Magic Knight Rayearth Omnibus Volume One collects the first three parts of CLAMP’s manga series into one volume. Dark Horse Manga has the North American distribution rights for this series, and they released this omnibus edition in July 2011. There isn’t a rating published anywhere for this volume; however, I would recommend Magic Knight Rayearth to manga readers who are 13 years of age and older.
The series begins when three Japanese schoolgirls go on a field trip to Tokyo Tower with their respective schools. Hikaru is a young-looking 14-year-old who goes to a public school, Fuu is a 14-year-old girl who goes to a private school, and Umi is a rich 14-year-old girl. After a chance encounter between these three at Tokyo Tower, there’s a bright flash of light; the three girls are whisked away to another world.
They encounter a guru named Clef, and the girls learn that they are in a land called Cefiro, which is a world of magic and monsters. According to Clef, the girls have been summoned by Princess Emeraude as the legendary Magic Knights and save her from her imprisonment by Lord Zagato. The girls also learn that the only way they can return to their world is to save Cefiro. The stories in this omnibus follows the girls’ adventures as they learn about Cefiro and what it means to be the Magic Knights, as well as their quest to save Princess Emeraude.
Magic Knight Rayearth employs many of the artistic tropes associated with the shojo manga genre, but instead of being in the usual school setting, they are being utilized in a fantasy world or swords and sorcery. Since this is the second series I’ve started reading by the CLAMP collective, I was also glad to see that the collective doesn’t rely on one art style for all their work; for me, there’s no way to confuse the art style of Magic Knight Rayearth with the art style of Chobits.
In a lot of respects, the story of Magic Knight Rayearth contains a lot of the elements one would expect in “the Hero’s Journey” for a sword and sorcery story. However, I’d like to say, without giving away any spoilers, that the ending actually caught me by surprise. As a reader, I was led to believe throughout this volume that there was a definite way that the quest is supposed to end; however, when the end of the quest is reached, I learned that some things were not as they seemed to be.
Unfortunately, I do have to complain that there was one section near the end of the omnibus where I felt the dialogue “hit me over the head” a little too much and that it felt preachy. However, I’m trying to keep in mind that there’s a chance that this preachy dialogue was more due to the translation than to CLAMP’s original writing. There were also a couple of times where I felt some things happened a little too easily for the three heroines.
Even with its faults, Magic Knight Rayearth is still one of the better shojo manga titles that I have read.