Fushigi Yûgi: The Mysterious Play VS. Haruka : Beyond the Stream of Time

For those of you who love Ouran High School Host Club for its abundance of appealing guys, you might think about trying another reverse-harem series.  A couple of other series by Viz give you all the guys while providing some history and Japanese folklore to boot. You might just learn something while reading!  Here’s a quick comparison for all you bishie-lovers out there.

Fushigi Yûgi: The Mysterious Play by Yuu Watase

The Gist: Two junior high school girls discover an ancient tome that transports them back in time.  Arriving in ancient China, the girls find themselves named as opposing priestesses, racing to find their seven guardians and summon their respective god first.

Romance?: With a reverse harem, there are plenty of guys to ogle, but main character Miaka only has the hots for Tamahome, one of her seven guardians.

The Art: First published in 1992, there is a difference in style than the more modern Haruka.  Watase used boxier paneling at the time, and the characters’ eyes and hair tend to be more exaggerated.  I do find Fushigi Yugi’s action sequences and backgrounds impressive.

Notable facts: This series is popular for its time, and produced an anime series and an OVA based in the same setting.  Watase recently created a prequel series known as Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden.

Intended audience:  Rated Older Teen, this series is intended for an older teen audience due to some violence and complex relationships.  Not for the tweens.

Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time  by Tohko Mizuno

The Gist: A high school girl is summoned into a well along with two of her male friends and transported back to ancient Japan.  Waking in Heian-kyo, which will one day become modern-day Kyoto, Akane discovers she is the Priestess of the Dragon God and the natives expect her to defend Heian-kyo from the Oni, or demon clan.  She is granted eight guardians which include her classmates and six other natives.

Romance?: Akane feels compelled towards Akram, the head of the demon clan, at first sight. Her classmate Tenma also confesses to having feelings for her. But there are all these guardians that think she’s cute, and why does she obsess over Akram?  Choosing the right guy will set Akane on the path of determining Heian-kyo’s future.

The Art: First published in Japan in 2000, Haruka has a more open style of paneling and cleaner toning.  The characters are not all that detailed, but fewer lines make the art look less cluttered.  There’s still a lot of shojo “flowering”, if you want to call it that, and very few detailed backgrounds.

Notable Facts: This series was a visual novel (aka. video game) before it became a manga.  There is an anime series and a couple of  OVA that are written about the same characters.  A movie of the series was created as well.  The manga is the only media translated into English.

Intended audience :  Rated Older Teen, this series is intended for an older teen audience due to some violence and complex relationships.  Not for the tweens.

The Verdict

Commonalities: Both series are a reverse-harem with a teen girl at the center.  They are set in ancient Asia, and use some of the same mythology, such as the folklore of The Four Symbols, mythological guardians of the cardinal directions, elements, and seasons.  The main characters are expected to summon powers they weren’t aware of possessing, and both fall in love with someone from the ancient past.

Having read Fushigi Yugi first, I had a hard time being open minded to read Haruka when it was running in Shojo Beat.  It was the one series I always skipped over, because it seemed to scream “Fushigi Yugi Knock-off” at me.  Recently, after giving it a fair shot, I’d have to say that I find the story line interesting enough to see it as it’s own story.  Demons vs. Humans gives it a different conflict than Fushigi Yugi, despite all the commonalities.

If you don’t like historical setttings or reverse-harems, then obviously you won’t like either of these stories.  Then again, it could be insightful to take a trip to historical Asia and experience a time traveling journey from a teen girl’s perspective.  If anything, there are plenty of bishies to appease your senses!

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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