Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play

An impression of the series from the first seven volumes

Hello! Today, I’m going to have a look at Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play. Let’s have a look at the blurb:

A beloved fantasy from one of Japan’s top creators. Prolific girl’s comic artist Yu Watase has created a wonderfully exciting, funny and heartfelt tale of a normal junior high-school girl who is transported into a fictional version of ancient China. She encounters base villains and dashing heroes, and still manages to worry about her grades and where her next banquet is coming from.

Right, well that sounded a little bit clique. Which it is, I suppose, but I get the feeling that this series is a little bit old, so you could forgive its cliqueness. Also it’s quite fun to read, so I don’t really mind if a Manga is clique if it’s still enjoyable to read as that’s what you’re aiming for. 

Anyway, so, it’s a traditional tale of a school girl transported to a historical fantasy setting. You may be thinking InuYasha and you wouldn’t be too far off the mark, except that InuYasha is more aimed at male readers, where this is slightly more for female readers.

The gist of the story is that Miaka, the protagonist of the story, finds a mysterious book in a section of the library that’s closed off. She opens it up, and finds herself teleported into the worth of the book. It’s a little bit like Myst, in that there’s a book that describes this fantasy world and at the last page there’s a teleporter that takes you inside, only in this case the protagonists don’t have the advantage of having read the book before being teleported in. 

Anyway, Miaka and her friend are transported into the fairy tale, and there people who arrive in there are charged with finding seven celestial warriors. Upon finding seven, she’ll be able to go through a summoning ceremony, get a wish granted, and then presumably be able to leave.

Because this comic is supposed to be more aimed at girls than boys, finding the celestial warriors takes more of a backseat in the plot than the relationships between characters. As the story goes on it’s more about relationship than anything else; the fact that there are two warring countries in the story is less important than the relationship between the characters because the main cast are powerful and can take out several soldiers on their own if they want to; politics does not matter as much as the relationships.

Another thing that doesn’t seem to matter as much as the relationships is actually finding the celestial warriors, as new warriors tend to turn up in the middle of a fight or when someone needs help, rather than the main characters having to work towards finding them. The cast do work towards finding them, but finding someone new doesn’t come as a direct result of their efforts; instead the direct result of their efforts will more often than not be geared towards changing someones feelings towards someone else. It’s structured like that because it’s a Shojo comic.

But, that’s not necessarily bad. If you don’t like relationship-based Shojo Manga then you won’t like this one, but that doesn’t make it a bad comic. Anyone can pick Fushigi Yugi up, and unless you really hate the genre you’ll enjoy this as it’s quite light-hearted and funny to read.

it’s not all serious; the main character is basically a kind of emotional punching-bag that can be used for the plot’s purposes; she’s funny when she needs to be, she takes an emotional-hit and is sad when she needs to be. There are several love-triangles going on, but there is one obvious “favourite” couple - this being a girls comic there are lots of male love interests for Miaka, but she has one man who she is specifically after.

I’ve read just over a third of the series at the moment; I worry that in later volumes it might start to get a little repetitive but it hasn’t shown any signs of that yet; so far I don’t think it’s fallen into the same trap that many comics with action in them do, in that they have fights each chapter with nothing really changing in the plot between each fight. Maybe the fact that it’s Shojo helps that; people’s relationships and who is on who’s side changes every so often, which keeps things fresh.

So unless you are put of by the format, I’d recommend this series.