portion of the artwork for Cathy Ulrich's story

Generic Magical Girl #12
Cathy Ulrich

If I were a magical girl in Japan, I would have a magical item that I used to transform. I would have been bestowed this magical item because of my worth.

You are worthy of being a magical girl, they would say. The ones who decide these things. We can count on you.

If I were a magical girl in Japan, I would fight the forces of evil, or chaos, or whatever it was that needed fighting. Whatever it was that a magical girl would be expected to defeat. Aliens. Yōkai. Americans.

I would always carry my magical item with me. Wear it on a collar round my neck, clasp it in both my hands and shout out the appropriate phrase for transformation. Something suitably fluffy and feminist. The power is within me, something like that.

If I were a magical girl in Japan, I would transform into me, but better. The best me; the perfect me. My curls would never sag, lipstick never smear. My costume would have a petticoat, thigh-high tights with bows on the top. It would never get torn or mussed unless I was fighting a very powerful enemy, and even then it would only make me look more determined and fragile.

People would say to me: You’re so cute, magical girl.

They’d say: You’re so brave.

If I were a magical girl in Japan, I would be both cute and brave. I would be worthy. I would never hide in my bedroom and cry and cry, tug my hair till it hurt; never want it to end, just end, forever.

If I were a magical girl in Japan, there would be a whole segment of celebrity news devoted to my exploits, hosted by smiling Japanese anchors with bobbed hair and perfect teeth. They would play cellphone-recorded footage of my battles, interview little girls who dressed up like me for school, boys who made custom dolls in my likeness. Discuss the effect of magical girls on the stocks.

Magical girls, the Japanese anchors would say, and smile charmingly, showing their perfect teeth. Who doesn’t love magical girls?

If I were a magical girl in Japan, I would have a Japanese boyfriend. Maybe he’d be a Lois Lane type, always getting into trouble, always needing rescue, or a Catwoman type, on the other team but still basically good. In leather.

Maybe he would just be an ordinary boy. A little taller than me, but not too much. Always misplacing his glasses.

Have you seen my glasses? He would say this all the time.

If I were a magical girl in Japan, my Japanese boyfriend would be so supportive and good.

I support you in your magical girl endeavors, he would say, except it wouldn’t sound so stilted in Japanese. It would sound like a declaration of love.

If I were a magical girl in Japan, I would hesitate at first to tell my Japanese boyfriend the truth. We would be involved in a series of escalating misunderstandings—I would be late for dates, he would find himself mysteriously attracted to girls in petticoats—until it seemed like things would be all over between us.

But my Japanese boyfriend would never abandon me.

There’s something on your mind, he would say. Tell me.

If I were a magical girl in Japan, I would chew my lower lip nervously. I would clasp my magical item in my hands. I would whisper the appropriate phrase. And transform.

If I were a magical girl in Japan, my Japanese boyfriend would embrace me, my petticoats rustling between us.

It was you, he would say. It was you all along.

Yes, I would agree. It was always, always me.


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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 51 | Spring/Summer 2018