend.
Sailor Moon Sailor Stars
The original Sailor Moon anime was the product of an entirely different era of magical girl anime. In some ways, it was excellent, but it usually ended up being far too episodic. Sailor Moon Crystal uses the plot of the original manga to tell the story much more quickly, and ends up struggling with pacing and character development at times.
If you love how the Magia Record mobile game gives side characters a chance to shine, the classic Sailor Moon anime is definitely a better choice for you. Out of all of the classic Sailor Moon seasons, Stars is the most mature and gripping in terms of overall drama and high stakes. It's worth giving a try even if the other seasons of Sailor Moon didn't manage to hold your interest.
Magical Girl Raising Project
If you loved the grimdark atmosphere of the original PMMM, then Magical Girl Raising Project probably a better choice for you than Yuki Yuna. It has the same large cast of characters as Magia Record, but with a more sinister edge to it. Though the characters aren't as rich and deep as those of Magia Record, some of the main cast is still memorable and likable.
Magical Girl Raising Project only has 12 episodes, and it feels a little incomplete at the end. However, it's based off of a much longer light novel series that is being translated into English by Yen Press. The light novel series gives much more depth to the 16 magical girls featured in the TV series.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Violence warning! Higurashi (or When They Cry as it was called in the U.S.) is hard to explain without spoiling anything, but it has more in common with the original PMMM series than you think. This dark horror anime has a fantasy twist underneath. If you love Homura, you'll definitely appreciate Higurashi's second season, titled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai. This series also has complex characters and excellent plot twists, making it a great choice for anyone who can stomach the violence and torture scenes.
The original Higurashi series ran for 52 episodes. Though the first season is somewhat repetitive and slow at times, stick with it - the second season makes it all worth it. There are also a few side story OVAs and manga adaptations that are surprisingly good, plus the original visual novel series.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
The classic A Certain Scientific Railgun is a spinoff of another show, A Certain Magical Index, but you don't need to have seen Index to appreciate Railgun. The main characters have various magical abilities and use them to fight bad guys while attending school. The setting and premise are actually well thought-out, and main character Mikoto is tomboyish yet relatable. It's definitely more lighthearted than PMMM, but it has its emotional moments too.
The first Railgun anime aired in 2009, with a second season, an OVA, and a manga all scattered throughout the past ten years. A third season of the anime will begin airing in January 2020, too! Now's the best time to get caught up and plugged into this popular franchise. If you really like the worldbuilding, the original A Certain Magical Index anime and light novels are also good.
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha
The massive Nanoha franchise, which is itself a spin-off of an obscure visual novel, starts with a small cast and explodes into multiple spin-offs and extended universes that barely feature the original protagonists. The magical worldbuilding in the franchise slowly becomes more complex over time, and surpasses that of the Madoka franchise. Main characters Nanoha and Fate don't change much in terms of personality, but it's still refreshing to watch them grow and mature over multiple series.
The first series is just 13 episodes and is fairly standard magical girl fare. The second series, Nanoha A's, is a step above the original and has some incredibly memorable character development as more characters are introduced. The later series and spin-offs become a little dull, though StrikerS is nice to watch if you care to see Nanoha and Fate as adults and can deal with a drawn-out plot. There are also multiple movie retellings of the first two series, with improved animation and slightly altered plots.
Mahou Shoujo-tai Arusu
This hidden gem, which was renamed Tweeny Witches in the U.S., is a short yet fun romp through an unusual magical world. The animation style may be unusual, but it's still a joy to watch. Main character Arusu is fairly well-rounded, but the world around her is even more interesting and complex.
With 40 half-length episodes and 6 half-hour OVA episodes, this series doesn't have enough time to really dive into its worldbuilding. It's a nice story overall, though, so check it out if you love magical girl anime with witches and fairies.