The story of three Japanese girl, who get transported into another world as with a mission to “save” the princess who, as it’s said, has been kidnapped. The first they meet is Guru Clef who gives them armor (which is a evolving one) and magic, then urges them to find Presea, while he stales Alcyone who came to attack them under Zagato’s orders.
They manage to arrive to the hidden house where they first get treated as intruders, but after saying Clef’s name, Persea releases them – lands them weapons, tell them they have to find the mineral Escudo, so she can smith them their own weapons, and gives them Mokona to lead them to the Eternal spring, where this mineral is, but they have to pass the Silent forest, where they can’t use magic.
In the forest they are saved by Ferio, who Fuu manages to convince being their bodyguard as they know how to exit the forest. He accepts, as actually he is lost but doesn’t want to admit it, and they manage to exit the forest, Umi being first to exit, is attacked by Alcyone. Hikaru defends them, but she is no mach and here is when Umi finds her magic and so does Fuu.
Arriving at the Eterna spring they jump in and had to pass a trial, which is Hikaru being attacked by her beloved dog, Umi by her parents, and Fuu by herself. The three finally understand it’s an illusion and manage to beat the trial, and when they wake up they are out of the spring and Persea is waiting for them , and also creates their own weapons.
Their mission now is to go awake the Mashin, first Mokona leads them to the Temple under water, where Seles sleeps, and Umi gets in trance while Fuu and Hikaru are attacked by Ascot. This is Umi’s trial and she defeats Ascot by teaching him what real friendship means. Seles accepts her as his Magic Knight.
Second stop is the temple in the air, where starts Fuu’s trial, while Umi and Hikaru are attacked by Caldina this time, who hypnotizes them, making them attack Fuu, who imprisons them with her wind magic, and wins against Caldina, by the sheer force of friendship.
The last stop before the main battle is the temple in the Vulcano, where Hikaru is the one to await trial; they get attacked by Lafarga, and he is much stronger than them – Rayearth tempts her by telling her to abandon her friends and escape, but she not only doesn’t escape, she does not uses the magic to win against Lafarga, because they are swordsmen. In the end she wins, and aside Rayearth accepting her, she also liberates the blond’s mind from the control.
The last battle begins, with them facing Zagato in his Mashin, where he tells them that he wants Emeraude free from being a pillar and that is not fair that she has to suffer on behave of all the people, but she can’t have happiness, so he wants to kill them; but they win and he dies. Which makes Emeraude go berserk, where we finally find out that she loved Zagato, and she started thinking more about him than praying for wellbeing of Cephiro – she attacks them; and in a moment of lucidity she reveals the real mission to the girls: saving her, means killing her. That is the only thing they can do, so they give her last wish by killing her and letting her soul being reunited with her loved one. Leaving them depressed and full of grief… that is how the first 3 volumes end.
The beginning of the second part is when the girl’s families see them depressed but they don’t know how to help (they can’t tell them – hey I went into another world where I had to kill two people); they meet again at Tokyo Tower where they talk, and how they wish to see Cephiro again. Their wish is granted and they are back in what they can’t recognize as the same place they were before.
They arrive to the castle meeting Clef again, who, after they tell him they want to help, he gives them their armor and weapons, telling them that without pillar Chepiro will be destroyed. And that Autozam, Pharen and Chezeta are on the route to Cephiro; with their leaders as potential pillars. They also find out that Ferio is indeed Emeraude’s younger brother.
They get called by the Mashin as they need to bond again with them, while doing it they are attacked by a Mecha from Autozam and it’s the first time they meet Eagle Vision, who battles Hikaru, but their duel is stopped by Lantis.
When back at the castle, Hikaru and the girls meet again Cladina, Lafarga and Ascot, who is not a kid anymore, and there is a first meeting with Lantis, when they find out he is Zagato’s younger brother.
The girls aren’t able to sleep, being to what happened during their first stay there, so they aren’t able to sleep. Clef helps Umi getting better, Ferio tells Fuu that they shouldn’t be guilty, they just did what they were asked to, and Hikaru she finds Lantis and tells him that he should be angry just with her, because it was her who killed his older brother.
During the next days they see how the world is crumbling slowly without the will of a pillar to keep it up, and the during this time we find out the motivation of everyone involved aside the Cephiro people - Lantis wants to destroy the pillar system, so that the tragedy wouldn't happen again, Eagle Vision wants Cephiro because he wants his save his country due to smog, princess Asuka just wants the place, while princess Tatra and Tarta want it because Chizeta run out of place for their people.
During the battle, Mokona reveals himself as the god who created everything and that the last judgment for the new pillar goes on Hikaru and Eagle Vision - they are transported into another dimension; to the Earth, which also is one of the worlds created by him.
Hikaru shows that her will is stronger and explains why she can't let Eagle become the pillar, and that it's not everything lost, that they will go back and they will help each other without the need for him to become the pillar. Mokona at first doesn't let them both coming back - but Hikaru's will and on the other side please by Fuu and Umi, they manage to get Eagle out of there along with Hikaru... and everyone lives happily ever after.
Written and illustrated by Clamp, Magic Knight Rayearth appeared as a serial in the Japanese magazine Nakayoshi from November 1993 to February 1995. Kodansha collected the chapters in three tankobon volumes. The first was published on July 22, 1994; the last was released on March 6, 1995. The sequel also appeared in Nakayoshi from March 1995 to April 1996.
As there are two seasons for the anime series, I won’t talk much about the first season, as that one is quite similar to the first part of the manga, with the girls ending in the other world where they have the mission to “save” princess Emeraude, not knowing that this means killing her. Which, naturally the girls find out at the end. But No more on season1 as, it is almost same as the manga, if we don’t count Innova as one of the Zagato’s minions.
In the season 2 the girls get back to a decaying Cephiro, which is under attack by the forces of Autozam, Chezeta and Pharen. But there is even a worst enemy looming over their heads: Lady Debonair – born from the despair, anger, fear of Cephiro’s inhabitants; and she wants to conquest Cephiro and rule it. This part comes much darker then the manga part, the girls feel guilty, and want to help. The major changes are: Persea died in season 1 so they bring her younger twin sister in to the fold, but never tell the girls that she died. The character Nova was created from Hikaru the moment the knights killed the princess, because she was desperate to love herself again; so Nova was born and then manipulated by evil Debonair to kill Hikaru, but in the end Hikaru won and Nova returned where her place was: in Hikaru’s heart. The end of this season gives you the heartache of Eagle’s death, but warms your heart that Hikaru actually understands romantic love and tells Lantis she loves him and he answers her that he loves her back. We don’t get shown if they return to Cephiro, but I re-watched last few minutes few times – so I would say that in the anime is implied that they are able to return to the other world when they want.
The anime series aired first on Japan's Yomiuri TV on October 17, 1994, and ended on November 27, 1995. It was directed by Toshihiro Hirano and co-produced by Yomiuri TV and Tokyo Movie Shinsha (now TMS Entertainment). The anime had 2 seasons, lasting 49 episodes altogether.
I will write just a few words about this thing. The OVA is composed by 3 parts and it came out few years after the manga and the anime. Aside few same characters and sharing the name of the series it doesn’t have much in common with the manga/anime series.
The girls are already friends and go to the same school, they will be graduating
shortly. Hikaru is not a kendo fencer but a gymnast, and well the story begins
with them seeing Mokona and the strange things start happening.
Cephiro comes invading the Earth and the girls have to protect it. On their side there is Guru Clef who is again their guide, along with Lantis and Ferio. The enemies are lead by Eagle, who is Emeraude’s brother and has tricked her lover Zagato into committing suicide, to bring false order to Cephiro – and making his sister believe that Zagato is still alive. The other two who appear are Ascot and Alcyone.
Personally I think they could have not done this, because really, Hikaru here, ok she has that driving power of protection, but they are not who she was born to be, I mean I have no words about this OVAs, and they make Lantis die to help the Knights win, which is a NO NO in my book. Or they could change completely the names and things and it would be maybe a good thing to watch….
A three-part OVA was released in Japan a few years after the end of the manga and the TV series (July 25, September 26, and November 24, 1997). The OVA was named simply Rayearth, and its story was quite different from the original. The characters are all the same, but the relationships, places and events changed radically.