Three high school girls—hot-blooded Hikaru Shidou, haughty Umi Ryuuzaki, and gentle Fuu Hououji—have just met at Tokyo Tower when they hear a call for help that pulls them into another world. They are soon greeted by Guru Clef, a youthful-looking man who informs them that they are the legendary Magic Knights summoned by Princess Emeraude to save this magical land known as Cephiro.
While Hikaru finds the prospect exciting, Umi and Fuu simply want to return to their own world. Unfortunately for them, Clef explains that they cannot go home until they have saved Cephiro and banished the monsters plaguing it. In order to do so, they have to rescue Princess Emeraude from the clutches of the powerful Lord Zagato. To stand a chance against him, they must revive mysterious beings called Mashin.
As Clef grants the trio armor and magic, one of Zagato's servants attacks, forcing the guru to send the girls away to the weaponsmith Presea and the rabbit-like guide Mokona, who can further equip them for their journey. Though they have a long way to go, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu will show that they have what it takes to live up to their titles as Magic Knights and bring salvation to Cephiro.
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.
Sometimes it's the simple stories that are the most memorable. Magic Knight Rayearth manages to be just that: an enjoyable tale that doesn't deviate from the traditional fantasy-style formula too much. Despite this, there are still a good amount of unforeseen twists and turns that keep the reader interested in what will happen next. Beyond that, it is a very fun and moving story that takes you through your typical 'save the princess' type of fantasy adventure.
Magic Knight Rayearth is simple, but don't let that discourage you. Originally written by the famous all-girl manga group, CLAMP, this story holds the honor of being one of
their first published works. The adventure begins on a school trip to Tokyo tower where a group of three different schools meet each other. From each of these schools are Hikaru Shidou, a tomboyish girl who oozes a playful and cute, yet clueless personality, Umi Ryuuzaki, a beautifully elegant yet serious daughter of a rich family, and Fuu Hououji, a kind and caring girl with a soft and graceful personality.
Not before long, a light flashes and the three young ladies are whisked away to a world known as Cephiro, a world where everything from the sky to the ground below is controlled by the heart and prayers of one sole being. After being attacked by a vicious monster, they are saved by a great magician named Clef and are told that they are to become the prophesized Magic Knights to save the princess from her evil captor. It is revealed that the princess is this world's 'pillar', and her role is to exist forever alone in order to shape the world with the power of her heart. Along with a magical creature named Mokona, they begin their adventure to wake the Mashin and save the world from ruin.
Aside from the typical fantasy elements that are beautifully detailed in CLAMP's stunning artwork, I fell in love with the cast of characters that we get to know along the way. While the manga is a short six volumes total, enough time is spread throughout all of the cast to make it feel as though we really got to know all of them individually. There is a great mix of humor and action that makes the characters feel alive, rather than some generic protagonist that are set to accomplish their task and nothing else. All of the main cast has their individual charm and are very fun and likable all the way through. While some of the villainous characters remained fairly uninteresting, I couldn't help but love the exchanges between them and the protagonists.
Unfortunately, not everything was up to snuff when it comes right down to it. CLAMP isn't exactly known for their impressive battle manga, and it really shows in Magic Knight Rayearth. The fight scenes are generally unimpressive, and to put it bluntly, rather dull. There really isn't any fear of the main characters losing their battles, nor do the battles last longer than a swing or two of the sword. The panels remain rather messy and bland, which is a stark contrast from the rest of their beautiful artwork that makes this manga shine. At the very least, there is more to the story than fighting evil monsters or villainous scum, so it's not a major loss; however, it is definitely disappointing knowing that the hybrid genre of a magical-girl fantasy mecha doesn't have quality battle sequences. While it's not bad, it isn't that great and really remains to be the only major issue I have with the work itself.
Aside from the aforementioned action panels, every bit and piece of art is absolutely breathtaking. The characters are designed with such detail that will leave you in an absolutely wonderous state. I really can't say enough about how beautiful and strong the art direction is, and given that this whole story is put together by a group of people that all work together for a collective goal, it's even more amazing that their combined talents can stay consistent and beautiful all the same.
Magic Knight Rayearth isn't the best manga I've ever read, but it's certainly a very good one. It's a classic piece that deserves to be loved for what it is, no matter how simple it seems on the outside. It manages to hold a large amount of substance without breaking too far out of the boundaries that would normally defy the reader's expectations. While it might not be the best battle manga, it has a lot of heart put into it and is clearly a beautiful piece that screams of influence from the romantic period. It's more than beautiful, it's magic.