Considering how many ways this story has been adapted over the years, a hentai version is certainly required viewing.
What They Say
Oh no! Saiyuki it ain't so! The classic novel from Chinese literature takes an unexpected turn down a kinky road to Japan and the majority of the cast somehow end up with sex changes! Now with only one male member left between them, our heroes are going to have to find some new ways to amuse themselves - which probably won't be too hard since they're in a town where anything and everything can be had for a price and even a dragon has to watch his... (Well, you get the idea!) Will these lethal lovelies be willing to Go-ku the distance? Oh, yeah!
Karma Saiyuki gets just its original language in this release, which isn’t a surprise since Happy Carrot doesn’t seem to be dubbing any of the new properties they pick up. The show has a straightforward stereo mix encoded at 224kbps which gives it a good feeling overall, but people don’t really expect a lot from hentai when it comes to audio. The show has a simple forward soundstage design to it with everything generally done with a full feeling but there are a few moments where the action gives off some sense of directionality. While there are no surprises here, it is a good solid production and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2007, the transfer for this single episode OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Karma Saiyuki has a lot of bold vibrant colors and very smooth animation which gives this transfer a very appealing look. It may not be high-end detailed quality, but the visual design of it has it looking much better than a lot of the low budget shows that come out in the hentai world. The transfer is free of problems overall with just a touch of noise in a few scenes here and there that’s barely noticeable. With just one episode that runs barely over thirty minutes, it’s got plenty of space to work with and the end results are very positive and appealing.
The cover artwork for Karma Saiyuki is spot on though it is a bit of a tease in a way. The front cover features the three secondary characters from the brothel scene as they all have on swimsuits that you never actually see in the show. Their designs are certainly appealing though and they tickle all the different standard fancies that are out there. The back cover gives us our leads in their skimpy outfits along the right while the left has a few shots from the show itself. The summary is very amusing as they’re doing a hard sell for it as you’d get from a couple of drunk friends trying to be all hip. The remainder of the cover is given over to the production credits and a clean technical grid, though they do pad the runtime up from 33 minutes to 40 minutes. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
There really isn’t a menu here as the show starts right off when it loads but they did include a title card with character artwork of the lead girls in maid outfits so if you hit “top menu” you do get something. There’s nothing to select there and no way to actually restart the show via the menu so you have to hit “top menu” again to get it going. I’m glad they included this title card but I wish they would have made it a bit more functional for those who may not realize how to get out of it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Appearing to be the first release from the Japanese production company Oz Ink, Karma Saiyuki is originally known as Iyashite Agerun Saiyuki and it’s a pretty good little show that doesn’t overstay its welcome. In fact, this is one of the better shows that I’ve seen in awhile that actually feels more like a nod to the past with its designs and the way it plays out than something that you’d expect to be made today. It has a certain look to the characters and it’s playing with a sense of humor that makes you smile and honestly feels like it’s made by guys who miss old school hentai and wanted to give us something fun, sexy and hot to watch. Oz Ink certainly has made a good impression with its inaugural effort.
Karma Saiyuki is a bit confusing at first as it introduces us to a present day situation where a group of three young women use magic of sorts to repair electronics and their secret is known to a young man named Tsutomu who takes advantage of it by having lots of sex with the girls. This takes up the first couple of minutes before it shifts to telling a “Gogo West” Saiyuki story where the main cast is sent back into the past in another setting where they’re traveling west together. Tsutomu and two of the girls are together as they enter a town and do what every Saiyuki story does when the group enters a town – they get food. While their third companion, Mayuko, is off riding a cloud somewhere and eating pork buns with her little monkey in tow, the other three are scarfing down food in a fine traditional manner.
Tsutomu is a perverted little guy though and when he sees a very cute woman walking by he goes after her and learns that it’s a combination spa/restaurant. No missing a beat, he sets up the works and goes after her and his two companions pick out women of their own as well. This turns the remainder of the show, a very large portion of it, into the three different sex scenes that play out. With six people going at it in tandem in different rooms, you get plenty of variety to it with very good animation and a whole lot of fun. At least until Tsutomu goes where his girl doesn’t want and it ends up shorting her out because she and the others are really androids. That causes the tentacles to come flying out from the women and it takes on an even more perverse tone done in a humorous way. When Mayuko returns, she does her best to beat back the women before making sure that everyone comes away happy.
What got me about Karma Sayuki after its awkward opening sequence was the way that it seems to capture a lot of what made late eighties and early nineties hentai so much fun. Yeah, it’s got tentacles to it, but damnit, everyone looks and sounds like they’re having fun. There’s no real treating of the sex as something bad or evil, it’s all good fun. The character designs have a classic look to them I think, with the bigger hair, the softer faces and the bigger eyes that seem to exude a different kind of energy and enthusiasm than you get with more current designs. With the bright color palette and the very smooth and solid animation accompanying it, the combination of it all really works out well to present a fun, energetic and upbeat kind of show.
Karma Saiyuki is one of a small number of very good adult anime shows that have made their way over here in the last couple of years. As has been the case for far too many years now, the bulk of adult anime tends to center around the darker side and non-consensual side. There’s a lot to be said for living out fantasies through viewing things like this and I certainly agree on that, but there is a whole lot more out there as well. Positive, fun and upbeat expressions of sex like this is a welcome respite from the continuing slog of the oppressive material. This certainly won’t win general awards, but it’s a damn fun show and one that’s likely to fall under the radar of a lot of people. If you like classic anime and want to see some fun sex, yuri and futanari with it, then by all means grab this title. Very recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.