Synopsis: Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu are the best of friends. They attend the same junior high and do a lot of stuff together. The girls are on the verge of graduating, and going to high schools located in different cities threaten to separate them. A wish to remain friends forever under a mystical cherry blossom tree, however, changes their destinies. There's a fairy (Mokona) in the tree, and it chooses Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu to defend the Earth against the onslaught of dark forces that seek to end all existence.
Review: Simply entitled Rayearth, this OAV series has absolutely nothing to do with the Magic Knight Rayearth manga and TV series. It's a separate and totally different story meant to be viewed on its own. Rayearth features the Magic Knight Rayearth characters we know and either love or hate (kinda like how the Tenchi series has several different versions using the same cast). Anyhow, I liked the Magic Knight Rayearth manga and TV series, so I was also eager to check the OAV out.
The plot and pacing are excellent. The girls are pitted against more than just your typical "I'm gonna take over the world, bwahahahaha!" type of villains. Powerful mages from the world of Cephiro are attacking the Earth for the sake of carrying out their princess' wish. The problem is, their princess is trapped inside an illusory world where she and her lover are happy together. But as reality goes, her lover is dead. She can't accept this and so her good(?) brother creates this never-ending dream world for his heartbroken sister. Somehow, for this romantic dream to last, the Earth has to be destroyed. Is it all really that simple though? Not at all. Unknown to the princess' loyal aides, her brother has agendas of his own that don't really include her happiness or welfare.
The art and animation are breathtakingly beautiful. The characters are more severely drawn compared to the manga and TV series but this style fits the overall atmosphere of the story perfectly. The battle sequences are awe-inspiring and explosive, and the fabulous musical scoring enhances everything nicely. Production values are obviously very high. What spoiled Rayearth for me, though, was the excessive mushy-ness. There's nothing wrong with depicting the finer points of friendship and camaraderie in an anime. The fault lies in the fact that Rayearth goes way over the top with it. I swear I could just vomit after all the friendship stuff the girls kept on spouting in almost every scene. Before, during, and after they do anything they'd say some sentimental crap related to friendship. It was sickening. Rayearth could've been a 5-star anime had they take it easy on the mush factor.
Miscellanies: Rayearth the OAV series is composed of only three episodes.