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Magic Knight Rayearth (魔法騎士レイアース, Mahō Kishi Reiāsu) is a Japanese manga series created by Clamp. Rayearth combines elements from the magical girl and mecha anime genres with parallel world fantasy. The manga was adapted into two anime series in 1994 and an original video animation (OVA) in 1997.
Hikaru Shidou, Umi Ryuuzaki, and Fuu Hououji are on a field trip to the Tokyo Tower with their respective schools. The girls are blinded by a flash of light and hear a voice calling for the Legendary Magic Knights to save Cephiro. They fall through the sky into another world, Cephiro. Once there, they meet Master Mage Clef. Clef explains, "[In Cephiro], one's will has the ability to change reality for better or worse. The dark fears in people's hearts become monsters, while a well-intended wish can do miracles. One person, the Pillar, whose will is stronger than anyone else's, is responsible for maintaining through her prayers the well-being of Cephiro."
In the first story arc, the current Pillar, Princess Emeraude, has been captured by her high priest, Zagato. The three girls are charged with the task of saving Cephiro by activating the three Rune-Gods (魔神, Mashin). They are given a bizarre creature named Mokona to guide them on their journey. After the girls find and destroy Zagato, they finally reach Emeraude, but they learn that she had fallen in love with Zagato, hindering her ability to pray solely for Cephiro's well-being. They at first believed that Zagato had attempted to solve the problem on his own terms by stealing and imprisoning Emeraude, but in truth, she imprisoned herself. Feeling responsible for her actions, she summoned the Magic Knights to kill her since no one from Cephiro could harm the Pillar. Her dark side then took over, seeking to destroy the Magic Knights for killing her love. After a short defensive fight against Emeraude, the Magic Knights had no choice but to kill her.
The second story arc deals with the complications caused by the first season's climax: three warring planets, Autozam, Fahren, and Chizeta, have begun their attempts to conquer Cephiro and a new Pillar must be chosen before the whole planet is destroyed. Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu are once again summoned to Cephiro. It is later discovered that Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu's will to go to Cephiro sent them back once again in the anime, whereas in the manga they were summoned by Mokona. Eventually, Hikaru is chosen to become the new Pillar. However, she rebels against the Pillar system, deciding that the fate of the planet should not be the responsibility of only one person which, like Emeraude before her, effectively prevents that person from ever being able to live and love freely.
Hikaru, Fuu and Umi return to earth, but still can visit their loved ones in Cephiro.