I would usually prefer a manga over an anime. But in Fushigi Yuugi, it’s all different. I’ve grown to prefer the anime over the manga, not because I discovered the anime first. Here are the reasons why the anime is a lot more treasuring.
1) The details of the manga are all included in the anime.
The only major difference is that the manga contains a more detailed story where Tamahome now lives in Miaka’s world as Taka Sukunami. The anime only shows Miaka and Taka Sukunami’s first meeting, wherein Keisuke introduces his known friend to Miaka and Yui, now high school students.
2) Miaka (the main character) is more described as a character you’d love to hate in the manga.
It underlines more of her negative traits (gluttony, “spoiled brat’ attitude, “whinings”, not being a good daughter to his mother..), and the positive traits of hers are not so much emphasized until the middle of the story. The anime, however, concentrates more on her kind-hearted, compassionate and loyal friend side. This has brought me to being her fan and I remain loyal to her despite my disappointment towards her description in the manga.
3) The anime shows Keisuke’s reading scenes, at the same time as Miaka and Yui’s adventures in the book.
Similarly, it shows Yui’s reading scenes and Miaka’s adventures simultaneously, which makes the anime more realistic. And how could Keisuke know what was happening to his sister in the manga without proof that he was reading the book? He might be taking a shower, going out with Tetsuya, or doing things other than reading the Universe of Four Gods.
4) The anime describes Keisuke as a real older brother to Miaka.
Not the overprotective one but the one who understands and knows her best and, at the same time, protects her at all cost. I just love how he covers Miaka up about Tamahome and her life as a Suzaku priestess. This is not even emphasized in the manga and besides, Keisuke looks more of a real authoritative figure there. A brother acting like a father.
5) The art in the manga looks like it’s made from scratch.
In the anime, however, it is pretty much developed.
6) The opening and ending themes are worth hearing – same with the other theme songs in the episodes.
However, these are what I found good in the manga, even though I’d consider the anime more.
1) The scene where Miaka’s mom finds about Tamahome and Miaka’s adventures as the Suzaku Priestess.
This is one of the realistic approach of the story, which will make the Fushigi Yuugi animanga fans wonder how Miaka can easily escape from her not-so-intelligent mother (especially if they haven’t read the manga).
2) Those post volume 13 scenes.
It’s interesting to witness how Tamahome (now reborn as Taka Sukunami) and Miaka’s love story in Miaka’s world. If you’re a Fushigi Yuugi fanatic, then the volumes 14-18 are worth the read!
3) The brief explanation how priestesses with strong heart and stable beliefs won’t get devoured easily by a beast God, in contrast with the ones who have a weak spirit – like Yui, who is easily manipulated by Nakago into changing her beliefs and having her heart filled with doubts.
In the anime, this isn’t even explained. Instead, it just shows Yui getting devoured almost entirely, while Miaka overcomes Suzaku’s consumption of her soul.
4) The manga explains how Miaka gains her voice back.
It shows the scene where Subaru restores it through her spell while in the anime, Miaka had it back for no reason at all.
5) The logic behind the Universe of Four Gods translated into Japanese (the book written by Einosuke Okuda) and the original parchment.
It clearly shows that the Japanese version has missed a portion from the original Chinese parchment (written by an unknown author), which is the fact that the Demon Lord (whom no one knows apart from Nakago) plots to destroy all the Four Kingdoms. In the anime, however, the entire story is only based on the Japanese translation.
And meanwhile..what I find indifferent.
1) The scene where Nakago destroys Yui and Miaka’s school in the manga.
In the anime, he comes immediately on the streets and destroys everything. For me there’s no difference between the two, as both managed to prove how ruthless he is, for destroying the human world and become its God.
I didn’t regret having read the manga. It’s good to see how the story is arranged in two different sources although I prefer the anime. I appreciate how the manga encouraged me to relive my memories of Fushigi Yuugi, as much as how the anime managed to stay true to the manga and improved the story arrangement. I would therefore suggest to watch the anime first however. Reading the manga is worth only for curiosity, especially if you’re curious about the second book of Miaka x Tamahome love story. And besides, the mission where Miaka has to find a few elements for Tamahome’s memories to be restored (the Demon Lord is planning to destroy Suzaku and the other kingdoms any time soon and originally from the book, it will somehow affect Tamahome’s memories even as a human) is worth tuning to.
If I discovered the manga before the anime, I would not appreciate Fushigi Yuugi as of now. I am merely describing the manga in a way I discovered it.