Magic is a really neat aspect of many fantasy series. With Halloween right around the corner, it's a perfect week to talk about magic in anime.
First Up: Record of Lodoss War (The classic wizard)
A classic telling of your standard adventuring party in a low-magic campaign of D&D. The dwarf-like cleric, squishy wizard, sticky fingered rogue, and heroic fighter are the classic elements of a group of adventurers. Main character Parn leaves his hometown and ends up trying to save the world after collecting his entire party. The magic isn't brightly colored and pretty, but it fits nicely with the realistic coloring scheme of the series. It's a solid series, although episodes dragged at times. If you haven't seen it, it's worth checking out.
Second: Zero no Tsukaima (Wizarding Academy)
This series has a bit of a slapstick comedy sort of feel. A young witch summons her magical familiar, but the spell doesn't go how she planned. Instead of something cool like a dragon or a golem or something, she rips a high school boy from a dimension without magic. He is not very interested in being her familiar, and even less interested in fighting for her in combat. The series goes on and he teaches her to be a nicer person. The magic in this series is pretty cool.
Finally: Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Magical Girls)
This series is fantastic. The premise is really fascinating. The girls contract with Kyubey, and get a wish granted. At that point, their wish is granted and they receive magical powers in order to fight witches. For some of the girls, they knew exactly what they wanted to wish for, but others struggled with finding something they wanted badly enough to leave their regular life behind and focus their time on fighting witches. If you haven't seen Madoka, please please please watch it.
Magic in anime comes in many different flavors, and each type of story brings in different elements to create a unique experience.
Hope Burns Bright