A little over a week ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the Mini Manga Readathon portion of the Japanese Readathon. During this event, I had the chance to read several great manga series, including Magic Knight Rayearth and Magic Knight Rayearth II, which were both created by CLAMP.
Magic Knight Rayearth is a three-volume manga series that tells the story of three middle school girls (Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu), who find themselves being transported to a magical realm known as Cephiro right in the middle of their schools’ field trips to Tokyo Tower.
Cephiro is a place where “belief is power,” and it’s in serious trouble (CLAMP 66). The pillar of Cephiro, Princess Emeraude, has been imprisoned by a man named Zagato. Fortunately, the princess has managed to summon Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu from their world to fulfill the duties of the legendary Magic Knights. With Zagato’s forces hounding them every step of the way, the girls will have a tough time completing the tasks required to transform themselves into the Magic Knights, but it’s the only way to save Cephiro…and the only way they will ever be able to return to their own world.
Magic Knight Rayearth II is also three volumes in length, and takes place sometime after the events of the first trilogy. Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu return to Cephiro to find it in chaos, with the leaders of three different realms attempting an invasion. The Magic Knights decide to put their battle skills to use once again, this time to protect the world (and the friends) they’ve come to care so much about.
The Magic Knight Rayearth series is one of the best fantasy manga series that I’ve had the opportunity to read! Not only do both trilogies tell fantastic stories, but the artwork is incredible. CLAMP is known for their beautiful artwork, and the action sequences, character designs, and backgrounds of Magic Knight Rayearth are all gorgeous!
If you are interested in reading the Magic Knight Rayearth manga for yourself, I would recommend getting both parts of the series from the same publisher. My own copies of the omnibuses were released by two different companies, TOKYOPOP and Dark Horse. As a result, there were some differences in the spellings of character and place names that initially caught me off guard while I was reading.
I would also recommend having Magic Knight Rayearth II on hand while reading the first trilogy. I can guarantee that you’re going to want to get started on the second story immediately after finishing the first.
I’ve read this series a couple of times now, but the first time I experienced Magic Knight Rayearth was as an anime series. Like many other anime adaptations, there are quite a few differences between the animated version of Magic Knight Rayearth and its source material. It’s been quite a while since I last watched the anime, but it seems like there were far more changes made to Magic Knight Rayearth II than to the first part of the series.
Even though there are quite a few differences between them, I actually liked both the manga and anime adaptation. If I had to choose a favorite, I would probably go with the original manga, simply because I’m such a big fan of CLAMP’s artwork. There are several pictures in the manga that I would love to have framed for my office…if I could only find prints of them.
Magic Knight Rayearth also has its own OVA (original video animation), which is just called Rayearth. While it has an interesting story and great animation, it is almost completely different from the original manga. If you’re already a fan of Magic Knight Rayearth, the Rayearth OVA is definitely worth watching. However, if you’re looking for a faithful adaptation of the manga, then this is not the one you’re looking for.
If you are a fan of fantasy and manga, I highly recommend checking out Magic Knight Rayearth and Magic Knight Rayearth II (both the manga and anime adaptation). They are both great stories, with amazing artwork and characters that I’m sure you will love.