Manga-ka: Yu Watase
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: April 2009
Synopsis: “Takiko helps Uruki grieve for the loss of a loved one- a loss she knows only too well. But now that the Qudong army knows how to fight Celestial power, Takiko and the Celestial Warriors have no time to lose. As they prepare to rescue Teg, Uruki learns the truth about the prophecy: to summon Genbu, the Priestess will have to sacrifice her life. Refusing to let another death happen, Uruki vows to send Takiko back to the safety of her own world… by any means necessary.”
Remaining safe to say, the anguish of Soren’s death gave the series its greatest emotional crescendo to date in the previous volume. While the passing of Uruki’s dearest friend and protector proved to be a tear-jerker, here in volume eight, Yu Watase, to her credit, manages to muster even more touching sympathies for him and all those affected during an emotionally rousing funeral. Keep your tissues handy for this one!
A few new minor characters are introduced just prior to this when Takiko and the Genbu celestial warriors are given sanctuary in a magical forest. Here they must regroup and tend to their wounds sustained while battling the advancing armies of the opposing country. With the last of the Genbu warriors on the enemy’s side, much of the volume is dedicated to hopes and plans to bring them back, and in customary Fushigi Yugi style, Takiko as priestess takes the task upon herself, even at the risk of her own life.
I’m continually impressed by Yu Watase’s ability to weave such potent emotion into her stories, though I do wish I could feel as enthralled by the romance as I do with everything else. Takiko and Uruki make for a sweet couple but somewhere along the line I began to find their relationship more out of convenience than romantic-evolution. Regardless, it still remains a safe distance from the near-constant cries of “Miaka!” and “Tamahome!” that the previous series is near-notorious for.
Speaking vaguely of which. having read the original Fushigi Yugi will give readers an especially important inside perspective on a sudden shift near this book’s end. A truth about the role of priestess is revealed to Uruki, who shares it with the other warriors. In order to help Takiko, they first have to hurt her, and despite knowing their intentions, it’s no less painful to read in sympathy for Takiko.
A consistently good read that suffers more from fear of its impending end than any of its individual flaws, Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden is still a great fantasy shoujo that can be enjoyed by fans new and old to the story. With Yu Watase’s polished artwork as icing on the cake, it remains one of my most anticipated series of manga today.