Magic Knight Rayearth was one of my first manga. I’d stumbled across an issue of MiXX magazine, which had the very odd combination of MKR and Sailor Moon, with Parasyte and Ice Blade. I don’t really remember anything about the lattermost, but Parasyte sure traumatised me. To this day, I cannot see an image of a hand with eyes in it without freaking out.
MKR, on the other hand, was quite appropriate for a nine year old girl. The whole series is awesome, and I was the perfect age to discover it. I still enjoy it now :) It’s been out of print for a while, but in September, Dark Horse are bringing it back out in omnibus. I… may be going to replace my copies.
Those copies are falling apart now, or covered in paint, or stained, and even when they were new, the editing of the translation was appalling. But I loved them. I loved the art; I loved the sad, romantic plotline; I loved the three girls and their quickly forged friendship. But my favourite, whom I loved the most, was always Hikaru.
Isn’t she sweet? Hikaru, in the end, is the one who decides the fate of Cephiro. She has the strongest will, the strongest heart. She loves the most. Fuu is smart, and geeky (and
pretty, even before she takes her glasses off, thank you); Umi is the fierce one, elegant and with a temper. Hikaru is the simplest, with the most open heart.
So much so, she gets not just one love interest, but two. That’s Eagle and Lantis, in the picture (who are themselves BFFs or in love, or both, you choose). So much so, that she doesn’t ever ‘decide’ between them. She loves them both. It’s that simple.
This scene is the one that illustrates this, the one that means Hikaru will always and forever be my favourite:
Hikaru’s friendships are as important to her as her romantic relationships, with the same dedication. And as someone who’s not particularly interested in romance, that’s valuable to me. Friendship is not less; it can still mean wanting to spend your life with somebody.
All the girls have romantic interests, but it is the friendship that is reiterated over and over. Hikaru, Fuu and Umi don’t know each other before they are called to Cephiro, but their trials pull them together. Hikaru is the first one to call them her best friends, and then wonders if she’s said it too soon. But no-one argues. They have to rely on each other, they have to love and want to protect each other, or they could never become the Legendary Magic Knights.
The plot of MKR is driven by a romance: Emeraude, the ‘pillar’ of Cephiro, the one whose prayers and strong will hold that world together, falls in love. But to fall in love creates conflict, and distracts her from her role. But Mokona says at one point,
Princess Emeraude loved Cephiro and all its people. But she may not have believed in them enough. The Princess gave her life to protect the people she loved, but she didn’t allow them to understand her responsibility or help her with it.
And Hikaru says,
People can’t live all on their own… Cephiro’s Pillar is alone. She might be able to do anything, but she’s alone. I think that’s why Princess Emeraude fell in love with Zagato.
The tragedy isn’t that Emeraude couldn’t fall in love; the tragedy is that she couldn’t let herself rely on anyone, that she had to stand alone. She had to love as a Pillar, not as a friend. She had to protect everybody; she couldn’t let anyone protect her.
And that’s not acceptable to Hikaru. It’s not acceptable to sacrifice one person’s happiness for the good of all. In a way, it’s the same story as Those Who Walk Away from Omelas. But Hikaru is in a position to change the system.
And she does. It’s better to take your chances than to sacrifice someone else. What happens with Emeraude and Zagato breaks her heart (and there’s good reason it hurts her personally, but I’m trying not to be too spoilerish), it breaks her heart, but she says,
I could move on, because Umi and Fuu were with me. Because I’m not alone, I can live on.
Hikaru has the strongest heart in all Cephiro, but it does you no good if you don’t have people to love, and people to love you, and she knows it.
Basically, Hikaru is awesome and I love her :)