“Magic Knight Rayearth”

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In “Mag­ic Knight Rayearth”, three Japan­ese high school girls are trans­port­ed to the fan­ta­sy realm of Cephi­ro on a mis­sion to save it and res­cue Princess Emer­aude from the grasp of the evil High Priest Zagato.

Except its not that easy, nor is it that cut-and-dried. Zaga­to has a host of fol­low­ers to attack and divert the three girls on their mis­sion to gain the pow­er they need to com­plete their task; in addi­tion, there’s anoth­er sto­ry behind the one before them, one that will result in pain and suf­fer­ing for all involved.

Descrip­tion: “Mag­ic Knight Rayearth” is a man­ga and ani­me series pro­duced by the pro­lif­ic CLAMP pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny, one of the biggest ani­me and man­ga pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies in Japan. One of their best pro­duc­tions, I think, is Mag­ic Knight Rayearth, for rea­sons that will be appar­ent soon.

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Mag­ic Knight Rayearth is the sto­ry of three Japan­ese high school girls, Umi Ryu­uza­ki, Fuu Houou­ji and Hikaru Shi­dou, who, on a class tour of Tokyo Tow­er, are swept away to the land of Cephi­ro to become Mag­ic Knights and res­cue Princess Emer­aude from High Priest Zaga­to. (But any­one who has ever been inside Tokyo Tow­er as I have know there is lit­tle room for even one school tour of the obser­va­tion deck, let alone three.) At first they are con­fused and reluc­tant to believe their predica­ment, but they rapid­ly start believ­ing. And while they may be just school­girls, each does have some mar­tial qual­i­ty that enables them to sur­vive on Cephi­ro: red­head Hikaru’s fam­i­ly owns a kendo dojo so she is expe­ri­enced wield­ing a sword, blue-haired Umi is the cap­tain of the fenc­ing squad and can wield a sabre or foil, and blonde Fuu is on the archery team. Togeth­er, they start on their quest to awak­en the Man­shin and gain the pow­er of true Mag­ic Knights.

‘The Fearsome Illusionist Caldina’

Along the way, they encounter oppo­si­tion from Zaga­to in the form of his min­ions, which includes Cal­d­ina the Charmer. Vain, self-cen­tered and mer­ce­nary, and those are her pos­i­tive qual­i­ties. As a Charmer, she can entrance peo­ple with her danc­ing, and she can cast some pret­ty effec­tive illu­sions, as well. But her first assault, using only her illu­sions, was ren­dered inef­fec­tive when the Knights saw through the illu­sions. That’s when she switch­es tac­tics and approach­es them directly.

The Most Valuable Thing in this World

While Mag­ic Knight Fuu was seek­ing the Man­shin Win­dom, Cal­d­ina approach­es the oth­er two Mag­ic Knights, lulling them off-guard with her charm­ing South­ern ways. (In the ani­me, she speaks with a South­ern accent: South­ern as in Osa­ka, Japan. In the Eng­lish dub, she does speak like a South­ern belle.) Then sud­den­ly she turns on the oth­er two Mag­ic Knights, danc­ing them into a trance accom­pa­nied by the hyp­not­ic chim­ing of the bells in her slip­pers, gloves and ear­rings. (Trances always in ani­me are rep­re­sent­ed by the iris becom­ing a flat col­ored disk, with­out pupil.)

When Fuu emerges, hav­ing been told by Win­dom that she must show the strength of her heart, she is attacked by Hikaru and Umi. Sweet, gen­tle Fuu (def­i­nite­ly the Super­ego of the three) is com­plete­ly unwill­ing to do any­thing to harm her friends, so she reach­es into her heart and casts a spell that immo­bi­lizes her friends in swirling whirl­winds. Then she turns on Cal­d­ina, who dances away. Because Fuu drew her own sword to attack Cal­d­ina, Cal­d­ina is able to enchant Fuu’s arm to have her attack her friends. Fuu tries to resist, enough so that the wounds she inflicts are small, until Cal­d­ina tires of play­ing with her and com­mands her to strike. But what Cal­d­ina does not notice is the wind (Fuu’s ele­ment, just as fire is Hikaru’s and water is Umi’s) ris­ing and rush­ing. Just as Cal­d­ina orders Fuu to strike her friends, Fuu’s heart and love for her friends gives her the strength to resist Cal­d­ina’s mag­ic, and she sends a tor­na­do of wind against her. That breaks Cal­d­ina’s hold over her forever.

Cal­d­ina is impressed, and asks how long the three have been friends, such that she has such love for them and when Fuu replies that it has only been only a few days, Cal­d­ina does­n’t under­stand. Fuu replies that the heart does not under­stand time. Fuu also asks if Cal­d­ina would die for Zaga­to, as Fuu would for her friends: the self-cen­tered Cal­d­ina would hard­ly do that. Fuu’s speech caus­es Cal­d­ina to recon­sid­er her actions and she decides to leave and leave the Mag­ic Knights alone.

A Powerful Foe! Lafarga the Swordmaster’

When it comes time for Hikaru’s tri­al, she must over­come the swords­man Lafar­ga, who is under a spell of coer­cion from Zaga­to. A vast­ly supe­ri­or swords­man, Lafar­ga is posed to defeat Hikaru, and her friends are for­bid­den to inter­fere, but when he grasps Hikaru’s sword which bursts into flame. The shock and the pain break the spell he was under and Hikaru gains the pow­er of the Manshin.

They con­tin­ue on, even­tu­al­ly dis­cov­er­ing the ulti­mate rea­son for them being sum­moned: I won’t explain, but its a tri­al that no adult should be put through, let alone 14-year old girls. But they fin­ish their mis­sion and return to Tokyo Tow­er in a flash of light, friends for­ev­er, bound by a shared sor­row that is so great that three hearts are need­ed to hold it.


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But that is not the end of the sto­ry, nor the last we see of Caldina.

The three girls are in a seri­ous funk, and there is no one they can tell about it. They find solace with each oth­er, meet­ing at the same spot where they first went to Cephi­ro. Know­ing they left a world  need­ing them and want­i­ng to return, they are sur­round­ed by anoth­er flash of light and sud­den­ly they are back in Cephiro.

But a very changed Cephiro.

Cephi­ro is rapid­ly suc­cumb­ing to chaos. There is no Pil­lar, which was Princess Emer­aude, the one per­son who main­tained the bal­ance and sta­bil­i­ty of the world. With­out her, the world is falling apart, lit­er­al­ly into the void. One place remains sta­ble, the result of the willpow­er of the remain­ing magi­cians. When Hikaru, Umi and Fuu arrive, they are met by some old friends, includ­ing Cal­d­ina, who is now paired with Lafar­ga, as well as Guru Clef, Ascot and Ferio.

There is hope: the prophe­cy says that anoth­er Pil­lar would be found to restore Cephi­ro, which has brought oth­ers seek­ing that pow­er, and then the Mag­ic Knights arrive, although only the pow­er of the Pil­lar could have caused it.

In addi­tion, three oth­er king­doms are vying to con­quer Cephi­ro and become the Pil­lar: mech­a­nis­tic Autozam, Chi­nese Impe­r­i­al Chizeten and Ara­bi­an arabesque Fahren, and (in the ani­me ver­sion) a dark­er threat is also unleased against Cephi­ro, one born from the dark­ness of the heart of one of the Mag­ic Knights. The Mag­ic Knights must don the Man­shin once again to defend Cephi­ro until the one des­tined to be the new Pil­lar is found.

Autozam’s Invasion and Lantis’

In the first such bat­tle, Ascot tries to fol­low Umi out into bat­tle, as he has a tremen­dous crush on her, so much that he used his own mag­ic to make him­self old­er. How­ev­er, such a move would only dis­tract the Mag­ic Knights and also be fruit­less for him, as well. In order to pre­vent him, Cal­d­ina leaps before him and entrances him into a deep sleep.

With more foes, the sec­ond sea­son of the series is twice as long as the first. Umi, Fuu and Hikaru take com­fort and assis­tance from their old friends and in true fash­ion, turn their ene­mies into friends as well. But all of the bat­tles are noth­ing com­pared to the tri­al that will deter­mine the fate of the Pil­lar, one that one of the Mag­ic Knights alone will pass. But that also means their loss, as they will irrev­o­ca­bly the lost as the Pil­lar as Princess Emer­aude was, and the oth­er two Mag­ic Knights add their own will to free their com­rade. In the end, the Pil­lar revokes the pow­er of the Pil­lar, say­ing that the world is too big to be the respon­si­bil­i­ty for just one per­son, that all should share that respon­si­bil­i­ty so that no one should have to forego love as had the Princess.

With Cephi­ro safe, the three girls return to Earth, either nev­er to return (as in the ani­me) or able to return when­ver they wish (as in the man­ga). Either way, the wounds on their hearts were healed know­ing that even though their actions caused them grief, Cephi­ro ben­e­fit­ed: even Emer­aude, in her last words unheard by the Mag­ic Knights, thanked them and wished they would not grieve for what they did. And with their sec­ond trip to Cephi­ro they were able to heal both their wounds and the world of Cephiro.


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Com­men­tary: Umi, Fuu and Hikaru are a typ­i­cal fic­tion­al three­some, exem­pli­fy­ing the Freudi­an Ego, Super­ego and Id: Fuu is the com­pas­sion­ate one, the Ego; Umi is the proud one, the Super­ego and Hikaru is the pas­sion­ate one, the Id. Each draws upon that in grow­ing as an individual.

The series should not be con­fused with the three-part OVA release with the same name. The OVA sto­ry has the three girls defend­ing Earth from an inva­sion by magi­cians from Cephi­ro and aid­ed by Guru Clef in acquir­ing the Man­shin with which they defeat the invaders. Cal­d­ina does not make an appear­ance although oth­er of Zaga­to’s min­ions do.

The series proved pop­u­lar enough that sev­er­al ver­sions of com­put­er RP games were pro­duced based on the series.

Ref­er­ences:

Triv­ia:

  • Fuu Houou­ji lit­er­al­ly means “Wind of Phoenix Temple”
  • Umi Ryu­uza­ki lit­er­al­ly means “Sea of Drag­on Blossom”
  • Cal­d­ina’s name comes from the Toy­ota Cal­d­ina.

Rec­om­men­da­tion: “Mag­ic Knight Rayearth” is one of my favorite ani­me series, and Cal­d­ina is one of my favorite ani­me char­ac­ters, so it should come as no sur­prise that I rec­om­mend the series highly.

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