My magical girl transformation feels like less of an event in my life and more like the beginning of my life itself. Don’t get me wrong, I have clear memories of my life before going magical; but the huge shift in my life’s trajectory resulting from magic has left those memories feeling as if they were less things that actually happened and more of just a weird backstory to me. Before going magical I lived the expectedly uneventful life that your average 13-year-old Los Cosmopilas girl would. My parents and I lived at the same apartment complex, only back then I obviously didn’t have a top apartment to myself. I had a childhood of playing more than a few too many video games and constantly experimenting with all of the different instruments and chords on my family’s big digital piano. I went to private shrine school, educated by the miko-nuns of the Congregation of All Gods. Paying for private school was a big sacrifice my parents did for me which, ironically, was rendered fairly irrelevant for my long-term future the second I turned magical and was thrust into the idol system. I suppose the crisp religious school uniform I had to wear did indirectly prepare me for the frilly, counterintuitive outfits I’d train and perform in as a magical girl, weirdly enough.
I wouldn’t say I wasn’t into magical girls and idols growing up, but I wasn’t super enthralled by them either. There were posters of old-school idol bands in the music shop I took my lessons in, and I pestered my mom to buy a few magical girl trading card packs just because it was at one point a fad in my grade school. (Remember when magical girl trading cards were a thing!? Since my time in the industry I’ve been fascinated with how media associated with magical girls has evolved over the years, it’s kind of an acquired hobby of mine.) I had a very, very vague understanding of how the yearly process of girls going magical during the Lunar Solstice went, but I never really actively looked into it because of how rare it is and how boring the monetary details of the “music business” are for a kid.
On reflection I do remember reading a brief article about the date of the lunar solstice the week of my transformation (maybe in school?), but never paying much attention. To me the Lunar Solstice was a Wednesday like any other; I came home from school that day, dreading having to do my homework and watching those cheesy tween sitcoms I was just starting to realize were cheesy. That evening I distinctly remember doing the first half of my math homework, (which was probably like 3/4ths of the problems, with the last fourth being the hard ones) as it was getting dark outside, so I went and started playing a game on my GameSailor DS. I was playing for, I don’t know, twenty or thirty minutes, glued to the screen and not to whatever magical event was going on outside or what color my hair was.
Yeah, I was seriously playing video games when I transformed into a magical girl.
I don’t have any memory of when exactly it happened, but at some point I began hearing a very mild ringing in my ears. I kept looking down at the screen, as the shortest traces of my short schoolgirl hair wafted down. I noticed they looked slightly off. I paused for a second, looking at it and seeing a fuzzy deep blue in the peripherals of my vision. I didn’t immediately make the connection; I almost kind of wondered if I’d accidentally gotten pen ink in my hair? I put the game down and started picking at my hair. When it didn’t come off, I started reaching for the mirror in the other corner of my room.
Walking across my room I passed by the window and noticed the large, glowing moon, remembering the Solstice. I instantly made the connection as a nervous acid surged in my stomach. I looked in the mirror, worried.
My once brown hair was now the deep, unmistakable, magical-girl azure.
I just stood there for a few seconds in shock, mouth agape, unable to bring myself to make any noise. It happened so ridiculously fast that I wasn’t sure if it was real; was this some kind of daydream or hallucination? Or maybe my pencil case got crushed, and every single blue and purple pen and marker spilled open, all of its ink somehow getting on my hair! A few seconds ago I was just procrastinating on my homework; now I didn’t know if there would ever be any homework, or any normal schoolwork, or any normal anything ever again. My feet felt frozen like cement blocks, but my mind was racing faster than ever.
I had remembered reading in an encyclopedia years ago that magical girls have powers at the moment of their transformations. I slowly looked down at my fingertips, held my breath and began concentrating and tensing up my hands, expecting, I don’t know, something incredible to happen? (As a side note, I commonly get asked by non-magicals about how it “feels” when you’re doing magic. It’s a question I don’t really know how to answer. How does it “feel” to command your nervous system to move your muscles? It’s the same thing with magic, we can just command our bodies to do things that most people can’t. Same basic sensation.)
After a moment of looking down, a few sparks began emanating in the space in front of my fingers, like a holiday sparkler but “slower” and not hot at all. Now thoroughly certain this was real and not some sort of hallucination, I began to instinctively tear up in fear, not knowing the full extent of what this would do to my life beyond the fact that it would forever be changed. I was almost prepared to look over and see some kind of cute little animal jumping out from somewhere and telling me I’ve been chosen to fight the forces of evil like in one of the magical girl anime. Would it really be that much of a leap in logic?
I finally got the courage to blurt out something like a combination of “Aaaaah!” and “Mom!” to get her attention as she was making dinner in the kitchen. I wasn’t terribly focused on being articulate while watching the impromptu New Year’s Eve celebration shooting out from my fingers.
“Ellery, are you okay!?” I heard through the walls, her probably wondering if I was hurt. “Come here now mom!!” I yelled out and she came running into my room, her mouth instantly falling halfway to the floor when she saw me. She immediately called for my dad: “Reginald, come quick!” I remember that sentence’s particular wording, because my parents always referred to each other as “mom” and “dad” when they were around me. For them to be calling each other by first names like that meant you knew S was majorly hitting the F.
There were a lot of questions, and I didn’t have a lot of answers. My father rushed out to turn on the Magical Girl Broadcast—a radio broadcast playing on loop all night every Lunar Solstice with instructions about how families can have their magical girl registered, how to send them to the magical girl training program and what the “fees” (aka the monetary penalties) were to keep your daughter from being taken into the system.