Saiyuki Reload Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • 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. #3

By Bryan Morton     August 14, 2007
Release Date: May 07, 2007

What They Say
One day, Lirin meets two brothers who leave offerings at a small shrine hoping to see their late mother. That night, their mother appears before them and tells the overjoyed brothers to obtain Sanzo's scripture, which will bring her back to life. In the meantime, having become separated from the others, Goku becomes lost in a forest and is helped by a girl. She takes him home to give him a meal but he senses an odd feeling from her parents. Have the demons roped in these innocent children to acquire Sanzo's scripture.

Episodes Comprise
9 " Self Defense
10 " Trick or Treat
11 " Mother
12 " Tiny Dream

The Review!
The Sanzo group's journey to India continues " not that you'd realise where they're going by watching, as I think it's only mentioned once here. Four episodes, four chances for the gang to land themselves in some sort of trouble, and four chances for Saiyuki Reload to try something different. What are the odds...?

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 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.

No packaging was provided with our review copy.

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.

The only extra this time around is a 2-minute selection of TV spots advertising the show, all featuring Sanzo.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Travelling through the desert in a jeep is bad enough, but when Hakuryu's energy gives out and he can't maintain that form any longer, the prospect gets a lot worse. Fortunately, the "breakdown" occurs near a remote castle, so the gang head there to try and take shelter and recover their energy - but the castle's inhabitants are initially far from welcoming. The governor of the castle - a veritable city inside the walls - eventually grants them entrance, but it's not long before the gang begin to fall foul of the local laws.

Later, there's a scare for Goku when he believes that Sanzo's turning into a mindless demon, Lirin's attempts to reunite a pair of young orphans lead to her making another attempt to steal the Maten Scriptures, and an unplanned trip over a cliff leaves Goku trapped in the belly of a beast, with nothing but a cute girl for company.

Journey to India? Somehow you think that Hakuru's jeep form would make the journey comparatively quick, but no " it's going to drag out forever, you just know it. These four episodes don't make any contribution to Saiyuki's larger "story" " there isn't even a visit by Dokugaiji's group to liven things up (Lirin's appearance not really counting, as it's more a story about her than any real confrontation with Sanzo's group). That said, the stories here are decent enough in their own right and will entertain, up to a point. Episode 10 provides most of the comedy, with the small misunderstandings that lead to Goku's rising panic at Sanzo's apparent conversion being fun to watch. Episodes 11 & 12 are both quite touching, in their own ways " between Lirin's softer side and the boys' desire to see their mother again in one episode, and Goku's attempts to save Shion when there's really no way for him to do that in the other, they're both a little less frenetic than the usual Saiyuki fare and combine to make the disc quite enjoyable. The first episode here is the weakest of the bunch, and easily skipped over.

The big problem with Saiyuki, though, is that you could skip over any of the episodes here and not really miss anything. The stories here are all competently done, fairly well presented, and never a chore to watch " but neither are they anything particularly stand-out, that makes you actively want to throw the disc into the player and sit back to enjoy it. Part of that comes from the series being presented as a group of people on a quest, who then never really do anything to progress that quest " they just travel, deal with their encounter-of-the-week, and move on. That gets just a little repetitive after a while, and there are only so many encounters the gang can have before the storylines start being rehashed. That seems to be starting already with Reload, and it's not a good thing.

In summary:
This volume of Saiyuki Reload is very much a case of "more of the same", as the road-movie episodes continue. If you enjoy the characters and the show's storytelling style, then you probably won't be disappointed " just don't expect anything earth shattering this time out. Enjoyable up to a point, but nothing special.

Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Commercial Collections (Sanzo Version)

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.


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