Three friends, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu, are about to graduate from junior high school, and are going to different high schools. They make a wish under a special tree to remain together. But the fairy within the tree, Mokona, has chosen them to defend Earth from the invading world of Cephiro, and the three friends must bond with legendary Machine Gods to save their home.
Hmm. This isn't exactly the Rayearth we know and love. It's darker. It's grittier. It's a lot less hopeful.
And it's nowhere nearly as good as the TV series.
First off, it looks like they tried to cash in on the Evangelion gimmick, what with the Rayearth girls suddenly looking like Pilgrims off the Mayflower and getting crucified. And then we have Tokyo being destroyed for the umpteenth time (ooh, how original) while the girls strip to get in their mecha. What is it with naked girls piloting mecha anyway? You don't see the male characters stripping for their mecha, do you? Of course not.
And the characters weren't really there at all. Instead of the vivacious leads of the original, we get melodramatic, but shallow characterizations of schoolgirls who are little more than naked batteries for the Machine Gods. Yeah, isn't that great. Even Mokona's character gets screwed. How's that for wrong?
While the animation is better for having an OAV budget, it's also a lot darker and muddier, and definitely not pretty. The character designs are a bit nicer than the TV series designs, but they're not really CLAMP. And the music is pretty forgettable in the grand scheme of anime.
In fact, the whole show really doesn't feel like it was ever a CLAMP concept. Yeah, we know CLAMP conceived X, but the Magic Knight Rayearth manga never felt like it was intended to be consistently this dark. Now, if there hadn't been a previous TV series to compare this to, the creators of the OAVs might have gotten away with it all. Unfortunately, those expecting a repeat of the TV series, or even an interesting take on the Rayearth phenomenon, will be disappointed with this nihilistic Goth-wannabe series. This series throws familiar characters into unnatural situations that don't make sense, and it reinforces the stereotype of the alternate universe genre never being as good as the original.
Fans of angst might like the Rayearth OAVs, but for the rest of us who prefer characterization, plot, and storyline, or angst leavened with a healthy dose of optimism and hope, it would be better to stick with the TV series and forget this ever existed.
Recommended Audience: Recommended for teens and up. There's some violence and some nudity (though at least it's not explicit nudity). No sex, no language, but definitely darker in theme than the television series crowd would like.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (3/3)
Rayearth © 1997 CLAMP
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