The 1990s was a magical time for Shoujo anime and manga. In addition to the internationally acclaimed Sailor Moon, another big Shoujo title of the time was Fushigi Yuugi or The Mysterious Play. While Fushigi Yuugi is primarily a Shoujo series, it has mass appeal with its action, adventure, comedy, and romance. It is the story of how Miaka Yuuki and Yui Hongo, two ordinary junior high girls, take a trip to the local library, find an ancient Chinese tale, and get trapped into its world. However, Miaka and Yui’s friendships are destroyed when they become priestesses for separate kingdoms. If they can gather their respective seven warriors, they can summon their kingdom’s god, and have any wish come true.
If there is one thing that Fushigi Yuugi is very rich with, it is its wide and unique cast of characters. For today’s list, we will give you out top 10 Mysterious Fushigi Yuugi characters.
10. Miaka Yuuki
Miaka is just your ordinary 9th grader in Japan, she is focused on getting into a good high school, has some major issues with her mother (who she caught having an affair), and now finds herself trapped in Ancient China. While Miaka isn’t that academically outstanding, she is doing her best to get into a great high school. But while she may be average in the real world, in the world of the Shijin Tenchisho, she is an ancient prophecy that will bring balance to the Kingdom of Kounan. Seeing it as her only way home and the wishing she could make, she takes the role without hesitation.
Like most teenagers, she is optimistic, naïve, and vulnerable. She is a truly human character is a unique world. Her genuine personality is what makes her a relatable character. Her journeys in the Shijin Tenchisho are her ultimate coming-of-age story. She learns to conquer adversities, make friends with various people, and find true love. Hopefully, she is able to accomplish all of that before junior high graduation.
While Amiboshi may be part of the villainous Seiryuu squad, out of all their members, he happens to be the most pure-hearted (with twin brother Suboshi being in a somewhat distant second and Soi being another distant third). Initially, he is introduced as a fake Chiriko, another member of the Suzaku Seven, in order to spy on them. Though the jig was finally up, he finds the good in Miaka and her company and wishes he could have been a true Suzaku warrior.
After his cover was blown, everyone assumed he drowned in a river, but it is later revealed he only lost his memories and was adopted by an old couple under the presumption he was their long lost son. Even when he recovers, he grows a strong attachment to the family and stays with them to live a peaceful life. His presence shows that even though he came from a group of bad guys, it doesn’t mean everyone in that group is bad and they are capable of the purest of good.
Amongst this huge cast of characters, if anyone could rank as one of the most complex cast members of Fushigi Yuugi, it would certainly have to be the lightning manipulator commander known as Soi. Though she is aware of Nakago’s true manipulative nature, she demonstrates an undying love for him because he saved her from a brothel. Because of her unrequited love for Nakago, she shows an intense jealousy for the love shared between Miaka and Tamahome.
And do you know the old saying in combat sports that sex before a fight can make you tired? Fortunately for Nakago, Soi has the ability to increase energy through sex. While Soi is openly aware of these purposes and not out of love, she treasures the moments she has with him. But deep down inside, Nakago knows that he loves Soi, too. Even when she sacrificed herself to save Nakago, they still made peace in their own ways, and Nakago came to term with his true feelings upon his passing. Thanks to Soi, we know that even villains can find love, too.
The beautiful (and often mistaken as a woman) emperor of Konan is Hotohori, another of Suzaku’s celestial warriors. At the beginning of the series, he allows Miaka to reside in his palace and even falls in love with her. Initially, this creates a fierce rivalry with Tamahome but after Miaka chooses Tamahome, Hotohori accepts their love but still contributes as a major supporter.
While Hotohori can be a little narcissistic, he is really a nice guy who cares about his team and his kingdom. But because he never had a normal childhood isolated from the world, he does feel a bit of loneliness, which he overcomes throughout the duration of this series. As an emperor, he is trained in the art of battle and is an expert swordsman. Unfortunately, he loses his life to Nakago but with his death, he comes to learn the true meaning of love, friendship, and family.
6. Yui Hongo
While Miaka becomes the Suzaku no Miko, her best friend Yui becomes the Seiryuu no Miko of the Kotoku Kingdom in the east. While Miaka isn’t the ideal academic role model, Yui is an over achiever. After numerous misunderstandings in the first act of the series (in addition to the manipulation of Nakago, one of her warriors), she goes from being Miaka’s best friend to her sworn enemy. She joined Kotoku so she can have her revenge against Miaka and claim Tamahome for herself.
She goes as far as having Miaka tortured and Tamahome brainwashed as her own minion! Even when she lost faith in Miaka, she still finds companionship with Suboshi, one of her warriors who ends up falling in love with her. After realizing Nakago was only using her, she decides to fix her friendship with Miaka and stop Nakago once and for all.
If any character could be any more unassuming, it would have to be Chichiri, the traveling magician. Throughout most of the series, he tends to wear a facemask that conceals a scar he got from an accident in his youth and speaks with a high-pitched voice (and loves to end his sentences in no da). Even with Chichiri’s outward appearance, he battles his own inner demons. Though he tends to present himself as childish and as a jokester, deep down inside, he is emotionally torn over losing his fiancee and best friend. But whenever he takes off his mask, he does it to show he means business.
Considering he is the eldest in the group, he tends to share a lot of wisdom and advice to everyone in Team Suzaku. But after seeing how the group is united and understanding the threats that need to be stopped, he contributes in many ways as the senpai of the group with his abilities and experiences.
For those of you who have multiple siblings, do you have any rowdy brothers? If so, Tasuki is the equivalent to that brother. Tasuki is initially introduced as a bandit and gets in the way of Miaka and company’s journey as they cross his home mountain. But after patching up their differences, Tasuki becomes a valued part of the team. His special ability is his speed, but he is mostly known for his harisen, or a traditional Japanese fan, that can shoot flames. Compared to Tamahome who is a martial artist, Tasuki is more of a rough and tumble brawler with his fighting style.
While Tasuki is also trying to exhibit a tough exterior (and claims to hate women since he came from a family where he was the only boy), he is probably one of the most caring people that one could ever meet. He is very loyal to his friends and is really sensitive. If need be, he is never afraid to cry or to express his emotions. He shares very close relationships with Chichiri and Nuriko who act as big brothers to him, and they keep him in check when he gets out of control. But if you ever need a drinking buddy and want to have a good night on the town with someone, Tasuki is your man.
If anyone could rival Tuxedo Mask as the heartthrob of anime and manga of the 1990s, it would certainly have to be Tamahome, the true love of our main character, Miaka. While he doesn’t throw roses, he’s still a lean mean kung fu fighting machine. But when he is emotionally enraged, he is also capable of energy blasts. When the character is initially introduced, all he cares about is money and he presents himself as someone who wants money for the sake of it.
As the series progresses, it turns out that he comes from a large family that is being cared for by his frail and widowed father and needs money to support them. While he doesn’t like to share himself with others, as his relationship with the other Suzaku warriors and Miaka grows, he accepts them as his own family. As the co-lead, Tamahome conquers many trials to earn and keep the love of Miaka. At first, he is a rival to Hotohori, the emperor for her affections and after winning them, numerous external forces try to keep them apart. But true love conquers all and Tamahome goes through Hell to eventually be with Miaka forever. So if many anime fans think what an ideal man should be like, it probably should be Tamahome.
At number two is the general of Seiryuu’s army, the ruthless Nakago. As a matter of fact, he happens to be the favorite of the creator, Yu Watase. And what is the irony of all this? He happens to be the main villain of the story! He is an excellent strategist, combatant, and a manipulative leader. He is so twisted that he lets Yui believe that she was raped in order to get her to cooperate with him. Though he can manipulate people no problem, he isn’t afraid to get his own hands dirty when necessary. Even with natural hand-to-hand combat abilities, he isn’t afraid to abuse his energy blasts to fight off the heroes. Unfortunately, his tragic backstory of how his tribe was executed and how he was abused as a child leads him to the villain he is.
Plus, he accidentally kills his own mother when he discovers his power for the first time when all he wanted to do was save her. Even with his natural charisma, he is pretty open that he doesn’t care about most of his subordinates! However, he does have a soft spot for the women he cares about, especially Soi. While we can’t excuse his behavior because of his past, when he faces his final moments, he comes to terms with what he has done, humbly accepts Tamahome as the better man, and finds himself at peace with Soi and his mother.
At number one happens to be Nuriko, one of the most popular characters amongst hardcore fans of Fushigi Yuugi. Nuriko’s power is that he has super strength. Initially, Nuriko presents himself as a female by wearing women’s clothing and by hitting on Hotohori and Tamahome. Even though he has the cast and maybe even first-time readers fooled, he adds a lot of layers of mystery that keeps his presence rather exciting. However, it is later revealed he is indeed a man (since Suzaku’s warriors can only be men), and that he presents himself as female to cope with the loss of his younger sister, whom he had a very strong bond with. Thanks to his feminine nature, he tends to joke around like a lady but is fiercely loyal to his companions.
Even though Nuriko initially deceives our heroes of being a woman, they come to accept him for who he truly is and Nuriko finds his own way to step out of the shadows of his sister and be his own individual. But if anything defines Nuriko, it was his noble sacrifice while battling against one of Seiryuu’s most vicious warriors behind Nakago, Ashitare. If anything, his passing is probably one of the most iconic anime and manga deaths in the 1990s. Because of how Nuriko grows onto the other characters and the readers, his death emotionally captures you and shows that the world of Shoujo isn’t sunshine and rainbows.
Of course, we would like to make some honorable mentions to Kouji, Mitsukake, Chiriko, Nyan Nyan, and Tomo. If you find yourself reading this series, you’re going to laugh and you’re going to cry. Every character stands out in their own unique and memorable way. If we could do a top twenty list, we would sure do it! But as mentioned, Fushigi Yuugi as a Shoujo series has a very universal appeal to all generations, cultures, and genders thanks to its amazing cast.
In addition to its amazing manga, we also recommend the anime for its energetic soundtrack and that the characters in the Japanese version have the perfect voices. As a matter of fact, when Yu Watase created the Tamahome character in the manga, she actually had Hikaru Midorikawa, his seiyuu in mind when he made the role. But if you don’t have time to watch the anime, the manga is still a great read with some of its own distinctions you have to read to check out. So who are some of your favorite Fushigi Yuugi characters?