Okay, how many of you have read CLAMP’s Magic Knight Rayearth? The story follows Hikaru, Fuu, and Umi, three Japanese schoolgirls who get transported to Cephiro in order to become the Magic Knights and save it. When I was in middle school, my babysitter–also an anime and manga fan–lent me her copy of the series. I absolutely loved it. I loved the fact that the heroines could fight; I loved the world concept and the artwork for the magic. Recently, I have been trying to read more graphic novels and manga. During my visit home, I decided to re-read the volumes I have.
First off, you definitely notice different things when you’re a kid versus when you are an adult. Although I admit to not have perfect recollection of my middle school mind, I remember being attracted to the more comical elements in the series. I also remember being more caught up in the plot and more accepting of some of the story writer’s decisions. I also remember being confused about some of the elements of the story, particularly the true reason for the Knights being summoned.
This time around, I was both nostalgic and more questioning of the series. I found myself puzzling over some of the story elements. Duty versus love was a huge theme. None of the main characters–Hikaru, Fuu, Umi, and Princess Emeraude (who summoned them)–were in a good position. I am not sure if they ultimately made the right choice; I am of the opinion that the Princess should have never summoned the Knights, yet her duty should not have prevented her from loving someone (although I question whether she should have fallen for that creep in the first place). As a middle schooler, the Knights’ realization of their true story was shocking and very confusing to me, and I’m not sure age (although I am not that much older) has made me any wiser. I guess that’s what I like about the story; things are not easy to categorize as good or evil, and I think being so quick to categorize gets one in trouble.
I guess the point of all this is that I now have different expectations when I read something. This sort of leads me into whether it’s more important to enjoy a story or to understand the message that is being sent. I am sure that different people are going to see different things though. However, I would be curious to know your thoughts.