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Gensomaden Saiyuki Reviews

Kazuya Minekura's hit manga and anime: Saiyuki is now gradually spreading its popularity in North America.

We have collected a number of different Saiyuki reviews from famous anime magazines and e-zines. The interesting parts have been highlighted. Hope you all enjoy!

EX Review

How many times can a story be retold before the audience gets tired of it? This is the question tackled by manga author Minekura Kazuya in her current work GENSOMADEN SAIYUKI. Apparently, the manga (SAIYUKI) proved popular enough to warrant a TV anime series. Does the animated version justify yet-another-retelling of an age old tale? Read on and find out.
  In the land of Togenkyo, where humans and demons have co-existed peacefully, the balance is disturbed by someone seeking to resurrect the mighty demon Gyumao through a ritual that combines science and mysticism. The five gods who rule Heaven summon before them a monk and charge him with the tasks of finding and stopping the person responsible for the disruption of the natural order. The gods also assign three demons to travel with the monk, who is not too pleased with lack of say in the matter.
  For a monk, Genjo Sanzo is not the virtuous type you'd normally associate as the main character, but he possesses a certain leadership quality that reveals itself only when the situation calls for it. Otherwise, you'd think he was just some pistol-toting punk pretending to be a monk. Sanzo's traveling companions don't seem like boy scouts either, even with their human appearances. Sha Gojyo resembles a womanizing chain-smoking biker, but he is actually a chain-smoking water demon who specializes in wielding a chijiriki (a spear with a chained weight at one end). Cho Hakkai is most likely of the three companions to pass for a human with his gentle manner, but his superficial nature leaves others wondering about his true intentions. Then there's Son Goku who is usually thinking about food and serves as the mascot of the group.
  Son Goku? Isn't he also a character from DRAGONBALL? Yes, both SAIYUKI and DRAGONBALL share common roots in being based upon the classic Chinese tale about Goku the Monkey King and his involvement in the Journey to the West. While both series feature battles of mythical proportions, SAIYUKI takes different liberties with the characters and the plot to create its own take on the popular legend. Minekura sets her version of the story in a fantasy world where demons roam free, but she adds a few modern touches like Sanzo's pistol, Hakkai's dragon/jeep, and the high-tech facility where Gyumao is being revived. In addition to their assignment, the four travelers have their own personal quests, seeking answers to their pasts. For Sanzo, his quest is finding any surviving members of his religious order from a demonic massacre that happened when he was a boy. The goals of Sanzo's companions are revealed as the series progresses, giving each battle a new sort of relevance since different things are at stake.
  The animation delivered by Studio Pierrot for SAIYUKI is quite daring. You can easily tell where the animation budget is being stretched from the amount of still scenes and pans where hardly anything is moving except the camera. However, the stills in the beginning of the series (before the dreaded mid-series dip in quality) are very striking in composition and limited color palette. Director Date Yuto has a flair for juxtaposing people, through the heavy use of split-screens or overlays. These animation techniques give the show a visual identity that distinguishes it not just from other versions of JOURNEY TO THE WEST but other anime shows as well.
  Most of the main cast are veterans of popular shows, which would explain SAIYUKI's audio appeal. Sanzo is played by Seki Toshihiko, who has played many popular roles including Duo Maxwell from GUNDAM WING and Tezuka Shinobu from KOKO WA GREENWOOD. Hakkai is played by Ishida Akira, reprising his role from the seven GENSOMADEN SAIYUKI radio drama CDs. Ishida has also played EVANGELION's Nagisa Kaoru and SLAYERS' Xelloss. Hoshi Souichiro voices Son Goku, and his other notable roles are Aiba Yuuki from MUGEN NO RYVIUS and Mitsukuni Aoi from SPACE PIRATE MITO'S GREAT ADVENTURE.
  The soundtrack contains some hard rock pieces which are appropriate for the show, especially the opening and ending songs. Tokuyama Hidenori performs the catchy opener, "For Real," while Charcoal Filter mumbles the English lyrics of "Tightrope." (Granted that English is not Charcoal Filter's primary language, they could at least tried to carry a tune like they did with the Japanese lyrics of the ending song.) The background music has more variety, using orchestral pieces to create tension for the dramatic scenes and piano pieces for quieter scenes. The soundtrack CD should be pretty cool.
  For a show based upon a popular folk tale that has been retold many times, GENSOMADEN SAIYUKI is surprisingly good. The battles and the humor are entertaining, but it is the character development and interaction that makes the show more interesting. The limited TV series budget is apparent, but the production staff really knew how to rise above their limitations. If you get a chance to see this series, definitely check it out.

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