As a kid, I was initially introduced to regular cartoons and remained unaware of what the term ‘anime’ meant until I approached my teens. Now, I am sure that all otakus will agree with the fact that there is one anime which pulled them into this intriguing and mysterious world for the first time. For me it was ‘Fushigi Yugi’, more commonly known as ‘Mysterious Play’. I had the experience of watching it first on TV in the late 90s when AXN had the courage to air animes with a touch of grown up themes.
The story of this Shoujo series revolves around an average middle school student named Miaka Yuki and her best friend, Yui Hongo. While wandering around the library one day, both friends accidentally come across a mysterious book called the ‘The Universe of The Four Gods’. On reading the book, they are both magically transported from present Japan to an ancient China as described in the manuscript. While Yui is lucky enough to be brought back into the present, Miaka gets stuck and eventually ends up as the priestess of Suzaku, the Vermilion Bird God. As a priestess, Miaka has to face the challenge of finding all 7 celestial warriors and summon Suzaku to grant 3 wishes, thereby trying to rescue the kingdom of Konan. Back home, when Yui tries to rescue Miaka through the book, it teleports her again but this time to a completely different land. Following a series of unfortunate events, she becomes the priestess of Seiryu, an evil nation that wants to destroy Konan. Fate pits the 2 best friends against one another as they become bitter rivals, competing for the love of Tamahome, a charming celestial Susaku warrior from Konan, and also in a violent race for who first gets to summon their nation’s god. An adventurous journey of friendship, love, fun and betrayal ensues, creating one of the most engaging anime series of all time.
The interesting thing about this anime is that it does not cater only to shoujo viewers but rather has something in store for everyone. If you haven’t watched it yet, I’d definitely recommend booking your next weekend and going for a quick binge of this 52-episode series. For those like me who have already watched it and are looking for something similar, here is a list of anime similar to Fushigi Yugi that are our recommendations and will help you skip your next google search. You can watch several of these anime like Mysterious Play on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
12. Cardcaptor Sakura (1998 – 2000)
Just like ‘Fushigi Yugi’, ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ revolves around the adventures of a young girl. Sakura Kinomoto, a 10-year-old school kid, stumbles upon a mysterious book in her basement and accidentally releases a set of magical cards out into the world. In doing so, she also awakens the guardian of the book, a magical beast named Keroberos (or Kero chan). Kero tells Sakura that the magical cards she released are actually ‘Clow Cards’ created by sorcerer Clow Reed. He also tells her that without a guardian or master, these cards pose great danger to all living beings. In order to restore balance and save the world, Kero appoints Sakura as the new ‘Cardcaptor’. Together with her best friend Tomoyo, Sakura embarks on a secret journey to retrieve all the cards while facing several kinds of challenges.
11. Dragon Ball-Z (1989 – 1996)