Case Number 07498: Small Claims Court

FUSHIGI YUGI: THE MYSTERIOUS PLAY...THE RETURN HOME (VOLUME 2)

Geneon // 1995 // 150 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // September 1st, 2005

The Charge

The Return Home!

The Case

There are a lot of people out there who adore Fushigi Yugi, and I have absolutely no idea why. I found neither the animation, the story, nor the characters particularly compelling, which puts me at something of a loss to explain the show's popularity. Of course, this is a shojo-style anime, the kind targeted towards pre-teen girls, so perhaps my opinion is tainted by factors like excessive age and testosterone.

Like a Chinese anime version of The Neverending Story, it is the story of Miaka Yuuki, a teenage girl who discovers a magical Chinese book tucked deep away on a library shelf. When she opens it, she finds herself sucked into a magical world called the Universe of the Four Gods, which bears more than a passing resemblance to medieval China. The inhabitants immediately seize upon Miaka as a priestess and task her with a magical goal: travel the land and gather together the seven celestial warriors to summon the wish-granting dragon Seiryu.

In The Return Home, now that Miaka has returned home from the magical book that held her captive, she realizes that her friend Yui is now trapped in her place! She travels back to the Universe of the Four Gods rescue her, but comes to a surprising realization: even though only a few days have passed in the Earth world, months have passed in the Universe of the Four Gods. Suddenly neck-deep in the midst of a civil war between Konan and Kutou, she must come to terms with her destiny...collect the seven celestial warriors and summon the dragon Seiryu to save her friends!

The Return Home contains six episodes, which for an anime series is downright generous. The episodes are:

8) "Brief Parting"
9) "Enemies Unseen"
10) "Looking for Yui"
11) "Priestess of Seiryu"
12) "Only You"
13) "For the Sake of Love"

The DVDs come "uncensored," which I suppose references the occasional flash of skin no doubt edited from television broadcast, but I found nothing more inappropriate to warrant such an eye-grabbing sticker. The show occasionally drops dark notes of torture and sexual abuse here and there like breadcrumbs, but never follows through with them in any capacity, always covering it up with a laugh or a joke; it is a kid's show, after all.

The animation style is slightly dated, vaguely Sailor Moon in style, execution, color tone and character design, down to the scantily-clad female protagonists and broad-shouldered males. In fact, the shows are similar in many aspects; mostly that when you watch Fushigi Yugi, you keep thinking to yourself that you'd rather be watching Sailor Moon.

Colors and detail levels are reasonable throughout, despite some moderate print damage here and there. For a 10-year old anime, Fushigi Yugi looks adequate. I found the edge enhancement a little too sharp for my tastes, all digital and jagged-like with some grain here and there. Both stereo surround tracks -- an English and a Japanese -- are well within reason, with moderate bass levels, crisp sound effects and corny music. The English dub is so hilariously bad that I suggest not even bothering to test it, but to its credit, the dialogue is slightly sharper and audible. No extras on this disc to speak of; an acceptable trade-off for having six full episodes per disc, if you ask me.

Despite having thumbed through the manga prior to reviewing this DVD, I had little idea what was going on, but could have cared less. Right around the introduction of the Dragonball-esque plot goal of gathering the Suzaku Seven to summon the giant rooster Suzaku to grant any wish, or something like that, my brain took an extended lunch break and has yet to return. Note: Suzaku probably isn't a rooster. He might be a phoenix or a dragon or something...but he just sort of looks...roosterish.

I get the distinct impression watching this DVD that I would be completely and utterly lost even if I had seen the previous installment. When a show makes no sense down to its fundamental core, you can smell it, like a piranha catching scent of a drowning cow in the Amazon river. Though they are not entirely similar, Fushigi Yugi reminds me of another Chinese mythology-based anime, Soul Hunter which ended up with a convoluted and confusing storyline as well.

Admittedly, the romantic elements are the strongest part of Fushigi Yugi, and the show can be awfully sweet and charming when it sets its mind to it. Unfortunately, redundant character designs, convoluted plots, nonsensical dialogue and the natural disposition of its characters to fall in and out of love with one another on days that end in "y" make Fushigi Yugi egregiously painful to struggle through.

Part teen romance, part historical epic, part fantasy action, Fushigi Yugi tramples into practically every single anime genre, except one: good anime. I definitely have no interest in reviewing any more of this show...but alas, I am on deck for Volume 3. Curses.

Review content copyright © 2005 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 56

Perp Profile
Studio: Geneon
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 150 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0111973/combined

* Fushigi Yugi on DVD
http://www.fushigiyugidvd.com/