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Fushigi Yûgi

Review

Fushigi Yûgi

Fushigi Yûgi is not only classic coming-of-age manga; it’s money well spent. It had better be, seeing how collecting it all would run close to $200.

So let’s get into it. Fushigi Yûgi has your typical maho-shoujo (magic girl) storyline. Two schoolgirls get mysteriously transported to another world to discover their destinies. It’s the same basic plot as Magic Knight Rayearth, El Hazard, and The Vision of Escaflowne. One night, while studying in a library for exams, best friends Miaka and Yui come across an ancient Chinese book. When they start reading it, both girls get drawn into the book and find themselves living out the story as the heroines.

However, unlike most maho-shoujo stories, in this one, Miaka and Yui end up as rivals on opposite sides of a war rather than friends fighting side-by-side. Miaka volunteers to become the priestess of Suzaku, while Yui is manipulated into taking on the role of the priestess of Seiryu. They are in a constant struggle as each of them races to gather seven celestial warriors of their respective celestial gods and attain ultimate power. But with great power comes great --- don’t you dare say “responsibility” --- sacrifice.

The conflict in the story is complex and it pulls the reader emotionally in multiple directions. Not only is Miaka responsible for gathering the seven warriors, but she also finds herself falling in love with the celestial warrior Tamahome while adored by several other suitors. However, the celestial warriors are just works of fiction. If Miaka wants to return to her real life, she will have to leave Tamahome behind. Fans of romance, fantasy, and drama will find great satisfaction with this manga.

But there’s a downside too. Fushigi Yûgi is very long. Great, but long. There are actually two big stories embraced in the entire 18-volume series. (You could honestly read just the first 13 volumes and be satisfied.) The plot for the last five just isn’t as strong, and it’s difficult to find passion for the lead male in his new incarnation. It’s entertaining, but not much more than adequate.

One other inherent flaw is the amount of gratuitous deaths. The first main character’s death is fantastic. It serves a purpose and places the reader in the emotional state of this person’s friends. But then, characters start dropping like flies. Some don’t even get the on-page death scenes they deserve, hence the use of the term gratuitous. Even after that, it becomes, “Well, they aren’t really dead because their spirits are still here.”

That’s enough negativity. Let’s have another reason for investing in this series. Readers ranging from early teens to adults can enjoy this fantasy tale. It’s youthful and exciting enough for young readers who want action, yet serious and complex enough that older readers will enjoy this series as well. Although Fushigi Yûgi is aimed at females, the battles are strong enough to entertain a male audience as well. Boys may initially be put off by the feminine art, but if they are looking for a good adventure story, this series will leave them pleasantly surprised.

Keep in mind that there are some issues in Fushigi Yûgi that some parents may not feel are appropriate for their children, including disturbing violence, nudity, and sexual content. All are handled very maturely, and nothing is done out of pure gratuity. If a reader is mature enough to handle those issues, then they will be more likely to truly appreciate this series for all it’s worth.

Reviewed by Courtney Kraft on October 18, 2011

Fushigi Yûgi
by Yuu Watase

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2003
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
  • ISBN-10: 156931957X
  • ISBN-13: 9781569319574