Magic Knight Rayearth is a fantastic shoujo series from Clamp, the same team responsible for the legendary Card Captor Sakura, Chobits, xxxHOLiC, and the list goes on. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that this story is another hole in one. It's a magical girl series with a mecha twist and various themes involving empathy, compassion, and most importantly, friendship.
Three eighth-grade girls — Hikaru Shadow, Umi Ryuuzaki, and Fuu Hououji — find themselves whisked away one day during a field trip to the Tokyo Tower to the magical world of Cephiro. All three girls attend different schools, and they've never met each other before. They're tasked with rescuing the Pillar of the land of Cephiro who holds everything together and maintains the land through her will: Princess Emeraude. She's been kidnapped by the even high priest Zagato for his own nefarious purposes. The only way for the trio to return home is to return balance to the land and free Princess Emeraude.
But it won't be easy. In order to do so, they must become Magic Knights, putting their differences aside and proving themselves true heroes, friends, and worthy of wielding the giant robots known as Rune Gods to bring peace back to the world and save Cephiro. I won't go into any spoilers beyond all that, but what's most important about Rayearth is that it places friendship and caring about others above everything else.
These three girls have no idea about each other or what kind of lives they've lead. They have no real reason to. They don't even get along that well at the beginning of the story, but through trials and tribulations faced together, they quickly forge a fast friendship that grows into something stronger than even the magical weapons they're afforded. It may be hard to believe that they grow to care about each other so much during the course of their journey, since their first few trials only last a short time, but the transformation from acquaintance to lifelong friend is swift.
Thanks to the now-defunct Mixx Zine, which collected Magic Knight Rayearth, as well as Sailor Moon, Ice Blade, and Parasyte into one delicious smorgasbord of manga, I had my first taste of the world of Cephiro and all the magic within. At a young age, I couldn't really get into it as easily as I did Sailor Moon, likely because of its more complicated concepts and somewhat brisk pace. But when I finally revisited the series af s an adult, years later, I fell in love.
Even now, I envy their growth as warriors and friends, partly because it's always so difficult for me as a woman to find new friends and make them, let alone keep them as an adult. Going back and rewatching the series, as well as poring through the pages of the manga, has helped remind me to make sure I strengthen the chains that bind me as well as the friends I have together, and it drives home the all-important fact that people need people. The Magic Knights needed each other, and the magical girl genre will always need Rayearth.