Magic Knight Rayearth

Japanese Title: Mahou Kishi Rayearth
Also Known As: MKR
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 3 Volumes
Allegiance: Kodansha Ltd./Tokyopop
Mangaka: CLAMP
Vintage: 1994-1995
Intelligence Agency Report by: I
When 8th graders Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu meet for the first time at Tokyo Tower during separate field trips, they are pulled into the mysterious, fantastic world of Cephiro, where the power of will controls everything. There, they are told they must save Princess Emeraude, the pillar of this world, from the clutches of the evil Head Priest Zagato to save Cephiro and get back home.

Research Agent Report by: I
Overall 7.75
(not an average)
When you read Magic Knight Rayearth when you’re first being introduced to the medium, you think it’s the best series ever; then as a more experienced manga fan you realize it really wasn’t as good as you thought it was. Nevertheless, it does still contain admirable qualities long after the initial adoration is gone. 

Rayearth’s major flaw lies in its plot. The story consists of the typical fantasy game ideas of rescuing a princess, using magic, and acquiring the ultimate battle gear to get ready for the boss fights. Most of its elements are straight out of old RPGs, with the possible exception of the mecha and the weapons the characters use. These stock plot elements made it seem a lot like you’d read the manga many times before. The plot does, however, still manage to hold your attention, and you do care what happens. It would have just been better had it been more original. The main characters have the same initial problem the plot does: they’re stock quality, and the personalities are the types that you see everywhere. They don’t lack anything, but they aren’t anything particularly special either; the characters tend to be just unique enough to avoid being completely bland. Some of the side characters, such as Caldina and Ascot, do manage to be quite entertaining and original, and their interactions with Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu were some of the most fun scenes in the manga. 

CLAMP’s artistic trademark, which consists of extremely detailed sketches paired with lush screen tone work, is very much present in Magic Knight Rayearth’s artwork. CLAMP goes all-out with the artwork and the layouts with mixed results. The drawings and the tones give the manga’s artwork a lush and fantastic feel, and it’s perfect for the story’s atmosphere. The layouts, however, are sometimes a little too gratuitous. When two pages are taken up to say “You must save Cephiro,” there’s a problem. 

Magic Knight Rayearth is not a groundbreaking accomplishment in the history of manga, but it still manages to be a decent title. With fun characters and great artwork, it’s a nice manga to kill time with, especially if you’re an RPG nut.