Thursday, October 15, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: FUSHIGI YUGI: BYAKKO SENKI Volume 1



[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

TRANSLATION: Matt Treyvaud
LETTERS: Sara Linsley
EDITOR: Nancy Thislethwaite
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1164-2; paperback (August 2020), Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S. $12.99 CAN, £7.99 UK

Fushigi Yûgi Byakko Senki is a shojo manga series written and drawn by Yuu Watase.  It is the second prequel series to Watase's Fushigi YûgiByakko Senki began with a one-shot story, entitled Fushigi Yûgi Byakko Ibun, before beginning as a serial in the Japanese manga magazine, Monthly Flowers, in August 2017.  VIZ Media began publishing an English-language edition of Byakko Senki as a paperback graphic novel series under its “Shojo Beat” imprint in August 2020.

Fushigi Yûgi: Byakko Senki, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 4) opens in Japan in the year 1923Suzuno Ohsugi is a young girl who is doted upon by her devoted mother and father.  Her father, Takao Ohsugi, works in book publishing, which gives him access to the papers of Einosuke Okuda, the translator of the book, “The Universe of the Four Gods.”  Okuda is a controversial figure whom the public believes killed his daughter high in the mountains before taking his life in some kind of murder-suicide ritual.

Suzuno's father now has possession of The Universe of the Four Gods, and he absolutely does not want his daughter to touch it.  Then, “the Great Kanto Earthquake” occurs, and in a bid to save his daughter, Takao sends her into The Universe of the Four Gods.

THE LOWDOWN:  The Fushigi Yûgi: Byakko Senki manga is an “isekai fantasy.”  This is an “accidental travel” genre that is prominent in Japanese entertainment, including light novels, manga, anime and video games.  Isekai fantasy revolves around a normal person from Earth being transported to or reborn in a parallel universe or fantasy world.  The entire Fushigi Yûgi series is an isekai fantasy.

The series began with Fushigi Yūgi, a Japanese shojo manga series written and illustrated by Yuu Watase.  It tells the story of two teenaged girls, Miaka and Yui, who are pulled into the world of a mysterious book, “The Universe of the Four Gods.”  Fushigi Yûgi was serialized in Shōjo Comic from May 1992 to June 1996.  VIZ Media published an English language edition of the manga as an 18-volume paperback graphic novel series under its “Shojo Beat” imprint from December 2003 to April 2006.

Watase produced a prequel to Fushigi Yūgi, entitled Fushigi Yûgi Genbu Kaiden.  It was serialized over a period beginning March 2003 and ending February 2013 in four magazines over the course of its run.  This prequel series details the creation of The Universe of the Four Gods and tells the full story of the Priestess of Genbu.  VIZ Media published an English language edition of the manga as a 12-volume paperback graphic novel series under its “Shojo Beat” imprint from July 2005 to March 2014.

Fushigi Yûgi: Byakko Senki Graphic Novel Volume 1 begins a story that is familiar to anyone who has read the previous two series.  While Byakko Senki is a prequel to the original series, it is also a sequel to Genbu Kaiden, while occurring before the original.  I read at least the last five or six volumes of Genbu Kaiden, but I am not sure if I read any of the original.  If I did, it was no more than the final volume or volumes of the series.

I like this first volume, but it is sort of all over the place, as it takes place in two time periods, in the Universe of the Four Gods, and in flashbacks.  Matt Treyvaud's translation keeps the story together and coherent.  The lettering by Sara Linsley also helps to establish setting as much as it does tone.

If you, dear readers, are familiar with the work of Yuu Watase, you will like this first volume of Fushigi Yûgi: Byakko Senki, as I do.  There are so many things left unsaid and unfinished in this first volume that I can't wait to return to the story.  However, I must add that you do not need to have read the earlier series to enjoy Byakko Senki.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of the Fushigi Yûgi series will like the “Shojo Beat” title, Fushigi Yûgi: Byakko Senki.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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