Fushigi Yugi: Eikou Den Vol. #1 - 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: C
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Bandai Visual
  • MSRP: •4800
  • Running time: 30
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fushigi Yugi - The Mysterious Play

Fushigi Yugi: Eikou Den Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     December 24, 2001
Release Date: December 22, 2001


Fushigi Yugi: Eikou Den Vol. #1
© Bandai Visual


What They Say
This show is a new chapter in "Fushigi Yugi" with a brand new story. The 4-volume OVA is based on the novel series "Fushigi Yugi Gaiden - Eikouden (Parts 1 & 2)," and this is volume 1 of 4. Miaka and Taka Sukunami (who is Tamahome reincarnated) get married. But a new danger awaits the world of the Shishin Tenchisho... In addition to popular characters such as Suzaku Shichiseishi, new characters are introduced in this series.

The Review!
After the rather successful US run of Fushigi Yugi from Pioneer, those involved in the animation have teamed up again to produce a 4 episode OVA series based on one of the follow-up novels to the manga series. And to guarantee a US release, Pioneer Entertainment USA is involved in the production. I'll admit it, I find it amusing and a good sign to see things like a "special thanks" going to to Henry Goto in the credits, especially after the number of years he's put in at Pioneer USA to get things released.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in English. Boy does that sound weird. To help facilitate the release times between regions, Pioneer USA has worked to have their English language track ready alongside the Japanese track and the animation. To the surprise of many, the English track was also included in the Japanese release, which was the main reason I ended up snagging it. On both tracks, dialogue is nice and clear though the show is still essentially a stereo mix. The Japanese just don't seem too up on doing 5.1 mixes as a standard for OVA's and even a lot of movies yet, which is unfortunate.

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. For what it's worth, I also gave this a spin on our Apex with the simple RCA connections and noticed a lot more cross coloration showing up. Showing up in practically every character in fact.

Packaging:
Presented in a clear Amaray keepcase, the cover art for this release is a great manga style image of Taka holding onto Miaka in a gown. The orange hued background is rather nice and I didn't notice at first glance that it hid the image of Suzaku in it. The back cover provides a few screenshots of the show and a brief summary of what's inside. Production credits and technical information are cleanly listed below.

Menus:
If there's one area where the Japanese releases tend to truly underwhelm me, it's the menus, and this release is little different. Using the character artwork from the cover, we get a nice simple static image of Taka and Miaka to the right while selections are listed along the left. Since there's not much here, you get the individual scene selections listed here as well as a play-all feature and access to the language and extras menu. It's a nice looking menu, but the lack of music or anything else to just makes it bland. I wonder what Nightjar could do with it.

Extras:
There's really only one extra included, though I'll make mention of a second one. The main extra is the character profiles section which is broken up into five characters, each presenting one still page. You get a nice standalone piece of character art as well as a shot from the animation, the characters stats and then a little bit of background on them. The second extra that's not really an extra is two pages of English language credits for the show that list all the people we've seen many times over the past couple of years from Animaze, ZRO Limit and Pioneer USA. Voice actors are also listed but not with their respective roles

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 six months 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 to be rather more interesting though.

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.

In picking up this first volume, I had wanted to show my support of the Fushigi Yugi universe by getting the region 2. The English dub being on it only made it sweeter. After getting into the story, I can now see myself picking up the remaining three episodes and not waiting for the Pioneer USA release (though I'll definitely be buying it, as I want the English subtitles).

Notes:
The remaining volumes are due on 2/25, 4/25 and 6/25 in 2002. Pioneer USA will presumably release two episodes per disc towards the 2nd half of the year and will likely have a quick turnaround due to the dubs already being done and the subtitle scripts likely already written as each episode gets finalized. For those looking for more information, check out the official site.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,Japanese Subtitles,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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