Fushigi Yugi Eikoden (Standard & Limited Editions) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fushigi Yugi - The Mysterious Play

Fushigi Yugi Eikoden (Standard & Limited Editions)

By Chris Beveridge     November 07, 2002
Release Date: November 12, 2002


Fushigi Yugi Eikoden (Standard & Limited Editions)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Miaka and Taka are now happily married and expecting their first child. Unfortunately, Mayo, a jealous young girl infatuated with Taka finds the Universe of the Four Gods and uses the power of Suzaku to steal their unborn baby! Now Taka must return to Konan to save his new family and save Konan from an unknown menace that threatens to destroy the book and all that live within.

The Review!
After the popularity of Fushigi Yugi in the US, it was little surprise that a new OVA series was commissioned, this time based on one of the several novels that have been written by others.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. This was actually a bit of a treat, as we had listened to the Japanese released discs in English, so our last experience was in hearing that set of actors. The show has a solid stereo mix with some good moments of directionality across the four episodes, but nothing that’s really going to make it into a really dynamic mix. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noted no dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Freshly animated, this is just gorgeous looking. Taking the designs used in the previous OVA series and bumping the characters ahead in age by three years, the designs are slightly different but still recognizable. The animation style is pretty similar to the OVA's though with what seems to be a bit better budget or at least a much more vivid color palette. Some cross coloration shows up very briefly in one or two backgrounds, but the bulk of the show is very pleasing on the eye with lush colors and some very stunning backgrounds.

Packaging:
While past releases have been done in the digipack style, this release is done up in a standard clear keepcase with the open ended slipcover on both sides that looks like the other installments of the series. With the cover this time featuring green artwork with Suzaku in bright red, it looks really nice, especially with the gold embossed pieces mixing with the slipcover’s white English pieces. The back cover is identical to past releases, which is a simple solid background that has the Japanese text across it. Since it’s in a clear keepcase, we sort of get a reversible cover but it’s mostly more of the green background, with the exception of where the disc sits. Underneath that is a piece of artwork from the Japanese volume one release. What’s truly outstanding with this package is the twenty six page booklet that has a ton of material. The opening pages provide a shot of the Japanese cover with an episode summary while later pages have detailed new interviews with members of the production. This is a really great little booklet that has a lot of information to digest.

Menu:
The main menu is nicely done, with some simple animation playing as well as some very light instrumental music and sound effects. We have the small globe with animation playing in it, much like the ending sequences, set against a row of books, where each spine is a selection. Moving throughout the menus is nice and fast and access times are good.

Extras:
The Japanese release had precious little extras, and the US release actually seems like it makes out better in this department. All four episodes had unique endings, so they’re all done up here in textless form. The other extra is two design galleries, one of them a color one that shows off the Japanese DVD covers and some production character designs while the other is the more standard conceptual artwork one. The only extras on the four Japanese releases, to my recollection at least, was simple character bio pages.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For US fans of the Fushigi Yugi series that have only dealt with the DVD releases, it's only been about a year and a half since we got the last OVA series which went over fairly well, but lacked that something special that the TV series had. This new OVA series looks fairs better and is definitely more interesting.

It's been three years since the end of those events. The book was returned to the research section of the library to be forgotten. Taka and Miaka have grown up nicely and are still very much in love. We witness their wedding that has just taken place and then quickly learn that it was something of a shotgun wedding as Miaka's already three months pregnant. Taka's still as money-tight as usual, but it appears his main source of income is being a coach for the school, primarily the girls basketball team.

And it's in this area that the trouble begins. Back when the book was returned to the library, it ended up being selected for deep archiving. But the book has a mind of its own and managed to conveniently fall off, only to let young eigth grader Mayo Sakaki grab it. She takes it home with her, but forgets it on the train ride. The book continues its journey for three years until it finally finds her again. And it finds her the day of Taka and Miaka's wedding, where Mayo had been walking home after catching the bouquet.

That's right, our little Mayo has a thing for Taka, Miaka be damned. She takes the book home and opens it up, letting the entire story flow visually into her mind in only a few instants. She knows all that's gone before. But she doesn't like the ending and is set on making a new one, one where Miaka's selfishness in wanting to be happy doesn't rule the day. Miaka finds herself adversely affected by all of this, as the moment the book was re-opened, she went unconscious and all traces of her baby has disappeared, as if she was never pregnant. Her brother comes across Mayo the following day and realizes what's going on when he sees the now worn down book and tries to stop Mayo.

But not soon enough as she opens the book and goes to Konan as the new priestess of Suzaku. Taka learns of this and takes things into his own hands and returns to Konan as well, only to find the country falling into ruin. Ten years have passed here and something evil is at work. Taka swears to the young emperor that he will gather the remaining Suzaku Seven and set things right, much to the chagrin of Mayo whose been welcomed there with her lies about her and Taka being married. Taka wants little to do with Mayo as the bigger concerns are on his mind.

So the journey begins anew as Taka sets out to find his friends and to save Konan and then to deal with Mayo and its affects on Miaka. The show does a great job of keeping the characters faithful to their origins while advancing their stories forward over the time between. If there's any fault to the show, it's how unsympathetic and essentially whiny Mayo is. While everyone hated Miaka for her stupidity in constantly getting lost and always being hungry, she was always trying to do the right thing. Mayo's doing everything for very selfish and ultimately small minded reasons that we learn. And to compare her to Yui's position in the original is only even more unfair, considering what Yui believed had been done to her upon her arrival in the Universe of the Four Gods.

This OVA series plays out in a slightly odd way as it progresses, since a good portion of it focuses on the gathering of the Suzaku Seven again in their various forms. This works out well in a long series, such as the original TV series, but ends up feeling more cramped here since it pushes the plot itself to the sidelines. Eikoden’s not bad, and it’s certainly better than the previous OVA series, but it seems to serve as a bit more closure to the larger picture, particularly with at least one or two relationships actually progressing somewhere, something that your hard pressed to find in most series.

Having imported the Japanese releases, spending close to $200 on them, and now having it all in this one little package with a lot more extras, this is definitely the better deal. The video quality is excellent, the extras are good and having it subtitled is a huge plus of course. Pioneer’s done good by Fushigi Yugi fans with this release. With the entire series being released just five months after it finished in Japan, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Endings (4),Art Gallery,24 page full color booklet, ,Limited Edition: Set of ten mini-pencil boards

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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