This week's retro friday is going to be a little different, as I choose to review the manga of Magic Knight Rayearth by CLAMP which was re-released last July by Dark Horse Comics.
At First Sight: Fuu, Umi and Hikaru are three Tokyo school girls, who go to different middle schools but happened to take a class field trip to the Tokyo Tower on the same day. Once there, they hear a strange voice asking the Magic Knights to Save Cephiro, before a blinding white light iluminated the sky.
Next thing they know, they are flying over a strange ocean, looking at big volcano and floating mountains. Oh, and they are catching a ride on the back of a huge flying fish.
They have arrived to Cephiro, a world where the will and strength of the heart rule everything. A world that is in a lot of danger since the high priest Zagato kidnapped the ruling princess of Cephiro, Princess Emeraude who is literally the Pillar of the whole world, her will and prayers what kept the world glued together. At least, that's what the strange looking kid (who claims to be over 700 years old but looks roughly about 10) tells them when trying to explain what they are doing in that strange world.
Fuu, Umi and Hikaru have been summoned to Cephiro by the princess, to become the legendary Magic Knights and help save the world. To do that, they must awaken three mashins - or rune gods - and learn magic... and face one of the best villains ever!!
Second Glance: Okay, as you might have noticed there is a lot going on, and if you can't detect it yet, I was gushing a little bit because I quite frankly love the anime series of Magic Knight Rayearth, but never had the chance to read the manga until now (thanks, NetGalley!).
I only got to sample the first 100 pages (the actual book has over 650, quite a good deal for 15 to 20 bucks, depending where you buy it), but I loved it. CLAMP has a very distinctive style that's is both incredibly beautiful and incredibly dynamic, something that serves this story well as there is a lot of action on it. It has some beautiful color pages - something I love, particularly since this is an special edition.
And, from what I know of the story, I say that they did a pretty awesome job with the translation. It flows well, it's understandable and it's even funny - I cracked up about 5 times while reading this). It starts almost like a (parody of a) role playing game but it evolves into so much more. There is love, lost and heartbreaking tragedy woven into a story full of adventure and fun and even dashes of romance.
Bottom Line: For me, this series is one of the best there is. This edition looks beautiful -as much as I could see from the e-galley - and I highly recommend it for the story alone. It does differ a little from the anime (particularly on the second season of the anime), but never the less, is awesome. I recommend it for anyone 12 years and up (the protagonists are 14, in case you were wondering). Currently only the first volume is out, but volume 2 will be out January 2012.