a.k.a. Mahou Kishi Rayearth
A field trip to the Tokyo Tower for three young women unexpectedly explodes into a magical journey filled with danger, growth and friendship. Hikaru, Umi and Fuu find themselves inexplicably transported to the distant world of Cephiro, a world shaped by the will of its inhabitants. The girls have been summoned as a desperate attempt to stop Cephiro from being destroyed, which has been crumbling ever since its ruler, Princess Emeraude, was taken hostage. Only by becoming the legendary magic knights can the three friends restore the world and find their way back home.
summary by Mugs
Highs: Comedy; great cast of antagonists
Lows: Stagnant at times
Magic Knight Rayearth combines elements of medieval fantasy, magical girls and mecha to create a rather peculiar fusion that, for the most part, somehow works. This show really has two plots running in parallel: what happens while the girls strive to become magic knights and the real reason that they have been called in the first place. Their adventure is mostly broken up into learning things about themselves and gaining new powers; unfortunately, each girl goes through this in turn, and by the time the last one does, it has become stagnant. The other half of the story, namely the real circumstances that has plunged Cephiro to the brink of destruction, is slowly revealed between flashbacks and interludes of Emeraude and the High Priest Zagato, her captor. This plot makes an attempt at a twist ending, but I saw it coming well before the show’s climax. That’s not to say this is not enjoyable… it’s just nothing groundbreaking.
What the show lacks in amazing plot it makes up for with fun characters, decent action, some great villains and downright funny moments. Caldina, in particular, is a hilarious villain that never failed to make me laugh. Motives play a big role for the antagonists in this show, and the so-called “villains” Ascot, Zagato and Alcyone all have motives that make them feel less evil and more victims of circumstances.
The animation looks dated for a mid-’90s television show although it’s certainly not atrocious. The creators saw fit to include little touches, like chibi art, to help maintain a fun, playful look. Most of the music is light and happy with a nice opening track. This is really not an eye candy show, but the action and comedic elements work well enough.
Overall, Rayearth is a fun show that manages to just barely avoid wearing out its welcome. If the series had gone longer than twenty episodes, I feel the repetition would have been too much to bear. As it stands, this is not a bad way to waste a couple of hours.
The first season of Magic Knight Rayearth, reviewed above, can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE. The second season (Ep. 21-49), unreviewed, can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.