Saiyuki: Requiem -

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 95
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saiyuki

Saiyuki: Requiem

By Bryan Morton     October 12, 2006
Release Date: August 21, 2006

What They Say
Your favourite demon slayers are back in action!

The rebel priest. The hyperactive monkey king. The carousing, womanising half-breed. The cool, calm collected demon and his pet dragon. They're all back for their most exciting adventure yet!

The Sanzo party has always been haunted by the past. And they've always been able to deal with their ghosts. But when they enter the House of Dougan, they may have met their match. Lured to the mysterious shrine by a beautiful girl, Sanzo, Goku, Gojyo and Hakkai become ensnared in a trap of dangerous shikigami, murderous doppelgangers, and a malevolent monster who has destroyed his own soul for a demented purpose. Don't miss this stunningly animated full-length motion picture, starring the coolest cast of demon hunters in the history of anime!

The Review!
The Saiyuki gang return for a big-screen outing, where a small misunderstanding results in big trouble for Sanzo and his companions. Can they make it through the movie in one piece, or will the forces of evil win the day?

Both English and Japanese soundtracks for this movie are presented in 5.1 surround " I listened to the Japanese track for this review. There's sadly very little use made of the rear channels for most of the movie, with them only getting the occasional workout during some fight scenes and the ending theme, which is a bit of a shame. It's nice & clear, though, with dialogue easy to pick out and no apparent problems.

As you'd expect from a theatrical release, the animation quality for Saiyuki is a notch above what you'd get from a TV anime, although it's not quite as "stunning" as the blurb on the packaging would have you believe. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, there's plenty of bright colour and detail on show, although there are also a few instances of blocking on colour gradients and blacks aren't quite as solid as they could be. The show has a habit of placing characters against a greyed-out / static-y background quite often " not a problem as such, but it's a visual trick that soon begins to grate a bit. For the most part, though, this is a good-looking release.

The release comes in a clear keepcase, with the front cover featuring a group image of the boys in a variety of action poses. The rear cover has ADV's usual promotional material, disc information and screenshots, while the reverse of the cover makes good use of that clear keepcase, with another decent piece of artwork of the main cast.

The main screen has the boys striking a pose, with clouds scudding past overhead & the ED theme playing in the background. Submenus are provided for scene selection, language select and extras. Scene Select is a static screen with a series of clips from the movie to indicate the chapters, while the Language and Extras screen each feature one of the main characters (Sanzo & Gojyo respectively) set to a piece of the movie's background music. There's an unnecessarily long transition animation on each screen change which quickly gets annoying, but apart from that it all works as it should.

There's a reasonable set of extras included here, most notably a full-length commentary track featuring the dub cast and ADR director Steve Foster. There's also an extensive set of character profiles, including colour character artwork, a text interview with Saiyuki creator Kazuya Minekura, and a selection of Japanese trailers for the movie.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Requiem gets off to an all-action start, as Sanzo and the gang are shown defeating hundreds of demons in a set-piece battle which would have been far more impressive had most of the bad guys done something more threatening than just stand there waiting to be thwacked. Victory's no fun if it's a walkover. It does give the gang a good opportunity to strike a pose with their weapons of choice and do their best to make a good impression on the audience, and gives anyone who hasn't seen Saiyuki before (like me) a rough idea of each character's general personality, and from that point of view it's a good start.

From there, we get into the story proper. After defeating their band of inept attackers, their journey continues, although before long they encounter a young woman who's being chased down by a huge flying creature. After a fairly difficult battle (this one creature is more of a problem than the horde they faced earlier), the day is saved and the grateful woman, Houran, offers the boys lodgings at her home for the night, as her way of saying "thank-you".

Her home (or rather, her master's home) is a huge castle, and it's not long after their arrival that Sanzo and the others begin to realise something's not right about the place " and sure enough, strange things begin to happen, as someone or something begins playing a game of "divide and conquer", using the power of illusions to separate the gang and try to break their spirits.

As stories go, it's not particularly original " I can remember seeing the same idea used several time before, and the way it's done here doesn't add any real "unique selling point" either, so up to a point I was a little disappointed as it became too easy to see how events were going to play out. It's always nice to get a few surprises in any show, and Requiem doesn't really provide any. That said, the way it's presented goes some way to making up for that, as there are some good dramatic scenes, particularly involving Houran as she decides which side of the coming battle she's going to take. The final battle between Sanzo and the demon who eventually reveals himself is also visually impressive and enjoyable, while there's a certain warped sense of humour at work when the demon finds out that his justification for attacking the boys is no justification at all.

Throughout the movie, the Kougaiji group keeps tabs on the progress of Sanzo's group from a safe distance. Apart from providing some useful background information about Houran's home and its history, they don't really get involved in the main story, and are just there for the sake of appearing and padding the movie out with an extra battle or two. A bit of a shame, that, as I would have like to have seen more of them.

It all hangs together well enough, though, with bits of plot information being revealed slowly enough to keep the story ticking along for the full length of the movie, and quickly enough to make sure you don't get bored along the way

In summary:
As with all TV series turned movie, Saiyuki: Requiem feels very much like an extended episode and is more intended for fans for the series rather than newcomers, although the story here is straightforward enough that you don't need any prior knowledge to get into it. The characters and presentation turn a fairly unoriginal premise into an enjoyable hour-and-a-half " it's nothing earth-shattering, but work a look.

Japanese Language 5.1,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Interview with creator Kazuya Minekura,Character Profiles & Art Gallery,Commentary track with English cast,Original Japanese promos and TV spots

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


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