Fushigi Yuugi: The Televison Series (eps 1-52)

{Warning - this page contains spoilers}

The television series (covering the first 13 or so volumes of the manga, in fairly but not overridingly accurate style) encompasses 52 episodes that are generally divided into two arcs.

These are known principally as "Suzaku" and "Seiryuu", although I like to think of them more as the "fun" arc and the "everyone dies" arc.

Opening Theme: Itooshi Hito No Tame Ni
Closing Theme: Tokimeki No Doukasen

Summoning Suzaku (Japanese - Episode 51)

The "Suzaku" Arc
The prime focus of the Suzaku arc is the assembling of the Suzaku Shichi Seishi. Ordinary schoolgirl Yuuki Miaka finds herself lured into the mysterious Universe of the Four Gods book (Shijin-Tenchishou) in the National Library in Tokyo, on an innocent trip with her best friend Yui after school. After a brief sojourn in the same book world also, Yui spends the first eight or so episodes watching and reading about Miaka's experiences inside the book, finally realising that her friend is the Suzaku No Miko that she's reading about. (They say she's smart, but it does take her a while...)

Tamahome, the first Seishi, turns up right away when both Miaka and Yui are attacked by bandits. When searching for Yui after her friend has been transported home, Miaka encounters Tamahome a second time, when he saves her life again. For his trouble, he and Miaka are both imprisoned in the Imperial jail - where they later discover that the Emperor, Saihitei, is actually Hotohori, the second of the Suzaku Shichi Seishi.

Hotohori explains the legend of Suzaku to Miaka, and asks her to help assemble the other warriors, though for a lot of the series Miaka is distracted by her own concerns and she does not actually manage this feat until right at the end of the series, when all seems to be lost. Consequently, Suzaku is unable to be summoned in the Suzaku arc.

One by one, the Seishi appear in the series - Nuriko makes his entrance in the third episode, Chichiri upon Miaka's return to the book world, Tasuki in episode 13 or 14 when on Reikaku-zan, Mitsukake in episode 15 and 16, at the strange town of Choukou, and finally, Chiriko at the end of episode 25 (although from episodes 17 till then he is being impersonated by Amiboshi of the Seiryuu Seishi, unbeknownst to his travel companions.)

Yui's role as innocent observer to antagonist occurs after Miaka's return to the book world, when she realises her friend was also sucked inside. After believing she was raped by bandits, Yui is bitter towards Miaka for not coming to her rescue, and falls under the persuading charm of Nakago, one of the Seiryuu Seishi with sinister ambitions of his own. Nakago is the only one of the Seiryuu Seishi to have a consistent role in the Suzaku arc as himself (although Amiboshi is present as Chiriko, and Amiboshi's brother Suboshi makes a late appearance towards the end of the series, when it is revealed that Amiboshi isn't who he's been claiming to be).

The series ends with trauma and grief - after Amiboshi almost kills the Suzaku Seishi and Miaka, he is interrupted by the real Chiriko and flees, but falls into the river and despite Miaka's attempts to save him, he releases his grip on his flute, choosing, apparently, death. (Although he is not actually dead, this is significant, since it sends his brother Suboshi into a grief stricken rage, and drives him to slaughter the whole of Tamahome's family). The Suzaku Seishi have been unable to summon Suzaku because of his deception, and Taiitsukun is forced to explain to them an alternative way of achieving their goal - travelling to Hokkan to retrieve the Shinzahou left by the Genbu no Miko generations before. Consequently the Seishi begin to make preparations to travel to Hokkan-koku by sea.

The arc ends with Tamahome, Nuriko and Miaka visiting the village that Tamahome grew up in, and the discovery of his slaughtered father, brothers and sisters.

The "Seiryuu" Arc
The second arc of the TV series begins where the first arc left off - in Tamahome's village, where Tamahome confronts the killer of his family and very nearly slays Suboshi in anger and grief. Suboshi is rescued by another of the Seiryuu Seishi, "Soi", who takes him and withdraws in a cloud of electric lightning. Nuriko, Miaka and Tamahome return to the Kounan capital, renewed in their determination to defeat the forces of Seiryuu. The murder of Tamahome's family seems to have happened without Yui's knowledge, for she is surprised and upset that Miaka has chosen to travel, and sees it as a sign her former friend really doesn't care about her any more. Consequently, the Seiryuu also set out for Hokkan.

The reason I refer to this as the everyone dies arc is that, quite simply, everyone does. Well, all right, not everyone. But a lot of the main characters are pushing up daisies by the time the final credits roll on episode 52, good and bad alike.

During the trip to Hokkan, the Suzaku-Seishi are attacked by Soi and her elemental abilities, causing Tasuki, Miaka, Tamahome and Nuriko to be swept overboard. This results in some time spent by Miaka, Tamahome and Nuriko in a fisherman's cave and we find out the reason why Nuriko started dressing like a girl in the first place. Despite Soi's attacks, Chichiri and the other Seishi manage to retrieve their friends and the Suzaku-Shichi-Seishi arrive in Hokkan, battered and bruised but intact. Yui and her companions, Nakago and Suboshi also arrive at around the same time. We are also introduced to Ashitare, one of the Seiryuu Seishi and a monster of a creature who appears to have been half wolf and half man.

After confessing to Tamahome that he has some feelings for Miaka, Nuriko ventures out into the snow towards the mountain where the Genbu Shinzahou is, providing the first tragedy of the second arc. After fighting Ashitare, Nuriko is cut down and dies on the mountainside, in Tamahome's arms (episode 33). Despite his death, however, he continues to be inspiration for Miaka right up to the very end.

The Suzaku-Seishi bury their fellow, entering the cave he had died opening, and after proving their worth to the guardians of the Shinzahou, retrieve it. However, it is stolen by Ashitare's wolf form and taken to Nakago. Nakago then completes the job Nuriko began, killing Ashitare properly. First points go to the Seiryuu.

Angry and upset at the loss of the Shinzahou, the Suzaku-Shichi head for Sairou, in search of the Byakko Shinzahou, hoping along the way that they will be able to retrieve the other from the grip of Nakago and the Seiryuu. To make things complicated, Tomo, the illusionist of the Seiryuu Seishi convinces Miaka that she can obtain it by seducing Nakago. This is all a plan of Nakago's, leaving Miaka believing that she has been raped by Nakago. She runs away from Tamahome, and falls off a cliff, but is rescued by...Amiboshi! Remember, I said he wasn't dead!

Amiboshi is now living with a family in Hokkan, who rescued him from the river when he was washed ashore. He apparently has amnesia, although he does remember his true identity before the series is out and turns against his fellow Seiryuu warriors in order to help Miaka break out of Tomo's illusion world. When Tomo tries to kill him, he is brought down by Suboshi, who will do anything it takes to protect his brother. Suboshi feeds Amiboshi a memory potion which allows him to forget everything that has happened, in an attempt to protect him from the dangers ahead.

There's not a lot of action from the other Seishi at this point, because they've been trapped in the desert by another of Tomo's illusions, but at Tomo's defeat, they rejoin Miaka and Tamahome. Miaka has learnt from Soi (who loves Nakago) that she was not raped, so she's a lot more cheerful and knows that they can rouse Suzaku, because she is still a virgin. 

On arrival in Sairou, they encounter survivors of the Byakko Seishi, and Tamahome pulls away from Miaka, believing their love is doomed because of the precedent set by the Byakko Seishi Tatara and the Byakko No Miko, Suzuno. Miaka is attacked by Miboshi whilst being tricked by Yui, and Tatara gives his life to fight against Miboshi, killing him. Miboshi's power is sinister, however, and he possesses Chiriko with his spirit, forcing Chiriko to kill himself in order to destroy Miboshi too. (Cue lots more Tasuki tears...it's not nice watching a kid stab himself to death!)

In the course of this, Yui and the Seiryuu Seishi obtain the Byakko Shinzahou and are able to summon Seiryuu. This she does, and wishes to seal Suzaku away forever. The Suzaku-Seishi lose their powers, and become ordinary people as the armies of Kutou invade Kounan's borders. When Miaka and her companions confront Yui and Nakago on the battlefield, Yui wishes for her and Miaka to return to the real world, and Tamahome gets caught up in the slipstream, transferring out of the book world with her. (Quite amusing - Tamahome in the real world!)

Back in the book, after being wounded by the lead Seiryuu-Seishi, Mitsukake decides to sacrifice his life force to heal as many of the wounded soldiers and townsfolk as he can. Touched by his sacrifice, Chichiri actually loses his temper, and yells at the people who seek to continue the conflict. Two episodes further along, Hotohori also loses his life on the battlefield, fighting to protect his world and take down Nakago once and for all (a suicidal gesture when Nakago is at full strength and Hotohori lacking in his power). When Miaka discovers Mitsukake and Hotohori are dead/dying, she weeps copiously for her lost friends. More blood shed in the name of the beast gods! Somewhere in all of this, she and Tamahome also exchange rings, making them sort of married, though with no official ceremony!

Yui, meanwhile, is feeling the effects of her wishes, as her body begins to be consumed by Seiryuu. She wishes Nakago into the real world, yet Suboshi comes first and attempts to kill Tamahome. Tamahome defeats him with the help of his family's spirits, holding Suboshi down so that he is killed by his own weapon (back in the book, Amiboshi sheds tears for the brother that, at this time, he cannot even remember). Nakago emerges into the real world and almost kills Tamahome. At the behest of Keisuke, Miaka's brother, Chichiri and Tasuki also enter the real world, though they still lack their powers. Miaka at last manages to convince Yui that Nakago has been tricking her and that it's time they came to an accord, and Yui uses her last wish to unseal Suzaku, being consumed by Seiryuu in the process.

Miaka summons Suzaku, allowing Chichiri and Tasuki their powers back. She wishes for Yui's safety, and Yui is rescued from the centre of the beast god. The other Seishi appear as spirits, using the body of Taiitsukun's helper Nyan-Nyan to achieve physical form as Nuriko saves Miaka's life...again. Tamahome, after a brief moment in limbo, dreaming of an imaginary wedding, is persuaded back to reality by his father's spirit and comes to join the fray. By combining their power, the Seishi give Tamahome strength to take on Nakago, and Miaka wishes for Seiryuu to be sealed. At this juncture, Tamahome is able to kill Nakago, getting a glimpse into his tortured memories at the same time. At Nakago's defeat, Miaka wishes for Tokyo to be returned to normal, and she and Tamahome are seperated as the book characters return to their book world through Taiitsukun's magic.

Six months later, Miaka meets the real world incarnation of Tamahome, Sukunami Taka. Taka has the ring that Tamahome had when they exchanged vows...and so the legend begins all over again!