Saiyuki Reload Gunlock Vol. #5 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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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: 29.98
  • 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. #5

By Chris Beveridge     March 07, 2007
Release Date: December 26, 2006

Saiyuki Reload Gunlock Vol. #5
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
It seems impossible for Sanzo, Goku, Gojyo and Hakkai to get rid of Hazel's attentions, and the group gets more irritated by the second. Just then, Lirin arrives on the scene, complicating matters-if Hazel detests all demons, what will he do to Lirin? Surprisingly enough, Hazel doesn't seem to mind her, but later on the group find her tied up in a tree. Hazel explains to Sanzo and the others that Lirin suddenly ran wild and killed villagers as well as demons. Hazel then tries to convince Sanzo that all demons exist to be his enemies, and that Sanzo should join Hazel's quest to rid the world of demons...

The Review!
Just when you think there might be some progress, it takes forever and a day to get there " Saiyuki style!.

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, Kougaiji takes this installment and his dark look works all the better here. Just like the previous covers though, seeing this and then seeing the actual animation is almost painful in some ways. The detail and look of the clothing in particular just looks fantastic here. 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.

A good selection of extras makes it onto this release. The new ending sequences is presented in both its clean version and the original Japanese version. We also get a new music clip, this time of "Snow Crystal."

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a bit of a hiatus between volumes, I had hoped going into this volume somewhat fresh and without all that came before quite so heavy on my mind. The storyline in Saiyuki, particularly this season and the previous one, isn't all that in-depth so a bit of a breather wouldn't do much harm. Similar to the volume that came before though, the more I watch of Saiyuki the more apathetic I feel about it.

For every step forward it seems like they drive that jeep back a country mile. The introduction of Hazel and Gato in recent episodes has given the show something new to deal with that could spark some new energy into it. The continuous back and forth between Sanzo's group and Kougaiji's group has really fallen into a bad mode where you know nothing is really going to change for a number of reasons. Even though I accept that this is basically a big road trip kind of series, there has to be something that will keep bringing you back. The characters have had a lot of coverage over the course of the past hundred or so episodes that there are so there isn't a lot left to mine there.

These episodes do start off with an amusing change-up in the situation though. While Sanzo and his group are continuing their travels, they do run afoul of Hazel and Gato once again. The pair are continuing their gunplay and soulreaving while Sanzo and the others watch what they're doing. The twist comes when Dokugaku and his group run afoul of them as well and end up trying to take down Hazel and Gato. Add Kougaiji into the mix after some serious gunshot wounds are brought into it and Sanzo and friends are privy to a rather violent show. Even as bloody as this gets, in its limited TV fashion, the way it plays out allows for Sanzo and the others to spend some time with Hazel and Gato.

Neither of these two are terribly personable and I have a hard time really watching Gato without thinking that he's an eastern vision of Tonto. Providing Hazel's background helps to flesh him out a bit more as he uses his history to try and sway Sanzo to his side. Hazel doesn't manage to sway Sanzo on this since he tries the "we're the same even though we're different" approach with him. His origin and his methods don't exactly sway the viewer much either since it's just another instance where someone who is supposedly doing good comes across as evil more than anything else. Hazel does bring in some conflict to Sanzo's group but this doesn't come until the very end of this volume and just has a feeling of Sanzo playing Hazel more than anything else. Saiyuki has long been predictable but this installment just has it feeling like it's really spinning its wheels in the same spot once again.

In Summary:
It feels like it was an age ago that I had finally gotten into a rhythm of enjoying Saiyuki. With Reload and Gunlock they've taken that and put it on hold in order to tell some occasionally interesting standalone stories and a couple of lengthy uninteresting stories. Within a lengthy show like the first seasons it worked since it made hints and progress towards something more. Within these smaller seasons though it comes across more as just one of many side stories to the main attraction. Great for fans of the characters who want more of the same but almost painful for those who want to get back to the good stuff. This volume is more of the same and just lacks and real meaningful connection or engaging material.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Original Opening,Music Clip

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 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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