Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+/
- Packaging Rating: A+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: A+
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 199.98
- Running time: 650
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Fushigi Yugi - The Mysterious Play
Fushigi Yugi Seiryu Box Set
By Chris Beveridge
December 05, 2000
Release Date: December 05, 2000
Fushigi Yugi Seiryu Box Set
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
The heartrending conclusion of Fushigi Yugi the Mysterious Play! All 26 episodes (over 13 hours!) of the second season of the series available on four DVD?s (in a collected boxed set). Join Miaka as she struggles to overcome Yui?s betrayal and the deadly obstacles of the Seiryu Seven to protect her adopted kingdom, her friends and her true love.The Review!
It's been just about a year since the first box set came out. In that time, the story of Fushigi Yugi has faded in my mind, but I certainly had nowhere near the time to sit down and revisit that box set prior to watching this one. Thankfully, much like the book in the show, the Universe of the Four Gods, things came flooding back fast.
And the show has a heck of a lot of recaps!Audio:
Things are pretty solid here with the audio on both tracks. We listened to the Japanese track for the primary review and had absolutely no audio issues at all. There's a bit of directionality here and there, mostly during a few of the bigger action sequences, but the left/right is mostly being used by the ambient music, which sounds wonderful. Dialogue through the center channel sounded clean and clear.Video:
Definitely a solid transfer here, though we're wavering on the grade a bit depending on how you feel about things. The video for the most part is quite good with little visible blocky artifacting. There's hardly any rainbows and even the line noise created by camera pans is pretty minimal. There's some edge pixellation around some characters at times, causing things to look slightly fuzzy and a bit soft. The variable in this is that as the series progressed, and it looks like in some places the budget shrank a bit, the animation doesn't look quite as good as some other TV series. And that's part of it, is that this is a rather long TV series and most do have some variable animation quality. The discs all look great, but the animation itself doesn't jump off of the screen, other than the opening. Packaging:
One of the biggest complaints people had about the first box set was the slide over clear slipcase that held the set together. While this set does have the same kind of slipcase, so the boxes will look the same when next to each other, it's more of a standard box that you slide the package into from the side, like book box sets. It works pretty well and keeps the same kind of appearance when on the rack. When folding it out, you get a great display of the four discs and the stone images behind each of them. There's some really nice artwork across them. There's also a really nice booklet that has a lot of information and artwork in it as well. Much like the first set, I really loved how this turned out.Menus:
The menus follow the simple is good method and look great. They're the same stone type that you see beneath the discs. The first three discs are pretty sparse with only language and episode selections and the fourth disc having a separate menu for the extras. Definite kudos for doing a "play all" feature on the music video section.Extras:
There's some really great extras in here. The first and most asked for ones are the music videos, about 20 in all, that run just under 46 minutes. They don't look as good as the show itself, but they're not outright bad or anything. They also provide both English and romaji subtitles at the same time for your karaoke fans. There's also a bunch of quick Japanese commercials included, subtitled thankfully, that have the gang hawking the VHS and Laserdisc sets. There's even a cute one of Hotohori doing a radio voice over ad for the show. The image gallery has a bunch of the usual images from the show and is then followed by some really great pieces of artwork. The line art gallery has a good amount of character sketches and other bits that the diehard fans will be sure to enjoy.
The only thing really missing is an extra we had with the first set, and that's just a few liner notes talking about a variety of things. Other than that, this is a solid set.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While I was not completely up to date when I started the set, the show did helpfully have an entire recap episode a few episodes into it. And with each episode having a brief recap for the previous episode at the beginning, it didn't take long to really get into things again and just go with the flow.
I am, however, toying with the idea of letting someone just watch the episode recaps in a row (less than an hour to watch them all) and see if they get the gist of the show. I think it can be done.
I had found the first season of the series to be fairly enjoyable, a bit repetitive and somewhat telegraphed in terms of where it was going. Not necessarily a bad thing if done well, but it had me worried about going into another full season of episodes of the same. Thankfully it was less so this time around, but it did have its moments. Miaka emotes over Tamahome, Miaka eats a ton of food, Miaka gets separated and ends up in trouble. Tamahome comes to the rescue. Miaka emotes over Tamahome. End credits.
Things don't follow that entirely of course, but after mentioning it to my wife, she started to notice the trend in a number of episodes. There are of course a number of very emotional episodes throughout this arc and they do help raise the show up above average a bit. The characters are very focused on one another, even with a large arcing plot, things are kept at a very human level. Characters desires are definitely intertwined and used against each other.
Which is easy to do with Miaka. She's really not all that swift. It seems like she'll believe anything anyone tells her. This does allow her to be tricked quite often, which of course helps when "Miaka gets separated and ends up in trouble". But through her being manipulated, we also start to learn to what extent Yui has been manipulated by Nakago, which does lead to a few interesting situations.
There's also a rather heightened attention on.... sex! Yes, sex. There's a revelation that there's a way to have sex with someone and weaken their defenses so you can do whatever you need to do to them. It plays a fairly prominent role through a number of episodes and leads to some pretty interesting scenes.
I swear, Miaka sometimes sheds her clothes pretty damn easily.
[Highlight to read spoilers: There are definitely a number of very well done and emotional scenes throughout these episodes. The first one that most fans point to, especially to new viewers, is episode 33, the death of Nuriko. I found this to be a rather good episode in how it was constructed, but fault the episodes prior to it where we learn more of Nuriko as really saying, "Hey, we're gonna kill him. Let's make you like him even more!" It just became too obvious too quickly and limited the effectiveness of it to me.
Chiriko also manages to get a fairly decent death sequence and proves himself to be a stand up kind of guy for his age. The problem with feeling much for him is that other than his introduction episode where we learn about him, that's all we really get. He ends up as a really minor character in the anime, and there's little feeling when he gets offed. Tasuki really does shed quite a bit of emotion at this passing, which is interesting as he's the best developed of the secondary Suzaku Seven. Mitsukake's death scene ends up the same way, where the emotion we feel is more from Chichiri's reaction to it than to our own.
I was also really intrigued at the way they blended in the "real" world with the book world. Seeing the characters come through and interact with the extreme difference in culture shock was great, though only Tamahome really experienced it with any real degree. Suboshi didn't even really seem to notice it. Watching the giant Seiryu and Suzaku battle it out throughout the city was also quite a bit of fun as I haven't seen a really good "destroy Tokyo" anime in awhile. :End of spoilers]
The show also takes some rather interesting twists along the way with Miaka's brother reading the book and his meeting a friend and their eventual discoveries. I was really surprised at the twists the show made during this progression and was glad it did, as it really challenged some of the characters perceptions and their feelings among each other.
While this is definitely a long series, clocking in at 52 episodes (the OVA's are listed as coming eventually), it's a series where I can't see a heck of a lot being cut out as the episodes do build upon the primary Suzaku Seven and their friends/family. Some of them are a bit silly, but they usually do have an end goal to them in the overall scheme. It's not a tightly plotted show, but it moves at its own pace and knows what it needs to get done.
Very entertaining and easily recommended.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Music Videos (45 minutes),Commercials (Japanese),Art Gallery (37 images),Line Art (55 images),Full scrolling credits
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.