“Two Worlds Colliding” – Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play (manga) – 7/10 Snowballs

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. ~Dr. Seuss

Mangaka: Yu Watase

Genre: Action/Adventure/Romance/Supernatural/Fantasy/Shoujo

Review Status: Incomplete (9 Volumes/18 Volumes)

Licensed: Currently licensed by Viz Media.

Art: Standard 90’s shoujo, with big eyes, pretty boys, and somewhat cluttered panels. The action is pretty well drawn and exciting to watch. There’s some great detail in the art.

Summary: Miaka Yuki us an ordinary junior high-school student who is suddenly whisked away into the world of a book, The Universe of the Four Gods. There she becomes the priestess of the god Suzaku, and is charged with finding all seven of her Celestial-Warrior protectors. (back cover of 1st volume- Animerica ed.)

Review: This is one of the most famous shoujo, and one of the better ones out there. I’m a little wary of calling it one of the better I’ve come across- at least, for the first nine volumes. This still manages to present a solid romance that manages to span a range of genres and is engaging no matter what part you’re at.

Miaka is a sympathetic character in the vein of Sailor Moon- she’s not that bright, she’s an utter pig, but she’s a real friend who cares about others and tries her best, even if she’s not always successful at winning. What often get this labeled as a ‘reverse harem’ is that she’s surrounded by a bunch of guys. This would be a misnomer. She may be surrounded by a bunch of guys, but only two of them are in love with her, so it’s a love triangle. Unfortunately, these guys have various levels of development, which means that there are some you’re going to feel and care about more than others. They’re all unique characters, from the cross-dressing Nuriko, to the kind but hardheaded Tamahome, and the childish and sweet Chiriko. Only three characters really get any development, and those are Tamahome (the main love interest), Nuriko, Miaka’s rival in love, and Hotohori, the lonely emperor of the nation. All three are the most dynamic of the characters, the action and development centering on them and their relationships with Miaka.

Those relationships are as fraught with surprises and drama as anything. Tamahome is a real sweetheart at the end of the day, despite some of his rough edges, and Miaka’s feelings for him seem pretty true to what most girls her age feel. The relationship does seem to develop rather instantaneously, though, and while it’s nice to have a couple that are into eachother from the beginning, it does take some convincing to get me to feel that the relationship might actually be a deep and caring one. Thankfully, this manga manages to pull it off and bringing real relationship issues into the mix, including the perils of sex and rape in this strange land. Some of it does seem put in there in order to create more drama, but for the most part there’s solid feeling there.

Antagonists often come across as shallow plot and drama devices, but that isn’t quite the case here. Yui isn’t evil for the sake of being evil- perceived injustice, deception, and emotional trauma fuel many of her actions and bitterness towards Miaka, even as Miaka strives to get her to understand what happened. This story does have flaws in how she comes across- there’s no real reason for her to be vaguely interested in Tamahome other than Miaka being in love with him, so it makes her heartbreak over him seem less than convincing. So far, only one of her Celestial Warriors has gotten much background, but it creates an interesting character nonetheless.

The drama and intrigue that plays out between them is fascinating for the dynamics and personalities it presents. The differences between the groups, the Warriors and the Priestesses, are quite interesting. There’s nothing that the Warriors wouldn’t do for their Priestess, but each group seems to be influenced by the Priestess that rules them. Yui’s can be ruthless and cruel, as she feels, and Miaka’s are noble and kindhearted, if rough about it. The dynamics within the groups are also quite different, lending uniqueness to the situation. As each side fights to be triumphant, people change, situations change, and you can see growth in everybody.

The action and adventure can’t be neglected, though! There’s lots of that. Deception and traps abound, making for some great fights. The adventure is also pretty nice, showing a variety of cultures, little things making them unique from each other, even if they aren’t explored in-depth.

My one real issue was with the development of one character right before his death. He comes to a realization about himself that seems very sudden, with almost no lead-up to it. It didn’t make his death any more tragic, like it seemed to be trying to do.

Overall, this is an interesting and fun adventure manga, great for those who need romantic drama and action.

Recommended: 16+. This might be a shoujo, but there’s a good amount of nudity (partial, some full, some detailed, some not). There are a number of sexual situations though no sex occurs. There’s also the occasional swear, which runs the gamut of acceptability, but no f-bombs.

Other titles you might enjoy:

From Far Away (manga)

Ayashi no Ceres (manga)

Red River (manga)

Sarasah (manhwa)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: “A Whole New World” – Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play, Part 2 (manga) – 8/10 Streamers « Paper Chimes

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