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Magic Knight Rayearth OVA Review

by: sothis
November 25, 2004

story 5.5/10

Magic Knight Rayearth OVA screenshot Hikaru, Fu, and Umi are three young women (and best friends) who are about to part ways now that school is ending. They live in Tokyo, a place where sinister things are soon to happen -- at least, if the long-dead kingdom of Cephiro and the villainous Eagle have anything to say about it. Invading their world with a fortress and powerful spirit beasts, these trespassers want nothing more than to destroy the Earth, all to satisfy one spirit, Emerald's one wish. And thus, the trio find themselves endowed with the Ovum, strange jewels that allow them to call upon guardian spirits, and even fuse with them to fight off the evil. With that, the story begins...

The story of RayEarth is really nothing exciting, and is fairly generic to boot. Elements of X TV, Please Save My Earth, and others are in the forefront, with the entire thing seeming like it came straight out of an RPG. You have the typical good versus evil, strange armored beasts (that look like something straight out of an American cartoon crossed with Eva), magical powers, guardian spirits, and an array of fantasy characters that you probably recognize, since they look very much like most fantasy series out there. The pacing is slow at times, especially since the three episodes are 40 minutes each. I think the problem was the amount of stuff they tried to squish into a 2 hour time frame. I found it to be like watching a movie which is a condensed version of an entire series -- everything seemed rushed, and it seemed like the girls were ALWAYS fighting someone new, without many old things being explained still. With the exception of the third episode (which still isn't completely revealing), we are assaulted with a barrage of names, places, and vague plot undertones, making the OVA all the more confusing. While the last episode does explain some things, I felt like some of the core plot points still weren't explained very well, which doesn't help RayEarth's case. Think of it this way... there are so much fantasy anime out there, that in order for an anime series to be interesting or unique, it needs to have a very interesting and unusual plot. Unfortunately with RayEarth, it tries to elude to one, but ends up failing and just makes us wonder why things weren't explained clearer. Plus, any sort of plot was overshadowed by the constant pseudo-mecha-beast fighting scenes, which probably take up at least 60% of the entire OVA. The girls, of course, somehow know all the special attack moves to use after they've just fused for the first time, etc.

I don't know... in general this was definitely just something you'd watch for eye candy, and the story did suffer because of it.

animation 8/10

It's easy to see just from the screenshots that the highlight of RayEarth was the animation and visuals. Like many other fantasy series out there, the characters are very stereotypical for the genre, with thin elvish features, huge eyes, sweeping hair, and a general flowing look to the designs. Colors used were rich and vibrant, especially when each of the girls would use their patented spirit beast move (each one corresponding to a certain color). Though, for two of the three episodes I was under the impression that Eagle and Clef were the same person. Why? They both looked almost identical, except slightly different hair. These two weren't bothers or related in any way, so I wish they would have had more defining features, so their appearances wouldn't have been misleading.

There were only a few aspects of the animation that I really didn't like, one of which was the super cheesy looking purple lightning, and terribly bad looking explosions (fire included). With such new looking animation, it was fairly surprising that these two things looked so old and somewhat ridiculous. In addition, the spirit beast/mecha type guys were very generic looking and seemed to fit better in an American cartoon, or an Eva ripoff. Of course, the girls had to be naked in them as well. I feel it would have been more appropriate if they would have been just beasts, since anything robotic looking really doesn't fit well in a super fantasy anime such as this. So, in summary, beautiful animation with only a few flaws.

sound 8/10

There were two different types of music in RayEarth: one song in particular sounded almost identical to the theme music in the SNES Zelda game (giving me a nostalgic feeling each time it was played), and the rest of the music sounded like a cross between Harry Potter tunes, and some excerpts from Edward Scissorhands. Normally I'd mark down the music section big time if I felt the music was ripping off something else, but the music fit so well for the content and tone of the OVA that I can't help but give it a high score. The mood seemed fairly apocalyptic, and the sweeping orchestral and synthesized tracks were a good complement. Voices seemed fine for everyone, though some of the actors are the same that you hear in damn near every fantasy anime out there. Only one guy in particular (I don't remember his name, there were tons of random characters) had a voice which didn't seem to fit his appearance.

characters 5.5/10

There were definitely a plethora of characters to be found in the OVA, but not many of them left very much of an impression. Tons of names were given, but unless you've read the manga, I'd assume, not many of them would stay memorable after about 2 minutes. The few main characters we do wonder about (such as Emerald) aren't developed much. The three girls are definitely the main characters, but they seem shallow and weak, as far as I'm concerned. We only know they are friends, but we can't become sympathetic for them or feel how strong their friendship supposedly is. In general I was really disappointed with how the characters were portrayed, but as I mentioned above, a large percentage of the OVA was just dealing with the girls fighting other spirit monsters, which left a great deal to be desired.

overall 6/10

I had been quite excited to watch this OVA, since it looked beautiful and most fantasy things usually have some merit to them. Unfortunately, RayEarth ended up being comprised of not much else of substance, leaving us wanting more as far as plot, more as far as strong characters and development, and a slower pace that would have allowed the viewers to grow into the story, instead of making us feel rushed. The 6 is mostly for the visuals, with perhaps a few half points for the story. Keep in mind that there's a good chance you'd enjoy this if you are interested in watching anything fantasy based, since this definitely is a strong fantasy story. It also does have the advantage of being slightly more unusual than most, as it doesn't take place in a fantasy world; rather, it takes place in Tokyo, making it seem more apocalyptic. All in all, a fairly generic watch that would appeal to fantasy fans, or those that want pretty visuals. All others probably need not apply.

Anime Info

  • OVA (3 eps x 45 min)
  • 1997

Hikaru, Umi, and Fu are 3 best friends who are soon to go their seperate ways, until fate interjects and their lives are changed forever. From the skies comes the fortress of Cephiro, a long-dead land whose leader, Eagle, is desperate to destroy the Earth and fulfill his sister's one wish. The only hope for humanity is the three who are endowed with the Ovum, allowing them to fuse with guardian spirits capable of fighting off the evil. With the demise of the world eminent and the Cephiro's invaders ready for attack, the fate of all people lies with these girls, mystical powers, and hope...

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About the Author

sothis's avatar

sothis

My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

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