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- "Herein contains the tale of a young lady and her quest to gather the seven Constellations of Suzaku together. And if you, the esteemed reader, should read to the story's end, the spell contained within this book shall bestow upon you the powers of the heroine, and grant you your wish. For indeed the moment the page is turned, the story will become reality."
- —The Universe of the Four Gods, Manga Chapter 1
The Universe of the Four Gods (四神天地書) is a book from China. It was found and brought to Japan by Einosuke Okuda in 1923. It has the power to draw a reader into its story, thus making them part of the tale. Einosuke's daughter, Takiko, is pulled into the book and begins the journey that prefaces Fushigi Yuugi.
- "This book's different from the others. It seemed like it was put there especially for me."
- —Madoka, to Misaki regarding the book
Takiko's beloved mother Yoshie was ill and Takiko was forced to take care of her until she died. Understandably upset by the loss of her mother and Einosuke's apparent indifference, Takiko grew angry enough to try tearing the book apart, blaming it for her unhappiness and her family's... but on her attempt, she was transported on the book itself; she became the priestess of Genbu, one of the four beast gods, and was devoured by the god. Einosuke then regretted what he had done, as he was unaware that the book had a magical power and only wrote it in his desperate search for a cure for Yoshie. He followed Takiko's "adventures" as much as he could, reading the words in the pages of the book and noticing how they changed as Takiko's quests went on and on.
Towards the end of the story, Takiko summoned Genbu and, as she made two of her three wishes, the God started "properly" devouring her. Her skin began to mutate into scales, she suffered immense physical strain and pain, and also bled from her mouth. Then. Einosuke stabbed himself while holding the book; his fatal injuries also killed Takiko, allowing her to die in relative peace in her lover Uruki's arms.
Before his murder-suicide, Einosuke left a letter with his last will inside the book itself. He used it to explain to his assistant Takao Osugi what happened to Takiko, and ultimately asked him to destroy the book. Takao, however, died in the Great Kanto Earthquake that hit Tokyo few months after the deaths of Einosuke and Takiko, and before passing away he sent Suzuno there for her protection. Suzuno first entered the book for a short time and was sent back to Tokyo, with the book going missing; ten years later she found the book again, returned to the world inside, became the priestess of Byakko, granted her wishes, and was not devoured by her God.
Timeline and History
The first to enter the book was Takiko Okuda, who did it in 1923. She entered the book three times, technically speaking. Her first arrival to the world inside the book happened when she tried to destroy it during a fight with her father Einosuke; that led her to meet Uruki and start her journey. The second time took place after she briefly returned to Japan and got ready to attend her mother Yoshie's funeral. The third and definitive time took place after her Senshi made her return to Earth to save her from dying when she summons Genbu, but she decides to come back so she can finish her mission: she summons the God, and dies inside the book itself.
Takiko was followed by Takao's daughter Suzuno Osugi, who entered the book at least twice. She first did in 1923 as well, as protection against the Great Kanto Earthquake of that year; her parents were among the quake's victims. After few hours in the book and few days in the destroyed Tokyo, Suzuno was sent back to Japan and would not see the book until 1933, when it was stored in her school's library and her teenaged self found it. She took it to her house at first, then decided to return it to the library; however, she was attacked by a bunch of military students who held grudges against her then-fiancé Seiji Horie, and the book took her inside during the scuffle.
After Suzuno's adventures took place, the Book was stored away in the Tokyo Central Library until the 90's when it was found by Miaka Yuuki and Yui Hongo. According to Keisuke Yuuki, Miaka's older brother who is a Chinese literature student in university, the book will always indulge a priestess into the book, even if all of the gods were summoned to continue to live in (as what happened to Mayo Sakaki). Miaka and Yui are first swallowed together but Yui is almost immediately sent back to the Library, and what happens to Miaka difers: in the manga she's first sent back but later is swallowed again and spend several days (book time) / some hours (Tokyo time) in it, and in the anime she stays inside until Taiitsukun decides to return her to Tokyo. What Yui does in the meantime is different depending on the media: in the manga ,she searches for the missing Miaka, but in the anime she stays in the library and reads the book. The incidents in which Yui senses what happens to Miaka in the book do remain, only with Yui being less aware of such things at first due to not having the Universe with her
When Miaka was sent back to Tokyo by Taiitsukun, Yui was instead swallowed inside the book. Few hours later, Miaka returned there and their adventures continued almost exclusively inside the work of the book. In the manga, Keisuke and his friend Tetsuya Kajiwara realize what's going on and start making their own research to help her; in the anime they take turns to also read the book and follow what's going on with Miaka.
Yui said that the book cannot contain two priestesses at once, and this resulted in Yui being devoured and saved. The sudden summoning of the two gods Suzaku and Seiryuu should not have happened, and was the main reason Yui was devoured even if she can not be devoured by Seiryuu.
In the 2nd OVA, and in the last 4 volumes of the manga, Keisuke's friend and fellow researcher Tetsuya fixates intensely on the book due to his growing feelings for Yui, saying that because if ever Yui or Miaka is transported again inside the book, he wants to protect Yui.
The timeline inside the book can go much faster than the time in the real world. Even though on the SHI JIN TECHI SHO is written "3 days had passed", for us is something that last a few seconds, so, there's no a set rule for time differences. It can also go much slower than in the real world, as proved by Suzuno spending ten years away from Sairou and, when she returned, finding herself back to what's implied to be few days or weeks after the moment she left.
- "What a weird book"
- —Misaki, to Madoka regarding the book
- Einosuke Okuda wrote the book in his search for a cure for his dying wife Yoshie, but was unaware that the book had a magical power of its own. He only realized it when Takiko was taken inside it. Before dying, he wrote a letter where he explained what he had found out to his assistant Takao Osugi and asked him to destroy the book itself.
- Takiko Okuda was the first to enter the book, followed by Suzuno Osugi, then Miaka Yuuki and Yui Hongo.
- Suzuno has the odd distinction of being both the youngest and the eldest of the four official Priestesses. On one hand she first entered the book at age 8. On the other, her actual adventures took place when she was 18. Takiko's Priestess trials happened when she was 16, whereas Miaka and Yui completed theirs at age 14-15.
- In the original Fushigi Yuugi manga, no one actually reads the book to follow what's going on with the Priestesses. Both Miaka and Yui are sent back to Tokyo almost immediately after meeting Tamahome, soon Miaka re-enters it alone after she has a fight with her mother, while Yui is taken back inside as she's looking for the missing Miaka. In the TV series only Yui is sent back to Earth and Miaka remains inside: Yui begins reading the book until Miaka returns and she's swallowed instead, and Keisuke does the same when Miaka goes back to rescue Yui. Watase took this anime subplot and re-used it in Genbu Kaiden, where Einosuke is seen keeping the book and reading it to learn what happens to Takiko when she's sent inside.
- Normally, an hour in the real world can equal as much as a month in the book. A Priestess can spend years inside the Book and, when she returns, she'll find herself back to a time not too far from the moment she "left". In example, when Miaka was first swallowed into the book, she spent several days there as Yui either looked for her or read her adventures in the real world - but when she was sent back by Taiitsukun (and Yui was swallowed inside to become the Priestess of Seiryuu), she found herself back to almost exactly the same moment when she and Yui found the manuscript in the library. She confirmed it when she spoke to two school friends of hers and Yui, and they said that few hours had passed ever since they said goodbye for the day.
- That being said, this can change depending on circumstances. In Byakko Senki, Suzuno spent at first few hours in the Universe, and when she was thrown back into Tokyo, at least four days have passed since her "departure". She then spent ten years away from the book itself, but when she returns and meets her Celestial Warrior Tokaki, he says that he had just aced the exams needed to be a member of Emperor Nahido of Sairou's Imperial Guard. Nahido had been just enthroned when Suzuno first was in Sairou, therefore it's implied that while Suzuno was away from the book for years, inside the book itself only a short time (probably a month or less) has passed.
- According to Miaka's brother Keisuke, the book will always indulge a priestess into the book even though the story is finished, to keep surviving and existing.
- According to Yui, the book can take and bear to make a priestess summon a beast god one at a time. This is the explanation why Yui was devoured even before she made her third wish, and normally, a priestess would only be devoured when she makes her third wish. The sudden appearance of two beast gods on a single day causes this.
- The Book in itself cannot be destroyed by any human forces. Takiko was engulfed in it when she attempted to rip it apart during a fight with Einosuke. Months later, Takao Osugi tried to destroy it with several different methods (including sealing in a Shinto shrine, using an industrial kiln, etc.), and all of them failed. Having realized that the Book was indeed magical, he decided to try burying it in the mountains or throwing it into the sea to fill Einosuke's will, but he died in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake before he managed to do so. Fatally injured, Takao changed his mind and willingly sent his daughter inside it, betting on its indestructibility and how it would protect Suzuno from being wounded or killed after the earthquake.
- The book's magic, however, seems to only act up and attract potential Priestesses in the exact moment it's needed within its story. In the third chapter of Byakko Senki, when Suzuno is cornered by child traffickers after her return to Tokyo, one of them easily swipes it away from her. The Universe, which until then had stubbornly found its way back to Suzuno several times, does not activate its powers even when Dr. Oikawa's protegé Seiji Horie intervenes to save Suzuno. It goes missing for ten years, until the fourth chapter takes place: it's brought as a part of the book catalogue in Suzuno's school but doesn't initially react to her presence, and later it properly appears in front of her. Its magic deactivates when Suzuno's underclassman Sachi shows up and then lays dormant for what's implied to be several days (only lowkey showing its power when Seiji and Suzuno almost make out near it), until Suzuno tries to return it to the library and is attacked by Seiji's jealous classmates. At that moment, she's taken back inside the book and its universe.
- A talking connection or signal can be made in the two different worlds when two same objects are found on two people, one in the book and one in the real world. Example: Miaka and Yui's school uniform, Takiko's hair ribbon, and Miaka and Keisuke's (her brother's) single piece of hair strand.