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Fushigi Yuugi

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Also Known as: ふしぎ遊戯, 不思议游戏, Curious Play, El Juego Misterioso, Fushigi Yūgi, Mysterious Play, Un Jeu Etrange
Author: Yuu Watase
Artist: Yuu Watase
Serialized in: Shokakugan's Glower Comics, Shojo Comic

Summary: Fushigi Yuugi is a fairly popular girls' manga (and animated series) by Yuu Watase; the girls' manga spans 18 volumes. The premise is simple: a girl and her friend get pulled into a magical version of ancient China (the equivalent, perhaps, of Western medieval fantasy settings) by reading a mysterious book. The premise is familiar. The plot, however, has numerous twists that are new and refreshing.

Our heroine is Miaka (Yuuki Miaka), a (somewhat) gluttonous but kind-hearted and cheerful junior-high student in danger of not passing her high school entrance exams. She is, naturally, suffering through the hellish "jyuken" study regimen that so many young Japanese children suffer. Her best friend is Yui, a fellow student. The two girls enter the magical world and through a series of adventures wind up on different sides of a conflict. Through bad luck, lies, and her own jealousy and bitterness, Yui willingly turns against her former best friend.

Both girls, in the magical world, are treated as priestesses/prophetesses of the directions. Ancient China had four gods of the four directions: The White Tiger (West), Black Turtle (North), Blue Dragon (East) and the Red Peacock (South). Miaka becomes the priestess of the Red Peacock, while Yui becomes the priestess of the Blue Dragon. Each priestess is, under the right circumstances, able to summon her god and request the granting of 3 wishes.

Each priestess has seven guardians, or "stars," whose gathering catalyzes the priestess' abilities; in the case of Miaka, the guardians are seven men, one money-grubber, one emperor, one transvestite, a doctor, a student, a magic user, and a nutty clan leader. Miaka haplessly falls in love with the money-grubber, who is actually a handsome, caring young man called Tamahome. But, since this is a girls' comic, it shouldn't surprise anyone that not only does Tamahome also fall in love with her, but so does the emperor, the transvestite, and much later, one of the others. And, since this is a Japanese comic, it shouldn't surprise anyone that several of these characters die through the course of the story.

Genre(s): adventure, comedy, drama, fantasy, mature, mystery, romance, school-life, shoujo, tragedy

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