Saiyuki
Anime
Genre:
Action
Grade
C+

As its originally known title, Gensomaden Saiyuki is a story loosely based from the popular Journey To The West mythology. Creator Kazuya Minekura attempted to combine religion, obscenity and a certain degree of coolness, but the series itself failed to deliver. And warning: Profanity is somewhat an integral part of the storyline.

However, the storyline is mildly interesting and does sound original: It's been 500 years since the great demon lord Gyumao was exterminated. Humans and demons coexisted peacefully since then. But one day, a negative wave motion caused all demons start acting violently and became enemies with mortals. It is found that someone is trying to revive the demon lord, that's where the story starts to kick in.

The main character of the story is Genjo Sanzo - a smoking, drinking, gun-slinging Buddhist monk who has to team up with three demons and start off a journey to find out who the evil culprits are. The four-man party (all of whom have a dark past) comprises of Son Goku, Cho Hakkai and Sha Gojyo, all of which are demons but were unaffected by the negative wave motion. By Heaven's command, they set off to fight evil, encountering countless enemies along the way. Later during the story, you will realize that (with the exception of Goku) the men used to be Heaven Gods during their past lives, and that they were destined to be together once more.

During the first portion of the story, Sanzo's team are rivaled by a group of demons who work for Gyokumen Kousho, the one trying to revive the demon lord. However, the group leader, Kougaiji, loathes Gyokumen but had to work under her for his own objective: to revive his mother. Aside from wanting to kill Sanzo and his ˝servantsţ, the demons were after his legendary Holy and Evil Sutras, which can bring unlimited powers for the one who has it.

The two groups are definite enemies but had to become allies during the latter parts of the story. They were under threat by another powerful force: Heaven itself. Lead by a half-human heretic, the three banished Fighting Gods are also after Sanzo's Sutras for they wish to create a new world and open the barriers between Heaven and Earth, and they are willing to accomplish their mission at any cost. Enough about the storyline for now.

For me, I think that Saiyuki is just another one-off series, below-average in execution ( heck, the manga version doesn't really do much either). However, the main standing points of Saiyuki are the excellent voice cast and incredible opening/ending music (all of the renditions throughout the Anime, especially Trust) , but that's about it. Sure, the animations are good too - at least above average on my books. But to really complain about the series, I will have to go back to the storyline.

First of all, it bogs down into yet another poor concept of good-versus-evil Animes. The characters, and later, the whole damn thing bogs into one: fighting minor weak enemies for about three-forths (yes, the other one-forth are the only ones worth watching) of the 50 episodes which can only lead to one conclusion: monotonous and horribly repetitive. I was a bit irritated by the character designs as well. For example, Sanzo is NOT a hero in any way. He's simply a selfish jackass who cares little of his companions and does his own thing for the most part. I also find most of the ´humor' factor to be clich│d and to put it simply, bad. (Disclaimer: Witnessing Goku and Gojyo argue endlessly regarding the same damn thing [food] about twenty times throughout the series does not make anything funny).

To conclude, Saiyuki is pretty original compared to other Animes, but it just didn't manage to deliver. I honestly find most aspects of the series to be below-average. Some might even find it offensive (especially Buddhists). I cannot recommend this to anyone, but if you still wanna have a crack at it, you have been warned.

- - FREEQZ

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