The prequel to the popular shoujo manga series “Fushigi Yugi” tells the tale of the first priestess of The Universe of The Four Gods. You don’t have to read the original to understand the events. Fans of the series may find the Genbu arc to be more enjoyable. It’s darker and more mature than the previous series and filled with more angst filled drama. (Especially for those who read or seen the spoiler in the original series) This series does require a Kleenex box, well b-because (I’m a highly sensitive person that cry easily okay!?)…. is does fall into the tragedy category. Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden is a serious, adventure manga bordering shoujo and josei.
After a long decade of grueling and impatient wait, Yuu Watase has finally concluded Genbu’s arc of Fushigi Yugi, her life’s work. As much as I love the classic original Fushigi Yugi, this prequel proved as a worthy stand alone series that far exceeded in storytelling, art and overall theme compared to its predecessor, Suzaku/Seiryu arc. However to compare both series is unjust as both has its appeal. While becoming familiar with the original is not required to fully appreciate Genbu Kaiden. Although a few references in the series would be reminiscing of the original thus gives it more a sense of familiarity. Of course, the inevitable faith of the Priestess of Genbu has been predetermined in the original.
Genbu Kaiden is like a piece of poetry, poignantly written about how precious life is. The different bond of relationship the characters shared; through happiness, romance, forgiveness, sacrifices and even death and how to continue to live on with life when tragedy strikes. All these theme were incorporated and effortlessly delivered by Watase with such ease and grace. Contrast to the original Fushigi Yugi which was sappy melodramatic, light heart and guilty of vexing romance. Genbu Kaiden’s sophisticated plot and theme was a refreshing change. Watase’s plethora of anecdotes shoujo lines and often whiny/weak heroine was almost nonexistent.
Rather we have Takiko whose not only an eye catcher but also has brain, guts and will to achieve what she set out to do ( The original heroine may have added a comic quirk to the show, but Takiko’s personality doesn’t make the reader what to throw their shoe at the idiot >Miaka<). Takiko was not the typical damsel in distress. A bit too perfect for a heroine, not really as her existence and fate was also her flaw. The romance between Takiko and her love interest, Uruki was more favorable. The subtle and slow progression of romance was delicately executed without becoming too trite or redundant for the readers. I was sold on the love between the two.
Genbu Kaiden’s strong point was the message it tried to convey to its readers. As I mentioned, the obvious theme it had was death, sacrifices and forgiveness. Most of the celestial warriors didn’t have it as easy living as the chosen protectors since they symbolizes destruction. Watase tried to give each warrior a tragic story with heartwarming resolution. Watase explored and exploited brotherhood relation, to master/servant faithful bond and even down to inanimate connection. Ultimately, what elevated this series amidst its predetermined ending (as I’ve read the original) was the bittersweet fate of Takiko. Each character that has perished in the process of Takiko’s quest to gather the seven warriors has made an impact and had meaningful purpose. Despite of countless death and the tragic destiny of Takiko, I felt that Watase has created a brilliant elegy commemorating and celebrating life.
More than twice I’ve shed tears because of this series.˚‧º·(˚ ˃̣̣̥⌓˂̣̣̥ )‧º·˚ Especially on the last couple of pages. Not because it ended tragic, but because of how powerful, moving and meaningful it was. Overall, Genbu Kaiden is hands down worthy as a prequel. I love the epilogue-esque ending. The Priesstess of Genbu’s final wish was brilliant and heartwarming. I could not think of a much suited ending. I confess, I doubted Watase’s ability to come up a good ending but instead she had won me over as she crafted yet another masterpiece. The more reason to love Yuu Watase. The ending of Genbu Kaiden reminds me of why she’s my favorite mangaka. She’s just amazing and one gifted storyteller. Throughout the 10 years process, Watase has become a much adept writer and as well as an artist. Memorable, intense and tragic scenes were highlighted and was brought to life fully by Watase’s art. Her art style and character designs has improved drastically over the course. Though still has some minor hand and body proportion issues. But this is just a minor nitpick.
Fushigi Genbu Kaiden is definitely one of her best, if not the best series. I realized by the end of the series that it’s literally like a legend, a story that has been told with each passing of generation. Truly magnificent. Thank you Watase-sensei. Takiko, Uruki, the Celestial Warriors and Soren will forever be remembered the same as the Suzaku/Seiryu arc. Byakko’s arc should be in order to round up the Universe of the Four Gods.