Saiyuki Reload Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saiyuki Reload

Saiyuki Reload Vol. #6

By Bryan Morton     October 31, 2007
Release Date: November 05, 2007


Saiyuki Reload Vol. #6
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
Gojyo goes off on his own to defeat a rumored, so-called "God." Sanzo is infuriated by this and decides to continue west without him. Everyone feels that there is something wrong about leaving Gojyo behind, but none admit to this out loud, until Hakkai becomes fed up and gets into an argument with Sanzo. Meanwhile, Gojyo makes his way to the God's castle to find out who he is and what he wants.

Episodes Comprise
20 – Chase
21 – Fight
22 – The Broken

The Review!
Another three-episode mini-arc for the Sanzo group, as they take on the might of God himself. Or at least, someone who thinks he’s God, and certainly seems to at least have more power than Sanzo does. The end results aren’t good for our band of merry travellers…

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:
All you get this time around is another selection of promo clips, this time all featuring Hakkai.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Sanzo, Hakkai and Goku continue to head west, without Gojyo - wherever he may have gone to in search of the one calling himself God, Sanzo's not interested in following or helping. The other two aren't so sure, though, and begin dropping half-way subtle hints in the hope of persuading Sanzo to change his mind - but all they succeed in doing in pissing him off. Soon, the guys are spending most of their time arguing, and the team is on the verge of breaking up. After working off their frustrations on a convenient band of demons, they continue their journey - only to find themselves trapped inside some sort of barrier that has them walking around in circles. And it seems that the barrier may God's doing. Gojyo, meanwhile, is about to have a confrontation with the man (or is that deity?) himself...

Hoo boy. How to write a decent-length review of this one. After watching last volume, you’ll be aware of Gojyo’s reaction to the way God was playing, well, God with the lives of his innocent victims, and how he then went off in search of revenge – although given the way Kinkaku had tried to kill the rest of the group, his outrage just didn’t feel right.

Far more sensible is Sanzo’s outrage at the way Gojyo just ups and leaves without any thought for their mission, so when he took the decision to leave the watersprite behind and continue west, I gave a little mental cheer in the hope that we’d be quickly moving onwards. No such luck. In the best role-playing style (and you have to admit, Saiyuki Reload does feel a lot like a roleplaying campaign in places), Sanzo, Hakkai and Goku are soon railroaded into a confrontation with God that none of them wanted and which isn’t really necessary. The three episodes on this disc handle part of the resulting confrontation, but we also get a cliffhanger and the promise of more to come on the final volume.

That’s all very well – confrontations are good, in general – but there are issues here. First, it goes on far too long – this arc has now covered 4 episodes and is still going, and as far as the gang’s real aims go, it’s a sidestory. Second, God himself is about as telegenic as a dead rat – there’s very little in the way of personality there, there’s nothing known about his motivations other than it being fun to torment people, and throughout it all there’s the knowledge that Sanzo doesn’t even want to be there. He’s not the only one.

On the good side, once we get down to face-to-face combat the scenes are quite well done and visually good to watch. But throughout this disc I just found myself not caring what happened – you already know that no lasting harm is going to come to the guys, and with that threat out of the way the whole volume just feels like a pointless diversion. Saiyuki Reload has had better side stories (which are still in need of resolution) and we get this instead? That’s just not right.

In summary:
Okay, so I’m maybe being a little harsh on this volume, as what’s here is presented well enough – it just seems completely pointless, and that’s enough to raise my hackles by more than a little. However well it’s done, it’s another unnecessary diversion from a series that seems to think that more diversions equals good, when really, they don’t. Saiyuki Reload has just one volume left to run – I strongly suspect that anyone looking for any sort of story closure can just give up now.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Commercial Collections (Hakkai 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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