Traveling Through the World of Fushigi Yuugi
Fushigi Yuugi was one Anime I remembered watching on AXN Asia dubbed in English and GMA-7 dubbed in Tagalog. It was heavily edited to remove any inappropriate scenes (and I wish to see an edited version rather than the unedited version). I would consider this to be the first Wuxia-type Anime that I watched from start to end. I will admit this Anime left me some mixed feelings the moment I started watching Wuxia style Anime.
A love that crossed across time
I always thought of stories that went across time were either romantic or bizarre. Granted, Tamahome would be chronologically way older than Miaka. For some reason, Miaka not only attracts Tamahome but also Hotohori who thinks of her as his ideal wife-to-be. Hotohori is also secretly liked by Nuriko who turns out to be a man who cross-dresses to keep his dead sister's memory alive. This of course creates a lot of tension but that wasn't going to be the only love rollercoaster that would happen. While the main love triangle is Tamahome vs. Hotohori for Miaka, there is more than meets the eye. In my mind as of late, what's Wuxia without a complicated love polygon? I haven't been watching
Yui who started off as the reader of the book, ends up getting absorbed. While Miaka was destined to be the Priestess of Suzaku, Yui was soon destined to be the Priestess of Seiryuu. As if Miaka having to choose between Tamahome and Hotohori was hard enough, Tamahome would soon need to choose between Yui and Miaka. In the search for the Suzaku Seven, there's a lot of complications especially in finding the others like Tasuki (who becomes Tamahome's on/off rival), Mitsukake the healer, Chichiri the trickster and Chiriko which creates a complicated plot. There are some twists and turns especially how two former friends become enemies no thanks to a series of manipulations.
The love polygon gets more sides with Yui. Aside from her infatuation with Tamahome, later we would have more men vying for her attention namely Nakago (who has Soi as a lover) and Suboshi. Since there was a fake Chiriko (actually Amiboshi) involved and the real Chiriko appeared (who was a child), it created a bit more of a love triangle. During the race for the Shinzaho, Suboshi kills Tamahome's family for the sake of revenge, at the same time he falls for Lady Yui. However Nakago was attempting to seduce Yui for his own selfish reasons. Yui starts to forget Tamahome, she falls for Nakago which raises another problem that there's a love triangle between Nakago and Suboshi for Yui (though one was just a manipulative person) as well as Yui and Soi for Nakago. Each story starts to collide against each other. In my heart, I wished Yui would at least soften Nakago's heart but it never did which was in fact, very sad.
A clash of two kingdoms and a political conspiracy across time
Like every good Wuxia series, there's usually the problem of warring factions and internal conspiracies. In the Universe of the Four Gods or the setting of the book, the two countries are expecting a virgin to appear so they summon their warrior gods. The country of Suzaku is ruled by the young Emperor Hotohori and the Kutou Country has long desired to conquer Konan. Each side expected a virgin to appear and that's where Miaka and Yui get drawn into trials as well as a series of love polygons, not just with each other but also the men and women of Fushigi Yuugi.
The whole conflict of the story is not just centered around romance but also the warring factions. Nakago though he starts off as a tragic villain who was used as the emperor's "plaything" for some time, he would have his own ambitions. He would selfishly use Yui for his own ends which for me, I hated him for it but at the same time, I also felt sorry for him and Yui. Nakago had a tragic past but that doesn't excuse his actions but I also felt him, since I tend to be a vengeful person. I thought about the whole set-up and it was done by Nakago.
Many characters died in the conflict but at the same time, some were still alive like Amiboshi was the sole survivor. However many died like Ashitare whose life was mercilessly thrown away by Nakago, Suboshi kills Tomo to save Amiboshi, Nuriko dies in his battle against Ashitare, Mitsukake dies in battle and Hotohori dies defending his kingdom. For Hotohori, I always thought that adding Houki (his wife) may have been added for the reasons of lessening the drama. I always thought he was the better man for Miaka but he can't get her. I always felt he was so self-sacrificing but he couldn't have Miaka, it was the central love triangle of the show. He just let her go wishing her to be happy with Tamahome one way or another. I would admit, I cried in that scene.
What I found to be not really so surprising was that the invasion of Konan Country was all a ruse. Nakago would use the vacated and defenseless Kutou Country to gain advantage of the situation by mercilessly killing the emperor and all who wronged him. Sure I did feel sorry for Soi but I wonder if Nakago ever felt sorry for either her or Yui. Unfortunately the conflict wasn't going to stay in the Ancient China but it would carry itself to the modern times. When Yui wished Miaka and her were back to the real world, Tamahome was brought along but also with other people involved. However, Nakago also makes it escalating the conflict.
Even if Miaka and Yui would reconcile their differences, there was still the decision the two had to make. Miaka still has her feelings for Tamahome and Yui has her feelings for Nakago. I wished that they all just landed on each other but Nakago had gone too far, in fact, Yui loved him but he just used her. I wanted to hit Nakago again for playing with Yui's feelings in more than one scene. Yui comes to her senses and makes her third wish which unseals the power of Suzaku for the final battle. After freeing Yui from Seiryuu, she wishes that Seiryuu would be sealed so Nakago can be defeated. Tamahome defeats Nakago after a huge battle which ends the conflict but there's still one wish, which Miaka wishes her world back to normal. She forgoes Tamahome for the sake of everyone.
The end or is it?
Later on, Miaka would finally pass her entrance exam to enter high school. She and Yui somehow didn't enter the same school together. Miaka tearfully reads the letter from Tamahome, by that time he had returned to the book. However it wasn't the end which I thought was pretty much like your typical Wuxia mysticism. Miaka's brother speaks of a man who was reborn, having a past life as a warrior and later, which surprised me, Tamahome was reincarnated into the real world. So it's been thousands of years and he's reincarnated so he can be with Miaka.
The story would continue in the Fushigi Yuugi OVA. The story of the OVA (which I also saw edited on AXN Asia) would have Tamahome's dilemma yet again that it's too good to be true and he is yet to earn his happy ending. The whole universe is reopened with some expanded universe detail. It also brought back the conflict between Chichiri and his former friend for a woman they loved, in a rather sad scene. Tamahome would later make sacrifices so he can be with Miaka, even give up his former identity and became Taka Sukunami. Taka himself would search for Miaka, trying to regain his memories while beating the main villain Tenkou who disrupted the peace of everyone. I thought it served him right when all the four gods Seiryuu, Suzaku, Genbu and Byakko finished him for good.
In the earn your happy ending, Tamahome (or Taka) would later marry Miaka where they both would conceive a child. However the jealous Mayo has been in love with Taka and opens the Universe of the Four Gods, finding that everything was messed up. Finding all the reincarnations of the dead warriors would soon set their time straight. They would name their child Hikari to shine as the stars where the baby was a boy in the Manga but a girl in the OVA.
My relationship with the series after many years
Years later, I would end up having mixed reactions towards this series after I started watching live Wuxia series either on TV or DVD. I would end up watching "Return of Condor Heroes", "A Chinese Ghost Story" and "Chinese Paladin" to name a few. During the time I watched more of Wuxia series and Taiwanese TV drama, the more I planned off dropping Tokusatsu and Anime as a whole. Later, I would become a passing through fan of just about anything since there's more to life than Anime, Tokusatsu or even my beloved Taiwanese, Hong Kong or Chinese series and movies.
I would even wish that Fushigi Yuugi would end up as the Wuxia series, get really get its script edited well enough like cut out all the unnecessary funny scenes, get it into a Chinese setting (since I would really want the cast speaking Mandarin, not Nihonggo) while having a Japanese/Taiwanese collaboration. But sadly, looks like that will always remain in my imagination. Oh well... that's that.
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