Magic Knight Rayearth OVA

Alt title: Mahou Kishi Rayearth OVA

OVA (3 eps x 45 min)
1997
3.397 out of 5 from 1,917 votes
Rank #7,002

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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Reviews

sothis
6

StoryHikaru, 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. AnimationIt'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.SoundThere 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. CharactersThere 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.OverallI 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.

DGFischer
9.4

What to make of Magic Knight Rayearth OVA?  Think along the lines of 'Let's walk this back and try it all over again.'  A retelling and so much more.  I dare say that it is a better retelling than the original.  The review explains why. There are so many advantages for the OVA.   As a three-part set of 45-minute episodes, it takes on a much faster pace that the set of forty-nine separate 25-minute episodes.  It takes the usual ponderously slow crawl of a typical CLAMP story and introduces it to hyper-speed.  The retelling offers a fresh style, unlike the static, sometimes campy, fare of the series.  Honestly, if any of the 49 episodes of MKR ever ended with a line like 'The worse is yet to come!" ... my viewing status would have gone from 'watching' to 'stalled' post haste.  The OVA offers a much darker feel as the three girls come to grips with being the only ones to save the world from the forces of planetary destruction. But you must be prepared for a set of changes to the original. Let’s start with the three heroines.  The girls now attend the same school, so don’t look for the red uniform (Hikaru), blue uniform (Uni), or green uniform (Fuu), but brace yourself for the drab black dress which makes one think of the convent, not the junior high school.  And, yes, they are set to graduate from junior high school in a week, these girls who look like they should be leaving high school and attending university.  But no, they are fifteen, not the seventeen or eighteen one could suppose.  Even Pretty Cure had this 'age issue.'  To set the story into motion, Hikaru dreads the three separating and going their own ways.  So, Hikaru makes a wish at a cherry tree reputed to grant wishes. Enter Mokona, that burbling imp and all around nice whatever ... and a whole lot of trouble. There is a radical change in the cast.  There are fewer residents of Cephiro come to earth in this version (another benefit of the OVA), and they are all nasty this time around.  The severe irony is the battles of Umi and Fuu against Ascot and Ferio.  In the series, Ascot crushed on Umi, Fuu crushed on Ferio.  In the OVA Ascot tries to crush Umi, Ferio crush Fuu.  And Ferio is not the brother of Princess Emeraulde, Eagle Vision is (and he is not even a Cephiro-ian).  Master Clef is far better in the OVA, not presented as a unicorn wannabe, but cuts a noble figure.  There is a love affair between Zagato and Emeraulde, but nothing like suicide to suck the joy out of that.  Now, Emeraulde is a bitter demi-goddess gaining any type of joy from destroying worlds. Cephiro is a dead planet, and more.  Think of the place as a monolithic Galactus which invades a world and slowly removes the life forms and rapidly smashes buildings.  All this by placing Cephiro Palace (a dark, ugly pile of bricks sans the trio of pillars which represented the life of that world) in some prominent spot (like the Tokyo Tower, place where the Magic Knights launched their adventures into Cephiro in the series).  Bad guy Eagle Vision aids his mourning sister by hiding the fact of Zagato's death through acts of murder, mayhem, and general Armageddon.  This concept was hard to sell, much less understand. The OVA cuts through the steps of acquiring escudo, get some rudimentary sword and armor, and evolve towards the status of controller of a rune-god.  No sooner than gain the color-coded ovum-gem imbedded on the hand (red for fire, blue for water, green for wind), the girls armor up and smackdown on the bad Cephiro people.  And, of course, this builds towards the combination of the three into the supreme rune-god Rayearth to polish off the threat and restore Japan and the world.  The three go on to graduate, but, knowing that they have shared the experience of saving Earth, they are resigned to part ways. The dark, foreboding style worked for the OVA retelling of MKR.  The sound was ominous and well-integrated into the action.  The only flaw (and this could be because I watched the dubbed version; it might fare better as subbed) was the poor synchronization of lip motion/voice production.  The pace was exhilarating, though the ending seemed overplayed.  But it is the recent trend in Pretty Cure that the team breaks up.  It could be that MKR got it right from the get-go. The whole Magic Knight Rayearth experience was rousing good fun, but the OVA does make up for any bad vibes the series would have impressed on me.

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