Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play

TV (52 eps)
1995 - 1996
3.859 out of 5 from 9,032 votes
Rank #2,002

While reading "The Universe of the Four Gods", best friends Miaka and Yui are mysteriously transported into a strange world full of magic and unfamiliar faces. As if their arrival was determined by fate, Miaka is revered as the Priestess of Suzaku, the savior of their warring country, who was destined to arrived in a flash of light, from a land far away. Betrayal, love, and heartache accompany this fantasy-filled tale of friendships torn apart, and hope that never fades.

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The Girl of Legend

Episode 1

The Girl of Legend

The Priestess of Suzaku

Episode 2

The Priestess of Suzaku

The Seven Stars of Suzaku

Episode 3

The Seven Stars of Suzaku

Missing Love

Episode 4

Missing Love

Bewildered Heartbeat

Episode 5

Bewildered Heartbeat

Even if I Die

Episode 6

Even if I Die

Going Home

Episode 7

Going Home

Brief Parting

Episode 8

Brief Parting

Enemies Unseen

Episode 9

Enemies Unseen

Looking for Yui

Episode 10

Looking for Yui

Priestess of Seiryuu

Episode 11

Priestess of Seiryuu

Only You

Episode 12

Only You

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Reviews

vivafruit
6

Story"Soap Opera." For me, this phrase generally illicits only negative responses. If asked what came to my mind upon hearing the term, the result would probably be something along these lines: poorly acted, intellectually devoid, shamelessly manipulative trash aimed at uneducated housewives with far too much time on their hands. While I generally tend to avoid comparing animes to totally unrelated parts of American pop culture (Cowboy Bebop is like Die Hard plus JAZZ!), in many ways Fushigi Yuugi and your standard soap opera are eerily similar. Like your average soap opera, Fushigi Yuugi contains a frustratingly manipulative plot. The characters are often made to react in absolutely irrational ways, because if they didnt, there wouldnt be a conflict. Also, constant measures are taken to keep the two main lovers apart, and oftentimes this feels more than a little contrived. Even more annoying is Fushigi Yuugis almost constant dependence on cliched devices to tell its story. Aside from the blatantly obvious magical girl archetype, we are also plagued with a story that has schoolgirls warping to another dimensions, friends torn apart by circumstance, and hair raising DBZ powerups. After a while, the hackneyed storytelling really begins to interfere with the overall plot. Finally, the anime suffers from random and generally distracting fanservice that really goes against the classic love story that the anime is supposedly striving for. Worse than any of these faults, however, is the outrageously casual way in which the anime deals out death sentences. Starting in the final half of the anime, characters begin to be murdered away in a frustratingly flippant fashion. After their deaths, the anime is barely impacted; the characters are often freely cracking jokes the very episode after someone important has died. As opposed to plucking at my heartstrings, these frivolous fatalities angered me; I could only be jerked around so much before I saw these deaths for what they were: ratings boosters.AnimationFurthermore, Fushigi Yuugi is eerily similar to soap operas in its relatively low-budget music and visuals. The animation, on the other hand, is just barely good enough to not draw attention to itself. Repeated footage, as well as other standard 1995 methods for money saving, is used at will. The character designs are all fairly unappealing (at least for guys such as myself).SoundThe instrumental parts of the soundtrack are irritatingly repetitive, and are only occassionally broken up by bland and vaguely nauseating J-Pop. Voice acting is far from impressive as well.CharactersAlso in traditional soap opera fashion, the anime has far too many characters to possibly keep track of. One would think that an anime that was 52 episodes long would have nice character development, but no - almost no time whatsoever is given for characterization of the more minor characters. Many of the supporting characters feel almost like sacrificial lambs, waiting for their moment in the sun when they can be slaughtered in a heartless ploy for more viewership. The villains, as well, needed far more development than they were given. Oftentimes the "character development" that they received was nothing more than a brief description of what their superpowers were. The only two characters that are worth mentioning by name are Tamahome and Miaka, the two main characters of the show. For what it's worth, they're acceptable, albeit unspectacular, leads, and do a fine job of anchoring the show.OverallWhy, exactly, are so many people here cheerfully labelling Fushigi Yuugi as soap opera, and then giving it positive reviews? What is driving them to actually LIKE an anime that is plagued with so many aggravating faults? The answer, I think, once again lies in the general nature of soap operas. Fushigi Yuugi, much like the genre of television I am comparing it to, has a distinct charm to be found in its sheer innocence. Sure, the characters are cliched, the story is hackneyed, and the soundtrack is godawful, but its heart is almost certainly in the right place. The two more contemporary animes that resemble this one, The Twelve Kingdoms and Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, undoubtedly surpass Fushigi Yuugi in overall execution, polish and creativity. However, by gaining sophistication, they lose something that Fushigi Yuugi has in spades: guileless appeal. This single innate quality makes the show enjoyable in spite of its undeniably superior successors.

EibhilinRhett
8

Tamahome! Miaka! Tamahome! Miaka! Tamahome! Miaka! TAMAHOME! MIAKA! TAMAHOMEEEEE! MIAKAAAAAAAA!There. I have just retold Fushigi Yugi for you and saved you approximately 26 hours of your life. ...I kid, I kid. All joking aside, Fushigi Yugi is, despite its many problems, a great show that has more than earned its place among the great anime classics. So, without further ado, let's get to the meat of this, shall we?StoryThe story is nothing you haven't seen before, though it was among the first animes to use this kind of plot. You've heard it all before--teenage girl gets sucked into another world and has to save everyone by gathering a handful of smoking hot guardians and summoning a god. The execution of the story is pretty darn good, and has both its funny and serious moments, its highs and lows. It really does leave you wanting to know what happens next. And the writing? It's a lot better than most people give it credit for, though the series does in general tend to be overdramatic and soap opera-esque. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I figured I'd mention it in case that's not really your thing. Even if it isn't though, it manages to balance action, over-the-top drama, and humor well enough that it still works. Unfortunately, it has a pretty glaring weak point: the romance. The romance between Tamahome and the protagonist, Miaka, while at times lovely and sweet, is, in general, laid on way too thick and presented in a clumsy, rushed manner. Not to worry though, it more than makes up for its defieciencies with the memorable cast of characters--more on that later.AnimationNot gonna sugar coat it for you--I love this show to death, but the animation is, well, bad. Even for 90s standards. It's choppy and has way too many off-model shots. The characters also frequently go into super-deformed mode, which, while adorable in the manga, doesn't really translate as well into the anime style as it could. However, the character and background designs are well done, despite the animation shortcomings.Pictured below are a couple screenshots to give you a feel for the style. SoundThe music in this series is really good, both when it comes to vocals and background music, though sometimes it can get a little heavy on the saxophone. I view this as a plus. You may not. But yeah, music-wise, it's definitely withstood the test of time.As for the voicing, the Japanese cast is great, and includes some pretty big name voice actors like Hikaru Midorikawa, Tomokazu Seki, and Takehito Koyasu. The voices all fit the characters near perfectly and put on a wonderful performance. It's definitely one of the series' biggest strengths. The dub, on the other hand? Uh. Just. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the dub. Half the voices are cardboard and the other half are plain annoying. It has straight up got one of the worst dubs I've ever heard, and I've seen Ghost Stories. Whatever language you're watching it in, there is one thing that might bother you--as I alluded to above, Tamahome and Miaka tend to scream each others' names a lot. It's bad enough that even those of us that really like the series will make fun of this relentlessly.CharactersAnother strong point of the series is its entertaining and endearing cast of characters. There's a pretty great diversity of personalities and everyone's got at least something going for them in terms of being interesting. Now there are a couple characters that really don't get as much screen time or character development as they deserve, especially relative first-season latecomers like Mitsukake and Chiriko, and certain members of the antagonist group, but overall, the characters are pretty great. I don't want to go into too much detail about the characters because it's so much more fun to meet them yourself by watching it, but I would like to rant about Miaka for a bit, then introduce you to a couple of my favorites. Okay, Miaka rant. You think you know where this is going. You're wrong. The topic of my rant today is--people give her WAY too much shit. She is one of the most disliked protagonists I've seen, and a lot of the reasons given aren't even true. I've heard people say she's a Mary Sue damsel in distress who never does anything on her own and just screams and cries until someone saves her. That is NOT Miaka Yuki. Her problem is the exact opposite. She's too damn brave. She constantly tries to take burdens on all by herself and often goes off to take care of matters without telling her Celestial Warrior guardians. Yes, she's constantly getting rescued by them, but only because she bit off more than she could chew in the first place. Because she couldn't stand idly by and do nothing while everyone else was risking their lives. Because she chose to fight. She's strong willed and stubborn as all heck. Early on in the series when she gets attacked by thugs, she fights back and would have actually WON if one of them hadnt snuck up behind her and launched a surprise attack.  Sure Tamahome rescued her at the end of that particular fight but she fought like HELL. Miaka is NOT a wimp. She also cares deeply for those close to her and has a strong moral compass. Now yeah, she's naive and emotional, and she is prone to making PAINFULLY stupid snap decisions. She's a middle school student. She's a dumb teenager. She's not gonna know how to handle a lot of these situations, and she's got a lot of growing up to do. But see, she DOES it. She grows up. I think she gets some amazing character development. You see her change from this insecure, naive, somewhat whiny little girl into a strong, brave, confident young lady. What her character really suffers from is being one of the parties in a really poorly written, cringeworthy romance.  That tends to eclipse the underlying character development at times just because its so damn prominent. All problems aside though, Miaka is actually a pretty relatable protagonist,  especially to other people her age. Part of what makes her endearing is that she's so ordinary.Of course, even if you disagree with me about Miaka, let me introduce you to the two best characters in the series. These two alone make the series worth watching.See those two losers in the foreground? That's Tasuki and Chichiri. Tasuki is a hotheaded mountain bandit with a kansai accent, and Chichiri is a complete dork of a monk who ends all his sentences with verbal emphatics. They're two of the seven Celestial Warriors destined to protect Miaka, and they are both adorable and 200% hilarious. They spend a good deal of screentime as the comic reliefs of the series, though Chichiri also fills the role of "responsible adult who looks after the kids" for a good part of the series (even if it's not immediately obvious because of how damn much he goofs around). They're also two of the most well developed characters in the series and are a lot deeper than you'd originally guess. I rank them both pretty high on my list of all time favorite anime characters. If for nothing else, you should watch the show for these two.ConclusionFushigi Yugi has gotten a lot of flack over the years, and admittedly, it deserves at least some of it. However, you shouldn't let that scare you off. For all its flaws, it's a great show that will suck you in pretty darn fast and it's definitely worth taking the time to watch.~~Linn~~ 

Erliane
7

Story - 8/10A teenage girl is transported into a strange world and has to save it. Now, the story may be a bit cliché, but in 1995, the year of its production, this was something new. I do think it was a nice storyline, with historical features, romance and fantasy elements. It may be a bit of a soap opera, but I do think they did a great job on that.Animation - 7/10Again - the anime is of course outdated. But the animations are usually smooth and nice, sometimes a bit jerky, and the backgrounds are usually undetailed when it's of a landscape. Overall, it was not too bad.Sound - 8.5/10The music, for an oldie like this one, was very good. I found myself singing along with the opening and closing songs, and I don't do that too often. The chinese themed background music was also very nice, and added something to the anime. I watched once with the original Japanese voice acting and once with the English dub, and I don't think they did a bad job on both - even though Miakas voice is irritating from time to time.Characters - 7.2/10The characters are loveable creatures, even the bad guys have something you like in them. Especially Soi, who saves her beloved Nakago. All the characters change over time, Miaka becomes much more mature, and Tamahome less greedy. The struggle Yui goes through is very realistic, and even though she does some evil things, she proves in the end that she's not that bad. Overall I think they did a great job on the characters.Overall - 7/10I really enjoyed watching this series, I enjoyed the parts about the Chinese legends about the four gods.

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