What is Mahou Shoujo?
What is Mahou Shoujo?
1 - Emotional growth and expression are primary themes. Emotion is where a magical girl draws her powers, and when her emotions are abnormal, she can often have trouble fighting, or even transforming at all. While a character can actually start out very screwed up and outside the genre norm, the understanding is such characters either improve over time, become outright villains, or perhaps die (for example of the last one, see PMMM). Someone amongst the protagonists needs to have something resembling an ideal, something worth fighting for, a positive final goal - combat for the sake of combat is not what the theme is about. Even the combat parts of the theme are really the conflict of emotions given form.
2 - The notion of an unpowered character doing well in fights against monsters is broadly out of genre, though a character might get away with it incredibly rarely - and always with some mitigating circumstance. While some magical heroes use weapons that might be considered normal (Homura) they do so with such dramatic differences from reality than it’s clear they’re doing more than just firing a weapon; it is assumed on Mahou MUSH even ‘realistic’ weapons (be they guns, swords, or croquet mallets) used by magical heroes carry some sort of magical charge that enables them to do what they cannot in the hands of a non-mahou. The heroes of the genre stand up against evil not just because they can, but because the normal people around them cannot.
3 - Nobody is an island. Even Cardcaptor Sakura has Sakura depending on both Tomoyo and Li’s help to capture cards. A magical hero who is going it alone, who consistently refuses help from others, is doing it wrong, and the only time this can really work is if it’s part of a character development towards teamwork, or a fall to Darkness. Even heroes who come from a solitary series are expected to work with others on MahouMUSH in the long run; a major theme through Mahou Shoujo shows is teamwork versus selfishness - while not all villains are incapable of teamwork, it is the downfall for quite a few of them.
4 - Even Madoka and Nanoha, two of the darkest themes we have, draw lines in the sand. Magical girls are all fighting for their happy ending. Even the darkest themes are only spending time in the tunnel before they reach the bright end, and players and plots should represent this. Edginess for its own sake, and perpetual darkness, are out of genre.
5 - Revenge and vengeance, as ideals and permanent character motivations, are not appropriate for the magical girl genre. They are time-tested and proven elements of redemption stories and coming-of-age stories, but within mahou shoujo, the emphasis will always be on the opposite of vengeance: reaching out a hand to help those who have wronged you, helping them to redeem themselves, or becoming the forgiver when faced with becoming like those who have done you harm. Only the most elemental forces of evil have no chance to be forgiven and redeemed - though not all infected with Darkness are willing to make the change.