Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: C
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 13 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Media Blasters
- MSRP: 39.99
- Running time: 500
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Magic Knight Rayearth
Magic Knight Rayearth Season 1 Remastered Set
Magic Knight Rayearth Season 1 Remastered Set DVD Review
By Chris Beveridge
May 06, 2010
Release Date: April 27, 2010
Magic Knight Rayearth Season 1 Remastered Set
© Media Blasters
The world of Cephiro is about to fall apart unless three teenagers from Tokyo that are transported there can stop it.
What They Say
Three junior high school girls hear a voice pleading for them to save Cephiro, a magical world where belief is power. It is Princess Emeraude, the pillar, whose will maintains the peace of Cephiro. When the peace is threatened, she uses her last bit of strength to summon forth the three destined to become Magic Knights and save her world.
Contains episodes 1-20.
Digitally remastered from original film elements.
Media Blasters really surprises with this release as the Japanese stereo mix is encoded at 448kbps while the English language mix is at 192kbps. The Japanese mix certainly sounds much stronger and more dynamic here, not like it did in past releases and certainly not as good as you might expect for a show of its age. The mix does a good job with the forward soundstage as the dialogue is very clear and the full nature of it gives the show a lot of impact during the bigger action scenes. There isn't much in the way of any discernable dialogue placement but everything is clean and clear. My only disappointment is that the English dubbed songs are no longer here with the English track.
Originally airing in 1994 and 1995, this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show has twenty episodes spread across four discs with five episodes per disc using the remastered Japanese edition. This release, while certainly not flawless, it leaps and bounds ahead of its previous edition that Media Blasters put out years ago. I had actually queued up a few episodes of this a couple of months prior to this release for my kids to watch and had forgotten who grainy and murky so much of it was. This edition is far cleaner, though it still has a grain and noise to it, with colors that are more vivid and a look that's generally a whole lot more pleasing. While it won't be confused with a show animated today, the remastered edition gives it a whole new life and is one that's very much worth the upgrade. Adding in new authoring tools in the years since the original and you get a show that is more accurate to the original source material with only some line noise being the other main offender, but even that's pretty minimal overall.
While I'm not a fan of digipaks overall, Media Blasters usually puts together a solid package so I was definitely more willing to see what they've done. The show has a good if thin slipcover that has some great artwork from the show. The front of the slipcover has the three main girls with Mokona in the middle, sleeping in a rose no less, with roots between all four of them to tie it together. It has a look of an illustration but with the color and shading of animation itself, giving it a great blending. The back of the slipcover has a really beautiful shot of Hikaru along the right with ribbons flowing from her set against a fantasy backdrop. There's a beautifully ornate summary box with a good breakdown of the shows basics along with a clean listing of all the extras and that it's coming from remastered film elements. Add in some basic production credits, a disc and episode count and a spot on technical grid and this is a very appealing release that's distinctly different from the previous editions so it stands out well.
Inside we get two slim digipaks that each house two discs on the right side interior. Each cover has a different color, with the first featuring blue for Umi, who has a great picture on the interior of her, while the second volume is green, with a great elegant shot of Fuu on that interior. The first volume has a full shot of various supporting cast members from the show, such as Ferio, Clef and Presea along with those who serve Zagato's cause. The second volume keeps it simpler with just a side by side pairing of Zagato and Emeraude together that's darkly appealing. The back covers are laid out the same with a breakdown of episode titles and numbres for each disc as well as some nice in-show quotes from Zagato and Clef. Each also has unique shots from those respective volumes to give it a bit more color. This is a really striking release overall that harkens back to the old days with its artwork while feeling very professional and new. It's a great anniversary package overall and one that this show really deserves.
The menu design for the series is pretty good with each menu featuring a different illustration piece of the various cast members to good effect. It has a fairly dignified and strong approach, going for an artistic feel rather than just a straight shot from the show itself with nothing to sweeten it up a bit, and that adds a bit of class and elegance to it. The navigation is spread to the four corners though you can't move side to side and it is fairly easy to move about once you realize that. Submenu selection is horribly slow, especially when you're doing the language setup section which again has the unusual four selections that populate many but not all Media Blasters titles. The look of the menus are all pretty good but the functionality of them all is halting at best. As expected, the discs did not read our players' language presets and defaulted to English with song/slate subtitles.
The Rayearth set has a good collection of extras that came from the original releases. There’s the art gallery material, the auditions that were done way back in the day as well as some fun if too short outtakes. Character profiles round things out nicely to fill is in on the basics of each one and we get the clean opening and closing sequences as well. There’s also a few short interview segments with the actors, both English and Japanese, as well as an interesting magic spell index. And always welcome are the omake endings which add a little bit of an extra cute touch to the show. It’s good to see that just about everything seems to have made it over to this edition.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Clamp which ran for just three volumes starting back in 1993, Magic Knights Rayearth is a twenty episode series that takes three plucky teenage girls and transports them to a world of magic that only they can save. The series was one of the bigger releases during Media Blasters' early days, though not without controversy as they were given the masters for the International version which didn't have the original logo. Add in about a decade of differences in tools used to author discs and the show is like night and day when compared between them, especially as this one uses the remastered footage.
The story of Rayearth comes across as a bit simplistic now some fifteen years later but there's a certain charm and honesty to it all that makes it appealing. The series introduces us to three middle school students visiting the Tokyo Tower for a school trip, all of them from different schools. You have the cool and somewhat icy Umi, the fiery younger Hikaru and the calm and intelligent Fuu. The three aren't aware of each other until suddenly they hear a disembodied voice calling out to them to save the world, a world they suddenly find themselves transported to. The world of Cephiro is right out of fantasy with beautiful blue skies, lush forests and plenty of magic and monsters. Unlike the real world, Cephiro has no bad weather either which adds that little extra to make it all the more appealing.
The girls arrival in Cephiro has them meeting a boy named Clef who is actually known as a Master Mage. It's here that we get the basic RPG setup where he informs them that the world will end unless they, the chosen, rescue Princess Emeraude from the High Priest Zagato who has imprisoned her. It's Emeraude's will and prayer that keeps the land of Cephiro in tune and functioning. With her imprisoned, Cephiro is now slowly falling apart and numerous monsters are trawling across the land. The legend goes that the Pillar, the position Emeraude holds, has a special spell that can call three people from outside of Cephiro to come and save them if they can face the challenges to become the Legendary Magic Knights.
Naturally, the girls are a bit surprised by this but they take to the mission pretty well, especially with the help of a guide and all around Bag of Holding known as Mokona. The little white fluffy creature has become a staple in many Clamp series after this, so seeing him in her first appearance is a whole lot of fun even if it's not exactly tied strongly to the one from other series. Much of Rayearth at this point focuses on the girls meeting the blacksmith Presea who will make them their custom weapons that only they can use once they acquire the special ore known as escudo. Their journey to get the ore takes them across the land where they meet up against the various disciples that Zagato has in his employ to stop the hopeful young warriors from rescuing Emeraude.
A good bit of time is spent with the various opponents who have their own issues, whether it's Alcyone who was once Clef's student before she turned on him for Zagato's sake, or Ascot who is friends with many monsters and works with them to defeat the girls. The interesting character that comes along early though is Ferio, a young swordsman who has his own goal of rescuing Emeraude. As the obligatory good guy male lead, you'd fully expect him to go for the spunky female lead of Hikaru, but instead he rather openly declares his interest in Fuu after a few encounters between them. It's a nice change from the usual dynamic you get in these shows and it's also really welcome to have the other two with no romantic interests at all.
There are some nice twists along the way, such as when we learn about the Rune-God that the girls need to revive in order to save the world and get the details on. Mokona has some nice moments as well where we realize just how powerful he really is and what kind of abilities he has. I also liked that while not overly deep, those working for Zagato have a decent enough reason for doing so and aren't wedded to their course entirely either. Over the twenty episodes, we get a story where the girls follow the path with a bit of fun, plenty of danger and a real sense of purpose. While they do admit that there are role playing game elements to what they're doing, they understand the reality of it as the world falls apart around them and the truth of what they must become is more apparent.
Being one of the earlier properties from Clamp, there's definitely a lot of appeal to the visual design of the show. The characters are all basic archetypes to be sure, but they have enough personality in them and the performances for both language tracks is pretty good in making them stand out and feel a bit more than just surface characters. Their adventures don't really lend themselves to deep characterization moments though, but we do get some nice bits here and there where they talk about their pasts and the things they like to do for sports and activities, which sometimes plays into the actual events. The world of Cephiro is standard fantasy fare and the monsters we get are varied but generally unmemorable. They do some nice designs on the evolution of the girls armor and swords and the designs for Zagato and Emeraude are pretty spiffy as well. Everything here holds up well and it's a good early example of how Clamp would define themselves and many of their works for the next fifteen years.
Magic Knight Rayearth is a show that's certainly simple at its core but it's a fun show that does what it does well. Three girls entrusted with saving the world from utter destruction isn't new, and wasn't when this first came out, but it's solid good fun. With twenty episodes, it almost gets to be a bit too long but they manage it well as it introduces the Rune-Gods, the truth behind the collapse of the world and the real mission of the Magic Knights. This series is memorable for a number of reasons and it's held up well since it first came out. This 15th anniversary edition looks great, has plenty of extras and a really solid package, making it an easy recommendation for fans old and new, definitely worth the upgrade.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Omake Endings, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Magic Spell Index, Interviews, Roll Call, Profiles, Outtakes, Auditions, Art GalleryReview Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.