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Tama-Neko's Magic Knight Rayearth Manga Review

Magic Knight Rayearth

Magic Knight Rayearth manga Review

Three junior high schools have a field trip to Tokyo Tower, and a girl from each school is chosen. Hikaru Shidou, Umi Ryuzaki, and Fuu Hououji are transported to a magical world called Cephiro. Soon after arriving, they are greeted by Master Mage Clef, who bestowed protective armor and magical powers upon the girls. They have been chosen to become Legendary Magic Knights. To return to their own world, these girls must seek out and awaken the three legendary Rune Gods and rescue Princess Emeraude from the evil high priest Zagato.

What will be the fate of the Knights and Cephiro?

Edited from the synopsis by: Mew1Mokuba

Story & Playability

Magic Knight Rayearth begins with three middle school girls, Hikaru, Umi and Fuu, visiting Tokyo Tower on a school field trip who get sucked into the mystical, fantastical world of Cephiro. It is a fairly early entry in the "protagonist(s) get whisked to another world and must save that world" genre, but CLAMP does an excellent job in pulling it off. First off, the story is split into two distinct story arcs, so distinct that the second arc is titled "Magic Knight Rayearth 2". Each story arc takes only 3 volumes of manga to tell, making the story line sharp and concise, without the waffling and long side stories that characterize some other stores in this genre (such as Fushigi Yuugi). In book 1, they find their weapons and armor, in book 2 and the first half of book 3 they find the Mashin (giant robots that will enable them to fight) and in the second half of book 3 they face the final battle. How's that for concise? The second story arc wanders a little more, when the three return to Cephiro to save it from three new enemies who would otherwise take advantage of the situation Cephiro found itself in at the end of the first story arc. The second story arc is mostly a series of battles between the Cephiro citizens and the citizens from three other worlds and doesn't have much of a progression, but since there are only three volumes of manga in which to explore this arc the lagging is not too evident.
Of course, CLAMP is well-known for their dark, dramatic story elements. People can and will get seriously injured, hearts will be broken, and you can't be sure that love or good will triumph. Still, you expect that sort of stuff from a CLAMP story. The twist at the end of both story arcs are a little obvious, but in general do not detract from the story as a whole. It's the classic "rise of a hero" (in this case, heroines) plot, but with enough interesting people and settings to make it a fun read for anyone who enjoys the fantasy and shoujo genres.

Rating: 7

Graphics

The art is quite lovely in Magic Knight Rayearth, which uses the thicker, darker, more detailed artwork that characters many of CLAMP's earlier works (Clamp Campus Detectives, Tokyo Babylon, the earlier volumes of X). The character designs are quite varied and so are their costumes - the Knight's armor is constantly changing as they pass through their trials, for example. Utilizing the fantasy world basis, CLAMP dresses many of its Cephiro characters in long flowing robes, except for the swordsmen/women who thankfully don much simpler clothes suitable to fighting. Everyone in Cephiro also seems to be endowed with 25 pounds of gems and jewelry, but it just adds more detail and flavor to the surroudings.
The surroudings themselves are also intricately rendered. From the dense trees in the Forest of Sorrows to the decidedly bizarre Spring of Eterna to the imposing shrines of the Mashin to the elegant castle of Cephiro, each location is brimming with details that make them distinct, rich environments.
Magic is also beautifully drawn. CLAMP has a wonderful way of drawing magic so that you can easily tell which element (wind, fire, water, ice, etc) is being used, just by using soft curls (for wind) to sharp curls (for water) or twisting curls (for fire.)
Attention to detail characterizes much of CLAMP's early works, and Rayearth is no exception. It takes little to get lost in the world of Cephiro.

Rating: 9

Sound

I'll use this portion to look more in depth at the characters, since the sound category is irrelevant to manga :)
The one pitfall of having a short story length (compared to many of CLAMP's other works) is that there simply isn't enough time to both develop the characters and get through all the relevant story points. In this case, CLAMP constantly introduces new people, yet except for a few, they are relegated to playing small supporting roles. They are all potentially very interesting people with their own triumphs and heartbreaks, but there is no time to delve into their stories.
Even the main characters don't have a whole lot of time for character development. As they go through the various tests and trials it's hard to get a sense that they're really growing up and maturing into their roles, as their personalities at the end of the story are not all that different from their personalities in the beginning. Additionally, these personalities are rather cookie-cutter: Hikaru (fire) is optimistic and friendly, Umi (water) is often cold and prone to anger fits, Fuu (wind) is quiet and a peace-maker. The reader can easily find at least one of the three to relate to and empathize with, but their personalities are not nearly as interesting as the cast of Cephiro, people of whom we get little insight to.
Compared to the other elements of Rayearth, the character/character development is rather a let down, but it is still enough to give the story of Rayearth a solid footing.

Rating: 6

Fun

Rayearth is a wonderful manga for fans of the shoujo and fantasy genres. Yet, unlike many shoujo stories, Rayearth is more about action than romance, so it's a great story when you're tired of hearing "Tamahome... Miaka..." for the 9572nd time. Its short length, especially as the series is split into two distinct story arcs, makes it a quick read without needed a lot of commitment of time and money. The story mostly benefits from this short length as there is no room for long filler that stretches your patience. It is an appealing story with the classic Heros' Quest premise, with the classic CLAMP dark twists, set in the beautiful, lush environment of Cephiro. There is a large cast of intriguing characters, although for many you only the merest glimpse of who they are or who they might become. Still, this is a minor issue in an otherwise delightful package of artwork and story. CLAMP did a great job with Rayearth, and I would recommend it to just about any fan of shoujo, fantasy, or CLAMP, as it's a great highlight from their earlier works.

Rating: 9

Final Verdict

7.83 (good)

Reviewed by Tama-Neko, Apr 16, 2006

Comments

  1. evasion Apr 16, 2006

    Hey, sweet review! I think you did the anime justice - and I liked all the info you provided. Yea, it reminded me of a female-version anime power-rangers XD.

  2. blue-chan Apr 16, 2006

    Quote by tama-nekounlike many shoujo stories, Rayearth is more about action than romance, so it's a great story when you're tired of hearing "Tamahome... Miaka..." for the 9572nd time..


    I agree with you here, tama-sama, there is too many love story anime and not enough to the point and get down to the business like this one. ^_____^ of course if the love story is good I would not mind but most f them are really bad in the anime world. >_< I just like how this anime and manga wroted because its not ever ending and it does get to the point, and the story really keep me on my seats and I luv the artworks, I think all clamp drawing are great. chu~<3 just luv it ^___^ your review really well written and to the point. ^_^ Thank you for writing it. *bows* :)

  3. fawna-chan Apr 17, 2006

    Your reviews are always worth reading and it sounds really really good. I want to read it and the art is really different...and I agree with you on the romance part. It is tiring to hear "Tamahome...Miaka...." for the upteenth time. ^_^' Thanks for the reivew!

  4. animefairy Apr 17, 2006

    It's very good, but long! You used in a lot of details in explaining! Good job, tama-neko! ^_^ *two thumbs up*

  5. enker Apr 18, 2006

    nace review, I really like this anime and yes this anime has more action and blood than any many others :P

  6. Aaralyn Apr 19, 2006

    that's a nice review, thanks!
    MKR was the first anime i saw (it was on TV i didn't have any ideas about buying or downloading let alone what anime is!) therefore it has a special place for me ^_^
    A couple of months ago i came across the manga and couldn't stand the temptation :P
    Well..i think the manga is better than the anime especially the ending. Altough the anime is really good too it was leaving you with questions like "what is going to happen now...what happened about that.." etc. But the manga had something like an epilogue and i loved it ^.^/

  7. guresan Apr 23, 2006

    Nice review for a great anime!

  8. gabysango2011 Jun 04, 2006

    i all the episodes of this anime...and i love it..i think the story is wonderful....
    it's a great anime....
    and the review is perfect

    merged: 06-05-2006 ~ 03:55am
    i all the episodes of this anime...and i love it..i think the story is wonderful....
    it's a great anime....
    and the review is perfect

    merged: 06-05-2006 ~ 03:55am
    i all the episodes of this anime...and i love it..i think the story is wonderful....
    it's a great anime....
    and the review is perfect

  9. inukag4eva Jul 30, 2006

    i love mmr!
    but too bad i dun have the cd...
    the story is great...
    n u got to agree tat the artwork is beautiful...
    hikaru and umi r my fav character...

  10. Mokonamoggle Nov 25, 2006

    I guess it's way too low. I would give it no less than 9.5... Hikaru's the best. Well, Hikaru aside, there are also Ferio, Mokona, Umi and Clef :) And OF COURSE Nova from part 2 :) Well, you're right about the sound... a sound of opening and ending... but still 6 is too low... And i completly disagree with your plot/character judgement... it's no less than 10 in a 5 points scale :) Very inspiring...

  11. mars19902004 Oct 03, 2009

    Well, the art of anime makes me feel that this is not Clamp. You know, i am so disappointed about the art. Too bad, I don't want to watch it. >o<

  12. rukasu04 Mute Member Oct 26, 2009

    Good review and great manga \o\

  13. ai-yame Jul 08, 2011

    Thank you for writing such a good review! I would have rated MKR higher, but that's just what I would do anyway.

    I thought this is one of CLAMP's sort-of 'underrated' series in a sense that the 'expected romance' doesn't come too often since MKR is more action-packed; well I actually liked that straightforwardness of this series, too. I suppose it really does have this mysterious appeal that made us fans attract ourselves to watching it. :)

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