— Ohkawa Ageha
Ohkawa: We did illustrations for Mr. Yoshiki Tanaka for the Soryuden novels. At the dinner celebrating its publication we were seated next to Hedeki Yamanouchi, editor of Nakayoshi magazine 9who later would go on to be CLAMP’s editor at Young Magazine). He asked us if we were interested in working on a series for Nakayoshi. At that time, we didn’t think he was serious. We thought he was trying to be polite.
Mokona: We received a phone call the next day, or the day after.
Nekoi: They really wanted us to work on a story. We were shocked!
♥Whose idea was it to combine magic and robots?
Ohkawa: The editors didn’t give us any direction. We wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and do something that had never been done before. At that time, there were already stories of girls in combat, but nothing that involved gigantic robots (laughs). We figured Nakayoshi readers wouldn’t get into something that revolved around robots, so we added some fantasy, RPG elements to it.
[Nakayoshi is an anthology of manga for young girls, where Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon, Tokyo Mew Mew were serialized. –ed.]
♥It’s very unusual to find robots in a story geared toward girls.
Ohkawa: We were all fans of giant robot anime, especially Mokona (laughs).
Mokona: Being a fan and creating it are very different things (laughs)! It was hard to translate giant robots into manga form.
Nekoi: In terms of illustration, you have to consider the scale of the robots. It’s more difficult in manga compared to anime. I mean, you can’t show both the people and the robots in a frame, or when they are in the robots, you can’t see the characters’ faces.
Ohkawa: We didn’t create a cockpit in the Mashins because we wanted to show the characters’ faces.
♥Were there any other challenges?
Nekoi: Rayearth as a difficult project to work on. The costumes, robots, hairstyles, and screen tones were complicated enough. It was hard work pasting all those screentones once we were done with the ink portion.
Igarashi: We even used screentones on Mokona’s chubby body.
♥Who thought of the title?
Ohkawa: The word “Rayearth” was created by our friend Takeshi Okazaki (the illustrator).
Mokona: We asked for a name that could be used for a car.
Ohkawa: The Magic Knight part was me, I think (laughs). The basic storyline was finished, and we even had a puzzle that revolved around that name already.
♥The characters’ names are based on cars.
Ohkawa: We’re bad with fantasy names (laughs). The names also have to have a connection, so little kids will remember them. Cars are carefully named, and they’re usually easy to remember as well as sounding cool. We thought the kids would like that.
Nekoi: The reason Ferio has green hair is because we owned a greenFerio at the time (laughs).
Igarashi: Ferio has a scar on his face because our Ferio had a scratch on the hood (laughs).
♥The final scene in Part I is quite shocking. Was the story easy to create?
Ohkawa: Part I was really easy. We really wanted to draw the ending. If the series was geared towards boys, or an older crowd, we might have stopped after part I.
Mokona: Audiences were really divided over the work. The kids were really shocked.
Ohkawa: Nakayoshi has previewed that there was going to be part II, so the older readers were pretty calm about it. They figured the story would keep going. We had a hard time creating part II, though. We kind of wrote ourselves into a corner with that ending (laughs)!
♥Nakayoshi gives away a lot of bonus goods. Were there any Rayearth ones that left an impression?
Mokona: The playing cards.
Nekoi: We worked to death creating thos cards!
Mokona: One of us mentioned that they remembered a series that had a complete set of illustrated playing cards, so we were inspired (laughs). The editors told us that a few illustrated cards were enough, but…
♥Rayearth was your first television series as well. How was it?
Ohkawa: I participated in creating the script, but I wasn’t used to creating a TV script from a manga, so it was hard going. The anime was going to be shown at 7 p.m., so there were restrictions and requests. For example, if it was going to be shown near New Year’s Day, they wanted some kind of New Year’s theme to the show (laughs).
♥That does “Rayearth” mean to you?
Ohkawa: It was a straightforward expression of our tastes at that time, so it is influenced by a lot of our earlier works. The artistic style isn’t very different, the story is kind of heavy, and the ending…well, you know (laughs). In that respect, I think it’s good representation of our work at that time.