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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.