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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
The book was brought from the Shizou Temple in the mountainous regions of China to Japan by Einosuke Okuda during the Taisho era - more exactly, in 1923. Consumed with the legend of the wish-granting book, Einosuke threw himself into his translating work in an attempt to save his wife, Yoshie Okuda, who was sick with tuberculosis. In the process, he neglected his only child, Takiko Okuda, who took care of her mother in her father's absence.When her mother died, Takiko, angry at Einosuke, attempted to destroy the book that forced a wedge between her father and his family. But instead, she was transported inside the book to the Universe of the Four Gods where she became the Priestess of Genbu. Einosuke was unaware that the story and its legend inside the book were real. While Takiko was inside, he read along and followed her adventures, noticing how the written words changed as Takiko made decisions. It was truly a living novel.
After summoning Genbu, Takiko was allowed three wishes before being devoured by the Beast God. Seeing how his daughter was in great pain, Einosuke killed himself and, with the power of the book in his hands, killed Takiko. He left a will/letter his assistant, Takao Osugi, explaining what happened and told him to destroy the book.
Takao tried to fulfill Einosuke's wishl, but none of the methods he trried on the Book worked. While Takao was pondering where to leave it so no one would find it... he and his wife Tamayo died in the Great Kanto Earthquake that hit Tokyo in 1923, few months after the deaths of Einosuke and Takiko. Before passing away, he told his eight-year-old daughter, Suzuno Osugi, to open the book for her protection. The child entered the book but was soon sent safely back to Tokyo and the book was presumably lost.
Ten years after the disappearance of the Universe. Suzuno found it again in her school's library. It didn't initially react to her presence but later it unleashed its magic on her, which led to Suzuno returning to the world inside and becoming the Priestess of Byakko in Byakko Senki.
Reading AlongIn the original Fushigi Yuugi anime, after Miaka and Yui meet Tamahome, only Yui is sent back to Tokyo while Miaka remains inside. Yui begins reading the book until Miaka returns and she takes her place. Miaka's brother, Keisuke then 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.In the original Fushigi Yuugi manga, no one actually reads the book to follow the Priestesses since both Miaka and Yui are sent back to Tokyo almost immediately after meeting Tamahome. Miaka then re-enters it alone after a fight with her mother. Yui is taken back inside when she is looking for the missing Miaka. 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.
In the manga, Miaka's brother Keisuke Yuuki and his friend Tetsuya Kajiwara realize what's going on and start researching to help Miaka. In the anime, they also take turns reading along with the book and follow what's going on with Miaka on top of their research.
According to Keisuke, the book will always indulge a priestess into the book, even if all of the gods were summoned. The cycle must continue in order for the universe inside the book to live on. In exchange, three wishes are granted to the sacrificial priestess, who traditionally uses most of them to save the world of the book.
The first to enter the book was Takiko Okuda in 1923. She entered the book three times.
- 1st Arrival: Takiko tried to destroy the book during a fight with her father Einosuke, which led to the Book reacting to her and taking her inside.
- 2nd Arrival: Takiko briefly returned to Japan and got ready to attend her mother Yoshie's funeral, also managing to have a talk with her father, but was transported back inside the book right before the ceremony.
- 3rd Arrival: The third and definitive time took place after the Celestial Warriors of Genbu made her return to her world so she could escape her fate of being devoured. Takiko decides to return to finish her mission of saving Hokkan and dies inside the book. Her father Einosuke is holding the Book in his hands as he commits suicide to make Takiko's death less painful.
Takiko was followed by Suzuno Osugi, who entered the book at least twice.
- 1st Arrival: To save his daughter from the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, Takao Osugi sent her inside the book. After a few hours in the book, Suzuno was sent back to Japan.
- 2nd Arrival: In 1933, a teenaged Suzuno finds the book in her school's library and takes it home. Having found out about its origins and her role in the story, she decides to take it back there; on her way to the school she's attacked by a bunch of military students who hold grudges against her then-fiancé Seiji Horie, and the book takes her back inside during the scuffle.
After Suzuno's adventures, the book was stored away in the National Library in Tokyo. But in the 90s, it was discovered by Miaka Yuki and Yui Hongo in the restricted section.
- 1st Arrival: In the anime, Miaka and Yui are first transported together In the anime Yui is almost immediately sent back to the Library; Miaka stays inside while Yui reads along.
- 2nd Arrival: In the manga, both girls are sent back together after a short time in the book. Miaka runs away from home after a fight with her mother and secretly returns to the book, Yui follows when she goes out searching for her. In the anime, when Miaka is sent back to Tokyo by Taiitsukun, Yui was instead swallowed inside the book.
- 3rd Arrival: A few hours after her return to Tokyo, Miaka returns and her adventures continue almost exclusively inside the world of the book until the OVAs.
Timelines Inside The Book
- "What a weird book"
- —Misaki, to Madoka regarding the book
There is no set rule for the passage of time inside the book. Generally, time passes more quickly in the book than in the real world and an hour in the real world can mean a month in the book. Whoever enters the book can spend years there and will return to a time not too far from when they left reality. This was first shown in the original series when Miaka returned to Tokyo for a few hours and then entered the book to find that three months had passed.
There have been instances of time in the book behaving slower than time in reality. In Byakko Senki, Suzuno first arrived in the book as an eight-year-old before leaving quite quickly. When she returned ten years later, less than a month had gone by in the book itself.
Powers and Limitations
- It generally only Accepts One Priestess At A Time
- 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 itself cannot be destroyed by any human forces but there have been many attempts. Takiko was sucked inside when she tried to rip it apart. Months later, Takao Osugi tried to destroy it with several different methods (including sealing in a Shinto shrine, using an industrial kiln, etc.), but all of them failed. He intended to either bury it in the mountains or throw it into the sea, but he was killed before carrying the out the deed.
- Selective Magic
- The book's teleportation magic only acts up around a person who can play a role that needs to be filled in the story. The role that the book needs to sustain itself is often the role of a Priestess and it targets young females to bring into the story. But it is not exclusive to Priestesses: In the OVA, Tamahome was sucked back into the book to essentially "play" his part of a Celestial Warrior of Suzaku again after spending months in the real world with Miaka.
- The magic does not activate its powers when it is not around a "chosen" person, such as a Priestess. This is shown when the book's power deactivates when Suzuno's school friend, Sachi, is around. Its magic is only available when the targeted person is alone or in danger: in example, the book reacts to Suzuno and her boyfriend Seiji are about to kiss while home alone, and sucks her back in when Seiji's cruel classmates corner her and try to molest her.
- Connection Across Worlds
- A speech 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. A few examples are Miaka and Yui's school uniform, Takiko's hair ribbon, and Miaka and Keisuke's strands of hair.