Iím going to start with a bit of shameless plugging here and quote something from my website:
"Fushigi Yuugi is first and foremost, a story. A beautiful and well-written story with wonderful characters that we all love."
But, what is it really about the FY story that has attracted so many viewers? Some hate it, others like it enough but prefer some other show over it. Now, Iím willing to bet that if youíre reading this, you fit in the third category of considering FY to be one of your favorite series of all time. Or, if youíre like me, FY IS your favorite series of all time.
With this monthís theme of FY fandom, letís focus on the dedicated (read: obsessive) fans. Without trying to compare FY with other anime, here are some of the aspects of the FY story which are what attract the fans.
Eyecandy? Or just really good charactersÖ
As already discussed eloquently in the last issue by Kichiri, one of the often heard reasons for liking FY is the number of gorgeous hunks in the story. Do the math, two (male) gods, seven seishi each, of which a good number of them are men, and you have the makings for bucketloads of drool. At least where the female species of FY fans is concerned, anyway.
Seriously though, looks aside, almost every major character in FY have drawn their share of fans, some more than others, by the very complexity of their characters. Whether itís on a mailing list or our own webpages, we love to discuss these characters; about why they feel the way they do, why they do the things they do, and why we love them for it.
It doesnít end there either. Fanfic writers have gone on to speculate about what these characters are up to when the story of FY drifts away from said character (how dare they!) or skims over parts of the story. For example, what did Chichiri get up to while masquerading as the emperor? And, exactly what happened on the boat en route to Hokkan? Hmmm?
A great part of what makes a good story is the characters and in FY, weíre certainly not lacking in that department.
Love, Friendship and Sacrifice
These are very powerful messages and plenty of it exists in FY and in fact, is the premise of the main story. It started with the friendship between Miaka and Yui but by the end of it, FY was all about the love between all of the characters. Many of us feel that the episodes towards the end of the series, when characters started to die, were the best and indeed, are probably the most watched episodes.
There is no doubt that those who died (most of them, anyway) gave their life in service to someone else. In some cases, their deaths showed us the best parts of their characters, or in others, gave us insight to their souls. Is it fair to say that for a lot of us, we donít usually find our favorite character until we reach the end of the series?
The primary focus of the FY story is the love between Miaka and Tamahome. But strengthening that love is the support of their friends (the Suzaku side) while facing those who would obstruct them (the Seiryuu side). This isnít a fight between good and evil. No, what makes FY unique is the struggles and tribulations of its main characters as they strive for what they believe in.
What started as a simple story for Miaka to find her way home became a complex tangle of circumstances from the moment she and Tamahome upset the imperial procession.
From there, Miakaís goal was to summon Suzaku and if the gods were willing, to spend the rest of her life with Tamahome. Her shichiseishi served their purpose as her protectors but more than that, each of them struggled to find acceptance within themselves and with the others. Nuriko had to come to terms with his tragic past, Chiriko had to confront his timidness, and Mitsukake had to overcome his grief and helplessness at the time of Shokaís death.
On the other side, we have Yui going against everything she believed in to get back at Miaka for her unfortunate fate and all the while, Nakago manipulated everyone in his service to forward his own plans for revenge. Amiboshi had to fight the struggle within himself to be loyal to those "on his side" or to follow what his heart knew was the right thing. Suboshi, also, had to choose between his twin brother and Yui.
And in two paragraphs, Iíve barely managed to touch the surface of what FY is all about. Thereís no real way to experience FY except by watching the series and reading the manga. We come to laugh with the characters, love with them, and cry with them through all their struggles as the story takes us along with it.
A Fantasy World
There is certainly something in FY for all of us and with the majority of the story set in an ancient China-like world, thatís more than enough to satisfy the fans of fantasy. Speaking from a personal point-of-view, stories set in ancient China or ancient China-like worlds have always held great appeal to me. In fact, that was the reason I picked FY out of a dozen other anime titles at the outset.
There is actually a whole genre of Chinese stories dedicated to these settings and the stories often involve a lot of drama for the main hero and/or heroine with a lot of fighting on both sides, either with swords or martial arts or sometimes, even supernatural powers. I must say, it was to my extreme pleasure that FY lived up to this genre. With the complex relationships, exciting premise and wonderfully drawn/animated fight scenes, FY has all the components of a cool story. Such a lame and overused word, I know, but can you think of a better one?
The setting, the plot and the characters of FY have all contributed to making the series an extremely special and unique story. And that is the key. That is why we all love FY so much for nothing even comes close in comparison. At least, not for me.
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