Many anime and manga series of the magical girl genre have showcased a cast of favorable characters as well as a stellar plot and writing, including Sailor Moon, Madoka Magica and Tokyo Mew Mew. Some have even been inspired to do cosplay of them. Despite the genre’s popularity, especially when it comes to being a first-watch for anime newcomers, even the most well-known magical girl series have their flaws.
The story starts off with the protagonist finding out she has powers, usually via a talking animal that becomes their guide. As the story progresses, she learns about what the enemies are planning and is told she must find the other girls who possess magical abilities. While recruiting these characters into her group does provide more friends, the protagonist often has friends prior to the story. However, these friends are usually not magical, nor are they aware of the existence of magical girls or the enemy they battle against. They may barely contribute to the plot, if anything at all.
Thus, some viewers have referred to them as the “Muggle best friend,” named after the non-magic term from Harry Potter. Such examples have been found in Naru Osaka from Sailor Moon and Hitomi Shizuki from Madoka Magica. While characters like these have provided a steady balance to the usage of magic, both Naru and Hitomi have either been overlooked or shunned by their respective fanbases for their own reasons.
Naru’s Relevance in Sailor Moon Only Lasted For One Season
Naru is Usagi’s best friend in Sailor Moon prior to the latter meeting the other Sailor Guardians. Her mother owns a jewelry store, which becomes the Dark Kingdom’s first target. While Naru is still seen with Usagi and does often get caught up in the Dark Kingdom’s plans — resulting in Usagi as Sailor Moon having to battle them and rescue her — she does not play a major role again until Nephrite is put in charge by Queen Beryl, the Kingdom’s leader.
Although she is oblivious to Usagi being Sailor Moon or what the Dark Kingdom really is, Naru is shown encountering Nephrite several times and begins to develop a romantic interest in him. Although he does return her feelings and comes to regret what he has done, he is killed by other members of the Dark Kingdom as a result of his betrayal. Naru is upset and recovers, but after that is not seen much throughout the rest of Sailor Moon. In fact, she only makes one appearance in the anime’s fourth season.
While fans understandably did want to see what the Sailor Guardians were up to, this shift caused them to forget about Naru or wonder what she was doing. This is perhaps because her lack of magical abilities, and not playing a significant role in the plot made her a quickly disposable character.
Hitomi’s Obliviousness in Madoka Magica Indirectly Caused Sayaka’s Despair
Unlike Naru in Sailor Moon, Hitomi did contribute more to Madoka Magica’s dark storyline. When one of the girls, Sayaka, becomes a magical girl in exchange for making a wish to heal her classmate Kyosuke’s injuries, the latter is released from the hospital and is able to return to school. While she is aware of how Sayaka feels about him and gives her a chance to tell him, Hitomi sets a time limit of just one day, prompting mixed reactions from fans.
Even though some defended Hitomi for being considerate and not being aware of Sayaka’s recent struggles, others argued that one day was not enough — and that she never visited Kyosuke during his time in the hospital. On top of that, Hitomi did not interact with Madoka or Sayaka much after the latter two were introduced to the existence of magical girls while the former became a third wheel, something she feared but also allowed to happen.
Although Hitomi’s actions did lead to Sayaka’s realization to what she would eventually become, Madoka Magica fans still criticized her for it. If she was also chosen to become a magical girl — or at least knew that Sayaka actually was one — she might not have garnered any controversy for her naivety.