Saiyuki Reload Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saiyuki Reload

Saiyuki Reload Vol. #1

By Bryan Morton     December 12, 2006
Release Date: January 08, 2007


Saiyuki Reload Vol. #1
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
The legendary Sanzo group continues on the path to saving the world from the revival of Gyumaoh and his demons. As they travel, Goku, Gojyo, Hakkai and Sanzo use their tremendous powers to restore peace to Shangrila. However, there are many who wish for the victory of the dark side...

Episodes Comprise
1 " Run
2 " Wanted Dead or Alive
3 " Lethal Weapon
4 " Negative Energy

The Review!
After recently seeing the Saiyuki movie, it's time to get started on one of the associated TV series - Saiyuki Reload, which if my research is right is the 2nd of three TV series in the franchise (slotting in after Saiyuki and before Saiyuki Gunlock). Let's see what we've got, then...

Audio:
Audio is provided in Japanese & English 2.0 stereo " I listened to the Japanese track for this review. The mix is a fairly simple one, with some limited use of the soundstage made during more action-based scenes, but for the most part it's nothing particularly special. There are no problems with the encode, and dialogue is easy to distinguish from the background effects & music. Simple but effective.

Video:
Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect. Saiyuki's heavy on the bright colours, which seem to be its main way of making an impression as backgrounds & settings within the show tend to be quite bland and same-y. There are some occasional problems with edge noise, but they're not hugely noticeable and for the most part the transfer is free of obvious problems. In terms of its animation style, though, this isn't one of the better-looking series out there.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
The main menu opens with a series of shots of the boys, weapons at the ready, before settling on a black & white image of Sanzo, framed by the show's logo and the disc options. Episodes are selectable directly from the main menu, while submenus are provided for language setup and extras, each featuring images of one of the other guys. There are no transition animations, so it's all pleasingly quick & easy to use.

Extras:
This volumes provides the now-standard creditless opening and closing animations, and that's your lot.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Shangri-la: a land where men and demons, science and magic once coexisted in peace. But this peaceful land is now descending into chaos, its natural order disrupted by experimental attempts to revive the demon Lord Gyumaoh, a creature vanquished in battle over five hundred years earlier. The efforts to revive him have resulted in a negative aura polluting the land, causing the demons of Shangri-La to go berserk. The hopes of the land now lie in the hands of four men " the young priest known as Genjyo Sanzo and his travelling companions Cho Hakkai, Sha Gojyo, and Son Goku. These four adventurers embark on a dangerous journey to the west, their destination India, where they must put a stop to the attempts to revive Gyumaoh and restore order to the world. Their travels bring them to a village where demons have killed a number of young women - but because the gang are travelling in disguise, rather than being roped in to deal with the demons, they soon find themselves mistaken for demons themselves...

This being a sequel to an existing series, there's not an awful lot of setup before things get going - it's assumed you know who the characters are and how they relate to each other. The basic background to the series is given in a voiceover at the beginning of the opening credits, so you can't say you don't know what the guys' eventual aim is, but after that you're on your own. Fortunately, the premise is simple enough: Sanzo & his group are out to reach India and put a stop to efforts to revive Lord Gyumaoh (with the Maten Scripture being key to that); Dokugaiji and his group are out to stop them. There are a few other little conspiracies apparently running alongside, but that's the main thrust.

Genjyo Sanzo is the leader of the gang - a Buddhist priest, but you wouldn't know it by looking at him or listening to him - the bad language and ever-present cigarettes aren't usually associated with good Buddhist living. With him are Cho Hakkai, who seems quite respectful and deferential when dealing with people that the group meet but is just as deadly as the others; Sha Gojyo, a red-head womaniser who never lets an opportunity for seduction pass; and Son Goku, the youngest member of the group who's always either fighting with Gojyo or complaining about being hungry. Together they're powerful enough to make most demons run a mile at the first hint of their presence, but not all demons are quite so cowardly - the chasing group led by Dokugaiji, for example, which again has four members, each one roughly matched with one of the members of Sanzo's group.

While in theory there's the overall aim of reaching India, with Saiyuki now approaching 100 episodes in its various forms there's little chance of that happening any time soon, and certainly not during this series. Instead, for these episodes at least it's best to think of the series as a collection of standalone stories. In each one, Sanzo and co arrive in a location, find themselves in the middle of a problem of some sort, and eventually have to fight their way out of it. It's interesting enough, although personally I find Dokugaiji's group to be a more interesting much of characters than Sanzo's, so it seems I'm doomed to be forever cheering for the wrong side. The plots for each of the episodes on this disc are fairly straightforward and won't provide much in the way of surprises, but the fun comes in seeing Sanzo and co let loose, which they always seem to do at some point. The stories leading up to that can also be quite good, with episode 4 here being a particularly sentimental piece that shows Saiyuki's not just about the action.

In summary:
It's too early for me to say yet whether Saiyuki Reload will turn out to be "my kind of series", but there was certainly enough in this volume to keep me interested for the hour and a half it took to watch it. It's nothing particularly deep or thoughtful - and I'll be surprised if it goes that way - but it's certainly entertaining, which is the one thing you really want from a show. Worth a look.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Creditless Opening,Original Japanese Opening

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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