Monday, March 16, 2009

Review: Fushigi Yuugi ~Mysterious Play~ (1995-1998, 2001)

Fushigi Yuugi ~Mysterious Play~ (1995-1998, 2001) is a historical romance mythological Japanese anime drama series that was very popular in Japan during the 1990s. It chronicles the journey of two teenaged girls and best friends (Miaka Yuuki and Yui Hongo) who find a strange book that transports them from their local library into an ancient Chinese novel titled "The Universe of the Four Gods." They both land in an ancient country, Konan, in what is now China. These two girls will face many courageous trials and burdens as they attempt to return to contemporary Japan. The TV series contains 52 episodes.

Miaka learns she must become the priestess and summon one of the four gods, Suzaku. As the priestess, it is her destiny to gather the seven celestial warriors ("seishi") of Suzaku, who are to be her protectors (each warrior has a unique tattoo that symbolizes their strongest trait). Once they are gathered together, the priestess will summon the god Suzaku in a ceremonial ritual and bring peace between the warring nations, Konan and Kutou. In the end, the priestess can obtain three wishes.

Unfortunately, Miaka's journey is harder than it seems. Yui enters the novels and becomes her rival, the priestess of Seiryu in the land of Kutou. One of the celestial warriors of Seriyuu easily manipulates her into believing she was raped. As a result, Yui feels betrayed and wants Miaka to suffer miserably for the loss and pain she supposedly endured. Meanwhile, Miaka develops romantic feelings for one of her warriors, Tamahome. Their love becomes so powerful that destiny stands in their way: Tamahome is a fictional character in the ancient universe whereas Miaka must return back to her era once she completes her quest. Miaka's wish to enter the high school of her dreams gradually shifts toward finding a way to be with Tamahome. Although Miaka is sympathetic to Konan's issues, she must rescue her friend and race to the finish line if she wants to prevent genocide and ultimately return home.

After the end of the TV series, three more OAVs were produced to further explain why it was difficult for Tamahome to become a real person in Miaka's world. Although Tamahome became an actual person in Japan (his new name: Taka), the difference between the memories of the real Taka and Tamahome made it impossible for him to stay with her unless the memories of Taka were restored and merged with Tamahome. The last OAV (Eikoden, 2001) centers around a new priestess who enters the Universe of the Four Gods and seeks to destroy everything Miaka and Taka/Tamahome had done to make their relationship successful.

I LOVED THIS SERIES! Miaka and Taka/Tamahome are one of the best anime couples. It took me only two weeks to watch this entire show. While the character development and storyline were excellent, I agree with some critics that the artwork in the TV series was not of high quality. The music was good, emotional and appealing. Fortunately, he character design gradually improves in the three OAVs (especially Eikoden).

Yuu Watase, the mangaka of Fushigi Yuugi, came up with the Seven Celestial Warriors concept from studying ancient Chinese astrology. Fushigi Yuugi was so popular in Japan that Watase is continuing the legend through a prequel manga, Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden. I hope it becomes adapted for animation. If you are a fan of Sailor Moon and other bishoujo anime, you will definitely enjoy this series.

Teenage and young adult populations would love this series. Although Fushigi Yuugi aired on television over ten years ago, the storyline transcends time. Miaka and Tamahome's relationship [Updated January 2019: I replaced the original link with this Pinterest image gallery.] proves that love is the strongest element in the universe. Overall, I highly recommend this series!!

Opening Theme: Itooshii Hito no Tame ni ~For The Sake Of My Beloved~ by Akemi Satou

Ending Theme: Tokimeki no Doukasen ~Fuse of Excitement~ by Yukari Konno

Fushigi Yugi Eikoden (OVA 3) Opening Theme: "Chijou no Seiza" by Yoko Ueno

1 comment:

David Firepig said...

I haven't seen this series, is it interesting like that?! I will find!!^^ And here is my page!