Why only season 1 you ask? Well, I got burned out after watching so many other shows for this event. After seeing that season 1 of Magic Knight Rayearth only had twenty episodes, it felt like an easy choice to just throw it into my own watch. Is this as much of a mecha show as the others? Yes but no. I have heard and read from a lot of sources that season 2 is a bit heavier of a mecha show then this season, so that will be a good thing to look forward to for Mecha March 2023 if I am still going by then. I think I will, but it is hard to tell what will happen to anything over a specific course of time. But I want to continue blogging as long as I can and writing about cool things like Magic Knight Rayearth.
What is Magic Knight Rayearth? A lot of things. It is one of a few 90’s isekai anime. Three middle school girls who are visiting Tokyo Tower for their school trip are transported to a beautiful land named Cephiro in order to save it by freeing Princess Emeraude from the supposed evil Lord Zagato. There is the short but red haired Hikaru who is full of gar and refuses to leave her friends behind, Umi who is a bit of an ojou and wants to go back, and Fuu who is the tallest and the brains of the operation. This show could be called a bit of a magical girl show. As these three continue on their journey to free Princess Emeraude, they learn they have magical abilities to master in order to truly become the magical knights. Also, the girls have swords.
Lastly, even if it is a small amount of this season’s time, Magic Knight Rayearth is a mecha show. Part of the girl’s journey of being worthy of saving Cephiro is acquiring a magical mecha which is connected to each of the essence of their very souls. They are called Run-Gods and are connected to their elements. The show itself is named after Hikaru’s Rune-God Rayearth and is a god of fire. Umi’s element is water and that is what her Selece is based on. Lastly, Fuu has the power of wind and Windam is a powerful wind Rune-God. It takes most of the show for our three girls to find their worthiness to it all after showing how worthy they are, but Rune-Gods are the only way they can defeat Zagato himself.
Magic Knight Rayearth’s first season is like watching a JRPG. Something that the three girls figure out for themselves. Their journey is following a magical cute being called Makona who looks like a pokemon from one place to another in search of something that will allow them to level up. Of course, that means that there is a wide variety of challenges in terms of the setting, magical beasts that wander around it, and people sent by Zagato to take them out. It is a seemingly easy story structure but it’s very deceptively so. The character tension increases as time goes on as Cephiro falls apart and the danger gets worse and worse all the time. That sounds like nothing but expected, but the ending is a shocker that breaks up the whole pattern
There is a lot of death and sacrifices along the way which the girls have to come to terms with as their roles in Cephiro become more certain. Their journey really starts after they acquired the material to make their own magical weapons, but that means that the folger by the name of Presea sacrificed her life in order to make them. Same with the master of magic by the name of Clif turning into stone but trying her best to communicate and help the girls whenever he can anyway. In the end there is their own will that can keep the three girls going in their own time of need and wants. The girls have to grow up and change into something that the people of Cephiro can’t because no one else can do it for them. They were chosen, but that doesn’t mean it’s instant.
So clearly, this is a good growing up tale for Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu. Some girls like Hikarku instantly accept that role of Magical Knight because they are seeking something. Umi herself takes a bit before finally understanding that she can’t instantly go home and decides to walk the path with her own heart. Fuu, the most mature one, believes in Hikaru’s direction and boldness while even gaining a crush on a nice sword boy by the name of Ferio who was helpful on the girl’s journey. The problem is that the three of them were not able to fully be able to grow up on their small journey. There is one concept the girls were never fully able to master and that is love. Responsibility and duty are the only things they acquired and they missed why Emeraude was captured by Zagato in the first place. Well, it’s only season one after all.
To move in a bit of a happier direction, I love the villainous side cast of Magic Knight Rayearth. Zagato himself is a person we learn more about later, but his motley crew of bad guys are very special and suffer a lot as the girls always level up during their schemes. Acolyte is a poor attractive witch who has good schemes and is in love with Zagato, but ends up losing as the first mini boss who lives on for a while. A little differently, Ascot is a young boy under Zagato’s service who slowly understands things beyond his own personal view and becomes friends with the Magical Knights. Caldina is my favorite. The attractive rich girl who goes after the girls for money, but eventually joins Ascot in deserting Zagato. Larfaga is one of Emeraude’s Knights who was brainwashed until he meets the girls to escape it. Very simple but very good stories.
From a visual level, Magic Knight Rayearth couldn’t be more 90’s. The character designs are by Clamp because this is based off of a Clamp manga. All of them are so beautiful to look at because I don’t think Clamp can make bad character designs. The mecha and monster designs themselves are so out of this world as well. Yet, there are a lot of inconsistencies in the character art because it is from the 90’s. All the background art looks consistently great and detailed, but how tall the characters are can be so disconcerning. Fuu and Umi make fun of Hikaru for being shorter than them at the beginning, yet the art is so all over the place that it’s really hard to tell if that is the case or not most of the time.
Same with the characters just transforming in and out of a chibi form when the art direction feels like it can need it. Some action scenes look amazing and stellar to this day because of how much thought and effort are placed into them. Especially between our Magical Knights in their Rune-Gods vs Zagato and what happens afterwards. Some of the most beautiful action scenes happen in the last five episodes and it’s exceptional. Yet, the girls also have a lot of scenes where the animators turn them into chibis for comedy or to make each scene easier to put together. Not the most perfect visual experience of watching this story, but how it’s written is pretty incredible. Besides some slowness in the beginning, the story is well told and put together. I can’t wait to dive into season 2. What an absolutely solid experience of a show.