[Throwback Thursday] Fushigi Yuugi Review


fushigi yugi wallpaper 1

The Universe of the Four Gods Na No Da

  • Episodes : 52
  • Genre : Shoujo, Action, Adventure, Drama
  • Airing Date : April 1995 – March 1996
  • Producers : Studio Pierrot

Fushigi Yuugi Preview/Plot (No Spoilers)

Yuuki Miaka and Hongo Yui may be on opposite sides of the academic spectrum, but they are the best of friends. But one day, their friendship is put to the ultimate test during a trip to the national library. Upon stumbling onto The Universe of the Four Gods, a magical novel from China, Miaka and Yui are sucked into its world and they are chosen to be Miko’s, or priestesses of two kingdoms. Miaka becomes the Suzaku no Miko in the southern kingdom, while Yui becomes the Seiryuu no Miko in the eastern kingdom. Not only is their friendship at stake, but so is the fate of the world.

fushigi yugi wallpaper 2

Who Does Fushigi Yuugi cater to?

This is probably the number 2 Shoujo cult hit from the 1990s and is still fondly remembered by countless fans of that generation. Fushigi Yuugi is a Shoujo classic that has it all for men and women alike. It has themes of romance, friendship, intense action, and slice of life. It has something for everyone. Despite its ancient Chinese setting, the character designs are diverse and beautiful, and the costume designs perfectly reflect the personality of the characters. So anyone into Shoujo that almost borders as Josei is going to enjoy this show.

In addition, the Japanese version has some of the best names in the business such as Midorikawa Hikaru, Koyasu Takehito, Kae Araki, and so on. If anything, Midorikawa Hikaru’s role as Tamahome was probably his breakout role worldwide.

What is appealing about Fushigi Yuugi?

Though its qualities may not have the same effect to younger and newer fans as it did for older viewers during its prime, Fushigi Yuugi for its time was a rather progressive anime compared to other hit Shoujo titles such as Sailor Moon, Wedding Peach, and Magic Knight Rayearth. It was the first anime for many western viewers back in the VHS fansub days that dealt with gay characters such as Nuriko, who became the breakout character. It deals with other mature themes such as other forms of sexuality, discrimination, and bullying. It also serves as a critique of Japan’s education in context to how parents pressure their children to get into a good high school. However, many of these themes are still important to today’s society in Japan.

Fushigi Yuugi OP Theme

Fushigi Yuugi Character List

Yuuki Miaka

Miaka Yuki fushigi yugi

Voice Actor :Araki Kae

Just your typical insecure and underachieving 15-year-old school girl turned savior of the world, Miaka has her coming of age through her adventures in The Universe of the Four Gods. There, she assumes the role as the Suzaku no Miko to assemble her seven warriors to summon the Suzaku God and have her wish come true. During her trials and tribulations, she falls in love with a young man named Tamahome, but has also captures the affection of Hotohori, the emperor of the Kounan empire. Unfortunately, her quests comes at the cost of losing her best friend, Hongo Yui.

Tamahome

tamahome fushigi yugi

Voice Actor :Midorikawa Hikari

Tamahome, the male lead, is a humble 17-year-old who is a master martial artist and the love interest of Miaka. At first, all he cared about was money because he has his parents and siblings to support, but as his time with Miaka grows, so does their love. Throughout the series, their love will be tested but in the end, love conquers all.

Hongo Yui

yui fushigi yugi

Voice Actor :Touma Yumi

Yui is Miaka’s best friend who chooses to become the Seiryuu no Miko after being manipulated by Nakago, her general that Miaka abandoned her. Unlike Miaka who is very low on the academic side, Yui is the top student of her class and shows more manners. During her time serving as the Seiryuu no Miko, she captures the affections of Suiboshi, her most loyal soldier, but never returns his feelings. However, her experiences in the Universe of the Four Gods has turned her to Miaka’s bitter enemy.

Nakago

nakago fushigi yugi

Voice Actor :Furusawa Tooru

Yui’s top general who uses her position as the Seiryuu no Miko for his personal gains. Due to being discriminated and persecuted during his childhood due to his rare blonde hair and blue eyes, he wants revenge against the world. In addition to his dark and mysterious charisma, Nakago is also an unstoppable fighter.


Contains Spoilers

Fushigi Yuugi Review Review Spoilers

Though by some standards today, the story may seem a bit cliché, but for its time in the mid-1990s, it wasn’t really that much of the norm. So this series’ “Alice in Wonderland” influential concept may not be something that will appeal to everyone since newer and/or younger already seen it in more semi-mainstream animes in comparison to this one such as 12 Kingdoms and Inuyasha, which came out after Fushigi Yuugi, though this was the anime that did it before it became something semi-common.

Even though this is primarily shoujo, the well diverse and distinct, but archetypical, cast do have mass appeal. Each character has their own unique use and contribution to the story, and they are presented in ways you get to know them. The characters, or maybe even one character, will grow on you as you watch from start to finish. I would explain this, but you’re going to have to wait to the three event spoilers. If you’ve seen this anime, you know what I’m talking about. Whether that character is good or bad, you’ll love them. On an interesting note, Nakago, the primary antagonist, happens to be the favorite character of Watase-sensei.

This series has an equal appeal to both men and women. It has romance, adventure, excitement, comedy and action, which we’ll further get into. Thanks to these contributing qualities, the anime succeeds in its cross gender appeal. The anime ends in a way where everything is virtually resolved, and the characters wonderfully develop. However, what will likely annoy audiences is the interaction between Tamahome and Miaka when they really get romantic with each other. It kind of drags and we don’t need that much hugging even if we can appreciate how much they love each other. 

The costume designs are a little flamboyant for the setting, but even so, they still compliment the character designs very well where it helps make them stand out a bit more. The action is well coordinated, technical and raw, which will appeal to those who enjoy action. The designs of the cities breathtakingly capture the heart of ancient China. However, with the character and costume designs in the modern day Tokyo settings, audiences get a different view to the school uniform with the blazer and ribbon design you see in, let’s say Evangelion, than the more mainstream sailor uniform, which is presented in Sailor Moon. It is also unique to point out in the real world of Fushigi Yuugi, nobody has crazy color hair, but in the Universe of the Four Gods story, the characters get the typical crazy color anime hair, which happened to be the intentions of Watase-sensei and the staff at Studio Pierrot.

The dub of Fushigi Yuugi does have some credible names, but I don’t think it was enough to provide a quality dub. The biggest name in the dub is David Hayter, who you may know as the voice of Solid Snake from the hit Konami gaming series, Metal Gear Solid, plays Tamahome. When you hear that voice in relation to Tamahome’s image, it just doesn’t match. He makes Tamahome sound gruffy, and it just doesn’t work for a character who is seventeen and really soft at heart.

However, this was a role I thought perfectly suited his Japanese seiyuu, Midorikawa Hikaru, the voice of Heero Yuy from Gundam Wing and Rukawa from Slam Dunk. If anything, he is probably one of the best seiyuus of all time. Granted Midorikawa has played character opposite from Tamahome, he has a different kind of cool that Solid Snake has, but Midorikawa still has that passion and soft side that really captures Tamahome. As a matter of fact, Watase-sensei actually wanted him to play Tamahome because he had him in mind when she created the character.

I also enjoyed Kae Araki, the voice of Sailor Chibi Moon as Miaka. She does sound annoying with her high-pitched voice, but it was at a certain tone where it really captured the character with all of these emotions whether sad, happy, concerned, or excited. And Seki Tomokazu, my 2nd favorite seiyuu who has played Miyata in Hajime no Ippo, Domon in G Gundam, Kamui in X The Movie, and many others as great as Chichiri, my 2nd favorite character no da. It's so cute how he always ends his sentences in (na) no da. He is so multi-talented and he demonstrates it very well when you get to know his character more no da. Overall, the cast is just top notch and they all have great chemistry no da. Even though the romantic tension between Tamahome and Miaka gets annoying, their seiyuus truly make it believable.

The opening theme song Itoshii Hito no Tame Ni does open with this more traditional approach and then at the right moment, transitions to a more energetic J-Pop song. It’s very unique to me because it captures the cultural and romantic atmosphere of the series. And the ending theme Tokimeki Doukasen has a different kind of energy that is generic but still catchy and semi sexually suggestive in a more innocent sense. The background music is well orchestrated in every sense using a mix of great piano chords and traditional eastern percussions and acoustics.

1. The relationships

The Relationships fushigi yugi

The main driving point of this series is the relationships of the characters. It is also the motivation for the character developments. Even when Miaka loses her friendship with Yui and when Tamahome loses his family, they still find ways to keep going through their love and their friendships with their companions. With Yui, she shares a bond with her soldier, Suiboshi. Suiboshi is in love with Yui, but only sees him like a little brother but still cares deeply for him. With Chichiri, prior to meeting the other gods,

2. The Origin of the Universe of the Four Gods

TheOriginofthe UniverseoftheFourGods  fushigi yugi

It turns out that Miaka and Yui were not the first Japanese school girls to jump into the world of an ancient Chinese story. During the Taisho period, or 1920s Japan, a literary professor brought the book back from China as a project and his daughter became one of the first Miko's and fell in love with a boy she met there. Sometime later, another young woman became a priestess. Unfortunately, both of their journeys ending in tragedy. Eventually, the book was sealed for more than 50 years within the library. Also, the stories of these two first Miko's have become a manga not too long ago, but no anime has been confirmed.

3. Nuriko

Nuriko fushigi yugi

For many fans, Nuriko was the breakout character. He is probably one of the first internationally famous openly gay anime characters ever. At first, many (and fans themselves) assumed he was a woman but after a series of mishaps, the audience and characters learn the truth. Of course the characters do express a certain level of discomfort and do tease him, but the character’s sweet and gentle-natured qualities make you grow on him. Plus, the motivations behind why he became a cross-dresser is also rather touching in its own strange way, but seeing it from his viewpoint, you do have empathy. And the most heartbreaking moment of this series is when he dies fighting Ashtari. It broke the hearts of many anime 90s kids and many fans of that period are not ashamed to admit they cried when he died.


I think this is an anime I believe you should try to give a chance even if it may not be your taste. There are all kinds of good qualities this anime has that do make up for its bad ones. Even so, the bad qualities are still there but if you concentrate and stick to what you like, you’ll forget about them. I remember during the days of VHS fansubs, I used to talk to people who cried watching this series. It has all of these great themes such as love, friendship, loyalty, and betrayal and they are presented in a very relatable and approachable manner. And believe me, there are moments where you might and I’m not ashamed to admit I have cried watching this series.

If you're a seiyuu buff, this is the series for you. No matter how cliché some of the aspects may be, they are presented in a very relatable matter for people, to enjoy and the series still continues through new manga stories.

Justin

Writer

Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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