Original story by Kazuya Minekura
Directed by Hayato Date
- Cultural background notes
- Production sketches
- Japenese opening and closing
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Rotten “holy men”
- People who eat with their mouths open
Released by: ADV
My Advice: Get it, along with the rest of the series
Saiyuki retells the traditional Chinese/Japanese legend of the Monkey God Goku and the trip of a wise monk across China to India to find the sutras and wisdom. This more irreverent version of that old story, for example, casts Goku as a kid who cannot control his own strength and makes the wise monk Sanzo as a powerful monk who also happens to be a womanizer and troublemaker. One of the funniest shows of the season continues to entertain and maybe even enlighten viewers.
Sanzo and his band of boys are still making their way west, but there’s a new enemy on their tail: Homura and his fellow rebels from Heaven. Homura just keeps gathering new recruits, too, as the rest of the heavenly denizens react to the events of the last few discs and the poor quality of the previous leadership. These would-be converts are now sent after Sanzo’s group and provide no end of battle opportunities for Hakkai, Goku, and the rest. More of Gyokumen Koushu’s altered protégés show up, hoping to steal the Maten Scripture. One episode lightens the tone a bit (this is a comedy after all all) and revisits the group of impersonators who caused trouble for Sanzo and his group early in the show.
The disc has an excellent feature: a set of cultural notes like those found on the previous volumes. This is a great touch even for viewers familiar with anime and Japanese culture, as only a specialist historian could know every historical and cultural detail these shows reference. We also get a nice selection of production sketches that show off the great animation for this show, as do the clean Japanese version of the opening and closing. It’s nice for us to get to see what the Japanese saw and were able to for granted. The disc also comes with a fold-out poster backed with a lot of text about the show and the history surrounding it: nice. The poster is the perfect size to display in a locker or to liven up a cube farm.
This is a newish show, so the original digital sound and video are both in good shape. The audio quality is great, and the voice actors in both languages are quite skilled. The music and sound effects are nicely balanced with dialogue, and my pet peeve of ultra-loud fight scenes is blessedly absent here. The video is similarly good, with bright, clear colors, nice art, and good details. There is a tiny bit of aliasing here, but not enough to complain about or interrupt viewing. The cover of the disc case here is a particularly nice one, though it’s a bit serious for the overall comic tone of the show.
If you’ve been keeping up with this series, and you should be, then you’ll want to have this disc as well. If you haven’t sampled this series yet, then go back and start with disc one, as joining in medias res isn’t the best choice here. You’ll want to collect the entire series anyway.