Review: Fushigi Yugi – The Mysterious Play (Collection 1)

fushigi_yugi_coverRelease Date: 20/05/2009
Genre: Action/Adventure, Anime, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Subtitles: ENGLISH subtitles
Number of Discs: 4
Runtime: 650.0 mins
Format: DVD, Region 4 (PAL)
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Original Aspect Ratio

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Fushigi Yugi introduces us to 15 year old Miaka Yuki and her best friend Yui Hongo. They are Japanese middle school students who are trying to prepare themselves for entrance exams to enter the same high school together.

One afternoon, Yui has to return a book to the National Library. Much to the surprise of her friend, Miaka volunteers to go with her. While Yui is handing in her book, Miaka has a bit of a look at the vending machines. Just as she pulls out a coin to buy something, a gush of wind rushes past her and a red light is seen going up a flight of stairs.

Miaka follows the light to a reference room and finds a book written in Chinese. Yui finds her, and (as she is studying Chinese and getting good grades) reads the book aloud for Miaka’s sake. They have come across a book titled “The Universe of the Four Gods” which divulges the tale of “The Priestess of Suzaku” and informs them that whoever reads the story to the end receives a wish just like the Priestess does. As they begin the tale, they are drawn into the book by the red light. They find themselves in a desert-like environment, and discovered by a couple of vicious looking men who want to capture the girls for slave-trading.

As Miaka starts to fight them off, a young man comes to their aid and renders the slave-traders unwilling to re-attempt their capture. The girls are grateful to the young man, and while he appears happy to help he is more interested in payment by coin. Miaka tries to search for some as the young man walks off. Yui tries to follow him, but as she does the red light appears again and takes her back to the room in the library. Miaka is still stuck in the story and assumes that Yui has followed the young man to the nearest village, so she heads there in search of them both.

Eventually, Miaka finds someone who says they know the person she is looking for and will take her right to him, unaware that she has been tricked into following someone who is part of a group of men that takes advantage of girls. Luckily the young man who who saved her earlier had overheard other townspeople mention her, and he arrives to save Miaka just in time.

Both of them manage to get themselves arrested and taken to the dungeons of the local palace. Rumours of the arrest make their way to the Emperor, and somehow Miaka and her new friend Tamahome escape. They get lost in the grounds, getting separated in the process. A beautiful young man is sitting in the courtyard as Miaka rushes past, looking for an escape route. He calls out to her and tells her where the nearest exit is. No sooner does she make a motion in that direction, then the guards show up with Tamahome in custody. They go to arrest her as well but the beautiful young man orders them to release the pair. Turns out that pretty boy is the Emperor!

They are informed that there is a legend of the empire’s guardian Suzaku (a bird) where the Priestess of Suzaku will one day appear and would be known by her strange clothing (might I add that the story seems to be set in a certain ancient period in China’s history, and Miaka is wearing her school uniform!). She is to gather the 7 Suzaku warriors, and once that is completed they can summon the guardian Suzaku who will save the empire of Konan.

The Emperor, whose name is Hotohori, believes that Miaka is the priestess. She obliges, and luckily she has already found 2 of the Suzaku 7. The warriors are distinguished by red glowing Chinese characters found on their bodies. Tamahome has one on his forehead, while Hotohori has one on his neck.

It isn’t long before the 3rd is also found within the grounds of the palace, although at first you could be forgiven for mistaking him as a woman. Nariko walks, talks and dresses like a girl – and is even a member of the Emperor’s harem. He tries to make Miaka jealous by fawning over Tamahome (whom Miaka has begun to develop feelings for) and has everyone fooled until one day where Nariko gives Miaka a hug. The other 2 find out not long after that.

Miaka and the 3 Suzaku warriors must seek out the remaining 4 and that means a road trip of sorts (and where we find out about Nariko).Of course, it’s not all smooth going and they come across various challenges along the way – the biggest one being to return Miaka to her own world when she becomes ill.

This sees Miaka return home, and Yui (who continued to read the book in Miaka’s absence) goes back into the world of the book. The only problem is Yui ends up in the territory of Konan’s enemy Kutou, and suffers some traumatic events for 3 months of that worlds time. In their own world this is only a few hours.

Realising Yui is possibly in danger when she isn’t anywhere to be found, Miaka gathers some personal belongings (and food too, because it is another one of her weaknesses) and heads back to the library. She had informed her older brother Keisuke of the book on her return home. While he is in doubt of her story, he follows her into the library and watches he disappear into the book.

He continues to read the story in place of Yui, and we find out that Yui is under the impression Miaka knew what was happening to her and didn’t care. She also revealed that she was also in love with Tamahome, although he does not reciprocate much to her disappointment. Jealous and feeling betrayed, Yui decides to take the role of Kutou’s guardian priestess, The Priestess of Seiryu.

With the entire Suzaku 7 to gather, a friend to save and a heart (as well as an epic battle) to win, how will Miaka manage that and passing her exams?

Of course, there are special features to accompany these adventures:

  • Interview with Yuu Watase – Written interview with the original creator of the manga from which the anime is derived.
  • Interview with director Hajime Kamegaki – Short written interview with the director of the anime series.
  • Textless versions of the opening and closing themes
  • Trailers for other Madman anime releases

“Fushigi Yugi” is now one of my absolute favourites, and it struck me that the reason could be because of the various similarities I could see between it and my all-time favourite “SailorMoon”.

If you like adventures, courage, magic, love and comedy then you will find it in this series for sure. It might not be one for the boys, but this has certainly become one series I am sure to watch again and again!


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