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Manga Review: Fushigi Yugi – Volume One (Viz Big Edition) by Yuu Watase

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One of Japan's most beloved manga series comes to life in this vivid, bonus-filled new edition of Yuu Watase's Fushigi Yugi (The Mysterious Play). Volume One of this "Viz Big" edition brings together the first three books of this incredible series into one convenient package – that's nearly 600 pages of pure, uninterrupted manga that will pull you in and never let you go.

Fushigi Yugi follows the story of a high-spirited, chipper Japanese junior high student named Miaka. She's just your average student, trying to find time for her friends while studying for high school entrance exams. One day at the National Library, Miaka and her best friend Yui find a mysterious book called The Universe of the Four Gods. Upon opening the book, they are transported to ancient China where they meet a dashing, money-loving rogue named Tamahome. After becoming both separated and trapped in the book, Miaka and Yui's lives and fates are changed forever.

Miaka finds herself in a kingdom called Hong-Nan, where she meets up with Tamahome once again. After an unexpected run-in with the emperor Hotohori, Miaka discovers that she is the legendary Priestess of Suzaku, whom prophesy has said would come to the kingdom of Hong-Nan to protect it. As the priestess, Miaka must gather the seven constellations of Suzaku and summon him so that he will grant her a wish.

Meanwhile, Yui finds herself in the kingdom of Qu-Dong, far away from home – and from Miaka. After being rescued from bandits by the hunky Nakago, Yui finds that she too is a priestess – but a priestess who will rival Miaka and fight against her in the upcoming battle. Yui, as the Priestess of Seiryu, must gather her own collection of constellations to summon Seiryu for the country of Qu-Dong.

Filled with laugh-out-loud humor, romance, friendship, action, compassion and rivalry, Fushigi Yugi is an unforgettable series that brings the reader directly into the lives of its characters with every panel. I was so enthralled by them that I read the entire thing – all 600 pages – in just one sitting. I was hooked after the first chapter and just couldn't put it down. This is one of those books that'll keep you reading under the covers with a flashlight at night and make you come back for more. This "big" version was especially awesome because it combined multiple volumes into one book. Really, if you're interested in this series, the Viz Big edition is the way to go because you don't have to run out and get the next volume as often and it's a great deal for the value – you're basically getting a buy two, get one free discount here! Of course, after reading this book, you'll probably want to run out immediately and get Viz Big edition Volume Two.

Also, in this edition the artwork has been touched up so that it's the cleanest, clearest version of Fushigi Yugi available in the US. The lettering has also been redone, so it's easy to read, and the story flows so perfectly between panels that it feels like you're watching a movie. This is, by far, the best, most deluxe version of Fushigi Yugi out there for the price.

Fushigi Yugi Volume One is truly a mega manga volume, chocked full of high quality plot, artwork, dialogue, characters and beautiful, original Japanese bonus art in full color. This is a promising, fast-paced start to a wonderful series. Fans of Fushigi Yugi and of shojo (for girls) manga should think twice before passing this one up.

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