Direction: Right to Left
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Umi, Hikaru, and Fuu are three schoolgirls out on a field trip to Tokyo Tower, whisked suddenly away by a strange voice and light to Cefiro, a world full of spirits and sorcery. They were summoned here through the last remaining strength of the Princess Emeraude, who hopes that they are the trio destined to become the magic knights legend says can save her realm! But how are a bunch of junior-high-school kids supposed to defeat the dark might of the sinister Lord Zagato . . . with only an exceedingly strange bunny creature named Mokona as their guide . . . ?
I’ll admit to bias here, I’m a huge fan of CLAMP and they have to screw up badly for me to not like the series, they didn’t screw up on this one though
Rayearth is split into two stories, and this is the first, CLAMP pulled off an amazing work of story telling in this series. when you read the omnibus edition you can’t help but get swept along in the story.
The characters are well fleshed out from the start which is great. Right from the outset their personalities are well developed and shine through. Hikaru is amazing, the way she bounds around like a cat is just awesome. The problem here is that her personality and actions could be overbearing and drown out Umi and Fuu. Thankfully Umi and Fuu have strong enough personalities to balance out and counter Hikaru’s personality.
The story is well done as well, though it is a bit of a rollercoaster ride from the start. Initially i wasn’t to keen on this, we get a couple of teenage girls thrown into a weird situation, and they’re suddenly masters at what they do. However when i reread it a second time i realised that wasn’t the case. they each had valid reasons for how good they were, and why they react the way they do. Once you realise this it brings a whole new feeling to the story.
There are a few issues with the way the story progresses, but i think that’s due to the way that it was translated. Dark horse seem to be using Tokyopop’s translations, which while okay do leave a lot to be desired at times. The way the characters speak at times just doesn’t do them justice, leading to some characters (Caldina I’m looking at you!!) just sounding terrible and coming off like cliché brain dead bimbo’s.
The way the story is wrapped up however is heart wrenching, and i have to admit every time i read it i do get a lump in my throat!! Which is what they were after i think, and emotive ending that leaves you wanting more, wanting to understand what just happened, and thus lead you to the second series. It was masterfully done, which is to be expected since it’s CLAMP.
The art of the series is typical clamp, with a solid mix of chibi and normal characters. The art is solid and consistent throughout the series. The character designs match their personalities perfectly, and i can’t help but love Mokona, i want a Mokona plushy!!
What this volume has that the Tokyopop version doesn’t have, is the full colour panels. They look amazing. The colour panels at the beginning of the volume are character profiles, with each of the girls getting two panels. The first has them with their weapons and armour, and look awesome. The second panels being the girls with their element, fire, water, wind, and while these don’t look as good, they’re okay. At the end of the volume we get some full colour chibi characters. All of the main characters get a chibi form, with the princess and Zagato getting a little bit of additional info added. Finally we get a full colour side, well, it’s not really a story but a side couple of pages followed by the three robot’s in battle form.
this is one of several titles Dark horse rescued when Tokyopop went belly up, and i have to admit they did a really good job. The only thing i wish they’d done more on was the translation, they stuck with Tokyopop’s translation; which is as i said, the weak point of the series. However everything else is a huge upgrade, omnibus form, higher quality paper, full colour panels, all told it makes a great release.
As i said, I’m a huge fan of CLAMP and this release is well worth picking up.