Magic Knight Rayearth (魔法騎士レイアース, Majikku Naito Reiāsu) is a manga series created by CLAMP that combines elements from the magical girl and mecha anime genres with parallel world fantasy. It was published in Kodansha's Nakayoshi from November 1993 to April 1996.
The manga was adapted into an anime series in 1994 and an OVA in 1997.
An English version of the manga is available from Tokyopop, while Media Blasters and Manga Entertainment licensed the series and OVA respectively.
While Hikaru Shidou, Umi Ryuuzaki, and Fuu Hououji are on a field trip to the Tokyo Tower with their respective schools, the girls are blinded by a flash of light and hear a voice calling for the Legendary Magic Knights to save Cephiro. They fall through the sky into another world. Once there, they meet Master Mage Clef who explains, "In Cephiro, one's will has the ability to change reality for better or worse. The dark fears in people's hearts become monsters, while a well-intended wish can do miracles. One person, the Pillar, whose will is stronger than anyone else's, is responsible for maintaining through her prayers the well-being of Cephiro."
In the first story arc, the current Pillar, Princess Emeraude, has been captured by her high priest, Zagato. The three girls are charged with the task of saving the Princess by activating the three Rune-Gods (魔神, Mashin). They are given a bizarre creature named Mokona to guide them on their journey. When the girls finally reach Emeraude, they learn that she had fallen in love with Zagato, hindering her ability to pray solely for Cephiro's well-being, and had summoned the Magic Knights to kill her since no one on Cephiro could harm the Pillar.
The second story arc deals with the complications caused by the first season's climax: three warring planets have begun their attempts to conquer Cephiro and a new Pillar must be chosen before the whole planet is destroyed. Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu are once again summoned to Cephiro. In the manga it is later discovered that the mysterious Mokona is responsible for their being summoned back to Cephiro, and he is, in fact, the creator of both the Earth and Cephiro. In the anime they return to Cephiro because of their (especially Hikaru's) strong desire to do so.
Eventually, Hikaru is chosen to become the new Pillar. However, she rebels against the Pillar system, deciding that the fate of the planet should not be the responsibility of only one person, effectively preventing that person from ever being able to live and love freely.
Hikaru Shidou (獅堂 光, Shidō Hikaru) (Lucy Shido or Lucy González) is an eighth-grade girl with scarlet hair and matching red eyes. Although she is small for her age and often teased for her boyishness, Hikaru displays the most leadership traits out of the three. She is headstrong, determined, and loyal. She also displays childish characteristics, and does not understand or know what is going on during fight scenes (reinforcing her younger age, compared to Umi and Fuu). She becomes discouraged during fight scenes as well, but pulls through in the end because of Umi and Fuu standing by her side and her courage stems from the support of their friendship.
Hikaru is the Magic Knight of Fire. Her spells include Arrow of Fire and Crimson Lightning. Her upgraded sword turns to flames when someone other than herself touches it.
Umi Ryuuzaki (龍咲 海, Ryūzaki Umi) (Marina Ryuzaki or Marina Santana) is the only child of a rich family. Her dark blue eyes match her long, blue hair. She is quick-tempered and at first uncaring, though perhaps the best-suited for the task at hand, but is also the most reluctant. She is skeptical of many things, included Mokona's inclination to help the three girls. As the oldest of the three girls, she is very protective of Hikaru and Fuu, and fulfills the "Big Sister" role of the three.
She is the Magic Knight of Water. Her spells include Water Dragon and Azure Hurricane. Her upgraded sword turns to water when someone other than herself touches it.
Fuu Hououji (鳳凰寺 風, Hōōji Fū) (Anemone Hououji or Anais Araujo) is the voice of reason. She has green eyes and blonde hair (the only girl with hair and eyes that do not match). She is also highly intelligent, though this goes more for booksmarts than streetsmarts. She often has moments where she doubts herself, but ends up coming out strong in the end. Her intelligence and calm-nature help her in situations and contrast Hikaru's short-temper. She is also in love with Ferio.
She is the Magic Knight of Wind. Her spells are more defensive than Umi and Hikaru's, and include Winds of Protection and Winds of Healing. Her sword becomes too heavy to lift if anyone other than herself tries to wield it.
The manga was originally serialized in Kodansha's Nakayoshi magazine between November 1993 and April 1996. Since then, the manga has also been released in the United States in English by TOKYOPOP (initially named Mixx) in six volumes, with three volumes in each series. The English version of the manga was at first issued in a flipped left to right format, but was re-released in the original right to left format.
The anime series aired first on Japan's Yomiuri TV on October 17, 1994 and ended on November 27, 1995. It was directed by Toshihiro Hirano and co-produced by Yomiuri TV and Tokyo Movie Shinsha (now TMS Entertainment). The anime actually had 2 seasons, lasting 49 episodes altogether. The TV series is licensed in the U.S. by Media Blasters and is dubbed by Bang Zoom! Entertainment. It was both released on VHS and DVD. The DVDs contain both the Japanese and English language tracks, as well as bonus features including interviews with the English voice actors Julie Maddalena (Hikaru), Wendee Lee (Umi/Emeraude), Bridget Hoffman (Fuu), Kaeko Sakamoto (Mokona) and Lex Lang (Zagato/Lantis), respectively on each disc in the first season.
A three-part OVA was released in Japan a few years after the end of the manga and the TV series. The OVA was named simply Rayearth and its story was quite different from the original. The characters are all the same, but the relationships, places and events changed radically. Here we find that Hikaru, Umi and Fuu are already friends who go to the same school and will soon be leaving for high school. Suddenly, a strange fairy (which turns out to be Mokona, the creature from the original series) appears in front of them. At the same time, strange monsters and wizards start to appear in the city of Tokyo. One of them is Clef, who tries to guide the three girls in order to let them become the Magic Knights, awaken their Mashin and fight against the evil wizards from Cephiro, who are trying to invade the human world. The OVA is licensed in the U.S. by Manga Entertainment.
Magic Knight Rayearth, an adventure RPG set in the first TV season, was released for the Sega Saturn. A Super Famicom role-playing game was also released.
There are also five other, less known video games based on the series: a Sega Pico title called Magic Knight Tanjou, two short RPGs for Game Boy, plus a raising sim and another RPG for Sega Game Gear. These were all exclusively released in Japan, except for the Saturn game, which saw a localized release in the US.
Other Media Edit
Two art books were published by Kodansha, ans well as by Tokyopop in English. Four script books, a "Behind the Scenes Special Volume," two calenders, and a CD-Rom screen saver were also published exclusively by Kodansha.