Thursday, May 16, 2013

MISC. MANGA, *Magic Knight Rayearth

CLAMP's big premiere manga was the epic mahou-shoujo series, Magic Knight Rayearth. This took the idea of the magical girl which was usually some pre-teen girl(s) who would be granted powers to either fight evil invaders or make the world a better place, and instead took a trio of girls from Tokyo and dropped them right in the middle of a Dungeons And Dragons-styled adventure in a fantasy world. This spawned off a hit anime television series that went on for 2 seasons, and a 3-episode OVA remake which took a way more dramatic approach.

Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu are three girls from separate schools that each take a field trip to Tokyo Tower at the same time, when suddenly a flash of light appears and they are whisked away to the enchanted world of Cephiro. They meet the mage Clef who tells them that they were summoned to their world by Princess Emeraude who has been kidnapped by the high priest Zagato. The Princess acts as the "Pillar", which supports their land from any kind of dark forces, but since Zagato took her away, the kingdom is becoming infested with monsters. The three girls must now embark on a quest to become the legendary Magic Knights which are foretold to save Cephiro. They get magic weapons from the blacksmith Presea, and are given the bunny/marshmellow creature Mokona who can produce nearly any kind of object they need out of thin air. The girls then have to each get one of three giant robots referred to as "Spirits", all of which first take on the appearance of large mythical creatures like dragons and such. Proceeding from there, the Magic Knights confront all of Zagato's minions(a special one was made up for the anime), and then finally Zagato himself who of course had his own giant robot for them to fight. After Zagato is defeated, it is revealed that Emeraude wasn't really so much his prisoner but that she was really in love with him, and that threatened the Pillar system. She begs the girls to kill her and if they don't she'll destroy them with her own giant robot. The Magic Knights reluctantly comply, and send Emeraude to the afterlife with Zagato, thus returning themselves to Earth, but full of tears because of their actions.

The second half of the manga series makes up for Season 2 of the TV series, which on its own takes a very different approach with the story. A few weeks after coming back home, Umi, Fuu, and Hikaru are now good friends, and get together again at Tokyo Tower. They are then teleported back to Cephiro, and to a new castle where Princess Emeraude's was now stands. A reunion takes place with Clef, as well as most of Zagato's minions who turned good after facing the Magic Knights, plus the introduction to Zagato's brother, Lantis. Three outside countries are trying invade Cephiro to take control of the Pillar system for their own reasons, so the Magic Knights have to defend Cephiro from their advances. I won't spoil the ultimate resolution to this, but the anime series brings in a totally different antagonist in the form of Lady Deboniar and her clone of Hikaru, Nova. The actual antagonist for the manga however does leave with a serious "WTF?!" that some readers might have a little trouble accepting.

The manga is one of CLAMP's largest staples in their ever-expanding catalog. Some of the characters were incorporated into the XXXholic and Tsubasa continuity, including two talking versions of Mokona. There have been several releases of the manga in English. At least two from Tokyo Pop including their old Mixxzine anthology, plus from Dark Horse Comics in regular volumes and omnibus edition. You might run across variations as far as whether it's printed in right-to-left format depending on the publisher. This one is an absolute must though for any true manga historian, and for shoujo fantatics.

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