ADV Films // 2000 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // April 29th, 2004
Ventilate me with a handgun
Saiyuki is a long running adventure series that sort of resembles a very pretty, stylistic Dragonball Z. We follow the story of four travelers as they head West to confront a powerful evil. Along the way, they encounter enemies, friends, and just about everything else. Particular attention to detail has been paid to the lush animation and detailed background landscaping in this anime, which are shown off nicely in the DVD transfer.
Backstory: Genjyo Sanzo is a priest in Shangri-La (paradise). When a negative energy wave, the result of forbidden magic being used to resurrect a demon named Gyumaoh, sweeps the land and turns all non-humans into mindless monsters that devour anyone in their path, he is commanded to go West, vanquish the ones responsible, and restore sanity to the land, allowing humans and yokai (supernatural beings) to once again live in peace with each other. He is instructed to take three part-human yokai with him, who can withstand the negative wave of energy and aid him in his quest.
"The Arrogance of the Gods" -- Souto, a heavenly soldier, defects with a handful of trusted men and goes to the side of Homura. His first task: eliminate Sanzo and crew and bring back the Maten Scripture. Will it be his only task?
"The Real Imposters" -- This one is purely for fun. A group of losers who previously posed as the traveling foursome resurface; this time, in a small town that the travelers stop at for food. The imposters decide to play dress up again, and instantly receive their karmic reward.
"Dried Up Tears" -- A brother and sister are abducted and forced into service for an evil woman who wants the Seitan and Maten Scriptures. Using their love for each other and desire to escape together against them, she uses dark magic and science to enhance them and give them powers that she hopes will defeat Sanzo and Homura, then sends them in opposite directions, with heartbreaking results.
"The War Prince Returns" -- Just when it seems the foursome are going to get a little rest and relaxation, Homura appears to stir up trouble. It seems he has a special interest in Goku this time.
Overall Impressions: I found this volume to be relaxed in pace, letting the stories unfold without rushing it. Fight scenes were excellent and engaging, but too few on this particular volume. However, part of the appeal of this series is just watching the travelers bicker. For fans that want to see more bickering, Volume Eight will be quite a treat. The stories were a bit of an emotional roller coaster: slapstick one minute, tears the next. Good drama.
Video transfer for this volume is excellent, with a clear, crisp print that shows off the beautiful animation, vibrant colors and the "TV-static shift" effect used to show different character reactions. Sound quality is similarly excellent, with a lively surround track, especially in the 5.1 English dub.
Extras for this volume are plentiful and appropriate; as this series is a big hit with female fans (at least, in Japan) there is a mini-poster insert featuring one of the characters that also has notes on antagonist characters on the reverse side. The disc features production sketches set to some very lovely music. I kept playing that sequence as I was writing just for the music. Also included are extensive translation and cultural notes for those into Japanese culture or wanting to know more about the Chinese origins for the Saiyuki story. Rounding out the extras is a set of clean opening and closing credits, a trailer, and more ADV previews.
If, by this point, you're hooked on Saiyuki, you'll find this to be another solid entry in the series and well worth the purchase.
Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)
* English (Signs Only)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Mini-Poster Insert
* Production Sketches
* Translation and Cultural Notes
* Clean Opening/Closing Credits
* ADV Previews
* Saiyuki Trailer
* Official Site