Twelve Kingdoms is an anime based on a book by Ono Fuyumi (sometimes transliterated as Ono Huyumi) that is similar to Vision of Escaflowne or Fushigi Yuugi. It tells the story of Yoko Nakajima a red-haired high school student. On the outside Yoko is popular and kind-hearted but on the inside she is full of doubts and can't express her true feelings. Her teacher wonders if she dyes her hair so her parents want her to dye it black so she will fit in. Yoko has frightening dreams of slaying monsters but her mother brushes them off as nothing to worry about. One day a strange man named Keiki comes to class and warns her of approaching danger. Monsters attack and they flee to the roof where sweethearts Yuka and Asano are chatting. Keiki wants Yoko to take up the sword and go with him to his world. She tries to refuse but when she sees her two classmates in mortal danger she accepts if they can be brought to safety too. They take a trip through a dimensional whirpool and arrive in the world of The Twelve Kingdoms.
I've seen the first story arc from episodes 1 to 13 and I understand there should be 39 in the series. The artwork is good and the backgrounds are detailed. I am glad the writer doesn't ignore problems like the language barrier when people go to another world and practical issues like getting food or seeing if strangers can be trusted. I understand Media Blasters has gotten the US rights to the series for 2003 but try to get the Japanese language version if you can. If you like stories about an ordinary person who has to grow up to become a hero you will definitely like it.
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