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Anime: Television Series

Fushigi Yuugi

Based on an extremely popular manga by Yuu Watase, Fushigi Yuugi was developed into two full television seasons of anime. Later an OAV was produced to fill out the remainder of the story line.

Miaka, an airheaded Japanese schoolgirl more concerned about food than studying, stumbles upon a magic book which draws her and her best friend Yui back to ancient China (admittedly an ancient China that never existed). In the process the two are separated. Miaka is rescued by an itenerant ne'er-do-well (though a very handsome one), Tamahome, and soon discovers that she has a very important role in this world. Before long she finds Tamahome competing for her affections with the Emperor himself, Hotohori.

Yui, on the other hand, undergoes some truly hellish experiences before being rescued by a much more sinister character named Nakago, a blond "foreigner" working for a competing kingdom. Yui, shell-shocked by what she's gone through, irrationally blames Miaka and becomes her mortal enemy.

Contributing to the mix is a marvelous cast of supporting characters, including the super-strong Nuriko, who is, er, not quite what she seems to be, and the narcissistic but self-sacrificing Hotohori. Miaka herself is an endearing mix of flakiness, naïvetie, and downright raw courage.

Fushigi Yuugi well deserves its reputation as an instant classic. Emotionally intense, filled with suspense, and yet leavened with some marvelously slapstick humour, it's one of the few pieces of true shoujo anime to reach a wide audience in the West. An outstanding representative of the genre, hopefully it is only the first of many to come. Well worth watching.

There's no shortage of Fushigi Yuugi CDs out there, both of the numerous songs from the series and the excellent BGM. For starters, you might try the Fushigi Yuugi Song Collection.
Fushigi Yuugi Song Collection (Ayers AYCM-555)

Blue Seed

This series was first broadcast in 1995. Why this isn't number one on the anime sales charts I have no clue; it's an absolute masterpiece. Providing astonishingly good animation for a TV series, it also sports a killer soundtrack (available spread over three import CDs and worth every penny), delicious characterizations, and a plot that will confound and entrap you while still making sense by the time you reach the end.

Blue Seed details the attempts of the Aragami, unpleasant creatures straight out of Japanese legend, to take over the Earth and eliminate mankind for the good of the planet. Eventually it turns out that they have a plan, and that's as far as I'll go here. The main characters, Momiji (a high school girl who turns out to be a descendent of the Princess Kushinada) and Kusanagi (let's just say he has green hair and grows thorns—or are they "attack leaves"?—when he needs them; you figure it out), are assisted by the TAC with plenty of high-tech equipment as well as bazookas (!) and other heavy weaponry wielded by the inimitable trigger-happy Kome.

The Irresponsible Captain Tylor

I began watching this TV series, put out in the U.S. by The Right Stuff International, expecting a slapstick comedy. And, to a certain extent, that's how it started out, but before long I realized I was being drawn into something considerably deeper. Captain Justy Ueki Tylor appears to be an incompetent, lazy young man who enlisted in the United Planets Space Force because it sounded like fun and not too much work. However, war with the Raalgon, a warlike alien race, has broken out and through a series of what appear to be lucky accidents Tylor ends up in command of a ship, the broken-down Soyokaze, where his main concern seems to be avoiding assassination by his own crew.

As Tylor, apparently through sheer ineptitude and sloth, drifts from one victory to another, it becomes apparent that there's more than meets the eye here. In addition, when Azalyn (the young Empress of the Raalgon, seen at right) meets up with Tylor things start going in very unexpected directions. Without giving away more of the plot, I'll just say that this series, while quite funny at times, is by no means just a comedy. Well worth watching.


Blue Seed Copyright Yuzo Takada/Takeshobo & BS Project. Released in North America by A.D. Vision * Fushigi Yuugi Copyright Watase Yuu/Shogakukan, Inc./TX/Studio Pierrot * Irresponsible Captain Tylor Copyright Hitoshi Yoshiyoka/Kadokawa/Tylor Project. Released in North America by The Right Stuf International, Inc..

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This page last updated 2/5/2010.