Artist: The Amazing Kenny Tombs
Retail Price: $19.99 USD
Learning Difficulty: Difficult
Notes: Fushigi is a brand name of a type of product for the art of Contact Juggling. Fushigi doesn't in fact float on it's own, and it is important to know that being a skill art, contact juggling/ Fushigi will take hours of practice to get the motions down, and years to master.
DVD: Tutorial on Contact Juggling
Wringing the Towel
Ice Cream Ascension
Cradle to Palm
The Half Pipe
The Finger Flip
The Prayer Pass
Venus Fly Trap
String Pulls & Push
2 Ball Palm Spin
Palm Spin Isolation
3 Ball Palm Spin
4 Ball Palm Spin
Caterpillar, Squid, and Jellyfish
Mini's & Glow
1 Fushigi Contact Juggling Ball
1 Disk Stand
1 Carrying Bag
Fushigi, Japanese for “Mysterious” is the Magic Gravity Ball that everyone's talking about right now. With some very simple maneuvering of the body, the ball appears to effortlessly float in mid air right in front of you! Fushigi is fun, relaxing, rewarding, and (according to Fushigi) even therapeutic.
When I first saw this product advertised on TV I was a little put off. Contact Juggling, which is exactly what Fushigi is make no mistake about it, has been around since the 1980's. The art was originally pioneered by a performer named Michael Moschen. While you may not recognize his name, if you were a child of the 80's you certainly will remember his handy work, as it was his hands manipulating the spheres for David Bowie in the cult classic movie “Labyrinth”. I was worried that the overly commercial product would not do the art of contact juggling justice, by over exposing it in a cheap and gimmicky kind of way. I have had a minor interest in contact juggling now for about a year and change, and after using standard Acrylic spheres purchased through my local magic shop I was interested in seeing what the Fushigi product brought to the table. I'm glad to say that while the advertisement is gimmicky the product, for what it is, is fairly good. Since the Holiday season is among us, and giving into a friend of mine's request for my insight on this product (as her son is wanting one) I decided to go ahead and do a full review. So sit tight folks, we're about ready to tackle Fushigi!
Before we get into the actual real business of this review I just wanted to say a few quick things about the art of contact juggling, and the marketing angle of Fushigi. The commercials and advertising present the Fushigi ball as if it were able to defy gravity. This is a slight misnomer because there isn't any magic tricks associated with this product. It doesn't defy gravity because of magnets, or strings. It does appear to defy gravity though through the use of solid skill. As such, contact juggling isn't something that your child will be able to pick up the moment he or she opens the box. It requires many hours of practice, and dedication to get good at let alone master. Make no mistake about it, it looks absolutely amazing once you've got it down, but it's a long road to get there. It's important to me to point this out because I feel that a lot of kids may get this product without realizing what they're getting into, and be put off by it. Parents be ready to explain that it's a skill set like doing magic tricks, or riding a bike, and proceed from there.
First off lets talk about the actual product itself. The Fushigi ball. You have three options, a Mini that's two inches, the standard three inch sphere, and the new three inch Glow sphere. I'll not go into too much detail about the Mini or the Glow, as they will behave just like your standard three inch ball, the Mini is specifically designed for palm spinning only. For the purposes of this review, when I'm speaking about the Fushigi ball itself, I'll be talking about the standard three inch ball.
The Fushigi is unique among all other contact juggling spheres as it utilizes a ball in ball design. The mirrored inner ball helps to solidify the illusion of the Fushigi actually floating in space as you perform your isolations and transfers. The ball has a good weight to it, which is nice. It's heavy enough that you can feel it on your hand, arm, or palm, but not too heavy to make manipulations a daunting task. For anyone who is used to contact juggling using standard Acrylic spheres, you'll also be glad to know that the Fushigi ball won't reflect the sunlight and produce magnifying glass like hot spots the way your standard Acrylics can.
The ring stand, and carrying bag are nothing special nor are they of any exceptional quality. It's simply a way to store your ball when it's not in use, and a way to keep it safe during travel. Given your own time, and imagination, I'm almost confident you'll come up with your own way of transporting the balls. Frankly I love the leather hip pouch Kenny's wearing in the training DVD.
The Fushigi product comes with it's own instructional DVD taught by a Florida based performer named Kenny Tombs, A.K.A The Amazing Kenny. Kenny has been contact juggling since the turn of the millennium, and now serves as the instructor for Fushigi. Kenny's light hearted, almost comical approach to teaching on the DVD makes him an easy watch. He does a great job explaining the moves and showing you as easily as he can how to do them. The DVD doesn't waste any time with filler material. There is none. The DVD presents a move, discusses it, and then moves on. You can select a Play All option, and view the entire disk, or you can select individual chapters. If you select an individual chapter (the chapters are broken up by the separate moves) then once the chapter is complete the disk will automatically take you back to the chapter select screen. The moves on the DVD range in skill level from simple, to difficult, and no doubt will keep someone busy for hours trying to master it all.
The product is widely available right now, and though it can be ordered off line from it's website most major retail stores are now stocking it as well. I like the idea of encouraging contact juggling and making it such a readily available art form. It's a beautiful art, and I'm happy to see it get more exposure. In the years past to get your contact balls you've had to order from specialty retailers online, or through your magic shop. Now, Target, Wallgreens, and Wal-Mart are just some of the stores carrying the product.
While Fushigi isn't magical in itself, and it's by no stretch of the imagination a stand alone magic effect, it's use in the hands of a skilled contact juggler can be completely enchanting. Whether you're working contact juggling into your current magic act, or you're looking to expand your horizons into an alternative performance art, Fushigi is not only a good product, but it's got a good tutorial DVD, and it's widely available. In short it's a product I would certainly recommend. And going into the Holiday season, you can bet it's going to be a hot gift item this year!
When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Over all Quality.
Product Quality: 7
For twenty bucks you get a ball, a DVD, and a carrying bag. Can't go wrong there, especially since most Acrylic contact balls range in price from $15 to $20 bucks as is. For a beginner, you can't beat the price for what you get. The ball is great, I love the fact that it doesn't magnify the sun like my Acrylics do, and the mirrored inner ball design actually enhances (so I think) the overall appearance of the ball in performances.
Teaching Quality: 8
Kenny is entertaining to watch, and easy to learn from. He shows you as cleanly, and clearly as he can, the moves, and what your body must do to perform them. He's a talented contact juggler himself, and he knows his material.
Video & Sound Quality: 8
This really isn't a hard category to get a high score in. So long as your sound is good, your video professionally shot, no drop outs, and or bad cuts, and the DVD menus all work, you usually can walk out with a high score. As you can see, I was pleased with the DVD.
Over All Quality: 7
I like the product, I love contact juggling, and the DVD I thought was very helpful to a novice like myself. The only real problem I have with Fushigi is the misleading notion that the ball somehow is able to defy gravity, float, or suspend on its own without the serious aid of the performers skill to assist it. The commercials really undersell just how much skill is required to perform contact juggling. I think too many kids are going to see this, say “I wanna do that!”, purchase the product, and get turned off all to quick because there is no instant gratification. I'm afraid the sudden shock of actually needing to work at developing the skills to perform with this product will ultimately turn away would be contact jugglers. However, if you have the patience and dedication to devote to the art of contact juggling, purchasing Fushigi will make you a very happy customer in the end.