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Fushigi Yūgi VIZBIG, Vol. 1 by Yuu Watase
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Fushigi Yūgi VIZBIG, Vol. 1

by Yuu Watase

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Fushigi Yuugi is a shoujo manga about a teenage girl who is transported to a fantastic version of Ancient China and finds herself on a quest full of action, adventure and romance. I remember reading the first few volumes way back in the early 2000's, when I was in high school. I really enjoyed them then, but I had forgotten just how good this series is - it has action, humour, drama and wonderfully realized characters. I was happy to find FY reprinted in these omnibus editions that have three volumes in one for about half the price of one of the old volumes. I would have liked to have seen more colour artwork included in this edition, but that's my only complaint. :)

The rest of this review contains major SPOILERS.

Fifteen year old Miaka is busy cramming for high school entrance exams, made doubly stressful by the fact that she's trying to get into a very elite school. She doesn't really want to - she'd rather go to concerts and eat snacks and go to a more average school - but she feels she has to get into the best school to make her mother, a single parent, proud.

While studying in the library with her best friend, Yui, the two girls find a strange book, a Japanese translation of an old Chinese myth, The Universe of the Four Gods. The book claims that if they read to the end, their wishes will be granted, but no sooner have the girls started reading, then they find themselves transported to the strange landscape of Ancient China! They are immediately attacked by slavers, but rescued by a handsome teenage boy with the character for "demon" tattooed on his forehead. The girls think he's gorgeous, but he turns out to be obsessed with money, and takes off when they can't repay him for saving their lives.

Miaka and her friend are returned to modern day Japan, and all is well . . . until Miaka's mother finds her diary and assumes Miaka is dating this "gorgeous" boy. A screaming match ensues, and Miaka runs back to the library, where she reopens the book and is sucked back into the world of The Universe of the Four Gods. . . Yui remains in the modern world, but still has a connection to the book, and when Miaka is wounded or suffers, Yui finds herself sharing her pain.

Miaka is brought before the Emperor of Hong-Nan, a beautiful eighteen year-old boy who has always been obsessed with the legend of a girl from another world, and names her the Priestess of Suzaku. To gain the power of the god Suzaku, Miaka must unite the seven warriors with the mark of the "Constellations of Suzaku" on their bodies - one is the boy with the "demon" tattoo - Tamahome, whom Miaka is quickly falling in love with, but the Emperor is also one of the seven warriors, Hotohori, and he's been in love with Miaka for his entire life!

The third warrior is revealed to be a noblewoman from the Emperor's harem (which he has never gone to) a woman with superhuman strength, Nuriko, who is incredibly jealous of Miaka's popularity with the Emperor and strives to steal Tamahome from her in revenge!

The characters are great, I can't help cheering on Miaka, she has such high energy and she has a lot of personality. She's eager to make friends, and even though she does end up getting rescued a lot, she tries her best to hold her own in a fight. She's funny and obsessed with food, but her overwhelming determination to help her friends and family comes out more and more as the story progresses.

All of the characters have multiple sides to their personality. Tamahome seems like he is only obsessed with money, but really he is trying to take care of an ailing father and four younger siblings. Hotohori is narcissistic and vain, but also seems insecure, lonely, and deeply romantic. Nuriko seems shallow at first, but has hidden secrets of her own and is often hilarious in her treatment of poor Miaka and Tamahome! On their journey to the oracle at Daichi Mountain, Miaka discovers that Nuriko is biologically a man. Though everyone is surprised by this unexpected revelation, it doesn't alter the growing friendship between the characters. (The Emperor's response is: "I thought I was the only man allowed to be that pretty." - p. 253)

Miaka is able to return to the modern world, where she is surprised to learn that only a few hours have passed and suddenly Yui has gone missing. When she returns to The Universe of the Four Gods, it is to find out that Hotohori's country, Hong-Nan, is now at war with Qu-Dong, where Yui has become the Priestess of Seiryu and Miaka's sworn enemy!

The characters and their relationships are changing, complex and compellingly written. The mythology Watase builds into her high fantasy version of Ancient China, and the care she puts into things like background layouts and the clothing of the minor or extra characters, is more thorough and detailed then in many shoujo titles. Watase uses the margins of each chapter to write about the daily life and processes of being a manga writer and artist.

Fushigi Yuugi is a very well written, well illustrated story. Although a "shoujo" (girl's) title, the story contains such a good balance of action, adventure and humour with the romance that is has a strong cross-genre appeal. Recommended. ( )
  catfantastic | Sep 1, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 142152290X, Paperback)

A classic shojo series now available in an omnibus format.

Miaka Y?ki is an ordinary junior-high student who is suddenly whisked away into the world of a book, The Universe Of The Four Gods. There she becomes the priestess of the god Suzaku, and is charged with finding all seven of her Celestial-Warrior protectors.

A Beloved Fantasy From One Of Japan's Top Creators

Prolific sh?jo ("girls") comics artist Yuu Watase has created a wonderfully exciting, funny, and heartfelt tale of a normal junior-high-school girl who is transported into a fictional version of ancient China. She encounters base villains and dashing heroes, and still manages to worry about her grades and where her next banquet is coming from.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:25 -0400)

"Fifteen-year-old Miaka Yuki is transported into an ancient Chinese kingdom by an old book, 'The universe of the four gods.' Following the legend in the story, Miaka becomes the Priestess of Suzaka and must find her seven Celestial Warriors before she can save the kingdom and return home" -- p. [4] of cover.… (more)

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