Originally posted: Monday, June 23, 2008 on Blogger

I finally finished reading Magic Knight Rayearth volume 2. I’ve been trying to finish reading it for over a month. This volume is almost as quick paced as the first, expect that there are moments in this volume that are slowed down. Usually moments involving character interactions, fight scenes are as quick paced as they were in volume one.

Summary


Volume two has the magic knights off searching for the legendary mineral Escudo. And as usual, it starts off exactly where the previous volume finished, the magic knights spot someone in a tree and are preparing for attack. But Mokona jumps up on the lad and gives him a hug. This convinces Hikaru that this person is not evil, because Mokona would not take to someone with an evil heart. The young man introduces himself as Ferio, a swordsman, who is also looking for the legendary Escudo. He warns our heroines that magic and anything magical is useless inside the forest. Fuu then strikes a bargain with him; if he becomes their bodyguard, they will show him the way to Eterna Fountain. Ferio accepts and they are on their way. Along the way, a monster impenetrable to weapons attacks the group, and Ferio works especially hard to save Fuu. She seems to develop a crush on him, and blushes everytime Umi suggests she like Ferio. Once the group comes out of the forest, the witch, Alcione, stands waiting for them and attacks Umi who is the first to reach the exit.

Since Hikaru is the only one able to use magic, she steps up and duels with Alcione. Umi eventually regain consciousness and pleas for the strength to help Hikaru, who is now starting to be overpowered by the witch. Mokona’s jewel begins to glow blue, and Clef speaks directly with Umi, helping her unlock the magic deep within herself. She then sends her magic spell, Water Dragon at Alcione and is able to defeat her, but pays the price with her life. Just as Umi is dying, Fuu also begs for the power to save Umi, and she too is help by Clef through Mokona, releasing her new spell, Healing Wind and saving the mortally wounded Umi. Ferio, who now realizes that the three of them are the legendary magic knights, bids them good luck and turns back into the forest.

Meanwhile, the wounded Alcione comes to beg Zagato, the one who stole the pillar of Cephiro (aka Princess Emeraude) for forgiveness, but he coldly brushes her away and kills her. Then someone from the shadows offers to finish what Alcione could not. He appears to be a little kid and his name is Ascot.

After parting with Ferio, the three magic knights continue on their way to Eterna, pushing through any monsters that get in their way. When they finally reach the Fountain of Eterna, there is nothing there, but meadows as far as the eye can see. Umi, once again, becomes annoyed with Mokona, while Fuu points out a strange line floating in the air. Hikaru eventually discovers that this “line” is the fountain of Eterna; the fountain has only two dimensions. As the girls stare in wonder, Mokona jumps into the fountain, forcing them to follow after it.

Inside the fountain, the girls are separated and someone precious to each of them appears. Then without warning, each of those precious people attack the girl to whom they are precious. In Hikaru’s case, it’s her dog, Hikari, whom Hikaru has been with since she was little. In Umi’s case, it’s her parents, whom she misses, and in Fuu’s case, it’s herself, whom she cherishes in order to keep those around her happy. Each girl is unable to fight against their most cherished ones, and as a result they are on the verge of defeat, when Princess Emeraude’s voice beckons them to consider if their loved ones who really hurt them so. Each girl then realizes that Emeraude is right, and releases a new spell defeating the illusions before them. The illusions then fade away, revealing their true form, the mineral Escudo!

After winning such a difficult fight, each of the girls’ armor transforms and becomes stronger. The three of them also reunite and return to the surface, where Presea, the weapon smith is waiting for them. In Cephiro, to forge weapons, one must dance and use one’s soul to transform the raw material into a weapon. Presea does just this and makes each girl a sword that fits them perfectly, she also takes back the weapons she lent them. But soon she stumbles, causing Hikaru much concern for her wellbeing. Presea tells her its nothing, she is just tired from making the weapons and Mokona summons an airship for the girls. Hikaru is still anxious about Presea’s wellbeing, so Presea gives her a little kiss and asks her to follow her destiny and come back safely, because she will be waiting for her. This reassures Hikaru and the three girls fly away on the airship.

As the girls fly through the sky, Hikaru notices that they are flying back to where they first landed in Cephiro. She points out the sea, the floating castle and the volcano, and the other girls agree. Just as they are taking in the scenery, the airship suddenly begins to descent at a rapid speed. The girls start to panic, but before they can do anything, the airship hits the water and they are submerged. Luckily, the airship has transformed into a submarine and the girls are safe inside its air bubble. Umi, as usual, suspects Mokona of doing this on purpose; not telling the girls anything, just to scare them. The submarine moves towards a temple under the sea and Umi has a strange reaction to it, as they move inside. Once inside, the girls discover that there is air inside the building and wonder where they are. Umi tells them that they are inside The Shrine of the Sea, and then begins to walk away. Hikaru and Fuu are bewildered by Umi’s strange behavior, but follow after her nonetheless. Umi stops in front of a giant statue of a dragon, and soon it begin to move, coming closer to Umi, and telling each of the girls that its name is Selece, and that it is the legendary mashin. The mashins are ancient artifacts that each girl must awaken in order to be able to save Princess Emeraude. As Hikaru and Fuu look on with shock, a small boy begins to laugh. Hikaru turns around and asks what he is doing here, and the boy will introduce himself as Ascot, the one Zagato sent to kill them. He will also tell them they are too late… ending this volume with a cliff hanger.

My Thoughts


As usual, I’ve written a really long summary, and I still haven’t covered everything that happened within volume two. I’ve skipped over a few character interacts, because I felt they were not essential for the summary. But I really do need to learn to cut more out, my summaries are really too long. ^^;;;

There is only one more volume to go, and I really can’t see how Clamp will manage to fit everything into one last volume. It will probably feel even more rushed then the first and second volumes. It’s not too big of a problem, I just wish that they gave MKR an extra volume and made the story flow a bit better, rather then everything happening so fast that there is hardly any room for transitioning between one aspect of the story to the next. For example, right after the magic knights find the Escudo, Presea is there at the fountain, without any reason for her to be there. Then right after their weapons are made, they quickly move onto the next phase of their quest, finding the mashin. Maybe I’ve grown accustomed to the slow pacing of shoujo manga, but it really does feel as if the magic knight’s quest is going a tad too fast.

I’m also disappointed with Tokyopop’s messy translation, and although I can’t read japanese, I can infer, through the way the girls act, that the way they speak isn’t quite right. For example, both Umi and Fuu (mostly Umi through), speak with a lot of slang. Yet the two of them are from high class families, so their form of speech should be more refined. Guru Clef, an ancient mage also speaks with a lot of slang, even through he is an ancient mage and should probably be speaking in Middle English, in order to sound more authentic. But this would require too much work from Tokyopop, who are far more interested in mass production then quality. So I would like to say that in general, I don’t like slang (or the southern accent for that matter) too much, but if the character fits the part, or if they actually use slang (or are country bumpkins and have a distinct dialect) in the original manga, then I understand the need for slang (and the southern dialect), but in MKR, it is totally unnecessary and really annoys me to no end. It has gotten to the point where I consciously correct the slang with proper English in order to stay sane. Oh yes, this is definitely a major pet peeve of mine. On a positive note, volume two has less slang then the first volume, and Fuu almost never utters a single word of slang. Thank you Tokyopop, you have kept me from going insane by lowering the amount of slang in this volume. Hopefully, volume three will have none; I can dream right? sigh.

Other then these two issues, the most problematic being the translation, which could have been done differently, Magic Knight Rayearth is a solid fantasy adventure that likes to poke fun at its RPG inspiration. Although there is nothing ground breaking about it so far, the third volume promises to change the very foundations of the story and hence turn MKR into something above the mediocre. And with only three volumes for the first part, and three other volumes for the second part, it doesn’t ask for too much out of your wallet. ^^

The art is superb, especially the eyes! I am a big fan of Clamp’s early style, and MKR is the perfect representation of Clamp’s seemingly extinct style. (Since the conclusion of CCS and the suspension of X, they haven’t drawn in this style.) There are also a lot of instances where the characters go into chibi mode, and I for one, enjoy the chibi modes. The cover of the second edition is also a lot nicer, featuring Umi and her sword surrounded by her element, water. The back features Selece, in machine form. Tokyopop’s design is fine; it isn’t horrible, but it is nothing special either. If I may complain a little; it would have been better if they allowed more room for the picture, since it is so lovely. ^^

Overall, I am definitely looking forward to reading the final volume of part one. Even with the bad translation, MKR is still enjoyable and the translation itself seems to be improving too. The first two volumes followed the standard RPG and fantasy formula, but the third volume promises to change everything. The characters are also quite likable (if you can overcome all the slang), making MKR enjoyable to read. And while the story is quick paced, the art makes up for the storytelling’s slightly rough edges.

–SW

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