Kae ArakiShinichiro MikiKazuhiko InoueKen Narita
Fushigi Yuugi - OVA II
Medium: OVA, series
Year: 1997
Director: Hajime Kamegaki
Original creator: Yuu Watase
Studio: Bandai Visual, MOVIC, Pierrot
Actor: Hikaru Midorikawa, Kae Araki, Akira Ishida, Juurouta Kosugi, Nobutoshi Hayashi, Tomokazu Seki, Yuri Amano, Chika Sakamoto, Hisako Kyouda, Kazuhiko Inoue, Ken Narita, Kouichi Toochika, Shinichiro Miki, Wataru Takagi
Keywords: Fushigi Yuugi, anime, fantasy, reverse-harem
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 6 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=5541
Website category: Anime 1990s
Review date: 17 September 2014
I liked it. It's pretty good. Importantly, they're back to adapting Yuu Watase manga stories, after previously having to do some improvisation to get back on track after the divergent end of the TV series. There's one last four-volume manga story arc that the TV show didn't adapt, so it became the source material for this OVA series instead.
It's the second run of Fushigi Yuugi OVAs, although they're often combined into one nine-episode series. Buyer beware. Something numbered as, say, episodes 4-6 might either be the second half of the second series or the middle third of both series combined, i.e. technically this series's episodes 1-3. That caused me problems when buying the discs, especially when I was doing so in Italian.
It's also slightly longer than it looks. The half-hour episodes actually run for half an hour, being OVAs with no advertising breaks, while the last episode is double-length.
As before, the problem is how to continue the Fushigi Yuugi story now that the quest is over and almost everyone's dead. Answer: ghosts, reincarnation and a new baddie, Tenkou. (He's the leader of the Four Demon Gods.) Tenkou isn't a threat on the level of the mega-quest of Suzaku vs. Seiryuu, but that's fine. This is a six-episode OVA. He does his job here, is appropriately villainous and even manages to be responsible for a mini-apocalypse at the end. The gods get pissed off. (In Fushigi Yuugi, that's not just a figure of speech.)
It's the ghosts and reincarnation that are more eyebrow-raising, though. I'm not sure I approve. It's having your cake and eating it. "I want the drama of killing main characters, but without the inconvenience of them actually being dead!" The ghosts have the same personalities, knowledge, banter and goofiness that they had when they were alive, except that they can't touch anything. No, wait, they can. They can possess people and then do everything they used to do before. Hmmm. However if even that isn't enough of a cheat, you might instead fancy being reincarnated into a physically identical body of the same species (i.e. human), personality, gender and age as your former self. (Yes, age. Is this time-travelling reincarnation? Were two of you born at the same time in different places? What does it mean, anyway, to be the living reincarnation of a fictional character?)
That said, though, Watase does fairly interesting things with this. You have ghosts who can't be with their loved ones... until a husband possesses his own baby son (eh?) for a reunion with his wife (hang on, wait, no, surely, um). This is so close to inventing entire new worlds of wrong. The same episode, for the same reason, also gave us the sight of a sword-wielding baby.
Watase similarly thinks up cool uses for Reincarnated Dude, including one for the final episode that's, frankly, brilliant. She chickens out of pushing that to its most brain-nuking limits, though. Furthermore, the loose framework for this OVA series is that he's trying to get access to his former incarnation's memories, which conveniently still exist in memory globes.
As with the first OVA series, there are comedy extras after the closing credits. What's different is that these ones are often funny. They're basically short gag reels as the production team take the piss out of their own anime, except that they include new animation as well as the usual voice actors goofing around. They're a lot like the gag outtakes one sometimes sees on dubbed English-language anime DVDs.
Is this OVA essential? No. It's quite nice, but that's it. It's not epic... except, in fairness, perhaps a bit at the end. At the end of the day, it doesn't change anything that matters. The TV series was a far bigger deal and you don't need to follow it up with the OVAs too. However the completist in me approves of the fact that they're completing the animated adaptation of Yuu Watase's manga, while furthermore this is unique among Fushigi Yuugi OVAs.in being generally regarded as good. The other two (OVA I and Eikoden) have a considerably lower reputation and aren't even based on a Watase manga. To this, though, I'd give a modest recommendation. It's good, solid Fushigi Yuugi.
This series also makes decent use of the regulars, including the dead ones. That I'm still ambivalent about.