Saiyuki Reload Gunlock Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saiyuki Reload Gunlock

Saiyuki Reload Gunlock Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     July 02, 2006
Release Date: June 27, 2006

Saiyuki Reload Gunlock Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
While Goku fights Kougaiji alone, Dokugakuji tells Sanzo, Gojyo and Hakkai the truth of the situation: Kougaiji has been transformed into a brutal killing machine. Goku is really in a pinch; his strength is dwindling, and it is all he can do to stay conscious. Can they get Kougaiji back to normal before this fight turns fatal? And who knew that both a board game and a beautiful woman could each prove to be more deadly than any demon?!

The Review!
With a surprising amount of actual plot and story going on this early, the show turns into a lot of fun but heads back into standalone territory far too quickly.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Having grown used to the cast over the course of the previous series it was a zero-choice issue for us. The series mix is pretty much the same as we got back in the previous show with a fairly good stereo mix that has some occasional moments of directionality, often coming from Sanzo's weapon or some minor piece of dialogue but never anything really outstanding that really rises up. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the music from the opening sequence is probably as loud as it gets throughout the show so it's an easy way to set the level.

Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The differences between this show and the previous one are pretty stark. Faring a bit better than the previous series and getting its groove with the digital animation, it fixes some of the problems that it had before but some of them still exist, such as somewhat awkward movements, the overly bright color palette and that feel at times that the characters weren't exactly inside the show but on top of it. The transfer in general though is of good quality and represents the materials accurately as there's hardly any aliasing and no cross coloration that was visible on either of my setups. The one area that I was really happy to see come across well was that there were no issues with the color gradient being obvious as it blends really well here. The end credits is probably the worst offending area though, especially in how it stutters at the start and finish and the crawl itself is just riddled with shimmering.

Using the same character artwork as the Japanese release, Goku takes the cover this time with the really nicely painted illustration that has some excellent detail and style to it. Fans of this series have a treasure trove of creative and fun artwork with the characters and the covers have been fantastic. The back cover provides a brief summary of the premise and then lists each of the four episodes with their number and titles and provides four images for each of them. The rest of the cover is filled out with the discs features and extras as well as production information. The insert replicates the front cover artwork on one side while the reverse side lists the chapter stops for each of the episodes and a list of release dates by month.

The main menu for this show is done using some of the stylish elements that are used in the show such as the grainy footage for the background, the hard rock instrumental music and things like the four lead characters in their charcoal suits striking a pose. It's hard to describe but it fits the feel of this installment of the series with its Gunlock title and harsher feel. The layout is quick to load and easy to navigate and access times are nice and fast. Submenus load quickly and the disc correctly read our players language presets.

Continuing with similar extras, this volume has the clean version of the ending sequence as well as the original Japanese version.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Gunlock edition of Saiyuki's something that's problematic for me in that just when they're at the point where they're seemingly interested in actually telling the story again, I've lost more and more interest in the show and its characters. After all, we've had almost eighty episodes of the show before Gunlock even starts, and with most of Reload being filler, they haven't done a lot to really keep me too terribly interested.

Gunlock's first volume played around a bit and then got things underway by messing around with Kougaiji and removing most of his personality and brainwashing him so that he'd just do as ordered. That's left his friends desperately trying to find him, in which they run into Sanzo and the others sans Goku and they try to explain the situation. It's an amusing sort of discussion since it's not that they're worried about Sanzo and the others being hurt but rather from Kougaiji going too far from what his real self would want or allow him to do, something that could damage him in the long run. This run-in between the two sides allows for the show to go a bit longer in telling its other tale, that of the meet-up between Kougaiji and Goku.

The pair-up of the two allows for some good fighting material to occur between them, particularly since Kougaiji isn't restraining himself and Goku really does love a good fight when he gets into it. He's thrown off at first, partially because of how the two sides have been recently and Goku's recent side-trip to the village that's got him protecting all of them now from Kougaiji. There is an unfortunate sidestory that slows down the main fight though as the kid from the previous volume wants to go out and help Goku against Kougaiji, a foolish thing in itself, since it would be completely pointless and it would expose everyone to the danger of Kougaiji himself. But even worse, there's another devil down there and he's got his sister and is using her to draw the others to him. It's all quite silly and just serves to drag out the main fight itself.

As everything evolves in this fight though, it gets far more entertaining. Goku's spunk in general is a real plus as it moves forward between him and Kougaiji and he's more than able to hold his own against the guy who has nothing inhibiting him. Of course, once the rest of the gang shows up for both sides of the equation, the fight gets even more interesting and it sets things up to change the relationship between them a bit. They've had some good moments before where they've acknowledged each other as being strong and determined people who are mostly honorable, but this could change things even further when their next encounter comes.

The second half of the disc is more of a mixed bag though since it goes back to giving us a pair of standalone stories. The second one was fairly uninteresting to me since it focused primarily on Gojyo when he comes into contact with a red haired woman who may be a lot like him but it's a setup for a larger trap. While we haven't seen it happen quite this way in the past, it's a fairly familiar piece for Gojyo, right down to the warnings in the next episode preview for it that it's a more mature episode. That said, the episode prior to it is hilarious as the gang spends some downtime in a really large mansion that's fairly creepy. After getting served with some very basic things such as milk and sandwiches, they find themselves playing a strangely animated boardgame that actually messes with reality. It's like a twisted version of Life as they move along the board but things like dragons appear, the room fills with water and Goku can only woof. It's a great comedy piece overall and does help to restore the camaraderie aspect that does make the show a lot of fun.

In Summary:
While these early episodes have done fairly well in restoring some of my faith in the series in actually attempting to get back on track with the storyline but at the same time I'm still feeling the Saiyuki fatigue. I'm glad Geneon kicked off with Gunlock right after Reload ended just because I want to get to it but I wonder if a bit of time between them would have helped that fatigue. The show is essentially what we've had before though when it comes to a lot of aspects of it, from the sarcastic dialogue and banter and the overall animation, so no real surprises there. Fans of the show will find plenty to enjoy here and if you're not a fan, how could you possibly even think of jumping in at this point?

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Ending,
Japanese Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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