Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Jan 16th 2002
Fushigi Yuugi (Mysterious Play) OVA
Responsible for introducing a wave of fans to the world of anime and shoujo, Fushigi Yuugi has become one of the most widely known series in American anime fandom. Based on the manga series by Watase Yuu, Fushigi Yuugi was animated by Studio Pierrot and lasted for fifty-two episodes. Not long after that, two OVA series were produced, a three-episode OVA, and a longer six-episode one. These two OVAs are now available in the United States on a two-disc DVD box set from Pioneer.
The first OVA starts after the end of the TV series, where viewers notice a man in Miaka's world that looks suspiciously like Tamahome. As it turns out, he managed to land himself in modern-day Japan in order to be with Miaka. In the first episode, Miaka and Tamahome's happiness is interceded when he's sucked back into the book. In a confusing whirl of events, he finds himself back in his world, only this time, he possesses the spirit of Nakago.
In the second OVA, which is regarded by many as much better than the first, Tamahome is reincarnated into Miaka's world as a man named Sukunami Taka. Apparently, his memories of his life as Tamahome have been sealed into memory globes, which are guarded by the Suzaku Seishi. Traveling back into the book, he and Miaka search for the Seishi, encountering new enemies and problems along the way.
With the nine episodes collected on two discs, the DVD box set is a great package for Fushigi Yuugi fans. Also included with the episodes are the omakes that played after each episode. The omakes that play after the first OVAs are a short sketch of both the Suzaku and Seiryuu groups on a trip to a hot spring. The segments are hysterical and I began looking forward to them more than I did the next episode. The omakes that play after the second OVAs mock the episodes themselves, taking short clips from each and changing the lines that the characters have to say, resulting in a hilarious collection of parodies that make a perfect companion to the OVA. Other extras included on the set include a picture gallery on the second disc. Although it's a nice touch to be able to see the production art, the way they're presented on the screen make them a little hard to see. Included with the set is a twelve-page booklet that lists the episodes and chapters inside, along with a few pictures of the characters.
The vocal music from the Fushigi Yuugi TV series was enjoyable, and the OVAs were no exception. Even though the first OVA was a bit jumbled and of lower quality than the second, the soundtrack that goes along with it is superb. Complete with touching vocals sung by some of the cast members, the soundtrack provides hours of enjoyable repeat listening. The soundtrack for the second OVA is also commendable, comprising of an upbeat theme sung by Satou Akemi, famous for the other songs she has sung for the series. As an added touch of excitement for Fushigi Yuugi fans, the soundtrack also includes the new band, THTC. Made up of the actors that voice the parts of Tamahome, Hotohori, Tasuki, and Chichiri, they are responsible for two of the tracks on the soundtrack, which can also be found on one of the singles. Despite the fact that the instrumental tracks are a bit weak for both OVAs, the vocals more than make up for them.
While the box set is a wonderful addition to any Fushigi Yuugi fan's shelf, I'm not entirely pleased with the translations. There are certain phrases throughout the second OVA that could have been translated better. For example, in one of the omakes, Tasuki snuggles up to a bowl of peaches, and bursts out with a chirpy, "Mm, peachy, peachy, part three!" which is a reference to the other two instances in the TV series that he's been seen with a bowl of peaches. The subtitles, however, translate it as "Mm, wiggle, wiggle, part three!" Although the Japanese words may be similar for both "peachy" and "wiggle," under the context of what's happening on screen, the subtitle translation doesn't make any sense. Despite that and some other small incongruities within the OVA, the subtitles were otherwise well done, even translating the song lyrics to the image songs that play interdispersedly throughout the series.
As was with the TV series, the Japanese voice actors performed superbly, putting the emotions behind their characters in a believable way. However, the English dub is another matter. Although the actors for the most part did a fine job, they seem to have been poorly cast, more seriously though the actual scripts that the English dub actors were given were poorly written. For starters, one annoyance with the OVAs (and also with the TV series dub) was the way they wrote out Chichiri's "no da." Granted, the phrase, "ya know" may have been as close as they could get, but the combination of the number of times Chichiri says it, and the actor they cast in his spot is more than some people can handle. In the Japanese dub Chichiri's "no da" was cute, but the English dubbed "ya know" is sheer torture. Also, the English script often had the lines in such a way that the meaning of the original script was completely changed. Furthermore, any subtle in-jokes and cultural references in the Japanese script were taken out and replaced with generalized American wisecracks. In another example, one of the dub characters keeps talking at length where there was complete silence on the Japanese track. For the most part, the English actors did a good job delivering the lines they were given, and the blame for the bad dubbing can only be placed on the scriptwriters.
With the exception of the English track, the OVAs were remarkably done. As a wonderful addition to any Fushigi Yuugi fan's collection, the box set does a good job of compiling the two OVA series together. Although many people have argue that the series is overrated, the fact remains that it still leaves for fine entertainment and any Fushigi Yuugi fan would be glad for another chance to see their favorite characters once again.
Overall (dub) : D
Overall (sub) : B
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : A
+ Worth watching just for the omakes
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