Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play
Miaka Yuuki and her best friend Yui Hongo are studied for their high school entrance exams. One day when they go to the library to return some books, they accidentally discover an ancient text called "Universe of the Four Gods" (also called "The Four Gods Sky and Earth"). According to legend, the one who reads this book to its completion will be granted her fondest wish. So, naturally, they begin to read, and are instantly sucked into the world of the book. Neither of them realize at this time that their friendship, their courage, and their very lives will be put through a test far greater than they had ever expected to take.
Fushigi Yugi is one of those series that just -knows- how to manipulate your emotions. You will run the full gauntlet of emotions while watching this series, as it is a good blend of slapstick comedy, heartbreaking romance, and fast-paced action. Some of the best characterization in anime is to be found in this series. And you would think by those last few sentences that we have the makings of a five-star classic.
I wish we did.
Don't get me wrong, I -love- this series. I relate to Miaka maybe a little too well... But sadly, there are a few flaws in this series, not all of them minor, which prevents it from being the anime classic it really should be. To begin with, the animation quality, which quite frankly, is the bottom of the barrel. A storyline like this deserves way better than flat flame rates, muddy coloring, and overall shoddy worksmanship. The truly exquisite box art looks far superior to the actual anime, which is a crying shame.
It also suffers in the characterization department. The characters they bother to develop are developed beautifully. For example, the relationship between Miaka and Yui. Their deep friendship is put to the test big time through a series of one misunderstanding after another, and even when one is ready to give up on the other, they somehow still manage to not fully give up on them. That at the end of the series they are closer than ever is a tribute to the power of their feelings for each other. They really did grow up after all.
The problem is, not everyone who -should- have been developed is. Specifically, Mitsukake and Chiriko, two of the seven Suzaku Seishi (though you would've assumed there were five had you not seem the manga). Aside from one story arc for Mitsukake and one -episode- for Chiriko, they hardly appear until they're ready to die. Chiriko's death sequence was longer than any other scene he had in the series...combined. So how are we supposed to care for these two? Apparently, not much, since the writers focused on the pretty-boys clamoring for Miaka's attention. (As if Hotohori is -really- that interesting; his personality seems to revolve around the phrase, "Oh, I am the beautiful emperor. Let me be humble for you.")
I could have forgiven these flaws and rated this series higher, but there is one utterly glaring problem in this series. The dialogue.
Miaka! Tamahome! Miaka! Yui-chan! Miaka! Tamahome! Miaka! Tamahome! NURIIIKOOOOOO!!!! Tamahome!! Nakago. Miaka! Tamahome! Dr. Scott! Janet! Brad! Rocky!-
Sorry, I got carried away there... But I believe the names Miaka and Tamahome are repeated ad nauseum at least 1000 times...every 10 episodes. Couldn't the scriptwriters catch a clue? Or had they chopped up so much of the manga, they realized, oops, it's too short, time for filler? And entire episodes are composed of nothing but flashback stock footage. Geez! Take out the repetitious dialogue and flashback sequences, and you'd have one season of Fushigi Yuugi, not two. Ouch. With such a fantastic manga to base itself off of, Fushigi Yugi truly deserved far better, and as is, it is still an enjoyable series, and I do recommend it, especially to fans of shoujo anime. But it can't be a classic, by a long shot. And that's a damn shame.
While still very good, it could have been better in some areas. A slightly above average series. — Christi
Recommended Audience: A few gruesome death scenes, implications of rape toward both female leads, and the obvious sexuality between Miaka and Tamahome (yes, they do try to...consummate more than once, between yelling each other's names at each other) limit this to teens and above. Besides, children would be turned off by the melodrama anyway. (But they would love the characters of Tasuki and Chichiri.)
Version(s) Viewed: digital source; VHS, Japanese with English subtitles; R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (52/52)
Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play © 1995 Yuu Watase / Shogakukan / TV Tokyo / Studio Pierrot
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