Reviewby Chris Shepard, Jan 8th 2002
For Umi, Fuu and Hikaru, the tranquil beauty of springtime in Tokyo is not met with accustomed enthusiasm. Now that they've graduated from junior high, the unwelcome prospect of attending different high schools threatens to break up their intimate friendship. But when the girls make a fanciful wish to remain together while beneath an enchanted cherry tree, they quickly find their friendship tested in more demanding ways than they ever expected.
Monkona, the fairy residing within the legendary tree, has chosen the three unsuspecting friends to defend the Earth in a battle against extra-dimensional forces threatening to consume the planet. But they are not alone in their struggle. With the guidance of Clef, a rogue priest from the invading world of Cephiro, Hikaru discovers Lexus – the first of three ancient allies duty bound to aid the girls. Merging with this fearsome deity of fire, Hikaru must protect her friends from the assault of Cephiro's ice-witch Alcyone.
The original TV series and manga of Magic Knight Rayearth, created by the all female production studio Clamp, was one of the few series in existence that managed to blended both mecha, shoujo, and comedy all into one production. Capitalizing off its large success, a new version of Rayearth was created. With a high production value and redefined character designs, the new OVA series was titled “Rayearth”.
Instead of creating a sort of sequel to the series, a “remake” was done instead. Gone are all the goofy comedy acts of the TV series in hope to create a much more serious version of the story. Various characters now have different relationships toward each other as well as reworked personalities.
As touched on above, the main cast of Rayearth have all received makeovers. With the higher production value of an OVA, the characters look simply gorgeous. The detail put into each frame is amazing. The female cast looks much more attractive and bishounen fans are sure to think the same about the male characters as well.
As with the character designs, the mecha designs look stunning as well. The animation is good and the action scenes are swift. While better mecha fights have been done before and none of these were completely spectacular, they did look good and fit the job. Action fans will be entertained.
Rayearth offers quite an endearing story as well. The three girls Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu all learn and deal with how they first became friends and what their friendship means to them. They all have personalities of their own and are very likable. The antagonists of Rayearth have personalities as well and it shows. Viewers can't help but to be absorbed by the story and root for their favorite characters. Rayearth is very well done.
The dubbed version provided by Manga Video was excellent. While voice cast is different than that of the TV series released by Media Blasters, every character sounds right and acts well. Dub fans should be happy.
Rayearth is an exciting series with a little something for everyone. It has its mecha, sparse shoujo themes, and a good story. The only area Rayearth falls a little short on are the mecha battles themselves, as far too many close up shots are used to avoid animating the entire suits at once. However, everything else was handled perfectly. Rayearth is an uplifting anime series worth the attention of any fans of the themes said above. This is definitely one to check out.
Overall (dub) : B+
Animation : B
Art : A
Music : B
+ Successfully combines mecha and shoujo. An endearing story.
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