Earlier today, Discotek announced that they acquired the domestic rights to Magic Knight Rayearth. The title, which was revealed among Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, Descendants of Darkness, IGPX, and Lupin III: Bank of Liberty, will hit stores on DVD in 2015. A Blu-Ray version is also in the works, which will hit stores in 2016.
Now, excuse me while I do a double take. Seriously – this may be a case where humorous animated GIFs are in order.
There we go.
Joking aside, Rayearth was the last title I’d expect to see on an acquisition list. Since it first hit North American retailers in 1999, Magic Knight Rayearth has been Media Blasters’s baby. Always had been, and it seemed like it always would be. Media Blasters held, released, and promoted the show through good times and bad, and seemed to regard the show with a sense of pride that wasn’t seen in a number of their other releases.
This was certainly with good reason. Magic Knight Rayearth, a flagship series from mega manga makers CLAMP, is a wonderfully charming title that blends swords and sorcery, romance, and a hint of goofy comedy to create an adventure like no other. It builds a world of excitement and danger, filled with remarkable characters like mage Clef, Presea the Blacksmith, and the now-iconic Mokona. The jokes are legitimately funny, and the most dire dramatic moments can wrench out the hearts of the most jaded viewers.
It’s a classic that’s well-loved by older fans and a number of more recent anime aficionados.
To see Media Blasters drop the Rayearth license is a bit of a shock. It’s quite telling of the company’s current situation. We don’t know the details, outside of the fact that Media Blasters were forced, be it by increased fees or a lack of revenues, to drop a show that had historically been a flagship franchise.
It will be interesting to see how the series is handled by its new owners. Discotek, who have carved a comfortable niche in classic anime, are arguably among the best suited to keeping the show relevant in today’s market. They know the material, and their brand is one that fans have come to respect, as curators of content from the bygone eras. Given the way Discotek have handled countless other shows, from Lupin III to Samurai Pizza Cats, it’s clear that Rayearth will be in good hands going forward.
What’s particularly interesting in their release schedule, though, is the promise of a Blu-Ray in 2016. Bandai Visual gave the CLAMP classic a Blu-Ray box in Japan last May, in which the entire 49-episode show was remastered. If Discotek is able to bring this particular version westward, I could see a number of fans jumping back onboard the Mokona Express.