Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden 9

September 27, 2009

Yuu Watase – Viz – 2009 – 9+ volumes

I’m a little sad that this series won’t resume production until next spring.  Then again, I’ve got, like, six early volumes I haven’t read plus the entirety of Fushigi Yugi to read and re-read, so I guess I’ve got enough to keep me busy until the next volume comes out.

I wasn’t really aware of Takiko’s circumstances at home before reading this volume, so it was interesting to see her ejected from The Universe of the Four Gods and back to her normal life.  Her home life is a little sad at the moment, and it seems like she’s dealing with the loss of her mother, a grieving father, and some stuck-up classmates rubbing a well-placed marriage in her face.  Thinking that the Genbu Celestial Warriors had ejected her for good and telling her father to destroy the scroll, she decides to settle into the semblance of a normal life.  And then we learn that… well, she’s not long for this world.

Most of the volume actually deals with her life away from the Universe of the Four Gods, and I loved the balance struck between real life and the “fantasy” life inside the scroll.  That was always one of the more interesting things about Fushigi Yugi, that it could do both fantasy and reality.  Takiko doesn’t live in modern times, but I appreciate the look into real life to balance out all the fantasy war stuff that’s going on in the land of Genbu.

Genbu isn’t doing so hot either, and when Takiko (inevitably) returns, nature is on the brink of collapsing on itself and we aren’t any closer to summoning Genbu.  Except then we find out there’s a toll for summoning Genbu, one nobody wants to pay (well, we may have found this out last volume, I can’t remember).  And then we find out why it’s bad that Takiko and Uruki are so close.  Except maybe it’s not bad.  Maybe it’s good.

Again, I’m impressed by how much I like this series even after not having read most of the first several volumes or its prequel.  The story and characters are really fantastic and fun to follow, and even with all the dark, convoluted politics and magic coming in to play, it’s pretty impossible not to appreciate all the work and love that goes into the story.  I know I say this every time, but I really am going to start Fushigi Yugi the next time I see it on sale.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

I just… this makes me want to read the first series.  I didn’t think that would ever happen.  But… this is good, and the first series comes out in those big editions… maybe… maybe it’s time I gave it a second chance.

Yeah, I like this series a lot.  I had trouble following the first half of this volume.  Uruki is still recovering from what happened last volume, and actually, all the celestial warriors gather back together under the protection of a friendly rebel clan and a forest that forms a magical barrier against enemies.  They’re all pretty critically injured, and after what happened at the end of last volume there also needs to be some closure.  I actually like the way the event was dealt with, it was quite tasteful and stuck with the spirit of the series as far as… priestesses and magic and stuff go.  I wasn’t really familiar with what was going on last volume, but this was touching all the same.

The second half of the volume is strategy as to how to recruit Teg and his brother, the final Celestial Warrior.  This will be tricky since apparently they are both under the thumb of the emperor.  They’re sort of hostile and sort of not in that shoujo-manga-enemies-that-are-supposed-to-be-friends kind of way.  It’s handled much better in this series than it was in Fushigi Yugi, at least (except in FY, it was kind of backwards, if I remember right).  I mean, it is kind of transparent, and it’s pretty obvious that Teg is a good guy at heart, but the conflict of interest is better at keeping him on the other side.

And a fairly obvious plot development happens at the end where everyone pretends to hate the priestess so she’ll go away.  I suspect it’s because her death has been foretold, but that is left for the next volume.  I can see it coming a mile away, but I still want to read it badly.

I actually like this a lot, and this is even with all the stuff I don’t understand about the character backstories and political climate.  While I do want to read the beginning of this series, I’m actually more set on Fushigi Yugi at this point.  I know it’s much shallower than the fantasy I’ve been favoring lately, but it’s still really girly manga, and maybe I’ll like it better than I did when I was reading it all those years ago.  It’s a classic, and I suspect it’s a lot closer to Genbu Kaiden quality-wise than I’m remembering.  At the very least, reading FY in a big edition will help me weather the wait for new volumes of this, new volumes only seem to come out twice a year in Japan and the US version is one volume away from catching up.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden 7

November 10, 2008

I hate starting series in the middle, but I thought I might try it with this one.  I’ve read Fushigi Yugi, but only a big chunk of the middle as it was serialized in Animerica Extra, and not the beginning or end.  I didn’t much like Fushigi Yugi, enough so that I never picked up any of Yu Watase’s other series.  But I thought I might give Genbu Kaiden a try.  Even from the middle like this, I know the plot and mechanics of the world the series takes place in, if not the characters.

Not knowing the characters presents a bigger challenge than one might think in a shoujo series, especially this one, where many characters have two names (their given name and their name as a celestial warrior, I guess?).  But I see that the priestess of Genbu is the main character, that she’s gathering the celestial warriors, that one is a bad guy, one is a romantic interest, blah blah blah.  Aside from never being quite sure who the characters are discussing when they’re not present, the only other thing I had trouble with was a subplot involving two warring kingdoms.  Thankfully, this was far secondary to the major event in this volume, which involved the close relationship between two of the characters.

Unfortunately, I can’t really talk about the volume, because the only event I really understood was… well, a huge plot-related event, and I feel sort of bad because I actually really liked what I read, well enough to want to go back to the beginning of the series.  But now I know… well, this happens.  It’s not unlike an event in the original Fushigi Yugi that happened shortly before I stopped reading, and it’s one of the things I kind of admire about the series – it’s not often you see a shoujo series willing to do this… thing.

What did I like about it?  Well, it looks as if everyone’s not asking constantly after the well-being of the priestess, which is a plus.  The relationship between the priestess and the love interest doesn’t seem to be as annoying as the one in the original FY, though that could just be because… other things are going on.  I like the range of characters that fill out the celestial warriors, including a little clay man.  I also like what I’ve seen of the priestess, who frees herself to go try and help a burning city she saw after she was captured.  I also tend to like shoujo fantasy by default, even though I disliked FY.  I also really liked what I saw of the celestial warrior’s powers, as well as the huge display put on between two of the warriors towards the end of the volume.

All I can tell you about this volume for sure is that there’s a HUGE character-related event that goes down that I would have really been into had I been reading this from the beginning.  From what I can see of this volume, I liked it better than FY.  But not only did this make me want to go back and read Genbu Kaiden from the beginning… it… it’s making me want to try Fushigi Yugi again, too.  God help me.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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