Most will say the first magical girl was Sally from Toei Animation’s Sally the Witch (1966).
But I will always say it was Akko from Toei’s Himitsu no Akko-chan (1969).
Akko-chan was created by Fujio Akatsuka, the same mangaka who created Osomatsu-kun.
Akko-chan’s manga was created and published from 1962 to 1965, which was before the premiere of the original Sally animated series and correlating manga that both came out in 1966. It wasn’t until the Akko-chan TV series premiered that Akko was heralded as the “second” magical girl.
But here’s why I really don’t think Sally should count as the start of the genre. Sally is a magical girl, literally. She’s a witch. While Akko is a magical girl that was the trend setter for the genre.
Akko’s powers are given to her, she’s not born with them. Her powers are not just general magic. She has the ability to transform to look like anyone else, in other words, she must balance multiple identities when using her powers. She transforms using a magical compact mirror by saying her catch phrase.
Akko is the first magical girl in the sense of what we think of as a magical girl in anime, then add that her character and story were conceived and distributed before Sally’s.
Both Sally and Akko are obscure in America, so I think many western fans are shown the black and white footage from Sally and just accept that that must be where the genre was first conceived.
While in Japan, Sally had a successful show but did not reach the heights the Akko-chan franchise did. Three TV anime series and three movies all spanning over the decades from the original 60s show to a 2012 live action movie.
Akko’s popularity and influence far surpasses Sally’s. It makes more sense to trace the genre back to Akko.
While Kiki and the girls from Little Witch Academia are magical girls in there own right, when anime fans hear “Magical Girl” they think transformations via magical compacts and other accessories, not so much broomsticks and bed knobs. Sally made it onto TV before Akko, but I think it makes more sense to call Akko the first magical girl that sparked the genre we’ve come to know and love.
[This post was originally posted: Feb, 20th 2016 on the Otaple 1/2 Tumblr]