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.
One of the supergroup Clamp's earlier contributions to the manga world, Magic Knight Rayearth remains one of their most popular and memorable series. With rich artwork, fun characters, and a story that is far deeper than it appears, this is a fantasy tale for anyone with a desire to escape from the normal world, with an adventure right on their hells.
On a field trip to Tokyo Tower, three girls from different schools are suddenly enveloped in a flash of light and in that instant, transported out of their country of Japan (and out of their entire world) to an entirely different world known as Cephiro.
Almost immediately they find out that their appearance in this strange world is one that was planned, and that have a duty to fulfill - as Magic Knights. Given the task of saving Cephiro, and the Pillar - the leader of the land- the three girls embark on their journey, convinced that they will save the Pillar and Cephiro itself from destruction. However, the three girls are left in the dark about the real duty of the Magic Knights; a secret that is known only to the Pillar, and to the fallen High Priest who has captured her. The first half of this story spans three fast paced volumes with a very surprising twist ending, sure to shock the reader as Clamp intended to do.
(This review only covers the first three volumes of the tale; to find out how the story concludes, read the next three volumes of Magic Knight Rayearth!)
★ Story (8) - Very fast paced and filled with nonstop action and adventure, the story nonetheless suffers from its sadly short length. While the three volumes are jam-packed with a gripping story and a unique plot, points are taken away for the fact that at only three volumes, the story does suffer from a lack of believability. For instance, the three main characters are barely given any time to really understand their world and truly be filled with the desire to fight and protect it. While it is insisted upon that the three girls all feel a strong sense of protection to a world they've barely come to know, it is hard to feel that their feelings are genuine (though its insisted that they are). Again, the story sometimes feel too fast paced for its own good, especially in certain places where the girls are gifted with their own powers, or the "villains" undergo a transformation. The final battle comes across as rather rushed, though the fantastic twist and back-story make up for it (as only Clamp can do). Despite the faults in the pace of the story, the sheer imagination and interesting plot overshadow many of the imperfections.
★ Art (10) - Richly detailed and highly ornate, Magic Knight Rayearth is a feast for the eyes. Featuring Clamp's famous older and very intricate artstyle, the series is layered with very detailed character designs. Large, luminescent eyes with long lashes; slender, long-limbed bodies and quirky hairstyles are found on every character. Both villains, heroes and all the in-betweeners look their best in highly imaginative and beautifully designed clothes; stylish boots, jeweled outfits, pleated skirts and long, cascading capes make every character look their best regardless if they're fighting to save the world of destroy it. Set in a gorgeous, high fantasy world that is crumbling to ruins, everything from the buildings to the backgrounds are drawn to perfection. Being an older series, there is a distinctive 80's feel to the whole artstyle, but one that is very beautifully, and very painstakingly done. If you didn't come for the story, the artwork can nonetheless be highly appreciated.
★ Character (8) - Again, while the characters are all likable (despite some stereotypical characterizations), the short length of this work really strains their personalities and does not give the characters enough time to actually develop in a believable way. Despite that, the characters are easy to understand and come to terms to, and do show an immense amount of characterization in the short time the reader gets to know them. (Though sometimes it does come across as a bit forced given the limited time). It would have been better if the reader really got to know the characters fully, but still; at only three volumes, the characters are quite rounded and impressive.
★ Enjoyment (8) - This is a very fun, and very quick read, that serves to entertain for a short time, and enjoy for a long while afterward. The interesting story is easy to follow, and the setting is incredibly fun especially for high fantasy lovers.
★ Overall (8) - Full of speedy adventure, a pinch of mystery, a forbidden romance, and a twist ending, Magic Knight Rayearth is a highly enjoyable and fun manga. The main fault of this manga is its very short length (for part one). The world is so interesting and richly detailed, that it seems both a pity and a waste not to fully explore and really dive into it after all those imaginative ideas come popping through. Three volumes really aren't long enough in the slightest for such an intricate world, but what the reader is offered is enough to ensnare their senses nonetheless. Part one of Magic Knight Rayearth might not be a masterpiece (or Clamp's masterpiece), but it is absolutely worth a read time and time again.