Rayearth (1997)
Directed by Keitaro Motonaga and Toshiki Hirano

Artistic Value: * *
Entertainment Value: * * ½

DVD In Association with
Rent DVDs online!
In the USA:
Try Netflix For Free.In the UK:

After graduating from middle school, a young girl named Hikaru wishes under a supposedly enchanted tree that she and her two best friends, Umi and Fuu, will always be together. Soon thereafter, a strange series of events causes all the inhabitants of Tokyo, except for the three girls, to disappear, leaves its buildings in ruins, and lifts a vast and forbidding castle up from the earth. Fortunately, the girls meet a mysterious young man who has come to help them and learn that the wish Hikaru made has been granted and that they have been chosen to save the world from a danger born in another universe. Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu are then each given a spirit beast, with whom each of the girls is able to merge, and proceed to do battle in the ruined wasteland that had once been their home against a variety of enormous supernatural fiends.

Keitaro Motonaga and Toshiki Hirano's three part made for video series Rayearth is generally entertaining, but is also completely uninspired and far too rushed.

I cannot honestly say that I was greatly impressed by the story told in Rayearth. Although the narrative extends over three forty-five minute episodes, very little actually seems to occur during that time. The directors do incorporate a number of scenes which reveal the girls' inner conflicts, but, except for these odd moments, what narrative there is seems to have been included merely for the sake of introducing some evil monster or another. In fact, the characters never even leave the ruins of Tokyo. They just loiter among the city's devastated buildings and wait for the appearance of their supernatural enemies.

Despite the amount of time the program's heroines spend idling in some street or wrecked skyscraper, they are never developed as fully as they could have been. While the three protagonists are appealing and likeable, other than exposing a few of their doubts, hopes, and fears, the directors do little to allow the viewer to engage with them. Admittedly, Motonaga and Hirano do show how each of the girls is able to overcome some particular emotional obstacle or feeling of personal inadequacy, but the ways in which they explore these issues are so superficial that the viewer is never really able to become deeply involved with the heroines.

Visually, Rayearth is extremely uneven as well. The character designs are generally attractive, especially those used for the three female protagonists, but the animation itself is somewhat ugly. While it is never actually poorly done, it is extremely unlikely to impress the viewer either.

Rayearth is certainly not a bad series, but it is, unfortunately, a forgettable one.

Review by Keith Allen

Home Page / Alphabetical List of Films
List of Films by Star Ratings
Aesthetic Principles / Guide to Ratings
Criteria for Inclusion / DVD Stores / Blog

© 2005 Keith Allen. All rights reserved.

Click Here

banner 2