Saiyuki - Reload Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Art Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59816-025-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Saiyuki - Reload Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     September 30, 2005
Release Date: August 09, 2005

Saiyuki - Reload Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kazuya Minekura
Translated by:Alethena and Athena Nibley
Adapted by:

What They Say
The fearsome foursome continue their journey west towards Shangri-La, encountering new challenges and new adventures along the way. Their legend precedes them, but not always in the way one might expect. The Minus Wave that apparently drove all the youkai in the land mad looks like it might have missed one, as Sanzo, Gojyo, Hakkai and Goku meet a lone guardian and the band of children he cares for. Fear and misunderstanding run throughout this particular leg of the journey, including between the members of the Sanzo group!

The Review
The sequel to the popular first series, Saiyuki Reload so far seems to have lost a lot of its charm and magic, relying much more on posing bishies and their oozing cool guy attitudes rather than crafting interesting stories to tell.

The packaging for this book is up there with some of my favorite that Tokyopop has done. Fans of the artwork will love the color illustration on the cover, featuring the same artwork as the Japanese tankubon. The matte finish really does the coloring justice and looks superb. The back cover has another great illustration of Son Goku with no volume description to get in the way. Inside there are 4 color pages at the beginning of the book that are printed on nice heavy paper and look great. The print reproduction looks very nice, with sharp looking tones featuring no noticeable fading and solid greys. Extras include a 4 page mini-manga as well as a preview of the next volume’s cover.

Minekura’s character artwork is definitely an acquired taste. The jaw lines are really long and the faces are wide, with eyes very far apart. It looks a lot better in the close-ups and headshots than it does from more farther away perspectives. I do like a lot of the detail work surrounding the clothing.

Backgrounds are actually quite sparse here, as the panels feature more close-up artwork, leaving the backgrounds white or shaded with a tone. There are quite a few panels with nothing but rough tones and dialogue which started to feel a bit frustrating.

SFX are left alone but translated in a glossary at the back of the book. Some may not enjoy this method, but seeing how integrated the SFX are with the artwork, I’m glad that a translation was provided. Translation reads very well, with a bit of foul language from Sanzo and crew, but it feel entirely appropriate for their character.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
My experience with the Saiyuki franchise has been pretty minimal. I’ve sampled a volume or two from the first manga series, as well as a couple episodes of the anime. I know that the story is a loose adaptation of Journey to the West, mixing in modern concepts with the historical setting, and features a gun-toting, cig-smoking, cursing priest named Sanzo who travels with three demons of sorts. Knowing this small bit of information, I was a little worried that jumping into this sequel would overwhelm me quite a bit. However, so far there does not seem to be a lot of content carried over, which may or may not be a good thing.

The first chapter in this volume is essentially a re-introduction of Sanzo and crew. They stroll into town undetected, only to be forced to shed their disguise to take care of some youkai. There really isn’t much content here, as it feels as though most of the panels are setup to show these bishie boys posing and looking cool, letting the reader know that their favorite foul-mouthed, smoking hot boys are back for more action.

In the next two-part story, our crew comes across another youkai unaffected by the Minus Wave, who is hiding up in a cave taking care of the orphaned youkai children whose parents went crazy or were killed. The human villagers nearby are afraid of them, creating constant tension between the two as the human’s want them out and away from their village. It’s a small story that reminds the reader that at any point Hakkai, Gojyo, or Son Goku might go berserk, at which time Sanzo will deliver his wrath. What bothered me the most was that the resolution completely ignored the fate of the youkai children. Were they just left alone to fend for themselves? Killed off? In the end the fate of Sanzo and his boys were more important, which definitely bothered me a bit.

As the last two chapters fill out the volume with more stand-alone adventures, with a cliffhanger ending, I’m left feeling quite let down by this volume. The stand-alone type of stories work fine when they are good stories, which is not the case here. Strong characters will also make an episodic manga quite enjoyable. Sanzo and his crew do offer a couple laughs, but most of the time I was feeling as though the coolness factor was being forced upon me. That charm that I felt from previewing this title before seemed to be lacking. There also seems to be a lack of content carried over from the previous series, which may leave some fans with a sour taste in their mouths.

Based on my limited experience with the Saiyuki franchise, I went into this volume expecting a fun time with a flavorful cast. What I got instead was a lot of forced style and cool attitudes that just didn’t sit well with me. The stories in this volume are quite weak, serving only to re-introduce the characters in as many flashy, bishie posing shots as possible. Fans who are enamored enough with the characters and only want to see more character artwork might enjoy this. Humor was sparse and there is just a complete lack of charm with these ruffians. The only thing that interested me was the setting of old meets new, but perhaps I should have stuck with the old series instead of this new sequel.


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