Item Description
1. Fushigi Yuugi: (Season 1/Volume 1 Set Episodes 1-26) 3 dvds A sprawling mixture of mythical crises and slushy teenage romance, Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play has the scale, but not the depth, of an epic. Like the heroine of Sailor Moon, Miaka is a ditzy 15-year-old girl who's crazy about junk food and boys. She and her scholarly friend Yui find an ancient Chinese volume, The Universe of the Four Gods, about a girl "who made her dreams come true after she came to possess the seven stars of Suzaku," and are literally drawn into the book. Miaka is hailed as the girl from another world destined to become the priestess of Suzaku, the protecting deity of the Empire of Konan. She soon finds herself caught in a web of adventures, magic, deadly perils, intrigue, and counterintrigue. Miaka gains the affection of the seven Celestial Warriors of Suzaku: martial artist Tamahome; the exquisite emperor of Konan, Hotohori; the transvestite Nuriko; sorcerer-in-training Chichiri; mountain bandit Tasuki; physician Mitsukake; and the flute-playing Chiriko. The Warriors and the Priestess are all needed to summon Suzaku to save Konan from an invasion from the rival kingdom of Kutuo. Complicating matters are Yui's estrangement from Miaka and their rivalry for the dashing Tamahome. Director Hajime Kamegaki often uses pans over comic book-style artwork in place of character movements. But the adventures are enjoyable and the side characters are often engaging, especially Chichiri. The weakest aspect of the series is Miaka, who comes across as a whiny twit: Tamahome and Hotohori fall in love with her, but it's difficult to understand why. Mysterious Play began as a girl's manga, then became a weekly TV program. It's more entertaining to watch one or two episodes at a time: after too many at one sitting, the story begins to feel repetitious and padded. This 3-dvd set includes only the first half of the story (the TV series' entire first season), ending on a real cliffhanger. The supplemental material offers a well-organized chart of the characters and their relationships, keyed to scenes in the story. 2. Fushigi Yuugi: (Season 2/Volume 2 Set Episodes 27-52) 3 dvds The second three-dvd set of Fushigi Yugi continues the adventures of Miaka and Yui, two Japanese middle-school girls drawn into an ancient Chinese book, The Universe of the Four Gods. The later episodes are darker in tone, marked by threats of rape, attempted rape, and the deaths of several secondary characters (some of whom die). Miaka and her friends, who fight in the name of the "beast-god" Suzaku, are pitted against the warriors of the rival deity, Seiryu: twins Amiboshi and Suboshi; werewolf Ashitare; lightning-wielding Soi; Miboshi, who looks like a tiny monk; Tomo, who dresses like a Peking Opera general; and the icily vicious Nagako. Nagako commands this troop in the name of Yui, who is waging a vendetta against Miaka. Despite the myriad plots, battles, and spells, director Hajime Kamegaki focuses on the romance between Miaka and martial artist Tamahome. Tamahome has lost the outlaw panache that initially made him attractive, and Miaka has grown no more prepossessing. She whines continuously, and every third episode seems to end with her either declaring she'll never forgive some evil or apologizing for not living up to someone's expectations. What does Tamahome see in her? Explore the more colorful and interesting supporting characters--transvestite Nuriko, sorcerer-in-training Chichiri, and mountain bandit Tasuki. While Miaka and her friends slog on, her brother Keisuke and his friend Tetsuya are reading The Universe of the Four Gods and tracking its effects in the real world. The final battle that pits Tomahome against Nagako and Suzaku against Seiryu proves more anticlimactic than apocalyptic. Kamegaki has several key events occur off camera, including Yui's final wish to Seiryu and how Miaka escapes from the penalty customarily imposed on those who summon Suzaku. Fushigi Y??gi should be seen one or two episodes at a time: watching for more than an hour is like eating a box of bonbons in one sitting. 3. Fushigi Yuugi: Oni (OVA) & Eikoden Box (OVA/Volume 3 Set Episodes 1-9 on the Oni/OVA set and Episodes 1-4 on the Eikoden Set) 2 dvds A: OVA Series This OAV (original animation video) adventure brings back all the characters from the sprawling broadcast series--even ones who were killed. When Miaka, Tomahome (who now lives in the real world), Keisuke, and Tetsuya go visit the grave of Takikio, the one-time priestess of Genbu, Tomahome mysteriously vanishes back into Universe of the Four Gods. Miaka and Yui join him there, causing the Warriors of Suzaku and Seiryu to reassemble. Their reappearance has been arranged by Tenkuo, the former master of the evil Nagako, who hopes to rule the alternate world. Yui summons all four Gods to seal him away and prevent any further contact between the two worlds--which also means Miaka and Tomahome must separate. The secondary characters remain more entertaining than the whiny Miaka, especially sorcerer-in-training Chichiri and mountain bandit Tasuki. Viewers should watch the broadcast series before the OAVs, or they'll be hopelessly lost. Each episode is followed by an omake, or extra: a chapter of "Fushigi Yugi Rest and Relaxation Bus Trip: The Tale of the Forbidden Women's Hot Spring Resort," an offbeat farce that features the characters as themselves and as actors playing those roles. It provides a welcome break from the turgid melodrama of the main episodes, much the way Kyogen comedies are traditionally performed with Noh tragedies in the Japanese theater. Genki Yoshimura's script exhibits some chronological problems. When Tomahome arrived in Konan in episode 1, 50 years had passed since the battle at the end of the broadcast series, and Hotohori's grandson was emperor. When Tomahome and Miaka visit Konan in episode 5, only two years have elapsed and Hotohori's infant son occupies the throne. However, these inconsistencies are not likely to trouble fans of this mawkish magical-girl series. Much of the final episode, which is nearly twice as long as the others, is spent on a convoluted subplot involving Tomahome and Taka appearing in the same time and place when they're the same person. As a result, there's little time for the final battle. Perhaps it shouldn't feel too decisive: Miaka's final words to the remaining six Warriors of Suzaku, "I know we'll meet again," suggest that further sequels may already be in the works. B: Eikoden The third adventure set in "The Universe of the Four Gods" is a follow-up to the initial 52-episode broadcast series. Teenage Mayo nurses a gritty crush on Taka who's married to Miaka. She travels to the alternate world, which is facing imminent destruction. Taka joins the two remaining members of the original Suzaku Seven, Chichiri and Tasuki, to find the children who are the reincarnations of the other four. Nasty as she seems, Mayo is just a pawn for some evil entity disguised as the phoenix-god Suzaku. Mayo, Miaka, et al. defeat the false Suzaku and restore the fading world. Region 0 Audio : English, Japanese Subtitles : English Discs : 8