Geneon // 1995 // 175 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // September 1st, 2005
Trials of a Priestess!
And here I am, back reviewing Trials of a Priestess, the third installment in Geneon's Fushigi Yugi popular teen series. Something of an underground success, the show enjoyed much celebrity as a fan-traded favorite before finally being licensed to DVD by Geneon. I wish somebody could explain to me what all the fuss is about, but oh, well.
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 Trials of a Priestess, Miaka continues her quest to restore the seven celestial warriors and save her adopted land of Konan, despite having the occasional bandit, zombie or plague tie her up here and there. Worse, her best friend Yui has been recruited as a priestess of the rival nation Seiryu, and seems hellbent on causing harm to her estranged friend Miaka...even going so far as to seduce her lost lover Tamahome!
The Return Home contains seven episodes, which is an even better offering than the previous volume of six. If all anime series coughed up seven episodes per disc, we'd all be happy, happy otaku. The episode titles are:
14) "Wolf in the Fortress"
15) "The City of Resurrection"
16) "Battle of Sorrow"
17) "Magic Flute"
18) "Love Trap"
19) "Shattered Love"
20) "Unreachable Hope"
Like previous installments, 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. It stacks up poorly to modern-day anime, but there are no outright flaws. The animation is reasonable enough in terms of production values.
Having seen another seven episodes, I am sticking with my original impression of this show: it makes no bleeping sense. Interjected between the sickly sweet romantic overtones and kissy-faces are invading armies, torture, rape, and all manner of abnormities, but it feels like the show has no idea how to work these concepts in, so it simply opts to drop them in randomly. The outcome is a weird mismatch of romantic teen anime with flashes of something larger; a big, epic sweeping story arc full of...wait, sorry, lost it again. You only get flashes, you see. As it stands, there isn't enough here to keep my interest in digging through the garbage to find the edible scraps.
From a technical standpoint, I found no discernable difference between the previous volume and this one. 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 minor amounts of 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 whatsoever on this one, and I couldn't care less...I'd trade crummy trailers any day for having seven anime episodes per disc.
Another thing to mention: I had some odd technical issues with Trials of a Priestess that I did not have with the previous installment. Once or twice while watching the episodes, I had the subtitles and sound cut away completely for a few seconds, and jump back in after a weird delay. This happened again the next day. Whether my disc itself is buggy, or my player simply refuses to deal with the content of the show, I have no idea.
Not really much more to say here: good potential, but fails to deliver. If you like the show, then by all means have at it. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend Fushigi Yugi in any capacity beyond a candy-sweet whimsical sort of way. Admittedly, I liked Volume 3 better than its predecessor, and if I had teenage girls running around, I could understand why they would like this show. However, I think my finely-honed anime sensibilities would rather they get into Sailor Moon, or even Urusei Yatsura over this one.
I guess the only thing mysterious about this play is why I bothered to watch it.
Review content copyright © 2005 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 175 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Fushigi Yugi on DVD