Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu, girls from separate schools, find themselves linked together as they fall through the floor during a field trip to the Tokyo Tower. They land in a place called Cephiro, where their will controls what happens. They meet with Guru Clef and find out that they were summoned to save Princess Emeraude who has been imprisoned by High Priest Zagato. They learn magic and acquire weapons on their quest to save Cephiro from the evils of Zagato.
Magic Knight Rayearth was first published in English by Tokyopop from August 1998 to September 1999, as Tokyopop's debut manga. The publishing company rereleased the series as a box set with new cover art and a mini art book in November 2002, and as individual volumes from August 5, 2003 to December 9, 2003. Dark Horse later took over the license, and released the manga in printed omnibus format on July 19, 2011, as well as digitally on July 9, 2014.
CLAMP's first manga series, Magic Knight Rayearth is certainly one of their best works, if not their very best. The plot is interesting and keeps the reader guessing to the very end, as always the art is captivatingly beautiful, the characters are engaging and it's overall a beautiful piece of work.
The story begins with three middle school girls -- Hikaru, Umi and Fuu -- being transported to a magical world known as Cephiro by the pillar, Princess Emeraude. They are taught magic and told they are the Magic Knights of legend, but the girls just want to go home, as is expected of middle
school girls. As the story progresses they all grow in their characters and become strong young women, finding themselves and the power within to band together, become friends and attempt save the strange world.
A beautiful tale of friendship, family, and inner-strength, this manga series is one of the best written. Though it's an older work (as reflected by the art style) it's a classic and is a must-read for any die-hard CLAMP fan. And for everyone else, it's just an excellent read.
Like most of CLAMP's early works, Magic Knight Rayearth deals with fantasy and is geared toward female readers. The artwork conveys a sense of beauty and elegance that is rarely found in a manga nowadays. As for the storyline, it's more fast-paced than its anime counterpart, but its still a completely original storyline that doesn't borrow from any outside source. Out of all of CLAMP's works, I would have to say that Magic Knight Rayearth is definitely the best.
Oh, CLAMP. I have such a swaying opinion of you. You either confound me or I adore you to where I want to be proud that I’m a huge fan of yours. There are so many series that I want to try to read but at the same time, I’m so worried I’m going to be burned again by your stupid deux ex machina. And, oh, does it hurt so good.
Fortunately, that’s not the case with this series. However, it’s rather short as a manga series. It’s very quick pace and a lot gets done over the course of three volumes (or one omnibus).
not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
It could be a bad thing because there could be some world building that’s missing from Cefiro. We get from the get-go that the land changes based on the pillar’s, and the people’s, hearts. Not to mention, we could also miss a huge chunk of characterization and then a little bit more understanding about why the girls are the way they are.
Well, “some world building that’s missing” isn’t how I should have put it. Because the whole thing is based on how the pillar thinks, it’d be interesting to meet more of the people who lived there besides Clef, Presea, Ferio… I would love to have known what happened to them after the incident or at least during. What are their roles besides helping the girls around the world?
On the other hand though, it could be a good thing because in a lot of fantasy-esque series, they tend to go on forever. A lot of these manga forget they have characters and their stories that needs to be carried instead of having to go around the world (and maybe beyond) just to get a glimpse of the world around them.
It also cuts down on time and it gets right to the point. It cuts out all the unnecessary parts that usually puts people off from it. You can basically show all the major events happening in quick succession and readers won’t get bored right away because there isn’t a drag – it doesn’t even exist!
As for the plot itself, I think this is one of CLAMP’s better stories out there (especially since it’s actually completed) despite it’s very low volume count. The girls are funny and you can relate to them – I know in a lot of ways, I could relate to Hikaru, Fuu, and Umi at different parts of the stories. They don’t seem like all powerful – they all have their flaws, even if it’s not completely noticeable in the manga. I also like that they’re actually different from one another but they’re all still very similar.
I really like the characters in this series, though. They seem more human and not blown out of proportion with the exception of Emeraude, at first. I mean, she’s literally Cefiro’s pillar. The world’s stability literally depends on her prayers, thoughts, and wishes.
It’s a really good twist that, at the end, Emeraude revealed the reason why she brought the three girls over was to kill her – she was being selfish and fell in love with Lord Zagato when she shouldn’t have. He fell in love with her too but he loved her so much that he was willing to take the blame, the fall, for it. He literally died trying to keep her alive – even he knew the cost of her death.
I really liked how the series ended though. Right after Emeraude gets her last wish of being with Lord Zagato, the three are transported back to Tokyo Tower, mere minutes after a flash of light occurred. They’re hugging each other but they’re crying – they want to know why she had to be killed.
And that was the end of that. Now, I can see how this could frustrate a lot of people, especially since it was clearly setting up for a sequel – and especially if the reader is not fond of the abrupt end. And yeah, it did frustrate me.
However, the anime version of this series, I feel, expands a lot more and a lot better than what the manga did. Granted, it didn’t follow exactly as it is, but I liked it like that. I wanted to explore Cefiro a little more and get to know the girls a lot better. Not only that, it’s revealed that, in the anime, there’s a lot more romance involved than what meets the eye. In the manga, it’s way more subtle and you kind of have to use your imagination for some of them.
Either way, I really enjoyed this series but I’m still a little happy about how it ended and how quick to the point it was but at the same time… I’m still a little frustrated with how it ended and how quick to the point it was.
I would honestly recommend the anime much more than the manga.
There are only two reasons to read this manga. First - to enjoy its beautiful and smooth art, a mix of shounen dynamics and classic, rich style of 70s shoujo mangas. Second - to meet a historic example of how modern shoujo was forming.
Almost everything in this story is simply bad. Plot is as simple as classic fairytails, except its lack of symbolism, and is so predictable that after 2nd chapter you can figure out how and what way it will end. It follows all the worst and overused schemes of fantasy genre. Weird names? Check. Overpowerment of characters? Check. Absolute lack of worldbulding,
despite huge potential? Check. Deus ex machina everywhere? Check. No chemistry between characters because plot must go on? CHECK.
I think those are characters who are MKR's weakest part. They are lucky if they have 2 or 3 personality traits, they don't evolve as the story goes on, their feelings feel unreal and pushed all the time - they are not caused by dynamics of their relations but because CLAMP wanted so. I wasn't expecting much from 3-volume long manga but even three main heroines show us absolutely nothing. They don't even make you irritated, in normal conditions all of them would drive me nuts, but they are so boring I was just scrolling past pages and catching myself staring at background details instead of carrying what they say and do.
Old shounen fans tho will spot a lot of inspiration and references. CLAMP were big fans of Masami Kurumada's Saint Seiya and it is so visible here it hurts. The ending was literally a recreation of Athena and Poseidon's thread, just twisted into out of nowhere romance. Heck, CLAMP almost quote Kurumada!
I absolutely don't recommend it unless you crave for getting in touch with classics or want to see how early CLAMP looked like.