Today’s Manga Monday is on Fushigi Yuugi and excellent shojo series from a master of her craft!
Fushigi Yūgi, also known as Fushigi Yûgi: The Mysterious Play or Curious Play, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yuu Watase. Shogakukan published Fushigi Yûgi in Shōjo Comic in its original serialized form from May 1992 through June 1996. Viz Media released the manga series in English in North America starting in 1999. Spanning eighteen volumes, Fushigi Yûgi tells the story of two teenaged girls, Miaka and Yui, who are pulled into The Universe of the Four Gods, a mysterious book at the National Library. It is essentially based on four mythological creatures of China.
A thirteen-volume Japanese light novel series also followed Fushigi Yûgi: Shōgakukan published the novels from January 30, 1998 to September 26, 2003. On October 25, 2003, Watase began releasing a prequel to the manga series, Fushigi Yûgi Genbu Kaiden, and ended in May 2013. Another prequel to the manga series, Fushigi Yûgi Byakko Ibun was published in February 2015.
Written and illustrated by Yuu Watase, Fushigi Yûgi originally appeared in serial form in the monthly manga magazine Shōjo Comic. It premiered in the May 1992 issue and ran for over four years, with the final chapter appearing in the June 1996 issue. The series was simultaneously published in eighteen collected volumes by Shogakukan, with new volumes being released on a quarterly schedule.
In 1992, Viz Media licensed the manga for an English language release in North America. The series was originally released in a flipped trade paperback format, starting in August 1998. Several characters have both Japanese pronunciations and Chinese pronunciations. In 1998 Watase visited the United States and met with Viz staff members at their San Francisco headquarters. Viz kept the original Chinese names of characters at the request of Watase. Bill Flanagan, the editor of the English version, asked Watase if he should use the Chinese names for popular characters such as Tai Yi-Jun (Taitsukun) and she also asked for the Chinese names to be used there. The characters with names remaining in Japanese in the English version are the characters such as Tamahome who have Japanese pronunciations of ancient constellations; there was never any intention of them having Chinese names.
This caused some confusion for fans as the anime version uses the Japanese names. For example, in the manga, Hotohori’s country is named “Hong-Nan” rather than the “Konan” found in the anime series. After eight volumes, Viz stopped publication of Fushigi Yûgi, reviving it in June 2003 when it released the first two volumes in unflipped standard manga size volumes. The remaining volumes were released on a quarterly schedule, including the remaining ten volumes. The final volume of the series was released in April 2006. The dates and ISBN numbers given for the first eight volumes in the table on the link above are for the second edition releases.
Viz also serialized Fushigi Yûgi in their manga anthology magazine, Animerica Extra, starting with the October 1998 debut issue and running until the December 2004 issue, the magazine’s final issue. In January 2009, Viz is slated to re-release the series as part of their “VIZBIG” line, which usually combines two or three individual volumes of the original release into a single, larger volume.
Over a series of five years, Megumi Nishizaki wrote thirteen Japanese light novels based on Fushigi Yûgi. Illustrated by Yuu Watase, Fushigi Yûgi Gaiden primarily explores the lives the various Celestial Warriors before they are seen in the manga. The only two novels to be set after the manga, Eikō Den (Jōkan) and Eikō Den (Gekan), later became the basis for the third Fushigi Yûgi original video animation, Fushigi Yûgi Eikoden. Originally published by Shogakukan, none of the novels have been licensed for English release.