Tempest’s Downpour – Similiar, Same and Clone

Posted on Jun 05 2011

After complaining so much about recycled plots, I think we should take a deeper look into this phenomenon. After all, anyone who has taken a high school English class should know that every type of story, and thereby every type of character, has already been used. The trick is in making it appeal to the audience.

Fushigi Yugi is not the first story ever written where a girl falls into an inanimate object and finds herself in another world. A super-simplified summary of the plot goes as follows: girl finds book, girl falls into book, girl winds up in ancient China, girl becomes the protagonist and discovers that she has to save the country she fell into, girl becomes Priestess of Suzaku, girl gathers a cast of hot guys who (at one point or another) have romantic feelings for her. It’s a reverse-harem anime before reverse-harem anime was a “thing.”

Miaka and her harem.

The story is filled with enough heart break, rivalry, jealousy and plot-twists to baffle soap opera fans. It goes one step beyond that by offering excellent character growth and a wide array of genuine characters with very personal reasons for picking the sides they do. One thing that stands out is that Miaka, the protagonist, is trapped in the book. She spends the first third of the series trying to get back home, which she succeeds in doing. But something terrible has happened that I won’t spoil for you and she has to decide between living her life at home with her family or risking her life in this book world where she may never find another way home.

It’s good watching and I highly recommend both the manga and the anime. Except that you will get sick and tired of Miaka and Tamahome shouting each other’s names. Don’t worry — it’s practically a joke at this point.

About five years after Fushigi Yugi first aired, another anime popped up that may as well have been a fanfiction for the series. I’m talking, of course, about Inuyasha. As VG Cats put it: Inuyasha, I liked that series better when it was called Fushigi Yugi.

Their facial expressions are about as dopey as the series is.

Inuyasha‘s plot goes as follows: girl lives at temple, girl falls down well, girl winds up in Feudal Japan (LOOK, SEE IT’S NOT CHINA), girl discovers she is the sort-of reincarnation of a powerful priestess (I sense a theme), girl meets a hot demon, girl breaks a precious gem that does… something, girl must put the gem back together while fighting a bishounen foe who wears too much eyeliner.

So Kagome tries to right the wrongs she caused as well as pick up the broken pieces of the world left behind by her counterpart who died fifty years before Kagome’s arrival date because…. I don’t know. Time travel isn’t perfect, people. Also for some reason she can go back and forth from this time to her present time, which totally takes away all the drama of time travel.

Along the way, Kagome has a bristling relationship with Inuyasha, makes friends with some more gorgeous people and gets kidnapped… a lot. I mean, if there’s a competition for getting kidnapped, Kagome pretty much wins it. She’s a tough girl on the outside, but she never really lives up to that persona since she’s the only one without powers.

Kagome’s very limited harem: Inuyasha on the left and Kouga on the right.

Oh, but wait– she DOES have powers you guys! She can… something…something arrow. And there’s something about the Shikon Jewel that is broken up into shards, and once they restore all the shards it’ll… I don’t remember. The series kind of forgets what it’s doing halfway through and every episode after the second season (or maybe the first season) is just a repetition of the previous episode. Like Fushigi Yugi there’s a lot of shouts of “Kagome!” “Inuyasha!” and it gets laughable. I mean, Miaka and Tamahome had a lot to shout about and that was barely tolerable. It seems like Kagome and Inuyasha shout for each other to break some kind of world record in annoyance.

Anyway, the series pretty much never ends. I think there are only about 90 seasons if you want to whittle away the rest of your life watching something pointless. They apparently ended the series and then added another season to give it a “proper ending,” but I lost interest in it when I was in high school (which was a long time ago. Yeah, laugh).

Around that same time, another show popped up called Harukanaru Toki no Naka De (or Haruka: In a Distant Time) which was based off a dating sim, so you get an idea of where this is going: no plot, little characterization and hot guys.

They’re all so pretty and so very over-dramatic.

Here’s the plot: girl and TWO MALE FRIENDS (who look suspiciously like characters from Fruits Basket) go near a well and… get attacked or something, girl gets kidnapped down the well, the boys follow and they wind up in another world that resembles Heian-period Japan, girl finds out she must… something something demons, girl becomes Priestess of Ryujin, demon man is hot and tries to seduce her, her male best friend is hot and has a thing for her, EVERYONE FALLS IN LOVE WITH HER BECAUSE COME ON and the girl is mostly useless.

The series has little in the way of plot and it spends a lot of time going over the many characters’ befuddling backstories. I think you’re supposed to make a connection with the characters, but it’s impossible to when they’re so two-dimensional. The fun is in trying to figure out who to pair up with Akane, the bland main-character, but that got boring after the 8th episode.

One of the Harukanaru games for the PS2. Luckily, I have a PS2; now if only I could read Japanese.

Despite its lack of anything innovative, I’ve started collecting the manga and I have an interest in playing the game. I think the fact that it resembles Fushigi Yugi in some facet is enough to pique my interest. Whatever the reason, I know this is a terrible ripoff, but it’s simple enough to enjoy as a casual experience.

Four years later, Kyo Kara MAOH! was adapted from a manga but this time the main character is a boy. I’ll give you a count of three.. One… two… YAOI. That’s right, folks, it’s still a time-travelling reverse-harem, but this one happens to be about boys. And there’s a lot of handsome boys in this series. Though instead of travelling through time, Yuri travels dimensions by falling through a toilet.

The characters left to right: Gwendal von Voltaire, Wolfram von Bielefeld, Conrad/Conrart Weller, Yuri Shibuya, and Günter von Christ.

The plot goes as follows: high school boy rescues another boy from bullies, rescuer gets bullied instead and gets a swirly (where they dunk your head in the toilet and flush — DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME), boy winds up getting flushed into another dimension that is European-esque, boy finds out he’s the son of the Demon King (in a kind of Yu Yu Hakusho way), boy gets into fascinating misadventures in this world and is still home in time for dinner.

Like Kagome, Yuri isn’t stuck in one place. However, Yuri doesn’t get to control when and where he winds up switching dimensions. His method of travel is always water-related so there are a lot of instances of him taking a casual bath and regretting it.

Yuri manages to get himself into several embarrassing situations including accidentally getting engaged to his rival, Wolfram, and seeing Wolfram’s MILF in the nude. Since Yuri is the crowned demon prince, everyone is either outrageously supportive of him or completely up in arms against him to either test his ability or… I dunno, start wars? It’s pretty certain that challenging him for the crown won’t do anything, but I guess they all do it for kicks because they don’t have TV.

This official image is equally hilarious and terrifying.

The series is a funny take on a storyline that until now seemed exhausted. There’s a lot devoted to the differences between our world and this strange other-world which the previous series seem to have missed. Most of all, the series is charming and funny. I don’t consider myself a yaoi fan, but this series has excellent entertainment value.

Around the same time that the Kyo Kara MAOH! anime came out, the manga Silver Diamond made its appearance on Japanese bookshelves. I never saw the series until my infamous trip to Borders. I also haven’t read the series, so any fans have my condolences.

The characters’ expressions are as bland as the series.

Silver Diamond is about about a normal high school guy whose harem decides not to wait around and dimension hops to him. This one is another yaoi and I was severely disappointed to find that it seems like a yaoi version of Haruka: In a Distant Time, with some elements of Kyo Kara Maoh! thrown in.

The art style is beautiful and reminiscent to old anime like Fushigi Yugi, but this series made no impact on me whatsoever. It made me wonder why people keep copying the same formula before it dawned on me that this formula is what made Fushigi Yugi classic.

Fushigi Yugi is still my favorite.

Why tell the story of a hero who, for example, defeated ninety-billion guys in his giant robot? Because that’s what makes anime fun. Some shows do it with a twist (like Big O) and that’s when they really shine. Fushigi Yugi is easily the best series on this list, but Kyo Kara MAOH! is entertaining because it takes a similar idea and runs wild with it. Haruka: In a Distant Time fails because it’s stale and sticks only to what it knows, which is a simple and flimsy plot to begin with.

Give me your opinions. Was I wrong about Inuyasha? Did I forget this one really totally awesome series with the same plot? Tell me in the comments.

Thanks go to Pyro for helping me remember the details in Kyo Kara MAOH!

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  • Kagra June 7, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    I think youve got them all. Kagomes been kidnapped more times than Mokuba, and thats saying something.

  • Tyto June 7, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    No mention of The Vision of Escaflowne?

    • Tempest Wind June 9, 2011 at 8:16 AM

      Ack! Another classic I still haven’t seen. When they aired it (heavily edited) on TV, I couldn’t get over the big noses. I used to call it “EsaFlonase.”

  • toyNN June 7, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Inuyasha says “‘tsk…you’re dopey”

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