Kouji IshiiKen NaritaShinichiro MikiRikiya Koyama
Fushigi Yugi Eikoden
Medium: OVA, series
Year: 2001
Director: Nanako Shimazaki
Original creator: Yuu Watase
Writer: Hiroaki Sato
Studio: Bandai Visual
Actor: Hikaru Midorikawa, Junko Noda, Kae Araki, Nobutoshi Canna, Shinichiro Miki, Tomokazu Seki, Yumi Touma, Akiko Yajima, Chika Sakamoto, Chinami Nishimura, Ema Kogure, Haruo Satou, Hisako Kyouda, Isshin Chiba, Jin Yamanoi, Kaho Kouda, Kazuhiro Nakata, Ken Narita, Kouji Ishii, Miki Narahashi, Rikiya Koyama, Shizuka Ishikawa, Takehito Koyasu, Tomoe Nanba, Tomoko Kawakamii
Keywords: Fushigi Yuugi, anime, fantasy, reverse-harem
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 4 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=967
Website category: Anime early 00s
Review date: 29 September 2014
It's the last Fushigi Yuugi anime to date, based not on Watase Yuu's manga but on two of the spin-off light novels by Megumi Nishizaki. It's not horrible, but I find it hard to imagine anyone liking it.
Firstly, some background. Nishizaki wrote thirteen spin-off Fushigi Yuugi novels, but most of them were side-stories set before the manga. Each one chose a Celestial Warrior and filled in their backstory. Books 7 and 8, though, were a two-parter set three/ten years after the end of the manga. (Real-time and book-time go at different speeds.) Taka and Miaka are married and expecting their first child, but a teenage girl called Mayo has a crush on Taka. Mayo thus goes into the Universe of the Four Gods, steals Miaka's unborn child, tells everyone that she's the one Taka's in love with, blackmails him into helping her and then repeatedly tries to murder babies and children.
I'm not exaggerating. She really does all that. All of Miaka's dead friends have been reincarnated, you see, but Mayo wants to stop them from getting together and... um, saving the world from destruction. However reincarnation means being born again, so all those old friends are infants. That won't stop Mayo from sending supernatural assassins after them, though, or from being angry when her murder attempts fail.
Then, in the end, everyone forgives her! "Mayo hasn't done anything bad," says Noriko, because (wait for it) the foetus magically jumping into Mayo's belly wasn't an act of malice. You know, I think we'd worked that out. Mayo's a schoolgirl. I hadn't assumed she was capable of casting spells on foetuses. Anyway, this apparently explains everything (huh?) and no one has a problem with attempted infanticide or with Mayo trying to destroy Taka and Miaka's marriage.
You see, the foetus was [SPOILER] to stop the book universe from being destroyed! I think I mentioned the latter in passing. The world is going to the dogs in some unsatisfactorily ill-defined fashion, which you can imagine as the fantasy equivalent of a decade-long economic recession. Everyone's talking doom and gloom, but all we can see is that they've let the place go a bit and everything's gone a bit rubbish. The reasons aren't entirely clear, but I got the impression that this might be related to the book's story being over. (Our heroes beat the baddies. They reached the last page.) This seems like a grave existential problem. What's the solution? Answer: pray to god, then beat the new baddie with one punch. That's it! The Celestial Warriors have saved the day! Hurrah!
I've seen better-constructed plots.
That said, the story isn't without interest. Mayo's memorable, if nothing else, or at least she was until episode four tried to turn all that on its head and make us sympathise with her. Ahahaha, no. Gee, her parents didn't get along. Well, that completely excuses her being a hateful manipulative loathsome bitchy attempted child-killer. Mind you, I did laugh in episode three when she starts crying on realising that she'd said something mean to a child... without even seeming to notice that she'd previously sent killers to whack a baby.
There's a good bit at the end of part three where the supernatural villain tells Mayo that she'd do the world a favour if she died. Nice one! Well said, that apocalypse monster! (Am I supposed to be agreeing with the villain here?)
There's a cool idea in episode one, where one realises that theoretically a reader should be able to enter the book on any page. You could use it as a time machine. That could have been mind-bending... but no, they don't go there and this is just a sequel.
Also, in episode one, Taka blames himself for Mayo. No no no no no, Taka. It's not you, it's her. Especially since she hadn't, you know, approached him or made him aware of her existence.
The thing I like best about these OVAs is also something I dislike. It's the same Celestial Warriors, yet again. Everyone's back, including the dead guys. Can't you guys do anything new? Let the dead stay dead, for crying out loud. Think up some new heroes! This is like jumped-up fan fiction... but, that said, this self-plagiarism is being pushed so far that by now it's of interest in itself. Reincarnation brings a bunch of new problems (e.g. memory that comes and goes, or the physique of a toddler), while at the same time offering a second chance at relationships that had previously ended tragically. We also know that, within a few years, the old memories of these reincarnated heroes will be overwritten by those of their new minds and bodies. Our friends will soon, at long last, be gone.
There's also the bizarro factor of a little boy talking like James Earl Jones, or even transforming physically into his former adult form in order to hug his wife and child.
This is wacky. As a whole, though, this OVA's a bit brain-damaged. I'm impressed by how hateful they managed to make Mayo, but alas this undercuts her last-act redemption. Some people will have been able to forgive her, of course. I admire these people. The world would be a better place if we were all like that. I, alas, haven't reached that level of inner enlightenment and so I can only say "piss off you delusional bitch". Meanwhile the animation's glossier than 1990s Fushigi Yugi, if you don't mind a CGI dragon, and there are some emotionally effective scenes and ideas. They borrow some Hotohori-Houki backstory from the fifth light novel, for instance, which is very good. I also liked the reincarnated relationships that had been ended by death in their previous lives.
If you try explaining to anyone what happens in this, your brain will implode at the ludicrousness of what's coming out of your mouth. To its credit, though, it's certainly not anonymous.