Alt titles: Gensou Maden Saiyuki, Gensoumaden Saiyuuki

TV (50 eps)
2000 - 2001
Spring 2000
3.695 out of 5 from 4,912 votes
Rank #3,205

In the mystical world of Shangri-la, demons and humans live side by side, watched over by a parthenon of ancient Chinese gods. But when normally-civilized demons start to go berserk, the gods require the services of Genjou Sanzo - a Buddhist priest with a magical gun, an evil-banishing scripture and a take-no-prisoners attitude. Aided by the ancient monkey god Son Goku, the half-demon Sha Gojyo and the demon exterminator Cho Hakkai, he sets off on a treacherous journey westward, with armies of demons, dark mages and angry gods all standing in his way...

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StoryThis ain’t yo’ mamma’s fantasy series! In a land filled with demons, gods, and jeeps, four men set off to India to defeat the ultimate demon. Along the way they encounter people to save, demons to defeat, and situations that help them to grow and reflect. As a fantasy tale, Saiyuki doesn’t have much to offer. In the same vein as Kenshin or Inuyasha, the majority of Saiyuki’s fifty episodes are comprised of filler content that doesn’t affect the main story. A typical episode begins with the gang traveling to a new destination in their jeep, and inevitably leads to a new harrowing or morally-charged situation to become entangled with. The whole "group kicks more demon ass yet again" dynamic works well, but soon wears out its welcome to all but the most dedicated of fans. Then again, if you are the type of person who enjoys long filler-filled series, this shouldn’t bother you a bit. What Saiyuki does have to offer is not the fantasy; it’s the technology and fantasy hybrid aspect. A pet dragon turns into a jeep; cigarettes are plentiful; and swords intermix with guns. Combine these oddities with a heavy dose of humor and character development, and you have something that’s much easier to swallow. In addition to the filler problem, Saiyuki has another thorn in its side: the pacing. After several dozen episodes of filler, the last ten or fifteen episodes of the series focus solely on the life of the main characters, 500 years in the past. Had this back story been spread out throughout the series, it wouldn’t have felt nearly as rushed or randomly placed. The ending also leaves little to be desired since it’s, well, not an ending. With two other Saiyuki series and a movie to watch, it makes sense that everything wouldn’t be wrapped up in a tidy bow; still, after sitting through almost fifty episodes of filler, it would have been nice to have some sort of concrete resolution. Certain details and characters are left an enigma, and like it or not, various boss battles can’t replace major plot elements that should have been resolved. Even with its problems, the odd combination of fantasy, technology elements, and hilarious cutting humor make Saiyuki’s story an enjoyable watch. Unlike series you can fully watch in one sitting, Saiyuki would probably be more enjoyable in short bursts. AnimationSaiyuki's animation is undoubtedly low budget. Scenes are littered with still shots, minimal backgrounds and a lack of fluid motion. To show movement, often a still frame is dragged across the screen; this is tacky. Shadowboxing is common and composite arrangements of portions of the characters’ faces are often shown. Though low budget as far as movement, the character designs are colorful and pleasing to look at. Solid patches of color and shading abound, and backgrounds in particular (at least, the ones that aren’t incredibly minimal) are gorgeous and full of life. The only problem with the character designs is that many of the characters are so similar that it is very difficult to keep track of who is who. The last thing worth mentioning is the needless ecchi thrown into the mix. Essentially no ecchi is part of the plot, but the female characters -- as should probably be expected for anime -- have enormous breasts which like to jiggle randomly. I’d have less of a problem with this if the characters didn’t have waists the size of Barbie dolls and had relatively reasonable proportions. Then again, when is this ever really the case? ^_^;; Raise this score a point if you are male, unlike me, and like such things. SoundAs a console RPG fanatic and music snob, I was very excited to discover that Motoi Sakuraba – my favorite composer – was responsible for Saiyuki’s soundtrack. If you follow Motoi’s work, you will immediately recognize songs that are reminiscent of Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile, and other games. Though the majority of the music kept my interest there are definitely a few tracks that don’t fit well with the rest. There are also not enough tracks to keep the music from sounding incredibly repetitive and overdone once the last ten episodes roll around; but hey, it’s Motoi Sakuraba! In my opinion he can get away with it where others can’t. Saiyuki is one of the only series that has a better dubbed than subbed track. I know, I know... all of the naysayers out there are cursing my name and silently (or out loud, depending on how passionate you are) telling me I’m not a true anime fan; but it’s true! Even hardened dub haters can agree that Saiyuki’s dub is lively, hilarious, and full of enough slang and swearing to win you over. The subbed version is fine, but it doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the dubbed version. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself. One unfortunate note is that the other Saiyuki TV series were not licensed by ADV and thus don’t have the same English voice actors. I haven’t heard the new series to judge how well the dubs compare to this phenomenal one. CharactersThe story is somewhat generic, the animation is low budget, and the music tends to be repetitive, but the characters make Saiyuki worth watching. From beginning to end we are introduced to a variety of characters, and by the end of the series most of them have been developed in some way. We learn about each character’s background, their motivations, and hidden agendas. Even the most evil of villains has a story that will leave you feeling empathetic. As far as the main characters, Sha Gojyo and Goku’s dynamic is undoubtedly the best; they argue about everything from who gets the last gyoza to who is the more annoying of the two. Genzo Sanzo is the cool and brooding member of the bunch, and Hakkai is the do-gooder. The four make up an exuberant and entertaining group that is fun to watch. At over 500 years in age, our heroes have a rich history together; a history which is presented in great detail near the end of the series. Though the characters are developed well, there are also far too many of them. It’s difficult to remember who is who and who is on what side, especially in the case of the villains. Over the course of the fifty episodes we are introduced to a number of villains, none of which are the ultimate demon the gang are searching for. Certain foes become friends, certain friends become enemies, and all of them happen to look exactly the same. Confusing? You betcha. OverallSaiyuki is a very difficult series to rate. The majority of the content isn’t anything special: monster-of-the-day filler episodes, sub-par animation, and too many characters to keep track of. But it also has its strong points: the humor, the wacky mix of technology and fantasy, and the development – albeit poorly paced and scattered – of the main characters. Saiyuki definitely would have been better as a shorter series with less filler; then again, the majority of people who will love Saiyuki are the ones who love just that: filler.


Well, I have to say that this is one of my favorite shows even if it does have some flaws. We open with one of the most epic narrations by Sanzo and then get into the bad ass additude as he attacks Goku. The why the show introduces the characters is actually one of the reasons why I really like this show. We see each character in their ‘element’ so to speak and not all at once. It also doesn’t give us a whole lot of narration about these characters because they don’t really need it this early in the show. We get small tastes of the personalities, then bring them all together. I do wish that they had a little more information on how the group did meet earlier in the series then they do though. The series seems to believe that we have all seen the manga and since I have not, it makes me feel a bit out of the loop. It is a double edged sword because for me, I want to know more but for others, it can throw them off. We see that Sanzo is not like many monks around the temple, but we never really see his past until later in the series though we do get a one second glimse of someone who died in front of him as a child. It seems that the only person he really listens to is the goddess but when he is hanging around the other characters, I can sort of understand. Goku is actually rather annoying in the first part, acting like a little child and yet the little things he does make him seem even more like a monkey then a little boy. He is rather innocent, and As the series goes on, he grows more and more. He is the only one that we get a little piece of the past right up front but they don’t explain much more then a 5 minute clip. Gojyo is pretty much a womanizer and gambler. He seems to always start fighting with Goku as though they are brothers and its fun to watch seeing as how I have a brother myself and we used to fight a lot. Although he is like that, he actually has a good heart he shows every once in a while. He doesn’t really show it to the others but there are some places where this good heart shows. Hakkai is rather sweet at least when it comes to children and always willing to help others even if they aren’t rather nice at first. He is more level headed then any of the other characters. Although he is level headed, he tends to get scary in certent situations. He shows a rather masicistic side in a way. The goddess is rather odd, sometimes sounding really wise and sometimes she sounds like she just wants to have a little fun with the characters. She actually really interesting I love the fact that this show not only makes us feel for the main characters, but for some of the enemies as well. Not all of them are bad for bad sake. Now sadly, I really wish they did have a bad ass girl in their group. Without the girl, the group makes me think of yoai like a lot of other people I know. There are a lot of interesting groupings that I like and I’m sorry I’m getting into my fan girl love again. Sadly, there is no ending to this really. It seems to go in arks like Pokemon or Inuyasha but doesn’t get to the ending of the story. There are times where is does become boring because they keep walking and riding with some of the same old jokes that they normally do where Goku fights with Gojyo and Sanzo threatens to kill them. Fighting scenes do get bad once in a while but yet are still interesting in some places. I really wonder some of the choices that they do for the artwork like the very first part when Sanzo is saying the only one he can trust is himself, why do they show him naked when he does this? Now, there are many times that the characters have long limbs or long necks and it changes once in a while but because of how the story is, I was able to over look it for the most part. The tiny waists though and sometimes broken eyes area bothers me a bit. The music is pretty bad ass. The first opening is highly addictive to listen to and actually fits the series rather good. I’m not so sure about the ending song though, it’s alright but not something I would listen over and over again. I skipped it most of the time. Sadly, some of the voices aren’t that great or the prononciations are bad but at least the main cast is pretty decent so I don’t have much problem with them. This is not the show for little kids as they don’t hold back on the language. It works for the personalities but it’s a lot.

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