Magic Knight Rayearth OVA Collection - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 135
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Magic Knight Rayearth

Magic Knight Rayearth OVA Collection

By Andrew Tei     October 14, 2003
Release Date: April 29, 2003


Magic Knight Rayearth OVA Collection
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
For Umi, Fuu and Hikaru, the tranquil beauty of springtime in Tokyo is not met with accustomed enthusiasm. Now that they?ve graduated from junior high, the unwelcome prospect of attending different high schools threatens to break up their intimate friendship.

But when the girls make a fanciful wish to remain together while beneath an enchanted cherry tree, they quickly find their friendship tested in more demanding ways than they ever expected.

Mokona, the fair residing within the legendary tree has chosen the three unsuspecting friends to defend the earth in a battle against extra-dimensional forces threatening to consume the planet. But they are not alone in their struggle. With the guidance of Clef, a rouge priest from invading world of Cephiro, Hikaru discovers Lexus ? the first of the three ancient allies duty bound to aid the girls. Merging with this fearsome deity of fire, Hikaru must protect her friends from the assault of Chepiro?s ice-witch Alcyone.

The Review!
Separate from the TV series of the same name, Rayearth is a three part OVA series that looks at a story that might have been.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese and in its original stereo mix. Manga has provided 5.1 mixes for both the English and Japanese, but for a lot of the show there was no noticeable difference. The stereo mix provides a good clean track with a little in the way of forward soundstage directionality. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally released in 1997, the materials here are showing some surprising age, especially for an OVA series. The OVA series does look better than the TV series with much more nicely saturated colors, but in various areas, most noticeable in the first episode, fast actions and some backgrounds cause some noticeable macroblocking. Cross coloration is pretty minimal as well as aliasing, but there is a fair amount of dirt and scratches on the print as well. Some of the mid-range shots tend to look too soft and have a lack of detail to it. There are a few scenes that are soft on purpose though, and the only issue with them is that it looks like they were forced to be slightly grainy to set the sequence apart.

Packaging:
The main look and feel of the keepcase here is good with a deep blue/purple background and the frame setting that holds a piece of nice original artwork that showcases all the main cast members here. The back cover provides a paragraph of summary and another about CLAMP. The discs features and production information is nice and clearly listed and there?s also a nice display of what I?m guessing are the three original covers, each on with the main Knights on it. The insert has a similar look to the cover but with different artwork and folds open to provide the chapter listings. It opens further to provide a mini poster of more original promotional artwork.

Menu:
The main menu uses part of the framing from the front cover and lays that over animation playing underneath set to the shows end music. Selections are lined along the top and a little Mokona pops out when you make a selection, providing a very brief piece of transitional animation. Submenus load up fine and access times are decent. The layout is pretty standard and works well, though I disliked the angled text listings in the extras menu.

Extras:
There?s a fair amount of extras here, but nothing really grabbing. The original trailer as listed is actually the U.S. trailer (dubbed) and the Cephiro Chronicles is a series of one-page character summaries. The photo gallery provides a half dozen really nice images, mostly seen on the cover and insert.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the TV series ran almost fifty episodes between the two seasons, the OVA series runs only three episodes and tries to bring in the critical elements from the first season as well as re-imagining things a bit to keep it fresh and different. This can either serve to alienate the fanbase who likes it as they first saw it or bring in those who don?t want to bother with a full series and just get the quick and dirty.

The Rayearth OVA is a rather nice looking piece once you get past the issues with the transfers. The character designs are the same but much more polished and appealing and the show in general is naturally much more fluid and with better colors. That?s one of the main advantages of the OVA format for the most part. Storywise though?.

Well, that?s a different story. Though I found the original series to be filled with much deadspace and thought it could be shortened nicely, this is the other end of the spectrum. We?re introduced to the three leads characters, Hikaru, Umi and Fuu. All three are a week away from graduating and moving up into high school, but also in different areas as their families are all moving away. Their close friendship is coming to an end and they?re all fairly somber about it.

During this quiet time, Hikaru ends up coming across a ?cherry tree fairy? under the tree where the trio had wished together to stay together forever. She continues to see the fairy later in the day when in the city with her friends and manages to actually catch it. The funny looking pudgy rabbit, as it turns out, is the key for them to become involved in something huge. The other world of Cephiro is dying and merging with Earth and those in power there are coming to take over after destroying everything on it. Once joined, they?d rule completely.

Hikaru, Umi and Fuu are all the chosen ones who will try to defend Earth, as they are each given an Ovum, a jewel, that allows them to merge with one of three deity?s that can help fight against the impending forces of evil. The first episode focuses on Hikaru gaining her fiery deity and learning what the deal is with the invasion by Cephiro and the disappearance of all humanity. It follows up nicely with another episode that really focuses on both Umi and Fuu acquiring their own deities and dealing with those sent to attack them specifically. And as you can guess, the third episode brings out all the emotion, angst and action to wrap it up. With only three episodes, it really does play out pretty much as you can guess from the start.

That?s not to say it?s bad, but it?s just too compressed for my tastes. I did enjoy the fact that the bulk of it takes place on Earth and in Tokyo, which gives the invading cast a chance to play on new territory. But there?s also a large cast at work here that was originally introduced over many episodes. Here, they lose a lot of the charm that makes them special, especially if you?ve never seen the original.

For die-hard fans, this is an easy purchase since they?re likely to be completists. If you?re wondering if you?re going to like the TV series, this might give an inkling about it, but there?s just a lot that is passed over due to time constraints. I?d give it a rental at the least.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Original Trailer,Cephiro Chronicles,Photo Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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