Saiyuki Vol. #10 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saiyuki

Saiyuki Vol. #10

By Chris Beveridge     May 09, 2004
Release Date: May 11, 2004


Saiyuki Vol. #10
© ADV Films


What They Say
n the words of the Merciful Goddess, "Things that don't change are so lame," which is why eternal bliss could get a little boring. But 500 years ago, the Sanzo Party's alter egos were just the imperfection heaven needed to liven up the place. Trouble starts when an upper level bureaucrat named Konzen takes in a heretic monkey, whose curiosity is not always so welcome inside the pearly gates.

Fortunately, Field Marshal Tenpou and General Kenren have rebellious streaks of their own. So at least one thing's for sure: eternity will never be the same!

The Review!
Every time I think I'm about able to write this series off in some way, another volume comes along and reminds me that I'm turning into just as much a junkie with this show as some other nameless friends of mine. The horror?

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. With this being such a recent show, the dialogue was well done with lots of nicely placed pieces of directionality for both that and some of the action effects. Dialogue was crisp and clear throughout and we noted no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing 2000, the transfer here for Saiyuki is good, but has a few areas where it suffers a bit. Colors are vibrant, but there's some cross coloration in a few of the more tightly animated areas. There's still some amount of aliasing as well but it's still mostly during panning sequences and nowhere near as noticeable as it was earlier in the series. Things look very good overall, but there are just some things inherent in the print that may catch the eye of some folks.

Packaging:
The eye-catching covers continue here and again impress me. With the near painted manga look, Dr. Ni gets the cover this time and his already disheveled look comes across even more damaged here with the wounds, dirt and even parts of the bunny ripped. I love that bunny. This cover just feels grungier than the past ones with the way Ni is. The back cover provides screenshots and a decent summary of what to expect. On the plus side, volume numbering shows up on both the front cover and on the spine. The insert has again taken the form of a small foldout poster that shows the various relationships of the characters from 500 years ago to the present with the reincarnations. It's like everyone's related in some way! The keepcase is clear but there's nothing on the reverse side of the cover, giving it something of a plain feel.

Menu:
Using the fire element behind the static image, you get an interesting menu shot of Hakkai standing in the falling snow set against the nun statues as some of the instrumental music plays along. Episode selection (though no scene selection) is available right from the top while other selections take you to their submenus. Access times are nice and fast and we had no troubles getting around, though the black and red text selections made it awkward at times figuring out whether we were on a selection or not.

Extras:
The extras are similar to the previous volumes and that continues to be a good thing. There's a new batch of production sketches here and the opening and ending sequences are presented in their original Japanese form with text. The much-valued cultural background notes also make another appearance here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Saiyuki's journey takes a little bit of a break in this volume as there are more reflections on the past going on, mostly focusing around Goku, but bringing just about everyone else into play. It starts off a bit slowly but once they flashback 500 years, everything gets laid out on the table.

The opening episode alone is an easy reminder of one of the reasons I enjoy the show and that's with its style when it comes to telling the story. Through the animation using various angles and styles to get things across, we get a story taking place in the darkened rainy day where Sanzo is being highly introspective. He's so much so that he ends up saying things that causes Goku to run off and deal with the emotional impact of it. Sanzo's completely uncaring about it while Gojyo and Hakkai try to figure out what's going on from Sanzo's own past that would cause this.

For Goku, he ends up under the gaze of Homura who manages to capture him easily enough. Goku rails against him and tries to fight him, but he's unable to really take him down since Homura is a god after all. What Homura has to offer is tempting to Goku though as he starts to talk of how Goku's past with his memories has been taken from him and of the time he's spent in that earthen prison of his for so many years. With Homura having been alive and in Goku's presence all those years ago before he lost his memory, what he has to offer is tempting, especially now that both of them are effectively on the same side depending on how you view things when it comes to the realm of the gods.

All of this allows for things to be set up for us to take a journey back five hundred years over the course of the next three episodes (with a few present day situations tossed in towards the end that flesh things out a bit more). Going back to the heavens all that time ago brings us into a really interesting situation where we get to see the current group in their past life forms, Goku excepted as he's just a touch younger a bit more wild as he was only recently brought up from the lower realms as the heretical that he is. With Hakkai and Gojyo being various leaders in the Jade Emperor's Army and Sanzo being a part of the court, they all end up interacting with each other through the arrival of Goku and the changes his presence brings about.

One of the interesting characters that gets some good time is Nataku as the young powerful War Prince of the age. We see him early on as he's sent down to the lower realm to fight Gyumaoh, you know, that thing that's being raised again down there in the present day in another form. Nataku is being heavily used by his father to ensure that he'll ascend to the throne of the Jade Emperor and that Nataku will follow him one day. Watching just the briefest of moments when he goes down to deal with Gyumaoh, we're given an impression of just how strong he is as there's an entire brigade of Heaven's Warriors there with him but only he has to go in and do anything. He does return wounded however, and his initial friendship with Goku allows the two of them to bond even more now.

Much of these episodes dealing with the past do an amazing job once all is said and done in bonding these people all together even more tightly than we realized as their lives have been dependent on each other for a long time. Getting to see most of them in slightly different personalities adds a lot to it, such as the way Gojyo is, but it also brings a lot more to the table when you realize people like Homura know who they once were and are dealing with them in what seems to be a lower form now since they're on Earth itself and not the heavens. These episodes aren't heavy on exposition but the feeling of almost three episodes taking place in the past and dealing with it really lets you understand more of what's going on overall and helps flesh out earlier episodes.

In Summary:
While I'm not exactly off to start reading fanfics or slash of these characters, I'm enjoying this show more and more as it goes along, especially compared to early on in the series when it looked like a silly monster of the week travelogue show. This batch brings a heck of a lot to the table for these characters and starts laying down some of the fun that's going to come up and even manages to make Goku an interesting character. Now it's just a long wait for the final two volumes of this series to see what's in store, two volumes that can't get here soon enough.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Production sketches,Cultural background notes,
Original Japanese opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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