Magic Knight Rayearth vs. Tokyo Akazukin:
A Magical Girls of Manga Review
by McCamy Taylor
If you ever watched Sailor Moon you know all about magical girls. These are extremely young women with supernatural powers who are called upon to protect the earth. When they are not protecting the earth, they are bit like Clark Kent, except they wear knee socks and hair ribbons and go to elementary school. That makes them just like your kid sister -- if your kid sister could wave a magic wand and magically rise up into the air, where a conveniently placed wisp of cloud disguises the fact that she is naked and slowly being clothed in (adorably cute pastel colored) armor.
Magic Knight Rayearth is just one of many magical girl titles. Penned by the creative team known as Clamp (probably best known for Cardcaptor Sakura), it tells the stories of three girls who are swept from modern day Tokyo to the imaginary world of Cephiro where they must save Princess Emeraude from the evil high priest, Zagato. The Princess is the Pillar of her world, meaning that she is responsible for everything that happens. If she is good and kind and pure, then Cephiro will be good and kind and pure. If she lets herself act like a flesh and blood woman, then Cephiro is in for a world of hurt. There are two story arcs which have been collected into two jumbo sized volumes, both available in English translation in the U.S. There are also two anime series. The manga comes complete with paper dolls and clothes so that you can see what red-haired and feisty Hikaru, blue-haired and coolly elegant Umi, and glasses-wearing and always soft-spoken Fuu will look like one day when they are finally old enough to marry. Ooo! Cute! Did I mention that the three girls pilot color coordinated mechas? Double cute!
Donít get me wrong. I like Magic Knight Rayearth, the manga that answers the question "What kind of world would God dream up, if God was a plushy?" But now, I want to talk about another manga, one that also tells the story of an extremely young girl with magical powers. This title will never, ever, ever be released in the U.S. because there is no conveniently placed wisp of cloud to hide the fact that the heroine, Tokyo Akazukin (aka Tokyo Red Riding Hood, in a manga by BenkyoTamaoki) spends a large part of the story naked. This modern day Little Red Riding Hood is an immortal goddess who has lost her memory. All she knows is that she has to find "Mr. Wolf" and let herself get eaten, so that the world as she knows it can come to an end and a new world can begin -- which is basically the story of Magic Knight Rayearth except with nudity, sex, cannibalism, graphic violence and blasphemy. Donít let the first few chapters fool you. This is a serious manga that explores some serious issues.
And donít let the pretty clothes and impossibly long legs of the girls in Rayearth fool you. Their story is, at its heart, also extremely serious. It just comes in a prettier package.
© 2012 McCamy Taylor
Bio: If you don't know who McCamy Taylor is, you're really not paying attention. Aside from reviews like this one, many of her short stories and novellas have appeared in Aphelion and other print and online publications, and she is the reigning Aphelion Long Fiction editor. Her most recent fiction contribution to Aphelion was Feast Before the Fast in the June 2012 edition.
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