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Fushigi Yuugi 2015 version

I thought I would start the year with something positive. Something that made me really happy.

There are actually at least two versions of the Fushigi Yuugi play. One of it happened sometime ago and I have only seen clip of it from youtube. It seems very true to the original story, and everyone appeared very much as character. I have only seen part of it on youtube, but what they showed was very impressive. I remember being very impressed with Hotohori. We see the part where he fights Tamahome, as well as Nakago. There was also this bit when he was standing at the higher part of the stage and he seemed to have issued some sort of an order, as the rest of the celestial warrior would turn around and prepare to battle. In that bit, you can clearly see that he is the emperor, even though he was dressed in the clothes he wears for travelling.

This version that I found is a newer one, I think it was from 2015, and their take on it is really interesting. Even though they kept the overall plot similar, the majority of the finer detail has been has been changed. Initially, I was not very sure what I feel about it, but I actually ended up really liking it. Because it becomes quite different, with Miaka being different too, it is almost like Suzaku Ibun instead.

Another really interesting change they have is that the character’s clothes are actually different. There is enough similarity, but it is quite interesting in that they don’t have identical costume.

One of the reasons that I really like this version is that they don’t focus on the romance much, so we actually don’t have a reverse harem. Which is really nice given that one of the issues with Fushigi Yuugi is that the reverse harem was not done well.

Now, the guy who plays Hotohori…my only complaint is that I am not used to Hotohori speaking with such a high voice. Because he was voiced by Koyasu Takehito in the anime, I always personally feel that Hotohori should have a lower voice. However, appearance-wise the guy managed to do something that is quite difficult: they actually managed to find someone in real life that can be handsome enough to play Hotohori. To judge by his appearance, it will be twelve out of ten. When Hotohori first comes out, he actually has a strange hat and his hair would be pinned up, so he did not look as good. But in the rest of the story, he takes the hat off and has his hair down. He looks really good.

On a total side note, the majority of the actors have actually been in Tenimyu at sometime or the other. Hotohori’s actor has actually played Ooishi and I can’t help but to think: “You are giving this guy, who can play Hotohori, Ooishi’s hairstyle? That is a waste.” But he will actually be a good Ooishi because when Ooishi was the deputy captain, there were moments where he can be qtuie scary.

I think one of the advantages that people dressing up as Hotohori is that he actually has normal instead of manga/anime hair. As the behind-the-scene shows the actor having short hair, he is obviously wearing a wig. However, because the colour and texture is very natural, it could actually be his real hair, if he is someone with long hair. The actor actually has the hair in a braid at the middle, although it is not a complete braid, as the unbraided part at the end is quite long. I think the reason is so that it can look a bit like the way it does in the original story (unbraided), but would be less likely to get tangled. I can see why they have part of his hair in a braid because at the end, he has a scene when he has to dance and fight super hard out. But his hair/wig is actually a really normal colour, the brown that Asian people get when they dye their hair. So that is why I say that his wig look really natural. (Although I don’t know why his hair is more brown, because Hotohori’s hair is actually black in the original manga). (I think the last time I paid this much attention to someone’s wig is David Tennant’s Richard II. That pre-Raphaelite golden hair).

As mentioned, the overall plot is similar with Miaka needing to summon Suzaku and finding the celestial warriors, but the finer detail is very different.

The story starts with Miaka and Tamahome being captured and Miaka is actually much better then the original story. She is actually smarter. In the beginning, due to Tamahome threatening her due to her not giving him any ‘real money’, she will start screaming that he is harassing her, forcing him to apologise. Although this backfire due to the guards regarding them as very suspicious and decides to capture them.

When Tamahome and Miaka are trying to escape from the guards, Tamahome would bump into Nuriko, who would knock him out cold with a single punch. It would turn out that he happened to be taking a stroll outside. The actor who portrays Nuriko did a really good job. His first appearance as one that is very elegant, which will be very different from the love struck Nuriko that plans on how to leave a lasting impression with Hotohori and demands Tamahome to be a celestial warriors for this reason.

Hotohori will come out and one of the very interesting things about this interpretation is that Hotohori is aware that he is clutching at straws with his desire of summoning Suzaku, because he will comment that they are at a stage where they have to rely on legends. In the original manga, he seems very certain that Suzaku could save them. It is only much later when he says that they have been over reliant on the legend. This also link to how he sees Miaka as his ideal. After reading both Fushigi Yuugi and Genbu Kaiden, he seems to be the only one that we actually sees praying and calling to the gods. In the Universe of the Four Gods, religion does not seem one with set rules and protocols, so it is interesting that Hotohori is more devout and religious, even before the gods are summoned.

In this version, when Hotohori first hears Miaka’s name, he would also say that her name is symbolic (as it has the same character as Suzaku), and combined with the fact that he is not fully sure about the power of Suzaku but comment about how they are at the stage where they have to rely on the legend, it make me feel that he is at a desperate situation where he is clutching at straws.

One of the really impressive parts is when Hotohori hears Tamahome’s other name (which is a different reading of Tamahome), he will walk down to Tamahome and Miaka, causing Tamahome to ask if he is trying to pick a fight. This would cause Hotohori to yell at him to not move, and Tamahome would actually be shocked and literally does not move. At that moment, the actor suddenly has the bearing of the character as the emperor. I thought that bit is just done really well.

Hotohori will then ask Miaka to become the Suzaku no miko, and he will actually kneel down on one knee in front of her. The guy does it in a super graceful way (at this stage, I can only say, ‘That is Hotohori after all’.) At one stage, he would actually take her hand and says this: “It doesn’t matter even if it is just a small part of all your wishes, please spare a part of it to help Kounan.” I have to say, having that guy kneeing in front of you and taking your hand and saying that line…it would be super hard to refuse. But he seems much more desperate, and this actually makes sense because he would reveal that Kutou actually has already attacked Kounan. In the beginning of the manga, it is just that something is going to happen, they were not fully sure until later. The part where Hotohori addresses his people after Miaka became the priestess is really good as his character becomes the regal emperor. The actor for Hotohori actually said that out of all his scenes, that is one of his favourites, as well as saying that the acting had to be adjusted as that was more like him making a speech.

Afterwards, Tamahome and Miaka will meet Nuriko and Nuriko’s performance is truly worthy of being nominated for best outstanding performance in a comedy. Nuriko would reveal that he intends to introduce himself to Hotohori in such a way so that he can create a lasting impression. However, Nuriko’s plan would be cut short because Hotohori would suddenly come out and meet them, preventing Nuriko from carrying out the plan.

Hotohori will give them the sacred scroll and send them to find the rest. Interestingly, Hotohori knows that Nuriko is a man disguising himself as a woman. How Hotohori have this knowledge is never explained. Another interesting thing to note is that it seems Hotohori is actually using Nuriko’s liking for him to get the other to help.

Miaka, Tamahome and Nuriko will end up going on a journey and will get saved by Mitsukake and Chichiri, after Tamahome ending up attacking Miaka due to Kutou assassins. This will cause Tamahome to be separated from Miaka and this would actually cause him to meet Tasuki. As the sacred scroll was lost when they were attacked by Kutou, Tamahome would try to get this back. He would succeed in this and this then caused Amiboshi to come as Chiriko.

As the story is quite different and dehydrated, we don’t see much of Yui. She seems to have decided to become the priestess of Seiryuu out of her freewill, and my take is that she was probably lied to in regard to the situation, because Kounan is the peaceful country. Not only does she seem to think Kutou might be in danger, she also cares about Miaka, and be quite upset at them being on two different sides. However, when she sees Tamahome she would ask him to take him away to some place that is not involved with the two gods, and when Tamahome refused, she will be upset. I think the problem with Yui’s character is that because her reason of being Miaka’s enemy is done in a matter of five seconds just because Tamahome would not take her away, it does not seem realistic at all.

Tamahome would return with the sacred scroll and he would explain how everyone ‘welcomed’ him back. We have the actor narrating what happens at the font while the others would appear at the back, doing the actions.
Miaka- slaps him
Mitsukake- hit him on the head with his fist
Hotohori- gives him a very long lecture
Nuriko- tell him to get his head clear by pouring a bowl of water over him
Chichiri- tell him to meditate
‘Chiriko’- as they just met, the other did not do anything
Tasuki- laughs at him while everyone else does their thing.

The attempt at summoning Suzaku failed and Nakago will actually personally come to attack them. His conversation with Hotohori is very interesting.
Note: This is NOT a translation. I couldn’t see what exact words were spoken in Japanese as I could only hear it. So this is a combination of what I heard with the Chinese translation.

Hotohori: “Before you say such a thing, why don’t you have a good look at where you are? Nakago, summoning Suzaku has failed, as you intended, but you are the general, so you should know that it is not wise to fight here. This is our kingdom Kounan. If you start a fight here, you won’t get away so easily.” (1)
Nakago: “Then let me tell you this: your kingdom is weak to the stage that you are unable to not rely on Suzaku. Why not give the country up already?” (2)
Hotohori: “I refuse. You dare say such a thing when you only have so little soldiers here.”
Nakago: “To deal with you, only half of this amount is enough.”

(1) Hotohori uses kisama at this stage. Depending on when and who he is speaking to, I have seen him using omae, sonata and onore. I think when he is acting as the emperor, he tends to speak in a much formal way.
(2) Interestingly enough, Nakago uses anata when he talks to Hotohori here.

The story will end with Nakago retreating and the seven celestial warriors having learnt how to attempt summoning Suzaku again. Miaka will first go back and then return. As I said, it is very different from the original story, but I really like it.

Now that I rethink about the story as someone much older (I first read it ten years ago), I think Kounan was a problem that was waiting to happen, especially due to what Kutou was like. It just ended up happening in Hotohori’s reign. Nakago actually summarised the situation really well and in this version, I think Hotohori is aware of this too. I actually feel sorry for Hotohori even more, because he inherited something that cannot be repaired. He could only try to fix part of it so that he is delaying the eventual collapse.

I am also addressing the actors by their character name, since I don’t know all of their real names. However, since it will be mentioned as behind-the-scene, I think it shouldn’t case any confusion.

When I describe Nuriko, I usually use the female pronoun. But in this live version, perhaps it is because the actor is obviously a guy, I am using ‘he’ instead. But in the behind-the-scene moment, Nuriko would say that there was a time when he almost walked with his feet pointing inwards in a feminine fashion. Tamahome would joke that this might be contagious, causing Hotohori (Who was sitting beside Nuriko) to quickly move away.

Another really hilarious thing revealed in the behind-the-scene is that Nakago and Nuriko would often do impromptu scenes between them, as well as dragging others in. Apparently, the setting is that Nakago and Nuriko are a couple and both are delinquents. Tamahome would comment that both Nakago and Nuriko would be super into it, because once they starts, they could carry on for about 5 to 10 minutes, even if no one might be watching. Tamahome would also say that he was minding his own business one day when Nakago suddenly pointed to him and said to Nuriko: “What is it with you and that guy?” and he and Nuriko then began a scene about Nakago thinking that Nuriko is cheating on him with Tamahome.

There was also a really cute scene at the rehearsal on Tamahome’s birthday. They reached the scene near the end where the real Chiriko is meant to come out. On that day, Chiriko would come out with a cake for Tamahome. Tamahome would say that he was actually really tired that day and was thinking: “Why isn’t Chiriko coming out yet?and even wondering whether Chiriko has disappeared.

Chichiri will say that there was a time when he actually almost ended up saying –noda at the end of the sentence. Due to not being able to stop himself on time, the person he was talking to gave him a really strange look.

Photos will be in the next entry for my life journal friends.