Fushigi Yûgi 9 by Yuu Watase: B+

From the back cover:
Miaka Yuuki is an ordinary middle school student who is suddenly whisked away into the world of a book, The Universe of the Four Gods. In this alternate world, she must summon the god Suzaku by retrieving the Shinzahou. But, in order to get the treasure, Miaka must choose between her love for Tamahome and protecting the nation of Konan.

The B+ grade is for the story itself; the translation earns a D. For the entire first chapter, Nuriko is referred to with female pronouns. This is incredibly distracting from such a poignant, important scene! If the translators were even reading the material, they’d see that, too!

Anyway, the plot itself is pretty interesting, featuring an encounter with some nifty Genbu warriors. I quite fancy Hikitsu. I’ll have to try to remember what’s established about them and see whether continuity is maintained when I proceed to reading Genbu Kaiden.

When the Suzaku warriors learn there’s still more questing to do, we enter another little arc and meet another Seiryu warrior, Tomo, who I think is pretty durn cool. I really like the misdirection he perpetrates upon the group, even though it has the unfortunate effect of spurring another of Miaka’s too stupid to live moments. It had been a while since she’d run off idiotically and I was getting used to not finding her all that annoying.

Fushigi Yûgi 8 by Yuu Watase: A-

From the back cover:
A savage storm shipwrecks Miaka and her Celestial Warriors on a creepy island inhabited by a ruthless matriarchal society that enslaves men! Meanwhile, her former friend Yui and the Seiryu Warriors are within arm’s reach of the sacred treasures that Miaka so desperately seeks. Will she arrive too late to summon the god Suzaku and save the nation of Konan?

Ack! I didn’t realize that that happened in this volume.

While the story continues to move along nicely, the first couple of chapters in this volume were a little weak and almost felt like a flimsy excuse to draw the guys in drag. This is the first bit I’ve encountered that wasn’t in the anime, so it seems they shared my opinion.

There’s a lot of focus on Nuriko in this volume, whom I adore, and more determination on his part to no longer attempt to take his sister’s place. I still don’t wholeheartedly endorse some of the sudden realizations, but I must say it’s a lot clearer in the manga and I can kind of get a better handle on what he’s been through and what he means by what he says. It’s unfortunate that, while he’s considering what it means to be a man, Viz’s translation keeps calling him “she,” when previous volumes were free of that problem.

Fushigi Yûgi 7 by Yuu Watase: A

From the back cover:
Now that the Seiryu Warriors have ruined their attempt to summon the god Suzaku, Miaka and her Celestial Warriors are forced to travel to a frozen northern country in hopes of gathering the sacred treasures that will grant them a second chance. Little do they know that they have made new enemies, ones who will stop at nothing to wreak their vengeance!

The plotting is excellent in this volume, with all events hanging together logically and moving forward with a sense of urgency and excitement as Miaka and friends head off on a new quest with the Seiryu Warriors in active competition. I suppose I’ve been burned too many times by manga that seems to amble around without a point, and it seems pretty clear that Watase knows where this story is going to go, so it impresses me.

Another thing I really liked was seeing more of Miaka’s interactions with others of the group. She is distressed about Tamahome, and sees Chichiri as a good person to talk to. Later, Nuriko is the one from whom she seeks comfort, and also plays a big role in the final chapter. We’re seeing the group bonding more as a whole and also learning more about their backgrounds.

Miaka also grows yet more determined to summon Suzaku. Though she doesn’t wish to fight Yui, Nakago’s tactics are just too cruel to be allowed to continue. I really like her when she is taking the job seriously, and therefore didn’t feel the urge to smack her once this time.

Fushigi Yûgi 6 by Yuu Watase: A-

From the back cover:
Now that she seems to have gathered all seven of her Celestial Warriors, Miaka is ready to summon the god Suzaku, who will grant her three wishes. But Miaka’s former best friend, Yui, has become her mortal enemy, and Yui’s nefarious general Nakago has a secret plan…

I thoroughly enjoyed this volume. Nakago’s secret plan comes to fruition and Miaka gains a bit in maturity as a result (points off for a brief too stupid to live moment in Chapter 31, however). Alas, no further glimmers of Mitsukake’s personality, and not much Chichiri and Tasuki to squee over, but there’s several important events and a big decision for Hotohori, and Nuriko has several very cute panels as well.

We’re now up to around episode 24 of the anime, which I remember because that’s exactly how many episodes a friend could cram on the tape(s) I provided. When I finally got the DVDs, I rewatched from the beginning, so as a result I believe the story’s about to head into the part I’ve only seen once and therefore remember less vividly. Woot.

Fushigi Yûgi 5 by Yuu Watase: A-

From the back cover:
To save her newly adoptive country of Konan, Miaka must venture into the heart of the enemy’s capital. Her mission: to retrieve her true love, Tamahome; outwit the unscrupulous general Nakago; and confront Yui, the girl who was once her best friend but is now her vindictive rival!

Things have really started to come together in this volume, making it my favorite of the series thus far. In some respects, I wish I hadn’t seen the anime first, because I’d be free to be surprised by things again, but my memories of watching it (my first shoujo) are so fond, I can’t really wish too strenuously. Knowing what I do, I must question this choice of spoilery cover.

Miaka is actually not too stupid or annoying this volume, and I liked her scenes with Yui, especially. I actually felt for her at the end of the volume, which is rather unprecedented. In the squee department, I totally love Chichiri and Tasuki, and even Mitsukake’s kitty. It also seems to me, just from a few cute little panels where Mitsukake talks, that he might have more personality in the manga than the anime, which would be welcome.

This volume was good enough that I am considering a marathon read on this nice, long weekend. Perhaps I shall get all the way through the series.

Fushigi Yûgi 4 by Yuu Watase: B+

From the back cover:
To save her newly adopted country of Konan, Miaka must scour the nation for the remaining three of the seven Celestial Warriors who will help her in her quest. But the search takes her into the lair of bandits, and to a plague-cursed town where she has to die to survive!

A lot happens in this volume, keeping with the very fast pace mentioned this far. Sometimes it seemed like more time could’ve been spent on certain elements, especially on places where I think the anime did an episode break, but overall I’m still a fan of keeping things moving.

There are all kinds of cute bits in this volume, especially Hotohori and Nuriko in the bandit’s lair. Plus—Tasuki! He really adds something significant to the group (besides fangs). Mitsukake shows up too, but almost as an afterthought. I wonder whether he’ll be any more interesting in the manga than the anime, but somehow I doubt it.

Miaka was only mildly stupid in this volume, and at least one of her crazy actions seems to’ve actually had some thought behind it. Shokku!

Fushigi Yûgi 3 by Yuu Watase: B+

From the back cover:
Miaka Yuuki is an ordinary junior high school student who is suddenly transported into the world of a book, The Universe of the Four Gods. Surrounded by enemies with mystic power, she can only rely on her Celestial Warriors and a mysterious monk, a disciple of the oracle, to help her fulfill her quest! Miaka’s best friend, Yui, also enters the book, but suffers a fate much crueler than Miaka’s.

Miaka is only a little stupid in this volume, running away like an idiot just once, and for at least a reason, if not the best one ever. Chichiri is introduced, and immediately brings value to the team and also helps impart some lessons of responsibility and strength to Miaka.

One thing I particularly noticed is that the little dramatic moments, scenes of angst and stuff, really don’t last very long. There are a few pages where Miaka tries to squash her feelings for Tamahome so she can focus on her task, and then… gone. It makes the overall mood a bit flighty, I suppose, but it’s better than wallowing overlong.

Things are starting to get very interesting, now that we are on the “collecting constellations” arc rather than the “I wanna go home, now back, now home again” phase of the story. I hope Tasuki shows up soon. Then all my favorites will be accounted for.

Fushigi Yûgi 2 by Yuu Watase: B

Book Description:
During a pilgrimage to the oracle Taitsukun, Miaka is trapped inside a cursed mirror while her evil reflection goes free! Can Tamahome, Hotohori, and Nuriko save the real Miaka? Can Yui, now back in the real world, help her missing friend come home? When Miaka does make her way back to Tokyo, things are not as expected.

There once was a twit named Miaka,
Personification of “baka.”
For some unknown reason,
The men find her pleasin’.
Maybe the other chicks in Konan could use some Binaca.

Poetic meter? Piffle. *Waves hand dismissively.*

I heart Nuriko in this volume. I normally like Hotohori, but he’s pretty dumb in this one, even if he doesn’t fall for the mirror Miaka trick. I think I’m just generally irritated with this phase of the story, because it seems so vague with the going home and then coming back and working to get home again and then coming back. Just get on with finding the other constellations, already!

One original element that I thought was cute are the little parodies of the angsty drama moments included in this volume. It gives the impression that Watase is fully aware of how silly and over the top this manga is and has a lot of fun spoofing it herself.

There is plenty of stuff to snicker or eyeroll over in this volume, yet regardless of whether it’s intentional, it’s still entertaining. For all its faults, I’m in for the long haul.

Fushigi Yûgi 1 by Yuu Watase: B+

Book description:
Miaka Yuuki is an ordinary junior-high student who is suddenly whisked away into the world of a book, The Universe of the Four Gods. In a land reminiscent of ancient China, she becomes the priestess of the god Suzaku, and is charged with finding all seven of her Celestial-Warrior protectors, including dashing mercenary Tamahome and wannabe empress Nuriko. Only then can Miaka summon the power of the god Suzaku, find her true love, and get home safely.

Fushigi Yûgi was the first shoujo anime I ever saw, and the first with rampant bishounen and gender fun, etc. So, even though it has its flaws, I’m still fond of it. It’s been a while since I saw the series, so I decided to revisit it in manga form.

The art style surprised me. I’ve read a couple of Watase’s later things, and this earlier style is actually reminiscent of Rumiko Takahashi in spots. I prefer it to her later, more stylized approach. It’s more comical and the characters don’t look as similar.

Miaka is certainly just as stupid as I remembered, and has already done quite a few dumb things and fainted a few times for incredibly goofy reasons. Tamahome… doesn’t… love me?! *swoon* Three of her Celestial Warriors are introduced here, found essentially under her nose: Tamahome, Hotohori, and Nuriko. I’m definitely reading more for these side characters, the latter two more so than Tamahome. He doesn’t really do much for me. I do like the story, and the manga seems to be a little clearer on certain elements of the logistics involved.

Fushigi Yûgi is a shoujo classic, but is also recommended if one simply wants a bit of fun fantasy.