Original story by Kazuya Minekura
Directed by Hayato Date
- Cultural background notes
- Production sketches
- Japanese opening and closing
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Tragic pasts
- Cranky stepmother
Released by: ADV
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Buy it.
[ad#longpost]Saiyuki is a refreshingly different take on the traditional tale of Genjo Sanzo, a monk in search of sacred scriptures. Sanzo, a trigger-happy, cranky, boozer is on the ultimate road trip across China and India with a rather odd collection of friends: the uber-powerful, ever-hungry Son Goku; Sha Gojyo, the half-breed who loves not wisely but too well; and Cho Hakkai, whose bookish exterior hides a tragic, violent past and who has a pet dragon (who is sometimes a Jeep). Sounds bizarre, no? And yet somehow it works, and works brilliantly. Four very different men must pull together for the good of the quest and try to become something together than they never could have become alone.
On this disc, the road west and the fellows have problems not only with the present, but with the past. As a baby, Sanzo was, like Moses, abandoned and set adrift on a river; found and raised by monks, Sanzo’s tragic past might be what made him who he is. In turn, Hakkai was raised in a Catholic school, so his trouble with gods has good reason, and Gojyo is forced to deal with the ghosts of his stepmother’s resentment about being saddled with a half-breed child. One of the messages of this show has always been that tragedy in the past often helps one cope with the need for heroism in the present, and that point is made very clearly here.
The audio and video qualities here are on par with previous releases in this series, which is to say that they are both good. There are a few (very few) instances of aliasing with the video, mostly during fight scenes, but that’s reaching to find something to complain about. The look of the show is great, and the art is outstanding–attractive and yet nicely appropriate for the show. Both the English and Japanese casts are great, with accents that suit the characters, though I slightly prefer the Japanese cast on this disc. They just seem to differentiate the characters a bit better, but, as always, that’s going to be a taste issue in the end. It’s enough that both casts are experienced, skilled, and seem to like and understand their characters.
The features of this disc are like those of the previous discs in this series. We get a nifty selection of cultural background notes that should entertain and educate all viewers, some nice production sketches that will please all would-be artists and fans of the show’s art, the Japanese opening/closing, the original trailer, and a poster. The poster this time is a nice image of Kenren Taisho.
If you like buddy flicks or road trip movies, then you’ll love Saiyuki. Those with an interest in Buddhist history might also be refreshed by this novel, if a bit irreverent, take on a major story in religious history. If you liked the version of Goku in Dragonball, then surely you’ll like to see this version of Goku, which is different than that one, but no less entertaining and interesting.