Genre: Comedy, Romance, Magic-Girl Fantasy
Notes: Also known as "The Mysterious Play". Alternate spellings Fushigi Yuugi, Fushugi Yuugi, combinations thereof. There are 3 OVAs in addition to the series (not reviewed).
Introduction: 15 year old Miaka and her friend Yui are studying in the library when they see a mysterious light. Upon investigation they are drawn to a storybook of ancient China called the "Universe of the Four Gods." The book somehow pulls the two into ancient China and they are immediatey attacked by bandits, but saved by Tamahome a handsome young man with the symbol for ogre on his forehead. Yui gets sent back to the real world while Miakas is left behind. As Yui reads the book, Miaka's adventures start to become reality. Miaka meets the Emperor of Konan, Hotohori. It turns out Miaka is the priestess of the guardian beast, Suzaku (phoenix). In order to return home and to save Konan she has to find the seven disciples of Suzaku and call upon the powers of guardian beast. Animation/Music/Voices: Good animation in the shoujo style. In fact there are jokes about how beautiful and interchangeable the men and woman are. The emperor is often taken as a woman and one of the disciples is a man who wants to be a woman. A beautiful beginning and ending theme. Rest of the score is good. Miaka's voice becomes very very very annoying after she says Tamahome for the 1000th time! Other voices are fine. Review: The series is divided into 2 arcs. In the first, Miaka has to find the seven disciples and return home. In the second, her friend Yui gets drawn in the book and Miaka returns to find her The second arc is much darker. Her best friend becomes her enemy and rival and is the priestess for a neighboring kingdom. The best word to describe this series is contrived. You may be laughing or crying but you may hate yourself for doing it because the events that occur are often obvious manipulations, but somehow it gets away with it. The main character, Miaka, is one of the most annoying and stupid characters you'll meet. There are lots of love triangles but none of them is truly believable. The show tries hard to be funny, but it is too often forced. The series is rather uneven, but what saves it from being too soap opera-ish is the dark events that unexpectedly conspire. Despite its flaws, it holds the viewer's interest with cliffhangers, some nice twists and interesting continuous storyline.
Recommended for romantics who don't care much about plot loopholes. Women will like this a lot more than guys. Certain scenes and subject matter (implications of rape) are not appropriate for children under 12, but most episodes are appropriate for all.