NOTE: Yes, I treat anime series like television. If it’s shown on TV somewhere, it’s a television series.
One of the early works of CLAMP, an all-female art company based in Japan, MKR was released in 1994 as a following to one of the biggest shojo series, if not one of all-time, Sailor Moon. Shojo is basically anime for young girls- it can range from realistic to extreme fantasy, but there’s always romance involved in it.
MKR is based in Cephiro, a world controlled by the will of its pillar. The pillar, Princess Emeralde, is kidnapped by High Priest Zagato, who seems bent on controlling the world. Princess Emeralde prays for the fabled magic knights to save her. This prayer summons three fourteen year old girls from Tokyo- a red haired girl named Hikaru, a blue haired girl named Umi, and a brown haired girl named Fuu. Will these normal girls do the seemingly impossible and save the princess? Will they become the legendary magic knights? Well, you can probably predict what happens in the end, and you’ll probably be right.
The main issue with the anime is the plot. It is unbearably slow for the majority of the series, then the last three episodes they basically rushed everything to end. There’s a major plot twist, and you’re left feeling robbed because it’s clearly out of left field. The impact doesn’t even last, because literally the series ends soon after it is revealed.
The dialogue is not great either. I can’t completely blame the translators, as it’s hard to fit dialogue to match mouth movements from a completely different language, but it still isn’t done well. For example, one character will say something, and then another will automatically reword it differently. This happens throughout the entire series. I should’ve counted how many times I heard ‘young girls from another world’ or their names. They wanted you to know exactly who they’re talking to.
What I do like about the series is the premise. At the time, this and Sailor Moon were one of the few female-positive cartoons. Women who kick ass without losing their personalities? Hell yes. MKR was a little more hardcore about it- there are robots, blood, and they use big swords to kill enemies. People and animals die in it. This is for girls who think Sailor Moon is too corny and sweet (although the last season of SM is darker and pretty awesome).
It may sound like I’m completely negative towards the series, but it’s honestly not the case. It must’ve done something right to have a sequel series and an original movie, and believe me I was in love with this when I was 16. This series is good for its demographic, which is girls who are aged 5-18. I just seem negative because I see obvious flaws to this anime that I didn’t see a decade ago. To be fair, it is almost twenty years old, and at the time anime was not mainstream enough to be developed for success in American markets. There are some good dubbed anime older than MKR, but you just have to blame it on the times.
Would I recommend it? Yes, if you’re not critical like I am. It’s cute, but it’s not great.
I will also review the sequel series, the appropriately named Magic Knight Rayearth 2, in the near future. Is it better than the original? You’ll have to wait to find out!