Manga-ka: Yuu Watase
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: November 2009
Synopsis: “Back in her own world, Takiko tries to forget about The Universe of the Four Gods. Determined to live the life of an ordinary girl in Tokyo in 1923, she returns to her father’s home and concentrates on being a loyal daughter–and, soon, a dutiful bride. But she can’t leave her other life behind. And while Takiko struggles to cool her still-burning heart, the Celestial Warriors battle through a new ice age!”
Those who’ve read the original Fushigi Yugi series already know how Genbu Kaiden is going to end, but this volume is a clear indicator that Yu Watase isn’t going to ignore those of us thinking we have the end pegged. With Takiko transported back to her world at the end of the last volume, she’s now torn between the life she has there and the love she feels for those she left behind.
All throughout this book there are multiple turn of events that have put a fantastic bend in the assumptions some readers have had regarding the ending. Though the end result seems just as bleak, how exactly it happens now seems up for consideration. The final page of the volume also sees Uruki take a multi-purpose step in keeping Takiko a part of his life and their decision regarding this moment will impact the story’s direction considerably.
A boon to the series, Takiko remains an admirably strong female character. She’s independent, sympathetic to others and intelligent, even if she is prone to the kind of decisions that repeatedly endanger her own life. Since the beginning of the series she has been trained to defend herself with a naginata as well, though it’s been absent for some time now as the warriors’ battles have subsided in place of hiding from the surrounding armies, which is a bit depressing. Watching the priestess whip out a weapon and hold her on is one of the most refreshing changes of pace from the original series.
This particular book takes a very emotional path for Takiko as she’s confronted with her Father, her schoolmates and the thought of never returning to Genbu after a painful rejection in volume eight. It’s hard watching her struggle to accept her life continuing as it was before, albeit with a few surprise occurrences, especially since she wants so much to be content with that – however, when things take a sudden turn and she realizes how precious her time now is, her honest resolve to seek out the Universe of the Four Gods again is both heartbreaking and an expected relief.
Back in Genbu, the celestial warriors remain in hiding from the armies who have at their disposal a celestial warrior with the power to disable them from miles away. Uruki, the instigator of Takiko’s rejection, lives solemnly in his depression regarding her absence. Admittedly the romantic relationship between Uruki and Takiko, for all its verbal validation, still feels like it’s missing a certain spark but it’s hard to not feel sympathy for a couple separated by time and space. The conveniently orchestrated-for-plot-purposes toqua seed has also made the two reconnecting a much easier than it should be task when the two can smell each other from miles away. Instead of being distractedly silly (alright, it might be just a little silly), it’s convenient enough to appreciate for what it is. When the couple is finally reunited, it’s a scene that, thanks to Yu Watase’s well laid out panels, manages to be as uplifting as intended as well.
With an opposing army, the impending ice age, starving families and few places left to hide, things are really tightening in on the Genbu warriors. While Takiko’s return to their side is a well needed bright spot in an otherwise bleak situation, it still has more than its share of negative tie-ins. Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden works as a romance, a war epic and a magical adventure all mixed together with somber but compelling results – fans are no doubt holding their breath for what will happen next as the series seemingly winds down to its pre-destined conclusion. Too bad it’ll be a while yet until we see volume ten as the series currently sits in hiatus.