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Saiyuki Vol. 1: The Journey Begins (2003)

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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: ADV Films
Genre: Anime, Action Anime
Running Time: 125 min.
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English
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Once, demons and man lived together in harmony. But when a band of rogue demonic forces sought to resurrect a diabolical monster, dark spiritual energy began to cover the land-and the demons decided mankind was no longer friend, but food. Now, it's up to a renegade priest, a monkey king, a lecherous water sprite, and a sympathetic demon to stop the resurrection and return harmony to the dangerous land. Enter the world of Saiyuki! A unique universe of beauty and betrayal, where sacred scrolls battle enchanted weaponry and where dragons can transform into jeeps. A land of magic and menace, where four reluctant heroes are just as concerned about having a good time, a stiff drink, and a beautiful woman as they are about saving the world...

Contains 5 complete episodes.

Special Features:

  • Cultural Background Notes
  • Production Sketches
  • Clean open/close

GreenCine Member Reviews

Feels like a Saturday morning cartoon by hneline1 May 10, 2003 - 11:53 PM PDT
7 out of 8 members found this review helpful
This series has the feel of a Saturday morning cartoon -- typical plot (4 superhuman, magical guys on a mission to save the world), typical heroes (grouchy priest, loud-mouthed monkey boy, egotistical woman's man, always-smiling quiet guy), and typical villains (ugly demons who follow a conflicted, handsome, charismatic lord). It takes place in an undetermined, quasi-asian, medieval fantasy world where dragons and swords are just as common as guns and jeeps. So far, each episode ends with the four heroes destroying the current bad demon and the once-suspicious locals turning into grateful fans of the four. Although there's a lot of death, this show is not overly bloody.

I didn't like that all the disputes seem to be resolved by killing the bad demons, especially since the show creates sympathy for those demons by stating that they used to get along with humans but then became influenced by an evil outside of their control -- I guess redemption is reserved only for the worthy. The show has a common balance of action with slapstick comedy, again typical of Saturday morning fare. I think that it does have a vague Weiss Kreuz feel in that there are four men with conflicted pasts, but at least Weiss Kreuz boys are also conflicted about their killing and the impact their actions have on their lives -- the Saiyuki men don't show any self-reflection, at least not in these first few episodes. I would have liked more character development.

This story is based on a well-known Chinese legend about four heroes who journey to the West. Many other anime have used elements of this story, including a different version of Saiyuki many years ago and Dragonball, which adapted the character of Son Goku, the monkey king. However, this Saiyuki series takes a lot of liberties with the original legend. Read the blurb in the Extras for a quick summary of the original story.

Same old story, new details by Fangs May 6, 2003 - 10:09 AM PDT
5 out of 7 members found this review helpful
Saiyuki is about a world where humans and demons lived together in peace until the demons suddenly went berserk and started attacking people. It is all part of an evil plan to revive Gyumaoh, a super demon who refused to co-exist with humans and instead devoured them. It is up to Genjo Sanzo, a renegade priest, Goku, also known as "monkey boy", Gojyo, a lecherous water sprite, and Hakkai, a demon with a pet dragon, to save the world.

The thing I like best about this series is the way the guys interact with each other. Gojyo and Goku are constantly insulting each other. Their non-stop banter drives Sanzo crazy, so he then joins into the fray. A perfect example of this is at the beginning of episode 4. Gojyo and Goku are arguing in the backseat of the jeep. Sanzo is threatening to throw them both out of the jeep when the dragon, Hakuryu, drives them off a cliff into a river. After they land in the water, Gojyo, the water sprite, is trashing around in the water in a panic. It turns out he can't swim! Goku starts teasing Gojyo. Gojyo replies, "I only swim around in bed". Then Sanzo puts his hands on both their heads and says, "In bed, eh? You mean like a water bed?" Then he pushes them both underwater.

The dubbed version and the subtitled versions have slightly different dialogs. Nothing major, the insults are slightly different. The extras are just ok. The cultural background notes are interesting, but irrelevant to the story. However, the guys were cute. The fighting action was good. So, I enjoyed the DVD. If you like the Knight Hunters series, you will probably enjoy this one too.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.15)
131 Votes
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Saiyuki the anime
The anime series Saiyuki, which includes the original 2 season series Saiyuki, the movie Requiem, the 3rd season Reload (currently being released), and the 4th season Reload Gunlock (licensed by Geneon, not yet released)
A to Z Anime
I have gone throught the entire list of anime that GC has to offer and I have come up with these titles that sounded interesting. I particularly like anime with comedy and action

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