As with many series of my childhood, Rayearth has been republished in a hardback anniversary edition with enlarged pages and beautiful covers. In honor of the 25th Anniversary, I will be providing reviews of every volume. I have also reviewed this 6-volume series previously in one review.
Rayearth begins with a mysterious young girl praying for the Magic Knights to save her world. We then join several schools on a field trip to Tokyo Tower. Three girls - Hikaru, Fuu, and Umi - from separate schools are singled out and pulled into a magical realm known as Cefiro (previously published as Cephiro). These three ladies careen through the sky of a land that is very clearly not Japan. They are rescued by a sorcerer, Guru Clef, who explains to them that the Pillar of Cefiro, the kidnapped Princess Emeraude, has summoned them to the world to become the legendary Magic Knights and save them all. Clef bestows upon them magical armor and points them in the direction of a weapon-maker, just before he is overtaken by evil minions. The three find out from Presea, the weapon maker, that they will need to adventure to obtain materials for their individual weapons, and all of this will culminate in awakening the Rune Gods in order to save Emeraude and Cefiro.
CLAMP is a group of female writers known for their succinct storylines and fast-paced plots. Rayearth is not a drawn-out story, and this first volume has a lot of information and world building packed into 200 pages.
The world of Cefiro plays much like a Japanese RPG, so the structure of fetch-quests is something very familiar to many. The first volume lacks a bit in character building, but through the side comments and actions of the main three, we get a little bit of a sense of who they are. By the end of this first volume, you have a basic sense that Hikaru is loyal and strong-willed, that Umi is delicate and fast-acting, and that Fuu is logical and caring. The supporting cast is presented with a very surface-level characterization.
The rich world of Cefiro is the main star of the story so far. The illustrations of this story are highly detailed. CLAMP is known for their dark, heavy eyes and elaborate costuming. There are several 2-page spreads that are even more stunning in this enlarged edition. But the illustrations and story don't take themselves completely seriously. There is a liberal use of chibi characters when they are frustrated or overly excited.
This beautiful, fun adventure story stands up to the test of time, and is one many will be enjoying for years to come.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 5-12
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Elementary School, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Fantasy, Magical Girl, Isekai
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