Original story by Kazuya Minekura
Directed by Hayato Date
- Cultural background notes
- Production sketches
- Japanese opening/closing animations
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Chaos and strife
- Parting as sweet sorrow
Released by: ADV
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Get it, of course!
[ad#longpost]Saiyuki is one of the most interesting and enjoyable shows to reach America in the past year. A fine combination of adventure and comedy, the show tells the story of a holy man, Sanzo, and his friends, including the much-loved legendary figure of Son Goku, the monkey god. Sanzo & Co. have been charged with bringing an end to the war rising between spiritual beings and humans, as well as stopping the evil of a great demon summoned into existence far to the West of his home in Japan.
With this disc, the show comes to an emotional, powerful ending, as we follow the War God Homura continuing to try and destroy the existing Heaven and Earth and replacing them with realms of his own design. He needs Goku for his plan to succeed, and so Homura struggles to control and manipulate the ever-hungry madman. What side will Goku choose, and how will all the chaos play out? The heroes finally reunite for the final battles of the series, that are all as satisfying as you could hope.
The show ends in a mighty, melodramatic conclusion as befits a show this emotional and active. The recent discs with their view of the past have altered how we felt about people and events, and now those threads all bear fruit, especially as we learn more about Homura and his motives. Again, if you’re new to this show or got bored with it early, then give it another chance. It’s not quite what the first few discs made it look like it is; it’s more complex, more fun, and much less cliché than it initially looks like it might be–though it’s still pretty heavy on the bishonen-quotient.
The sound in both English and Japanese is good, with some fun characterization on both sides. Viewers can listen to either voice track and feel pleased with the show. The art has always been one of the show’s strong-suits, a bit stylized as befits a fable and attractive even when depicting something bad.
The features list here is what it has always been, so there’s no big finale in that department, but the features were always good, so there’s still no reason to complain, either. The wonderful cultural background notes continue, and we get another batch of production sketches, the Japanese opening and closing, the show trailer, and one last fold-out poster, this one depicting Our Heroes in all their bishie glory. Sure it would have been nice if The End had come with a bit more fanfare, such as interviews with cast and crew, but the features list has been about as packed all along as any other series out there, and a bit more so than some, so let’s not complain too much.
In short, if you’ve enjoyed the series thus far, then the conclusion of Saiyuki should please you. If you’re coming late to the party, then pick up the previous volumes and come on in; you’ll be glad you did. Fans of fantasy adventure who don’t mind a bit of comedy mixed in are sure to like this, as are people who enjoy buddy flicks and ensemble casts. Basically, there’s something here for everyone, whether your personal focus is art, character, or plain old-fashioned fun. Don’t expect a lot of heavy philosophizing (this isn’t a brain-dead show, but it’s not Grave of the Fireflies either), but do expect adventure, action, and a whole lotta fun.