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Media Blasters presents
Magic Knight RayEarth #1: Daybreak (1995)

"We're the Magic Knights! Didn't you hear?"
- Hikaru (Hekiru Shiina)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: February 21, 2002

Stars: Hekiru Shiina, Konami Yoshida, Hiroku Kasahara
Other Stars: Megumi Ogata, Emi Shinohara
Director: Toshihiro Hirano

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence, some nudity)
Run Time: 01h:25m:00s
Release Date: September 18, 2001
UPC: 631595100129
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+D+C+ C-

DVD Review

At first glance, Magic Knight Rayearth will undoubtedly look pretty much like a Sailor Moon clone. The comparisons are unavoidable when both shows have young schoolgirls being summoned by a higher power to combat supernatural evil with special powers that are 'given' to them. However, to dismiss Rayearth as merely a rip-off would be a mistake, as it's a much different type of anime at its core. Rayearth is much more sophisticated; not that it's high art or anything like that, but it's more stylish, action packed, and the plots are less about high school troubles. It's fun, silly, and filled with an adventuresome spirit not often seen in television cartoons.One day, while visiting Tokyo Tower, friends Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu are suddenly transported into another world. Little do they realize they've been summoned to Cephiro, a magical world once ruled by Princess Emeraude. Unfortunately, a group of evil-doers, led by Zagato, seek to disrupt the peacefulness of the domain and wage war against Emeraude. The Princess uses her last bit of magical power to summon the three girls to Cephiro because they are the legendary Magic Knights. They might be a bit young and completely unaware of their predicament, but they will fulfill a prophecy in determining the future of Cephiro. Immediately upon arrival, the three girls meet Master Mage Clef, one of Cephiro's greatest sorcerers, who gives them special powers and magical armor to help protect them.With little time to explain himself, Clef sends the trio on a quest to resurrect the Rune God and save the kingdom of Cephiro; the problem is, they have no idea what he's talking about. They soon learn all that needs to be learned, as they move quickly to avoid Zagato's minions. The first four episodes on this disc chronicle these early events of their quest, showing how the girls eventually get the hang of their powers and come to understand the nature of the world they're in. Obviously, most of the time is spent introducing characters and concepts that construct the overall setting, so the plot, though fast-paced, still settles into the routine of bringing out specific elements. I was surprised by the amount of comedy present in the show. Although there's a distinct fantasy/adventure atmosphere, it is often diluted with the silly and confused attitudes of Umi, Hikaru, and Fuu, which I actually enjoyed. The artistic style of the show also makes use of this humorous aspect; the artwork is highly stylized and distinctly Japanese, but the characters often switch into a "super-deformed" mode where they look more like child's drawings. This is done to exaggerate their emotions, and while it is initially distracting, it soon becomes apparent that it's a clever device. For lack of a better term, it's "cute" and manufactures an obvious response. There are often very funny, exaggerated interludes as well in which the characters imagine something in their heads and we see it played out in this child-like drawing style.When you add the fantasy storyline with this kind of spirited humor, you get a very fun show that operates on many levels. There's plenty on monsters, evil magic, and mystic objects to keep you interested, but the bubbly, laughable attitudes of the three girls (each with a distinct personality) keep things fresh. Some viewers might find this too lighthearted for a serious epic, which is understandable. The combination of the great artwork and energetic story, though, ensures that the ride will be very entertaining.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Sadly, the image quality is not really very inspiring, and gets downright annoying after watching the whole disc. While the compression is technically adequate (no issues there), the master was obviously an analog tape and the video looks similar to low quality VHS. From episode 2 and on, there are horizontal scan-lines going up and down the image (much like tracking errors), and the bright colors are muddled in heavy ringing and blurring, forcing colors outside the outlines of the characters. There's a green/red color tint on most sharp lines, like moire patterns, only less defined because of the natural haziness in the source. Black level is way off, with solid darkness being an amplified grey. The opening and ending credits are markedly worse off, with heavy compression artifacts and exaggerations in all the previously stated ways. This is unusual, since the credits are only on the disc once, and the program simply accesses them each time they'reneeded.

Image Transfer Grade: D+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is surprisingly flat and dull, despite being a Dolby 2.0 Pro-Logic track. Dialogue and many sound effects are center channel-based and are often harsh and without much frequency range. Rarely is a stereo effect heard, and when it is, it's usually the music score or some major event like an explosion or such. I detected no surround effects at all. The supplied English dub is not bad, but the voices for the main characters (Umi, Hikaru, and Fuu) are provided by actresses who don't really sound young enough.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Earthian, Elf Princess Raine, Fake, Kite, Marriage, NinjaCadets
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Interview with Julie Maddalena.
  2. Art Gallery
  3. Magic Spell Glossary
Extras Review: A few extras are scattered on the disc, but most are nothing special. The art gallery is merely photo stills taken straight from the actual show (along with all the analog image problems), and the magic spell glossary simply points out which character uses which spell. This would be interesting, except the differences between the literal Japanese translation and the English dub are minimal. There is a complete cast list, and the meatiest extra is an interview with Julie Maddalena, the woman who is the voice of Hikaru in the English dub. Although the interview (running about 8 minutes) is interesting, the audio is terrible, bordering on unlistenable. A badly collapsed mono track with literally no frequency range is presented, and to understand what she's saying the volume has to be really turned up. Even then, most of what she says sounds like one of the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons. A feature called "Omake Ending" (which I presume is an alternate end credits since 'omake' is Japanese for 'bonus') is presented, but every time I clicked on it, my DVD player crashed. While the overall presentation is decent, the menus are a little slow to use and there is no time indexing anywhere, which is a annoying.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

If you like anime in general, you really can't go wrong with Magic Knight Rayearth. It's exciting, humorous, and the plot is simple enough that you don't need to follow any major details from episode to episode. It's also not bad for kids, although the little bit of nudity might be a hot-spot with some parents. The disc doesn't seem worth a purchase, though, unless you're a die-hard Rayearth fan.


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