While visiting the National Library, junior-high students Miaka Yuuki and Yui Hongo are transported into the world of a mysterious book set in ancient China, "The Universe of The Four Gods." Miaka suddenly finds herself with the responsibility of being the priestess of Suzaku, and must find all of her celestial warriors for the purpose of summoning Suzaku for three wishes; however, the enemy nation of the god Seiryuu has manipulated Yui into becoming the priestess of Seiryuu. As enemies, the former best friends begin their long struggle to summon their respective gods and obtain their wishes...
Though by some standards today, the story may seem a bit cliché, but for its time in the mid-1990s, it wasn’t really that much of the norm. So the Alice in Wonderland concept may not be something that will appeal to everyone since you’ve already seen it in more semi-mainstream animes in comparison to this one such as 12 Kingdoms, Inuyasha, and Escaflowne which came out after Fushigi Yuugi though this was the anime that did it before it became something semi-common. Even though this is primarily shoujo, the well diverse but archetypical cast do have mass appeal.
Each character for the most part has
their own unique use and contribution to the story and they are presented in ways you get to know them. The characters or heck, maybe even one character will grow on you as you watch from start to finish. I would explain this, but it would be a significant spoiler, and if you’ve seen this anime, you know what I’m talking about. Whether that character is good or bad, you’ll love them. Hell, my favorite character Nakago is the primary antagonist and even Yuu Watase, the original manga-ka has admitted that Nakago is her favorite character.
The anime will hopefully satisfy men and women. The story overall is very diverse with its appeal, but it went a little longer than it should have, but it ends in a way where everything is resolved and the characters wonderfully develop. It has romance, adventure, excitement, comedy and action, which I will further get into. However, what will annoy male and female alike is the interaction between Tamahome and Miaka when they really get romantic with each other. It kind of drags and we don’t need that much hugging even if we can appreciate how much they love each other.
Well, the character design today doesn’t really stand out in comparison to most shoujo out there for the most part. The costume designs are a little flamboyant for the setting, but even so, they still compliment the character designs very well where it helps make them stand out a bit more. The action is well coordinated, technical and raw which will appeal to male viewers. The city settings captures the heart of ancient China very captivatingly and truly represents their culture at that time period where they gathered to worship the emperor. However, with the modern day settings, you get a different approach to the school uniform with the blazer and ribbon design you see in lets say Evangelion, than the more mainstream sailor uniform which I thought was unique to anime in the mid-1990s with Magic Knight Rayearth and Sailor Moon being the rage back then with those designs, so its nice to see something different. It is also unique to point out in the real world in Fushigi Yuugi, nobody has crazy color hair, but in the book, you got the typical crazy color anime hair which was somewhat of the intention of Watase and the staff at Studio Pierrot. So overall, the art may be descent, but the character design 100% stand out, but the action, costumes, and scenery makes up for it.
The dub of Fushigi Yuugi does have some credible names, but I don’t think the dub was good. First off, Tamahome is played by David Hayter who you may know as the voice of Solid Snake from MGS. When you hear that voice in relation to Tamahome’s image, it just doesn’t match. He makes Tamahome sound gruffy, though it’s not the voice he uses for Solid Snake, but when he does scream, he does scream like Snake. This kind of casting is to me, for the sake of casting a big name and you’re giving him a character he’s not appropriate for. However, this was a role I thought perfectly suited his Japanese counterpart, Midorikawa Hikaru, the voice of Heero Yuy from Gundam Wing, and Rukawa from Slam Dunk. Granted Midorikawa has played character opposite from Tamahome, he had a different kind of cool that Snake has, but he still has that passion and soft side that really captures him. As a matter of fact, Watase actually wanted him to play Tamahome because he had him in mind when he created the character.
I also enjoyed Kae Araki the voice of Sailor Chibi Moon as Miaka. She does sound annoying with her high-pitched voice, but it was at a certain tone where it really captured the character with all of these emotions whether sad, happy, concerned, or excited. And Seki Tomokazu, my 2nd favorite seiyuu who has played Miyata in Hajime no Ippo, Domon in G Gundam, Kamui in X The Movie, and many others was great as Chichiri, my 2nd favorite character. He is so multi-talented and he demonstrates it very well when you get to know his character more. Overall, the cast is just top notch and they all have great chemistry. Even though the romantic tension between Tamahome and Miaka gets annoying, their seiyuus truly make it believable.
The opening theme song Itoshii Hito no Tame Ni does open with this more traditional approach and then at the right moment, transitions to a more energetic J-Pop song. It’s very unique to me because it captures the cultural and romantic atmosphere of the series. And the ending theme Tokimeki Doukasen has a different kind of energy that is generic but still catchy and semi sexually suggestive in a more innocent sense. The background music is well orchestrated in every sense. Such as traditional Chinese music, more traditional cinematic.
Anyway, I think this is an anime I believe you should try to give a chance even if it may not be your taste. There are all kinds of good qualities this anime has that does make up for its bad ones. Even so, the bad qualities are still there but if you concentrate and stick to what you like, you’ll forget about them. I remember during the days of VHS fansubs, I used to talk to people who cried watching this series. It has all of these great themes such as love, friendship, loyalty, and betrayal and they are presented in a very realistically approachable manner. And believe me, there are moments where you might and I’m not ashamed to admit I have watching this series. The only anime that has achieved me to react like this since is the Kimura vs Mashiba oav of Hajime no Ippo.
After seeing so much anime in my time, I can say that Fushigi Yuugi might have inspired a lot of anime that came in when it ended. These days there are so much anime that are about the main character/s sucked into another dimension and they are the chosen ones to fix the problems of this so-called dimension (Kyo Kara maoh, Escaflowne, Izumo. etc)
Although it is one of my favorite series, there are some parts that to me are considered unsatisfactory. I feel a bit sorry for Chiriko because he was one of the lesser important seishis (the other would be Mitsukake). I am not
a fan of Chiriko or Mitsukake, but I do think that they could've used more screen time.
I also noticed some discrepancies. It could be due to translation errors, but I'll say it anyway. There was an episode where Keisuke and Tetsuya go to the Genbu shrine. They went there to see the Byakko miko. One question: why is the Byakko miko in the Genbu and not the Byakko shrine?
I have to mention that I watched the english dubbed version, because I found certain voice dubbers annoying. I hate Tomo's voice - it is the most annoying voice I have ever heard in my life. Whoever thought of making Tomo's voice sound that way was nuts and should be locked up in an asylum. Miaka was also a bit annoying. I cringe whenever she would cry out Tamahome's name.
And now for the positives. I love the story - I think it is well thought of. It was able to mix in elements such as love, friendship, deceit, war, etc. into something really decent and worth watching. I first watched the show 6 years ago, and when I watched it again last month I find myself obsessed once more.
The visuals weren't bad either - although I can't say if I prefer seeing genitals on Yui and Miaka. Seeing naked people is bad enough. However, the show is filled with bishonens throughout the show. My personal favorite is Nuriko of course. He is my god. The wonderful art shown at the end of the show via the ending theme was beautifully made and I never grew tired of it.
The music wasn't bad - most of it were mid 90s music, so I can't say I'm a huge fan of it. I do like the ending song, "Tokimeki no Doukasen". It's another one of those nostalgic song for me - everytime I hear it I can't help but feel reminiscent of the year when I first watched Fushigi Yuugi. Some of the insert songs weren't bad either. Again they were mid 90s styled, but they're not so bad. I did get tired of the opening song after a while. Hearing "Maiagare Suzaku" for more than 10 times tends to get on my nerves.
I think one reason why the show was suspended on Filipino free TV was because of mild sex and vulgar language. This is definitely not for kids, but I would say it is a must - see for the 16+ crowd (mostly because I saw the show when I was 16).
Fushigi Yuugi, originally a manga written by Yuu Watase, is a classic anime, that became so popular, it inspired 3 OAV series', and encouraged Watase to write the prequel to the series, more than 10 years later.
Fushigi Yuugi: The Mysterious Play, is about a 15 year old girl Miaka Yuuki, and her best friend Yui Hongo. Miaka and Yui are in the library when Miaka sees a mysterious bird lead her to the restricted room of the library. There, Miaka finds a mysterious book, and her and Yui are pulled into the world. Miaka and Yui meet a mysterious man who saves them from slave
traders, but Yui is thrown back out of the book, and the man has left, leaving Miaka all alone in this Ancient Chinese world. Miaka meets with the man again, and they end up at the palace, and through circumstances, Miaka is charged with the duty to gather together the seven senshi of Suzaku, and save Konan from destruction!
I know that makes no sense, but in a nutshell, Miaka fell into Konan, an Ancient Chinese world, where the whole world lives on the idea of the Four Gods in Chinese Mythology. Miaka is in the south, where Suzaku, the Red Bird (Pheonix in some translations) protects the country. Each God has 7 constellations (or in this case, the 7 senshi). So the constellations have taken the form of 7 warriors, and Miaka needs to gather them to summon Suzaku, who will grant her 3 wishes.
The animation itself is smooth, and well done, until about the second season (ep 27+) where the animation seems to take a bit of a plunge at times. The colouring is also very vibrant at times, but others, it's very muddy looking, and monotone, because everything seems to be in the brown colour tone, except the hair of Miaka's senshi. The most remarkable thing in the animation, however, is the eyes. When the animators but their mind to it, they draw some beautiful, bright, colourful eyes.
The music in this falls into an olden style theme, mostly Chinese sounding. However, they have their theme, and ending theme that do not fit that theme. And one thing you need to know about Fushigi Yuugi, is if you want to hear more of it's music, be prepared for trumpets. Lots of trumpets.
Anyways, the theme song is fairly slow at first, but then seems to almost have dance feel to it. It's nothing remarkable. The ending theme, however, is a dance song, but also has a fairly sad tone to it, fitting the series well, I feel.
The voices, English and Japanese, I have to mention, are wonderful. I love it in both languages. The voices fit the parts perfectly.
There is a whirlwind of characters. Be prepared to remember some names. The main characters are essentially Miaka, Yui, Tamahome, and Nakago, but you have the supporting cast (that consists of atleast 12 senshi, only including the Suzaku and Seiryuu), and about 13 more characters I can name off the top of my head.
While most characters have well-done development, because of the mass amount of characters, some of these character appear almost personality-less, most notably two of Miaka's senshi, Chiriko and Mitsukake, and two of the Seriyuu senshi, Tomo and Miboshi (I'm not counting Ashitare because he practically never talks, and well... if you want to sure, he has no personality I suppose). Watase herself never really developed these characters, so they continue to suffer, even onto OAV's, and even in their songs. But for the characters she does focus on, they are all very different, and it's not hard to pick a favourite.
For all the bad things I have said, this series has an amazing fanbase, and I personally think it has high replay value. Everytime you watch the series, you find something you missed, but I remember the first time I saw this, and I was an addict, most literally. I couldn't wait for them to release the next VHS (and boy did they have alot... 14). I know of people that do dislike this series, but for the most part, everyone has something about this they liked, and it usually lies in the characters themselves, particularily the senshi.
C'mon, for a series that spawned so much merchandise, character songs, OAV's, etc, how can it not be enjoyable?
Well yeah, the OAV's aren't enjoyable, but the series itself is fun to watch over and over again.
Overall / My Comments / My Feelings
The story is a bit different from the manga, and justifies this beginning a bit more. Miaka and Yui are pulled in to the book world, but they both return (in the anime, it's only Yui). Miaka gets in an agruement with her mother, and runs back to the library, getting pulled into the book again to set her free of the pressures of her real life. The manga honestly has a stronger beginning, and gives you more sympathy for Miaka as the protagonist.
Even though my above comments aren't the best, this is me looking at it critically. If you don't, and just watch it for enjoyment, I can guarentee anyone who loves the romance genre of anime will like this.
Yes, Miaka and Tamahome can be terribly annoying. They are my least favourite characters after all... But the first time I watched the series, I LOVED those two, it's just been 9 years since my first watching, and I've developed a series dislike for their constant crying for each other.
I know I sound negative, but I do recommend this series to anyone. Anyone. It's a classic, and for it's time, it was an incredibly original plot. (Yes, we know in Inu Yasha that Kagome travels between worlds, however, Fushigi Yuugi predates Inu Yasha quite a few years. Fy being originally published in the '92 region and manga, while Rumiko was making Ranma 1/2 still at that time (she published the first Ranma in '93) so it's not possible that InuYasha could be more original than FY, because it wasn't made at the same time. It's possible Rumiko could have gotten ideas at that point (I can't find the year for InuYasha)).
ANYWAYS, just watch Fushigi Yuugi. I'm going so off track here, because I like talking about how original the series is, and how much I love the characters. (Me? I'm a Tasuki fangirl)
Before this series, I've only seen harem anime like Tenchi Muyo and things like that. But it was suggested to me that I watch this series by Yuu Watase. I'm so glad I listened.
The main character, Miaka, got a little annoying at times but I thought she was cute with Tamahome. Many watchers, at least the ones I know got sick over how much they were all over each other. But what do you expect? This girl was in a time she wasn't from. She was always attacked or in danger and she had no one else to really turn to. He was the one
she trusted the most. I thought their relationship was cute.
Her friend, Yui had to calm down though. She went into total pms mode...and for what? Just because Miaka got her crush? And for the times Miaka wasn't able to get to her, it wasn't her fault. Miaka just didn't know how to use her powers...whatever those may be. But I do understand that Yui was also scared....but she was supposed to be the smarter of the two. Didn't she stop to think things through? Or was it because of Nakago? Though his story made me cry....
But anyway, for the harems that these two girls had....
I liked almost everyone in Miaka's group except for Chiriko and Mitsukake. The kid annoyed me and he really didn't do much. Mitsukake was alright but not a favorite. The other guys had life to them and their stories were so sad. T-T But my absolute favorite was Nuriko. He was just too awesome for words. (And too beautiful too xD; )
For Yui's group, it was the twins. Everyone else had pretty much psycho issues.... Nakago was just a conniving evil dude but I'll admit it...he was pretty. xD; Tomo would have been okay but he's way psycho....
The character developments were good in the aspect of each one developing like a life of their own. They weren't all similar but weren't all that extreme either. It was a nice variety among them. And I thought the voices were perfect for each character. Of course I love Hotohori's....his being Koyasu Takehito. (the man does 100's of voices lolz)
The animation was nice, given the time it was created. I always liked hand-drawn as opposed to all the ones done on computer today... -_-;;;;; It just gives the show a different feeling. Especially if the story itself is supposed to be another time, like in the past.
Overall, I think it was a great series. I actually cried at the end! I felt for the characters that were lost. And the story was just great. I loved how the creator utilized legends and made a good romance. Kinda' makes girls wish they could find a book like the &quot;Universe of the Four Gods&quot; (only without all the scary parts xP ).
I would definitely recommend if you're looking for a romance series that's not too depressing but not so bubbly and happy. It has a good amount of everything. Definitely watch!
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