Content warnings for homophobia and sexual assault
Episode 13: For the Sake of Love
Last time on Fushigi Yugi: Taiitsukun forces Miaka to watch Yui’s rape, and also to face reality. Hotohori and Tamahome have a macho dick-waving contest.
I’ll be real y’all: I don’t have THAT much snark for these episodes. Turns out, the second quarter of Fushigi Yugi is the show at its absolute best, when the characters are at their most sympathetic and the plot moves at a brisk pace. Their choices are in-character and make sense and the story progression is logical. Enjoy it, but I may not be as crabby about it as usual.
Keisuke reads The Universe of the Four Gods back in reality, somewhat uncomfortable about how all the boys want to sex up his little sister. Lucky for him and everyone else involved, before Miaka and Tamahome can get their sloppy makeouts going, Hotohori busts in, shouting about sensing evil. To prove he’s not just cockblocking, a threatening voice comes out of nowhere, informing them that Kutou has sleeper agents everywhere and could totally defeat Konan whenever they want. Why haven’t they yet? Because their priestess is horny for Tamahome. To prevent her from destroying the country out of sheer sexual frustration, they must deliver Tamahome to Kutou. I guess it’s always been the case that sex plays a major role in international conflict, but it’s funny to see international relations dictated by hormonal teenagers.
Chichiri and Nuriko also bust in, late to the “evil presence” party, but Chichiri brings an extra dish: the power to reveal the Kutou spy! I’m pretty sure it’s the one who tried to murder Tamahome’s family. He gets away, but not before Nuriko, bless their soul, throws a banister at him, breaks the wall, and tries to blame him.
Back in Miaka’s room, Chichiri confirms he senses no more evil. What if there’s a guy who’s not evil, just trying to serve his country and earn some money for his family? Would he escape Chichiri’s notice. Anyway, the five talk, and Hotohori confirms that some border towns have been attacked but there haven’t been any human casualties. Nuriko, unaware of how badly Yui wants Tamahome’s hot, hot celestial warrior body, is confused about why he’s become such a vital bargaining chip. Because teenage hormones, Nuriko! They’re just too sensible to get it.
Hotohori assures Tamahome that he is safe staying at the palace and that the military can handle the situation, but Tamahome reveals to Miaka that he’s uncomfortable with how close the attacks have been to his home village. She makes him promise he’ll stay, but the lying liar slips out as soon as she’s asleep and meets some identical men in cloaks, who spirit him away. I like how Tamahome chooses to do this not out of concern for Miaka or his country, but for his family! I’ve thought of him as singularly, obnoxiously obsessed with her, with all other duties slipping away as soon as they kiss, but that was unfair. After all, he’s spent his entire life prioritizing caring for his family, so of course he wouldn’t immediately put her ahead of them. I didn’t give him, or Watase, enough credit.
The next morning, Miaka is upset and confused? Where could he possibly be? There’s a note, but her magical ability to understand their language doesn’t extend to reading. Sad synth piano plays as Hotohori reads the note to her and reveals Tamahome is gone, and Miaka trudges off.
But that doesn’t get her down for long! Tamahome urged her in the note to use the fragile peace to find the other Suzaku warriors and, even without the Universe of the Four Gods scroll, that’s exactly what she’ll do. She rides off with Nuriko and Chichiri, holding a mirror that’ll show when they get close to a Suzaku warrior, and what do you know! They are conveniently close! How big is Konan, anyway? It’s hard to judge how convenience-driven things are when we don’t know just how difficult it would be to find them. There’ll be bandits, but Chichiri’s god-like powers will keep them from getting caught. Wait, where’s Chichiri?
Turns out he used those god-like powers to go back to the capital and talk to Hotohori, who is MEGA-BUMMED that he has to stay behind. I don’t know if he got in trouble when he decided to wander off on his own at the start of the series, but his advisors have him on a short leash since then. He understands he has a duty to his country, but as a person he’d much rather be with Miaka – now that Tamahome is gone, he can [strikethrough] steal his girl protect her. Well, Chichiri’s god-like powers have a solution: he can just disguise himself as a Hotohori! Pretty great, right? Except Hotohori’s sole flaw as written is vanity, so of course he’s not satisfied with Chichiri’s performance. Whatever.
Meanwhile, Miaka, fully aware that she’s in bandit country, waves around a giant sack of money. And shockingly, that attracts the notice of some sketchy characters in the bar, who try to mug her and Nuriko! There was a fakeout about their food being poisoned but it wasn’t really very funny so we’ll skip it. Hotohori, luckily, pops in just in time to save Miaka from being stabbed to death by bandits… but he’s too late to save her from indigestion! Dohohoho.
Back in the woods, Hotohori shows Miaka part of the note Tamahome left, calling them “runes” in the dub. They say, “I love you,” which he so helpfully explains is what Tamahome feels for Miaka “from the bottom of his heart.” While my reaction is, “No shit, he’s said that at least a dozen times,” this information shocks Miaka, who blames herself for his sacrifices. Hotohori takes this as his cue to try to kiss her. NO SERIOUSLY. She’s crying because she’s sad her boyfriend is gone and he TRIES TO MAKE A MOVE. That entitled FUCK. He’s not DEAD, Hotohori, and even if he were, you wouldn’t try to kiss her literally the day he’s gone.
“Maybe it’s unfair for me to tell you this now, but I love you Miaka.” Wait, didn’t you already tell her that? Like, two days after you met her? Anyway, it absolutely IS unfair, you horse’s ass. She’s dealing with SO MUCH right now, with her best friend betraying her and literally stealing her boyfriend and making two countries go to war, and you just PILE ON because you can’t keep it bottled up? Fuck you fuck you fuck you, you should have stayed behind.
Miaka tries to flee because holy shit Hotohori is a fucking creep and this is all way too much. She manages to spring a trap in the process, forcing him to rescue her because instead of ducking she stands and screams, then a log comes on and knocks over Nuriko for good measure! A bunch of shadowy figures stand over them and laugh.
They are, of course, the infamous Mt. Reikaku bandits, and they’ve tied up our three brave travellers and they’re taking all their money. Miaka manages to connect the character for “mountain” from the mirror showed her to “mountain” bandits, so her natural strategy is to start biting off their clothes. This gets her a trip to see the boss, courtesy of Koji, the only named bandit who speaks in a delightfully thick Brooklyn accent in the dub. Hotohori and Nuriko are dismayed until she tells them her plan to try to wring some information out of the boss.
Miaka gets dragged away, and the remaining bandits immediately start hitting on Hotohori and Nuriko, mistaking them for women. Hotohori recoils in disgust but Nuriko, once again the voice of reason, tells him to play along to buy Miaka some time. Of course, Hotohori gets into it because he’s vain and deep down likes being told that he’s pretty, even by other men, and starts flirting and pouring their drinks.
Meanwhile in Kutou, Nakago exposits Tamahome’s situation: he’s here to be Yui’s plaything, but Nakago intends on having some fun as well. Tamahome sasses him and gets slapped for it in an incredibly homoerotic way, but Yui scolds him and orders him away like a puppy that won’t stop nipping heels. Fuck you, Nakago.
Tamahome still hasn’t figured out that Yui has made the choice to stay in Kutou, and promises to help her “escape”. Yui is actually acting somewhat a normal girl, but then inappropriately peppy music starts playing as she smiles and monologues internally about stealing Tamahome away. She’s eeeeeeevil now, so she can only feel eeeeeeeeeeevil emotions, not honest affection or gladness that Tamahome is there. She’s only pretending to be good – you can tell because her eyes are smaller than they were before!
Miaka looks really freaked out at… something, right before the credits roll.
Episode 14: Wolf in the Fortress
Why was Miaka so upset? Before we find out, we have to listen to Koji tell himself a knock-knock joke to open the door in that beautiful, terrible Brooklyn accent. We can tell Koji is going to become a good guy because he’s handsome.
So, why IS Miaka so upset? The camera pans up the boss’s body, who we can tell is really evil because he is fat, slobby, and ugly. Her knees tremble as he ogles her, the camera slowly panning up her body, and announces his approval. Knees trembling, Miaka begs Koji to stay, because she does NOT want to be left alone with such a blatant predator. We’re supposed to like Koji, but I’m not sure if I can excuse the way he acted in this scene. He doesn’t show any discomfort with the situation or make an attempt to comfort or console her. Of course he’s morally grey, considering he makes his living robbing people, but leaving a girl to get assaulted and just kind of wandering off… isn’t great.
Miaka, however, decides to make the best of a bad situation, and starts grilling the boss about if any of the guys have shown signs of being Suzaku warriors. Unfortunately for her, even if he’s not very smart he knows how to take advantage, and decides to sexually blackmail her – he’ll tell her if she does whatever he says. Something tells me she’s not going to be cleaning his room.
Meanwhile, Hotohori and Nuriko are flirting with the bandits and serving tea and… uh-oh, there’s a bandit hitting on Hotohori! The bandits gossip as Hotohori’s admirer snuggles up against his chest, discussing how Eiken is a power-hungry creep who goes after teenage girls isn’t even the real leader. They laugh about how Miaka won’t be a virgin for much longer – sexual assault of minors is hilarious – and Hotohori takes that as his and Nuriko’s cue to wreck the bandits’ shit. At least he’s protecting her when she actually needs it, and isn’t just waving his dick-sword around because he’s possessive of a girl who is explicitly in love with someone else! But his admirer still loves him, even if he’s a man! He thinks he’s really special! It’s sweet… but Hotohori has Nuriko haul him off and beat him up because ewww gay cooties.
Much like the bandits expected, Eiken is way the fuck creeping on Miaka [sexual assault counter: eight], but it’s animated with weirdly cutesy chibis as she flails around. I wasn’t giving Koji enough credit earlier, because now he’s clearly uncomfortable with what’s going on and his part in it. He hears Miaka screaming and grimaces as he walks away, clearly unable to do anything because of that power Eiken has… and finds Nuriko sitting on a pile of his cronies, pleased as punch.
Eiken hovers over Miaka, using his supposed knowledge of the Suzaku warrior – and a knife – to force her to submit. She falls quiet, believing she needs to go through this to get Tamahome back… and Nuriko comes busting through the wall, Hotohori and Kouji in tow. Nuriko stands by the hole in the wall and flexes and why are they so adorable in this episode?
Hotohori promises to Miaka while Tamahome is gone, which she thinks is wonderfully self-sacrificing even though a) he is a Suzaku warrior and that is his job and b) the security of his empire depends on her making it through this alive. It’s not really that noble but he has a deep voice and pretty hair and talks pretty, so it comes off that way I guess. Then he waves his sword-dick at Eiken, threatening to kill him, but they decide to torture him a bit instead. By the way, the reason they couldn’t escape the bandits before was because Hotohori’s arm was injured, but the moment that plot contrivance stopped being necessary, he could handle his sword again. HOW CONVENIENT. Imagine me saying, “No torture!” in a very unconvincing way because this guy is a rapist and apparently kind of a wimp, since all it takes is Nuriko twisting his arm a little to scream, “IT’S TASUKI!”
Who is Tasuki? I don’t know, but he couldn’t possibly be related to this red-haired young man who appears in the window and also in the opening theme song. Couldn’t be, because Koji calls him Genro. This Genro fellow throws wolves at them and runs off with Miaka, probably just to piss of Eiken. Eiken responds in kind, grabbing a fan and burning the wolves like paper… because they ARE paper.
Nuriko hightails it out of there, because paper wolves and a fan that shoots fire is just too fucking weird. Turns out Hotohori was way ahead of them, and they tease him about his hasty exit in an actually really adorable moment. Easily the most charming interaction of the episode.
Genro throws Miaka down on the ground and looms threateningly over her before grabbing her and trying to kiss her [sexual assault counter: nine]. Miaka isn’t threatened, however, because he’s handsome and therefore is definitely not as evil as Eiken, and socks him in the face. She pretends to be a boxer, confusing
Tasuki Genro, who tries to threaten her because she’s still a hostage. I like Miaka when she’s separated from Tamahome. When he’s around, all she does pretty much is sigh over him and put herself in danger so he can be all dashing and rescue her, but when he’s gone, she actually does an okay job taking care of herself a lot of the time. She’s proactive and scrappy and while she may fuck things up or need rescuing sometimes, she’s not waiting around for her boyfriend to take care of her. Tasuki Genro was mostly just posturing there, because he’s trying to be a bad boy and bad boys don’t care about things like consent, but tries to convince her that she should be scared. She doesn’t listen, because she’s too busy stripping him. Not because she wants his hot body – unless he’s Tasuki of the Suzaku Seven! And then she only wants his body so he can protect her and summon Suzaku. Nothing sexual about it. Nope.
She’s interrupted by a bad Brooklyn accent telling itself a knock-knock joke – who could it possibly be? It’s Koji! He and
Tasuki Genro dance around, and god everyone is actually really adorable in this episode. I told you I don’t have much snark for this episode!
Meanwhile in Kutou, Tamahome is the one playing the princess locked in the tower. Yui brings him clothes, offers him food, sake, whatever his heart desires… but he declines, saying she has “enough to worry about”. She takes that to mean that he knows what happened to her, and she sobs to him about what happened, how she tried to kill herself, how she wishes she had died… it’s raw. Tamahome holds her, at a loss for what to say, how to console her. Yui’s anguish over what happened and its effect on her psyche has been effectively handled so far, and her transformation, with all the trauma and gaslighting and grooming, is actually pretty believable. Sure, there’s an element of fighting over a boy, but she’s in so much pain on top of all of that.
Outside, Nakago listens to her cry and smiles. Fuck you, Nakago.
Back on Mt Reikoku, Kouji fills
Tasuki Genro in on the situation. Miaka’s instincts to help out completely take over and she hatches a plan to help them usurp Eiken and restore Genro to his rightful place as the leader, completely steamrolling over their objections that she’s a hostage. Bless her little heart and soul.
Outside in the bushes, Miaka almost gets swept up in Eiken’s speech to his followers, and Kouji and
Tasuki Genro explain that his big advantage, despite being lazy and stupid, is having a solid steel tessen that shoots fire. They have weapons of their own though – paper talismans that can turn into whatever you write on them. Miaka takes them and turns to do something – boy I wonder if she’s going to muck it up again! That Miaka, she’s so dumb! But seriously, the character writing and direction in this episode is so good and lively and FUN. These were some of the first episodes I ever watched, and I’m beginning to remember why I fell in love with the show in the first place.
Hotohori leaps into the bushes, ready to slice
Tasuki Genro to pieces if he doesn’t produce Miaka whole and intact RIGHT then. Miaka pops up, just as cheerful as can be, and Nuriko pauses from punching Kouji to express their shock. She fills them in, and because Hotohori is pathologically incapable of saying no to Miaka, he agrees.
They sneak in without getting caught… until Hotohori’s poor admirer shows up, and he panics from all those gross gay cooties and cries out, alerting the rest of the bandits to their presence. Let it be known that Hotohori was the first one to fuck it up here… but Miaka isn’t far behind, since they throw the talismans and they all come out as food. That dumb, greedy Miaka! Without any real weapons, she decides to charge Eiken and manages to make the situation worse. I knew we were overdue for Miaka being punished for being proactive! She lectures the bandits for rolling over for Eiken when they know Genro is the rightful leader, but it’s not her words that make the difference – it’s when Tamahome shows up and beats the shit out of the bandits and she stands aside, looking all misty-eyed.
He defeats the enemy,
Tasuki Genro gets the fan, and the good guys win… but how did he get there? Miaka runs toward him, weeping, and he disappears. She had just written his name on a talisman. The episode ends as inappropriately peppy music plays focusing not on the victory, but on Miaka’s heartache and intense longing for Tamahome.
The big question on my mind: can their victory be attributed to Miaka, since she wrote the talisman? It wasn’t from any sort of master plan or strategizing; she just wrote his name because she wanted to see him. She very nearly got them all killed by writing food on the other ones, and her ill-fated attempt to rush Eiken. But at the same time, she was the one who wrote it; if she hadn’t, their victory wouldn’t have been as assured.
Next time: A lot of people get sick and one dude really needs a haircut.
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