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By Genbu Harioka
I often hear people who haven't read the Genbu Kaiden ask just what the difference is between Fushigi Yuugi and it's prequel. The Genbu Kaiden is currently the only series that I follow, so you'll have to forgive my bias. But here are my thoughts.
I read Fushigi Yuugi, and was one of those readers who thought the idea was really cool, and there were some really neat characters, but the story went on forever. I eventually got to about volume 14 before I gave up on it (and from when I hear, I didn't miss much).
The Genbu Kaiden, however, evokes very different feelings. The characters are quite something. Sure, they each have their own sob story, which some people find grating, but they all contrast each other, and in a mixed group of warriors their experiences and opinions make them a compelling set. They've all dealt with a lot of hardship; exile, poverty, discrimination, loss, war. There's a lot to get to know about the characters. Unfortunately the main heroine Takiko and her love interest Rimudo generally steal the spotlight. If you like one of the other Seishi, or god forbid, a secondary character, it's unlikely you'll get more than a few pages or part of a chapter dedicated to them which is something I certainly notice because I love all the Seishi and would love to see them interact more on their own or outside of Takiko or Rimudo. But the characterization that is there is always finely tuned; their expressions, interjections and dialogue all come together to make a clear image of who and what each character is.
The result of this tightly packed characterization is a story that, once it gets past the first few slow chapters, it picks up. There's a huge cast and there's a lot going on in different places and with different people that all interrelate. The entire story is shrouded with a sense of urgency; there's a war pending, and the enemy is not made of incompetent idiots. They're a professional military run by a ruthless royal family, so good at what they do they've even turned the general population against the very people meant to save them. There's a lot of violent (and generally more gorey than Fushigi Yuugi) action and complex plot, laced around with some flowery romance that, unlike Fushigi Yuugi, doesn't get so overwhelmingly overdone that it makes you sick. The chapters of the story are usually about 30 to 40 pages, so a lot can happen. The Genbu Kaiden balances nicely between the romance and the drama so you can stay interested even if there's a few pages of stuff that doesn't entirely strike your fancy. Or alternatively, there are some chapters that drag on and you feel like you're just waiting for something to happen again, which can be a downside, especially when waiting several months between chapters. But if you let yourself get caught up in the war and conspiracy and drama, it's worth the wait. ;)
And the art. Wow, I love the art. Fine lines and elegant details and hey, ten years later, finally Watase can draw normal hands and feet (I don't know if anyone else went "wtf are THOSE supposed to be" every time you saw someones hands in Fushigi Yuugi... I did). The characters clothing changes relatively regularily, and each outfit is detailed and elegant. And the characters all look different enough that you can tell them apart; very important in such a large cast and when the POV quickly switches between different groups of people. Some people might complain that every one of Watase's main couples looks essentially the same, but you know what? I've read very few of Watas'e other stories so it's not something I'll ever notice. The development in Watase's art since Fushigi Yuugi makes the two almost impossible to compare (my biggest relief is that I now don't get lost playing games of Who's who? in reams of pages of black-haired effeminate men, a common event with Fushigi Yuugi). She's a lot more diverse with her characters than before; slightly older women, wrinkly old men, young children who don't look like cabbage patch dolls... (although Hikitsu and his sister are by FAR the most beautiful people in his tribe; I seriously can't figure out where he got his bishounen genes from. Watase clearly skimps on character design for people who won't appear for more than a few pages).
Overall, there's a lot going on and a lot has happened in a series that only has two dozen chapters at the moment. The characters are kick ass and even Hatsui, who I feared would just get annoying, is really not that annoying at all. Perhaps because he, like several other characters, gets shafted in the name of Fast Moving Plot and pages dedicated to the main couple. But this *is* a shoujo manga, and all those events and personalities that don't get to be fully explored are just opportunities for fanfiction. ;P
Realistically, I'd have to give the series an 8/10. It's an aethetically pleasing series with a plot that moves fast, packs a punch, and Watase does her best to balance characterization for such a huge cast of characters. That, and it's a thousand times better than Fushigi Yuugi ever was!
By ĐίvίиΞ╚╚╔╩╦"ċṝʘŝŝ Genbu Kaiden is better. Everything. The art, the story, the cast. The villains are also easily to fall in love with — espcially Shigi. Shigi is like a girl. Hakei, however, is a million times better and more beautiful than the Kutou emperor we see in the series. The characters are so pitiable and adorable. They know what sadness means, blah blah blah. But they will learn happiness from Takiko's eyes; like how Hatsui did. Uruki's course of change is even more extraordinary than Tamahome's. At first he was a fox-like guy who is a rebel, but Takiko had pulled-out Uruki's inner prince. Another good character is Soruen. He protects Uruki with his life and is very protective of Takiko. He knows alot about the world, etc. The art, however, is different. When you compare them with the series' art, you have to see Tasuki and Nuriko drawn in card-version (see the picture on the main page) in order to look good with Uruki or Inami. The story is not booring and monotonous. More mysteries are revealed when you keep reading, and the more you read the more you want to keep on reading. The series sucks a bit, because the only flaw of the series is that it has too much comdedy. Genbu Kaiden has, too, but not that much. If the series had less comedy, it would be much nicer.
Number 3 (from fated.nu)
You would think that two series with a similar premise and written by the same author and set in the same universe would have a lot in common. But the stories being about a priestess trying to gather warriors and summon a god is where the similarities end. Not even the number of warriors is the same -- because of some cheap plot device, Takiko has to find eight seishi because two of them are twins. (never mind that even Amiboshi and Suboshi, the faces that launched a thousand twincest fans, were separate) Genbu Kaiden also shows that Watase has developed a new, much more mature art style compared to her older series. It's truly eye candy that makes you feel that it's almost worth waiting for months on end between chapters. Not only that, the characterizations have gotten a lot better in this series and none of the seishi are as ignored as Chiriko and Mitsukake were in the original series, at any rate. So how do these two series differ? Let me count the ways!
I.Takiko is nothing like Miaka. Aside from being less of a damsel-in-distress than her Suzaku counterpart, Takiko has flaws that make her seem more human without making you want to punch her in the face.
II.Rimudo isn't much like Tamahome. In fact, in a little author's note, Watase said that she thinks the two wouldn't get along very well. Rimudo is in love with Takiko, but not to the point of ridiculousness.
III.The love relationship between Takiko and Rimudo is important, but it never seems to overshadow the whole plot and it's done very subtly. They don't even kiss until like five volumes in!
IV.As I've said, Takiko is scorned by the people. She has to earn their trust and slowly the rabble come to accept her, but she deserves it, unlike the selfish Miaka who was beloved from the beginning for no reason other than her title.
V.Takiko has to gain her own seishi's trust. Her ongoing battle with Uramiya is proof that this isn't always the easiest task ever. Miaka pretty much only had to find them.
VI.Overall, Genbu Kaiden is a lot more dark. there's a lot more death and destruction and betrayal in Genbu Kaiden. FY was a lot more light-hearted and comedic.
VII.Not all of the Genbu seishi are bishounen. In fact, only four of them would really qualify as "hot guys". Otherwise, we have a 30-something-year-old, a fat kid who likes herbs, a rock (I'm not even kidding), and an identical twin who's perpetually 10 years old. Even the male lead is actually female most of the time!
VIII.The thing is, despite the above, all of the seishi are very likable, unlike many of the Seiryuu seishi that weren't bishounen like the twins and Nakago. When a mangaka makes a ROCK that you can empathize with ... that's pretty amazing, or at least I think so.