Saiyuki Reload Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • 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: 29.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saiyuki Reload

Saiyuki Reload Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     April 25, 2005
Release Date: April 26, 2005


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


What They Say
When they arrive at a new village, a demon called Suika approaches the Sanzo party. Because they don’t sense any evil, they decide to stay the night. Suika sings for the group, which brings bitter memories to mind. Everyone except Goku fall into a semi-hypnotic state, then falls asleep. The next morning, Lirin arrives to steal the scripture from Sanzo, which Sanzo throws at her before he heads back to Suika’s house. Goku hears about “a demon who extracts memories” and must return to save his friend.

The Review!
Shockingly, the group continues to travel westward towards India and run into some trouble along the way.

Audio:
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.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, 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. The transfer here is reflective of many of the shows that came out in 2003 that were done on a bit of a budget and had some of the minor problems of being a digital show, 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.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release, the front cover uses the same kind of style of illustration as the previous volume but with Goku swinging his staff around and set against a white/green backgruond. The logo isn't the same as the Japanese one but I think it works better on the cover here as their releases logo looks kind of weak. 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. As nice as the layout is overall, it's covers like this that really make me wish Geneon would adopt the technical grid since finding things like the running time took more searching than it should have. 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.

Menu:
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 police barrier line being used along the top while some of the animation from the opening plays through the center. It's hard to describe but it fits the feel of this installment of the series with its Reload 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.

Extras:
The only extras included on here are the clean ending sequence and the original Japanese ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first volume of this season behind us and all the catch-up on who is who and what they're up to, the show gets right back into its groove of traveling, eating, getting suckered into things by demons and then kicking copious amount of demon ass before hitting the road again. Saiyuki is the ultimate road trip anime series and it makes no bones about it and lets the viewer simply enjoy the characters as they go about their way.

This volume provides a bit more diversity as it goes for a two episode storyline and then back into the single episode stories. The two-part adventure is something of a Goku showcase piece as it lets him and his past become central to things once it starts to reveal what's going on. The group is set to take a break in a new town they've just arrived in when they notice that most people seem to be fairly out of it. They're in the fields doing their jobs but are mostly expressionless. They can't feel any demon presence though which is why they're shocked when Lady Suika shows up behind them and offers them a place to unwind for the day. She's most definitely a demon but all the townspeople protect her.

The group takes them up on the offer and are well fed and taken care of in Suika's residence and nothing truly seems amiss. No sense of hostility of evil can be detected from her and while they don't let their guard down, they do want to give her the benefit of the doubt since there are reasons for her being a peaceful demon even among the fog that's spread across the land. As the four begin to dream however, she shows up in there as they dream their worst memories and she begins to take them away from them so that they can be at peace. The side effect of course is that it takes away who they are and they essentially become thralls to her. All except Goku of whom she casts off when she realizes she can't do anything for him as his dream self sits behind the cage where he awaits Sanzo.

With Goku exiled from the town and a sound barrier around it, he's unable to do anything for his friends who are now like all the rest in there and just lifeless for the most part but content since they've had the awful things from their pasts removed from their minds. Goku managed to save the scripture from Sanzo before he tossed it away but that means he's the target now when Lirin and her friends show and challenge him to a fight. Goku's squarely uninterested in a fight and the others catch on quick and to his surprise they offer their help since something like Suika shouldn't existed. Even Kougaiji gets into the picture when he finds out what's going on and they all use the idea that it's not right to just take the scripture without a proper fight. This of course is why the bad guys always lose.

The two part storyline is decent and it does serve as a vehicle piece for Goku while allowing him to work with the enemy, but it's a long two episodes since you really take out 75% of the regular cast by doing this. They plainly aren't themselves and even though we see them in their dreams/memories as they deal with the painful memories, they're not exactly the same characters there either so it doesn't feel like a proper set of episodes at times. I did like that the usual bad guys played things straight even if it does make them losers in the end since they weren't looking out for their own interests first.

The two follow-up tales were pretty light fare after this, such as one with a cat who becomes a bit of a partner for the group for a bit and another dealing with cooking. The cooking one was actually fairly cute since it deals with a woman whose cooking has been determined to be ideal for getting rid of demons as the taste is so awful that it kills them. The young woman who does the cooking is distraught over this though since she wants to be able to cook fine meals for the man she loves but is unable to. So Hakkai offers to help her learn how to cook better even though it continually puts him in the sick bed. It takes awhile before they realize it, even though it's painfully apparent to the viewer, that she's able to create food in the same vein as the bullets from Sanzo's gun, which explains why the food tastes so awful to all four of them. It's a cute and mostly light-hearted episode that has plenty of food jokes and gags.

In Summary:
This volume reminds me a lot of the early first season of the original Saiyuki series when I was trying to get a handle on what they were trying to do here before I really realized that it's a pure road trip series. These episodes aren't bad but they don't really build up on anything other than providing a showcase for the characters pasts to anyone who had missed the first fifty-two episodes of the original series. Fans of the series will continue to enjoy it I'm sure even with the downtime their favorites spend here. For those trying it for the first time, you got a good sample with the first volume and this one will reinforce what your opinions are from there.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Original Japanese Ending,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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