[Throwback Thursdays] Magic Knight Rayearth Review - A Classic Deconstructed Magical Girl Anime

Magic Knight Rayearth wallpaper 2

A Classic Deconstructed Magical Girl Anime

  • Episodes : 20
  • Genre : Adventure, Comedy, Drama,Fantasy, Magic, Mecha, Romance,Shoujo
  • Airing Date : October 1994 - March 1995
  • Producers : Tokyo Movie Shinsha,Media Blasters, Discotek

Magic Knight Rayearth Preview/Plot (No Spoilers)

In the mid-90’s, prominent manga group CLAMP decided to create a magical girl show that is a cut away from the block of the usual mahou shoujo anime like the iconic Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon. Dubbing their creation with the eponymous title Magic Knight Rayearth, the all-female manga group managed to give birth to arguably one of the most deconstructed, gritty magical girl show in the 90’s.

The plot of Magic Knight Rayearth involves a number of tried and tested anime tropes. SThe story starts off when three young girls get mysteriously summoned to the land of Cephiro as the titular magic knights. Upon arriving on the alien land, they find themselves thrust with the task of rescuing the planet’s PIllar, Princess Emeraude, who has been abducted by the dark high priest Zagato. Guided by the mysterious being called Mokona, and imbibed with their respective element-based magic, the three girls begin an adventure that will change their

Magic Knight Rayearth wallpaper 3

Who does Magic Knight Rayearth cater to?

When CLAMP was conceptualizing the story of Magic Knight Rayearth, they wanted to create a series that incorporated a number of elements from numerous anime genres. In this regard, the group certainly delivered, for the anime features themes that would attract both the male and female demographic. Due to the show’s relatively gritty nature, the anime managed to garner a significant number of male fans. Female fans were quite abundant as well, mainly due to the feministic approach of the story.

Thus, if you enjoy magical girl anime that is absent of all the lacy, innocent, harmless action that is prevalent on more popular titles in the genre, then Magic Knight Rayearth may just be for you.

What’s so appealing about this piece of work?

Though the anime was created in the mid 90’s, viewers and critics to this day have stated that Magic Knight Rayearth is one of the rare examples of anime that has aged very well. Sure, the title does suffer from the common cost-cutting production techniques that were used during the time. However, the show’s charm lies not simply in its art, but in its heart.

With action sequences that will not look out of place in the frames of a purely shounen action anime, a huge cast of characters that grow and mature as the plot progresses, as well as plot twists that seem to come from more mature titles, Magic Knight Rayearth truly offers a really memorable ride from start to finish.

Magic Knight Rayearth Trailer: Magic Knight Rayearth - trailer

Magic Knight Rayearth Main Characters List

Hikaru Shidou

Shidou Hikaru Magic Knight Rayearth

Voice Actor :Shiina, Hekiru

Standing at a mere 145 cm tall, Hikaru is the least imposing of the three magic knights. However, what she lacks in size, she makes up for in sheer heart and determination. Though she can be quite innocent and naive at times, she nonetheless is very courageous; characteristics that make her the perfect match for her role as the Knight of Fire.

Having a background in kendo, she can be a very fierce and unyielding fighter with the heart of a true warrior. She is also very protective of her friends, Umi and Fuu, whom she considers as her closest, most important friends, despite the fact that they were barely acquaintances before they were summoned to Cephiro.

Umi Ryuuzaki

Magic Knight Rayearth Ryuuzaki Umi

Voice Actor :Yoshida, Konami

The beautiful and elegant Umi is the Knight of Water, a title which sometimes contrasts with her assertive and skeptical personality. Born as the only daughter of prominent parents, she was raised as a winner, especially in her chosen sport, fencing. Though she can be quick-tempered at times, she is nonetheless a very loving girl who cares for her parents and her friends very much.

Umi is known for being the most reluctant of the three magic knights after they were summoned to Cephiro. Her relatively frequent fights with their guide, Mokona, serve as the comic relief of the series at numerous points. Just like Hikaru however, she is fiercely protective of Hikaru and Fuu, eventually taking on the role of the big sister among the three.

Fuu Hououji

Magic Knight Rayearth Hououji Fuu

Voice Actor :Kasahara, Hiroko

The quiet and reserved Fuu stands as the voice of reason among the three magic knights. Highly intelligent and logical, she is known as the smartest of the three. Despite her high academic background however, Fuu is not physically weak, being the most formidable among the three magic knights when it comes to long range fighting. WIth her impeccable skills at the bow, she becomes the formidable Knight of Wind.

The bespectacled Fuu has a tendency to doubt herself and her abilities, though she consistently proves her misconceptions wrong. Just like Hikaru and Umi, she is very protective of her friends, never hesitating to put herself in danger when it comes to protecting the people she considers as most important.

Contains Spoilers

Magic Knight Rayearth Review

One of the things that has made Magic Knight Rayearth a very successful anime during its time was the fact that it was unafraid to introduce a number of very much experimental themes into a genre that has already been cemented by classics such as Sailor Moon. With the series’ creator, CLAMP’s decision to try another angle at the mahou shoujo genre, Magic Knight Rayearth has achieved something that very few anime hence has been able to reach.

The first among these themes involves the magic knights themselves, which were presented as actual fighting leads through the course of the series. Whereas the typical mahou shoujo anime utilized girly female leads with equally girly female powers, the girls of Magic Knight Rayearth brandished swords, fought difficult hand to hand battles, and generally participated actively in every significant battle in the anime.

This brings the anime to one of its most ironic themes - Realism. Despite the fact that the title of the anime itself has the word ‘magic’ in it, the series actually explored a number of very realistic themes. The theme of death, of grief and guilt, as well as the aftermath of tragedies are explored intensively, with viewers witnessing the consequence of actions initiated in previous episodes coming to life in the present.

Magic Knight Rayearth wallpaper

In fact, the anime’s realism is represented by one thing that very few mahou shoujo anime has even attempted before. Time and again, the titular magic knights are tasked to overcome a powerful adversary, and during the course of the fight, the viewers actually witness the girls bleed, and when they do, it is not the sugarcoated blood present in a child’s anime. It is blood as it is shed in the battlefield.

The plot twists are also quite worthy of mention here as well, especially the great reveal of the first season’s conclusion, where the theme of life and love was fully explored in all its ugly detail. During the course of the first season, the viewer is expecting that the story is a typical save-the-princess type of tale, and for the most part, the plot does suggest it. Once Princess Emeraude reveals the real reason behind her decision to summon the magic knights to Cephiro however, the viewer will be see just how twisted the Pillar system of the planet really is. With her wish actually being to die in the hands of the magic knights, she becomes a key factor in the plot that propelled the growth of the three main characters.

Of course, other factors, such as the addition of the Mashins, are also quite unique to an anime in the magical girl genre. Mashins are essentially elemental gods in the form of massive, powerful mecha that the magic knights control during their key fights. And mind you, the action sequences involving the Mashins are nothing to scoff at either, carrying the same level of quality and intensity as more popular mecha titles, such as Gundam Wing, which was released at around the same time.

Lastly, and I couldn’t really help myself with this one, the series is actually very feministic. From the beginning of the plot until the climactic, satisfying end, the characters that move it are all female. The magic knights are characterized as young girls that are, though inexperienced, are brave and unafraid to get hurt for the sake of those they love. Princess Emeraude too, shows great conviction, summoning the only people from another world in order for her to be killed. Overall, for a 90’s anime that was marketed towards a young audience, this is extremely admirable.

1. Mashins

Mashins  Rayearth

Mashins are the mecha that the titular magic knights pilot during the key fights in the series. Also called the Rune Gods, the three Mashins are actually legendary guardians of Cephiro, each of which represents an element. The three magic knights are able to summon and pilot them.

Umi, the Knight of Fire pilots Celes, who appears as a blue dragon, Fuu, the Knight of Wind, pilots Windam, a massive, four-winged bird, and Hikaru, the Knight of Fire, pilots Rayearth, a being which appears as a massive wolf with a mane of fire. The three Mashins also have the ability to combine, forming an even more formidable mech.

2. Magic Knights

Magic Knights  Rayearth

Of course, the magic knights themselves are a great highlight of the anime. What is quite great about the magic knights is the fact that they are characterized as very strong female leads. Though they are young and are quite intimidated about the prospect of being the saviors of an alien world, they nonetheless rise up to the challenge and become the warriors that they are destined to be.

What is also a really great thing about the titular magic knights is the way they complement each other, such as Hikaru and Umi’s expertise in close-range combat and Fuu’s expertise on long-range attacks. Their elemental magic complements each other very well too, with Fuu’s spells mainly being support incantations while Hikaru and Umi’s are usually offensive attacks.

3. The Deconstruction

Deconstruction Rayearth

The series’ main highlight, however, is the deconstruction it initiated on the very genre it has chosen to represent. Though it was packaged as a magical girl anime, it carried a number of elements that were typically not found in anime of the same genre. Apart from this, the realistic approach to the battles, as well as the aftermath of great conflict, also deconstructs the common themes that the typical mahou shoujo anime explore.

In fact, Magic Knight Rayearth features arguably the most interesting reveal in terms of the first season’s damsel in distress and antagonist, as the two were shown to be lovers. Lovers which actually feel true love for each other, and lovers who are unwilling to live without the other. What is most admirable about the series is the fact that even the underlying theme of the main plot was deconstructed in a pretty efficient manner.

Magic Knight Rayearth is one of those anime that is really memorable. I’ve watched this more than a decade ago, but I still remember a number of key scenes in it. It is simply that type of anime that refuses to be forgotten or neglected. Truly, this is a title that deserves to be checked out. Otherwise, let us all hope that a remake may be in the works!

Till the next article, guys!



Author: Peter "Virage" de Jesus

In the game of life, the Universe deals us a hand of cards. Some revel in the fortunes they are provided. Others resort to clawing their way up with the bad hand that they are dealt. A number would fold as the years go by. Our existence is a game of chances, and in this game, we all play. I play life in Hard Mode.

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