image, drunkenfist.com clamp rayearthQuick on setup and heavy on Tokyo demolishing eye candy, this three-parter (each runs about 60 minutes) is definitely a worthwhile rental.

From the all woman studio Clamp (the same folks who dreamed up X– which I reviewed in the Dig a few months back), this series details the adventures of three Japanese school girls- Umi, Fuu and Hikaru. It’s graduation time for the three little scamps and they’re bummed out by the prospect of being broken up and sent off to different high schools. So, they do what anyone would do in a similar situation, make a wish that they’ll never be separated under an enchanted cherry tree.

The good news? Their wish is granted (by a cute-as-hell, rabbit eared, Totoro-like tree fairy named Mokona.) The bad news? In return, they end up being the only people left on Earth and they’re suddenly entrusted with defending our planet from a mystical invasion. No one ever said it was going to be easy sticking together. Thankfully, they’re also endowed with vast magical powers and two hundred foot tall symbiotic “spirit beasts” to merge with and fight Tokyo smashing battles for the future of our planet. Sound bewildering? It might be, but it’s still pretty damn cool.

I mean, how can you argue with maybe fifteen fights featuring two huge super- powered, energy bolt spewing mecha-beasts slugging it out for the fate of the Earth and destroying huge swaths of Tokyo in the process? That sounds like a rock solid lock for a good time if I ever heard one. Think Godzilla, swap out the rubber suits for super-cool monster designs and solid animation and add enough firepower to punch a hole in the Earth and you have a pretty good picture of the “rent-me” forces at work here.

Action packed, with a hint of cuteness and a so-hokey-it’s-fun friendship theme, Rayearth is exactly the sort of entertainment that makes me look so often to Japan for rental fodder. An American studio executive would cry if you pitched him this idea.

Check it out.

Originally published in Boston's Weekly Dig (now digBoston) at some point between 1999 and 2002.