If the early ‘90s anime and manga gets remade, Yu Watase thinks it should look like this.

While big eyes and pointy chins remain a consistent aesthetic point in manga and anime artwork, fans know that Japanese character design has its own set of evolving trends. And while some loyalists still have a soft spot for the art of decades past, there are also those who’d like to see anime and manga icons updated for more modern tastes.

Usually, that particular itch gets scratched by the fan art community. And granted, these updated character designs for the cast of smash-hit 1990s manga and TV anime Fushigi Yugi were drawn by someone who’s definitely fond of the series. Still, it doesn’t quite qualify as fan art, because the drawings were done by Yu Watase, Fushigi Yugi’s creator and original manga artist herself!

Over the last couple of days, Watase has been sending out a series of tweets with gorgeous reference sheet-style sketches of the cast of the romantic fantasy epic, starting with main character Miaka. To really highlight the differences, Watase also did a new drawing of a “1991 version” of the heroine.

▼ 1991 version

▼ Modern version

One of the secrets to Fushigi Yugi’s success, though, is that just about any fan can find someone to identify with or root for in the series’ sizeable ensemble cast. Watase looks to be only too happy to please her fanbase, as she’s shared similarly refreshed looks for Miaka’s protectors, the Celestial Warriors of Suzaku.

▼ Dreamy romantic interest/martial artist Tamahome

▼ Dreamy romantic interest/emperor Hotohori

▼ Super-strong dude-who-looks-and-sounds-like-a-lady Nuriko

▼ Wandering monk Chichiri, who’s single-handedly responsible for countless second-semester Japanese language students ending their sentences with no da.

▼ Handsome comic relief Tasuki

▼ Handsome medical practitioner Mitsukake

▼ Cherubic young scholar Chiriko, who probably would have grown up to be handsome eventually

As a tale that’s dripping with emotion, Fushigi Yugi also features a collection of charismatic antagonists, most of whom had their moral compass damaged following some sort of early-life tragedy.

▼ Miaka’s friend-turned-romantic-rival-turned-fated-enemy Yui

Nakago, cunning leader of the villainous Celestial Warriors of Seiryu

Soi, Nakago’s subordinate and sexual healing partner

▼ The beastly Ashitare

▼ Illusionist Tomo, who Watase remarks she amped up the perviness of for this drawing

▼ Talented musician yet sub-par swimmer Amiboshi

▼ Amboshi’s twin brother Suboshi, who’s looking for vengeance and a girlfriend (in no particular order)

▼ And with one last –boshi, it’s Miboshi, the disturbingly sinister counterpart to pure-hearted Chiriko.

Sadly, for now, the sketches are just that. “If I was drawing characters for a 20th-anniversary remake of Fushigi Yugi, this is how they’d look,” tweeted Watase, quickly adding “This is just something I did for fun, so don’t take it too seriously.” Still, it sounds like the artist would be game for an anime remake if one were to be greenlit, so maybe there’s still a slight chance of us one day seeing these designs in motion.

Source: Nijimen via Anime News Network/Amanda Ellard
Featured image: Twitter/@wataseyuu_ (edited by RocketNews24)

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s trying to remember where he put that pack of circular Fushigi Yugi playing cards he bought in the Anime America dealer’s room.