Fushigi Yugi - The Mysterious Play Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 175
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fushigi Yugi - The Mysterious Play

Fushigi Yugi - The Mysterious Play Vol. #1

By Mike Dungan     August 13, 2004
Release Date: July 20, 2004

Fushigi Yugi - The Mysterious Play Vol. #1
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Stranded in Ancient China! The Universe of the Four Gods is an enchantment, a book, a mystical world, and the story of the reader of the book, who is trapped by the enchantment within the mystical world, until the story reaches its conclusion. Confused? Not half as confused as poor Miaka, a Tokyo girl, who reads the book and then finds herself being saved from lecherous bandits by a gorgeous hero, becoming the high priestess of a bird, and befriending an Emperor - just so she can go home!

The Review!
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For the purposes of this review, the show was watched in Japanese and English.

Miaka is very energetic 15 year old school girl from Tokyo. She's a glutton and a bit of a ditz, but she's very cheerful and kind-hearted. She's studying to pass the entrance exams to a very prestigious high school, both to please her rather overbearing single mother, and because her lifelong best friend, the beautiful and intelligent Yui, is trying for the same school.

While visiting a library, they stumble into a room full of ancient books. One falls to the floor, and Yui begins reading it. It's the Universe of the Four Gods, and whoever reads it is transported into a fictional version of ancient China. Yui and Miaka are immediately beset by bandits, and just as quickly saved by a handsome young man, Tamahome. Unfortunately, all Tamahome wants is pay for his efforts. Unbeknowst to Miaka, Yui is suddenly transported back to the library, where she finds she is still reading the book.

Miaka makes it to town in her search for Yui, and is once again saved by Tamahome from bandits. Her efforts to reward him catch the attention of the Emperor's guards and lands them both in prison. The Emperor Hotohori, however, mindful of the legend of a woman from another world who will save the world, releases them and announces to the empire that she is the priestess of Suzaku, the birdlike god of their land. There are four preistesses, one for each cardinal point, and each preistess has 7 warriors, who can be identified by a mark on their body. Both Tamahome and Hotohori have the marks. A search for the others begins. While testing some warriors, there is an accident, and Miaka and Tamahome are rescued by the courtesan Nuriko, a beautiful woman in the Emperor's harem. She has extraordinary strength and takes an immediate dislike to Miaka.

Unfortunately, she's also one of the warriors of Suzaku. Nuriko is in love with the Emperor and jealous of the attention he's showing Miaka. She decides to use Tamahome to make Miaka jealous. After things settle down, it's decided that Miaka and her three warriors will travel to the mountains to find an old magic-using woman who might be able to help them find the other warriors. She's aware of their plans to visit her, and decides to test Miaka to see if she's a suitable priestess of Suzaku. The test backfires, though, and Miaka is seriously injured. It's decided to send her back to her own land to recover, which is where the volume ends.

This is the release of the first disc from the original 4-dics "Suzaku" box set that Pioneer (now Geneon) released in 1999. As such, it's exactly the same as it was in the original release. The attractive and easy to navigate menus are the same, ane it would appear the same encode was used. The video transfer is very well done, and the audio came through just fine on my admittedly low-end TV. One of the more odd things about this release is that the opening credits are in English, but the ending credits are in Japanese. There are no translations of the ending credits, meaning there are no cast credits for either language track (unless, of course, you read Japanese), and no DVD credits. There are no extras on this disc, either.

The cover has an attractive image of Tamahome and Miaka against a Chinese-style background. The back cover has an image of Hotohori, and includes all seven chapter titles. The volume number is only on the spine, but the chapter titles are all numbered. There is a single fold insert with what is obviously the left half of a larger image, showing Miaka and three of the celestial warriors, none of whom are introduced in this volume. One the back is character information on Miaka, Tamahome and Yui. The inside is the source of the front and back cover images.

A problem I had with this disc was that pressing play did not play the disc. The menu loaded just fine, and the language select worked just fine, but I couldn't get the disc to play when I pressed play or tried to play episode one. I finally got it to play when I went to the scene select and selected the opening animation of the first episode. It was odd, but at least I was able to get it to play. My copy of the Suzaku box had the same glitch.

Fushigi Yugi is one of those shows that people seem to either love or hate. Many people are put off by Miaka's off-the-charts exuberance (read that as annoyingness), but I think she's one of the great heroines of shojou anime. She's just so much fun to watch as she bounces off every wall in sight. Nuriko is great fun as well, creating all kinds of havoc, even as she finds herself becoming attached to Miaka. Tamahome's love of money makes him less than the masculine ideal, and Hotohori's vanity is at odds with his selflessness when it comes to Miaka.

A lot of people were put off by the priciness of Pioneer's original dual boxset release of Fushigi Yugi, but with all 52 episodes now being released on $25 volumes, it becomes quite a bargain. The first seven episodes on this volume do an excellent job of introducing many of the major players. If you're at all interested in this title and haven't bitten yet, or just want to add a classic of shojou anime to your collection, I highly recommend Fushigi Yugi.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
NEC CT-2510A TV, Pioneer 440 codefree DVD player


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