STRONG content warning for sexual assault, self-harm, and attempted suicide
Episode 11: Priestess of Seiryuu
There’s a lot of plot happening in this one, folks, so buckle in.
Last time on Fushigi Yugi: Miaka narrowly avoided getting killed, despite making a lot of terribly irresponsible decisions, and found Yui. Funnily, the opening narration says it’s “as if through the divine intervention of Suzaku”, making it quite clear that this plot contrivance is a huge stretch!
The first rule of entering enemy territory is to be careful and keep your wits about you. Miaka has fairly little in the way of wits to begin with, so she makes the careless mistake of dropping her bag on the floor and revealing that she has the scroll marking her as the Priestess of Suzaku. The emperor calls for the guards, so Miaka shows self-preservation instincts for the first time in several episodes, grabs Yui, and takes off running.
They enter a dark room, where Yui idly winds a music box while Miaka explains that if Yui becomes priestess of Kutou, they’ll be enemies. I feel like that would change very little between them, but Miaka gushes about how welcoming her Konan friends will be. Yui doesn’t seem interested until Tamahome’s name comes up. Turns out she’s been pining for the boy this whole time – I sure wonder how things will go when she finds out he and Miaka have been kissy face at each other this whole time? Of course she’ll take it calmly, like any reasonable human being.
Miaka notices a scar on Yui’s wrist and cries, “What’s this?” Miaaaaaaaaka, don’t you know better than to ask if someone has a several inch long, straight scar across their wrist? There’s really only one possible answer, and it’s going to be painful for the other person to talk about and uncomfortable for you to hear about. Of course you don’t, because “tact” is a foreign concept. Yui snatches her wrist away and changes the subject to Nakago, explaining that he’s a foreigner from a kingdom that “no one’s ever been to”, and that’s why he’s the only one with light hair and eyes. You know, as opposed to teal or purple or sky blue… A guard interrupts by sticking his head in the room, forcing them to hide. Lucky for them, he is very bad at his job and doesn’t actually go in the room full of dark nooks and crannies.
Meanwhile, Tamahome is kicking ass, taking names, and generally causing pain in the rain. I am so, so, sorry I typed that. He and Nakago posture at each other with dialogue so bad it makes the first line of this paragraph look clever, then Nakago blocks a kick in such a way that it’s super painful even though he barely touched Tamahome?? Walking deus ex machina Chichiri freezes Nakago, but Chichiri’s poorly defined powers are no match for the Kutou warrior’s poorly defined powers. Meanwhile, Miaka realizes that she really needs that scroll and tries to take off, even as guards are running back and forth. Yui stops her and forces her to explain as they’re standing half outside the doorway. I’m half-convinced Yui was already unconsciously working against Miaka because what the hell is this sudden lack of common sense? Miaka I get, but Yui is supposed to be the level-headed one. A guard spots them, but Tamahome just happens to have been running by. Poor, lovestruck Yui thanks him, and is thrilled that he remembers who she is. She decides to convince Nakago to let them go because the cute boy smiled at her.
Here we learn why Nakago is the world’s biggest shitstain: turns out he’s been working Yui over by telling her Miaka doesn’t really care about her, when Miaka has in fact been risking her life to do it. Yui was raped when she first arrived in Kutou [sexual assault counter: six] and attempted suicide by slashing her wrists. Nakago used that as an opportunity to groom her to be the Priestess of Seiryuu and convince her that Miaka was at fault. He’s manipulative, abusive, and real nasty piece of shit all around, and it fucking boggles me that he’s Yuu Watase’s favorite. Miaka and Yui’s friendship was broken from the outset, but Nakago found the cracks and drove a wedge between them. He gives lip service to letting Yui leave with Miaka and Tamahome if she wants to, but calls her “Priestess of Seiryuu”, a role she just explicitly rejected, at the end of the conversation. Yui looks uncertain and leaves.
Meanwhile, Miaka and Tamahome bicker about whether or not he had any right to follow her here, since it was a “private matter”. He’s the only reason you’re still alive in this world, Miaka. He’s soooo sad that Miaka isn’t grateful, but then she tells him that he’s the only reason she came back to this world! I just realized that about 75% of the plot of the show hinges on Miaka never realizing that it’s possible for someone to do something for two reasons. Obviously she was super worried about Yui and went through great pains to find her when she realized she was missing, but wanting to see Tamahome again was also a driving force in her return. This whole contrivance drives the plot, because it hinges on Yui turning against Miaka. And why does Yui turn against Miaka?
Because she just happens to show up when Miaka says that.
The music box plays, there’s a thunderstorm outside, and Miaka and Tamahome make out for way too long while Yui stands outside awkwardly as Nakago’s poison pill seeps into her brain and mixes with what she just overheard. The three casually stroll toward the exit, and while Miaka couldn’t be happier, Tamahome’s instincts tell him something is wrong. He’s seen what a nasty customer Nakago is. Miaka, in her infinite denseness, doesn’t notice that something seems to be wrong with Yui, probably because she’s in a hormonal haze of happiness after her first real makeout session. She knows that something happened that was awful enough to cause her to hurt herself, and that they’re in enemy territory, but she just doesn’t think for a second that there’s something going. So much of Fushigi Yugi hinges on Miaka making mistakes due to a lack of intelligence or perceptiveness.
Yui says she wants to show Miaka something before they leave, but when Tamahome tries to enter after them, he can’t get in. Chichiri appears just on time to exposit that it’s a shrine to Seiryuu and Suzaku warriors can’t enter – but the Priestess can, I guess? Yui starts rambling about how if she had been the one who stayed, she’d be the one with loyal followers and a dreamy boyfriend… And with that, all her rage and pain and bitterness, simmering for three months and groomed and encouraged by Nakago, come pouring out. Everything is Miaka’s fault, they were never really best friends, she loves Tamahome more… Miaka feels the malevolent power of the temple and sinks to the ground. Yui pulls her hair, weeping the whole time, laying out her resentment. And it is awful and unfair, and this horrible man has been telling her for months that Miaka is to blame, and the whole thing is just so sad.
Nakago appears from the shadows and attacks Miaka, then tells her she will never return to Konan. Miaka, hurt and confused, can only ask, “Why?” Outside the door, Tamahome tries to break in but fails. Eventually he asks Chichiri if he can get in. Nakago attacks her one final time, about to slam her into the door, but Chichiri materializes just in time to catch her. Yeah, he could get in the whole time! Why didn’t he do that from the outset? Poor Miaka would have been saved so much physical and psychological pain. Nakago is impressed that Chichiri made it through, but not quite so much when Tamahome literally breaks through the ceiling. Nakago is still confident that a servant of Suzaku couldn’t make it through, even though one just did, but then Tamahome sees Miaka’s condition. He completely loses it and forces his way through the barrier, grunting and yelling like he’s trying to have a particularly constipated bowel movement, finally get a chance to punch Nakago.
Chichiri, recognizing that Tamahome’s about to get his dumb ass killed, instructs them to get in his hat and gets ready to fight Nakago. Miaka and Tamahome practically beg Yui to come back with them. Yui hesitates, unsure of what to do, but then Nakago steps in, thus retaining his power over her. Miaka and Tamahome get in the hat, and Chichiri actually factually uses the phrase, “Playtime’s over, pretty boy!” as his mask drops, revealing a scarred face underneath. Inappropriately peppy music starts as he puts on the hat, and disappears.
Yui and Nakago stand in the ruined temple, and comment on what just happened. “They won’t go down easy, but what fun would that be?” she asks, looking at her scar. Yep. Yui’s gone full-on evil bitch. It’s not about how traumatized and wounded she is anymore – it’s about her being eeeeeevil and trying to get between Miaka and Tamahome. Because remember, female friendships fall apart at the first sign of romantic rivalry!
Episode 12: Only You
Keisuke narrates that the Priestess fell into a deep sleep, having “dream after beautiful dream”. Those beautiful dreams are actually memories of her and Yui, including the day they decided they would both test for the prestigious Jonan High School. Does this count as an anxiety dream? Whenever I have dreams about making up with people I’ve fallen out with, I just wake up feeling worse.
We don’t get a chance to find out how she feels about the dreams, because when she wakes up, Tamahome is leaning over her, naked. And she’s naked too! She freaks out and hits him! WACKY! They’re in a weird bed surrounded by clouds, but Miaka only briefly wonders where they are before what just happened hits her. She folds in on herself, gripping at the blanket like it’s a lifeline, and Tamahome tries to comfort her by promising to rescue Yui. Miaka, fortunately, has acknowledged to herself that Yui as she is now has no interest in coming back to Konan, but it hurts too much for her to explain that to Tamahome. Instead, she announces her intention to go back to Kutou ASAP, so she can ask Yui again what happened. Because that worked out so well the last time.
The two squabble over sheets, ending with Tamahome getting kicked out of bed right as Taiitsukun, Chichiri, and an army of Nyan Nyans appear, and he hilariously struggles to cover his junk in the face of an ancient goddess of unspeakable power. They’re all on Mt. Taikyoku, where Chichiri has trained in the ways of deus ex machina from Taiitsukun herself. Miaka doesn’t have to go back to Kutou, because Taiitsukun can show her herself on a big honking mirror that records everything that happens in their universe. That’s, uh, wow. Why doesn’t she appear to solve EVERY misunderstanding?
The mirror shows Yui wandering through what is clearly a bad part of town, and a group of men jump out and attack her, much like with Miaka in the first few episodes. Yui, however, doesn’t have a dashing martial artist to save her. The show, thankfully, doesn’t show anything after the men grab her, but we DO hear Yui screaming and crying for help. It’s horrible, enough that it makes me a little nauseous even now. What even the fuck though, Taiitsukun? Did you really have to show Miaka her best friend from childhood being assaulted? Did you not expect her to understand just from you telling her? Miaka screams for Taiitsukun to turn it off, but can only stand and cry.
I can’t decide if Fushigi Yugi’s regular use of rape as a plot device strengthens or weakens this scene, to be honest. Violent rape seems to be such an ordinary occurrence in the Universe of the Four Gods, and this sets up a powerful contrast between Miaka and Yui’s experiences. The origin point is so close – both are young girls in an unfamiliar place – the only thing that’s different is Miaka happened to meet the right person. Yui’s right – it’s not fair.
Scene change to the Kutou palace. The emperor is talking about how he wants Yui to summon Seiryuu ASAP, and for some reason his English voice actor hits the word “Seiryuu” REALLY HARD. He says it like three or four times, and it sounds super awkward every single time.
Back on Mt. Taikyoku, Miaka monologues about her survivor guilt. She ponders why she lost her psychic connection with Yui (because she took off her uniform, obvs), and why they essentially switched places, which is actually a good question that I’m pretty sure never gets answered in the anime.
Aaaaaaand back to Kutou. Yui monologues about how fake Miaka is and how much she hates her, but it’s the same thing from her speech last episode. Yui promises to the emperor that she’ll “take care” of Miaka, while Nakago, that shady fuck, side-eyes her. “I’m going to make sure your hopes and dreams are as dead as mine are,” she thinks and… holy shit. I’ve been going kind of back and forth on Yui and Miaka’s friendship and how they treat each other. The way Yui talks to Miaka in the first few episodes aren’t great, but there was some real love. There was also an element to rivalry to it – in the manga, Miaka’s mother gets upset when she find out Yui’s applying to Jonan because to her, it means one more slot that Miaka won’t get. There were cracks in their bond. Obviously, her desire for Tamahome isn’t the only reason for her anger at Miaka, but it’s strong enough to indicate that it was a major factor, and Miaka and Nuriko’s squabbling earlier in the show demonstrates that Watase isn’t totally sure how to write women competing for a man without them becoming catty to each other.
WHOOSH WE’RE ON TAIKYOKU AGAIN. Miaka is so depressed by her guilt over what happened to Yui, she won’t even come out of her room or talk to anyone. Taiitsukun appears upside down, for some reason, and goes to talk to Miaka, but not before Tamahome gets all freaked out about her face. Treat the goddess with some respect, damn it! She explains the uniform thing to Miaka, but she isn’t ready for absolution. Taiitsukun shows her a mirror, and shows Miaka a couple of visions to demonstrate how important she is not just as Miaka, as the Priestess of Suzaku. It’s about damn time someone got it into Miaka’s head that she’s not just a teenage girl anymore, but has an important role in lives of thousands, if not millions of people. She can’t just think and act for herself anymore, like she’s been doing – and even pursuing Yui was a selfish act, in its own way. She has to put her duties first. This shakes Miaka out of her funk.
Miaka marches out of the room, newly determined to find the rest of the Warriors of Suzaku. Good girl! She also walks straight past Tamahome, because she believes that ending her relationship with him is the first step to fixing her relationship with Yui, reinforcing that a fight over a boy is the main reason their decade-long friendship is over.
Kutou. Yui is hanging out in a window in nothing but her shirt, because being evil means she is more sexy and womanly and thus does not need silly childish things like pants. Nakago comes in and sees her pining over Tamahome and promises to bring him to her. Fuck you, Nakago. I’m just going to append every scene he’s in with that. Fuck. You.
Miaka finds a warm welcome back in Konan, where Hotohori runs to embrace her the moment he sees her. Tamahome is NOT pleased and puts on his poutiest expression, even as Nuriko runs in and whisks Miaka off. Pout pout pout. He bursts into Miaka’s room, where she has put on the world’s ugliest lingerie and crammed her face so full of snacks she can’t move. Didn’t your parents teach you to knock, Tamahome? He’s briefly distracted by Miaka’s sack o’ snacks, but then remember he didn’t come to steal her artifacts from another world – he’s here to confront her. Miaka tries to explain that they need to focus on gathering the warriors, not smooching, but he interrupts her by kissing her and pushing her down on the bed [sexual assault counter: seven] and demanding she explain what’s going on. That’s super kosher when Miaka is processing how her best friend was raped, right? Although I suppose in Fushigi Yugi, only strangers really rape; familiar men pushing you and pinning you down is just them being forceful.
Just as Miaka starts to explain, Hotohori comes in and he is pissed, going so far as to point his sword at Tamahome’s throat. Tamahome glowers back and says he’s in love with Miaka, and the two stare at each other, mentally sizing up each other’s dicks. Hotohori inches his sword toward Tamahome’s throat, but then sheaths it at the last second because it would be really dumb of him to kill one of the people needed to summon Suzaku all for the sake of his precious, fragile masculinity. However, if Tamahome weren’t so necessary, he wouldn’t hesitate to commit murder over a girl who hasn’t even accepted his advances! Hotohori used to be one of my favorites, but his entitlement is disturbing.
Miaka is understandably upset, but Tamahome pushes her down again to explain some stuff, instead of just talking to her like a normal human. See, he used to hate his mark but now he likes it because they’re ~in love~. And Miaka’s hormones override her desire to help Yui once again. Maybe Yui has a point.
Next time on Fushigi Yugi: Yui knows what she’s doing is fucked up, but she doesn’t give a shit!