Saiyuki Reload
Volume 1

Starring (voice): Toshihiko Seki, Soichiro Hoshi, Hiroaki Hirata and Akira Ishida
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 08 January 2007

Shangri-La is a world where magic and science exists together, it is an unsafe land, a land in chaos. Experiments to release the demon Lord Gyumaoh have turned the world's demon population mad. The only hope for the land is the Sanzo Party - four disparate adventurers who travel to India where they must stop the revival of Lord Gyumaoh. Along the way they have to contend with both angels and demons who have their own agenda...

I'm sure you won't be surprised to discover that Saiyuki Reload is the direct follow on from the equally successful Saiyuki. What? I hear you say that you've never heard of the story? Shame on you. The anime was based on the original manga by Kazuya Minekura, which was itself based on the Chinese novel Into the West (X? Yu J), which (wait for it...) was also adapted for television as Monkey - anyone want to make a bet if I was sad enough to do the whole fingers and lips thing? Of course I did, Monkey was a great program.

Reload ran for a decent twenty-five episodes, and this volume contains episodes one through four. You just know that you're in for a wild ride when the heavy rock titles start pounding out of your speakers, and the show does not disappoint. If you haven't met them before you're just about to meet the legendary Sanzo Party, Son Goku, Sha Gojyo, Cho Hakkai and of course, the gun toting priest Genjyo Sanzo who travel towards India in an effort to halt the revival of the evil Gyumaoh.

Episode one and the gang roll into town only to be mistaken for demons. Seems that a lot of young girls have been disappearing and suspicion falls on the lads. The show does end on a nice humorous vignette, explaining that the reason why the group don't just take a plane to India is that as heavy smokers they wouldn't be allowed to smoke on a plane.

Episode two, Wanted Dead or Alive: Writhing Trap, and erm... the boys roll into town and start to eat - their favourite obsession it would seem. Looks as though the townsfolk have been turned into a bunch of zombies by having red insects inserted in their ears. Why would anybody want to do that? It seems that everyone is after Sanzo's scripture book. The show has some really nice effects, especially when they stick their weapons into the villain who is made of bugs.

Episode three, Lethal Weapon: Toughest Enemies Ever, and what could be worse than fighting demons? Well, how about fighting yourself? A demon decides that the only people who can take the Sanzo Party down is the Sanzo Party itself. So, after a bit of jiggery-pokery, he recreates the team and sends the copies off to kill the originals.

Episode four, Negative Energy: Final Promise, and one of the few demons who hasn't yet given into the madness affecting his kind, has a promise to keep. Rampa, the demon, wants to give a painting he created to someone special. But will he be able to keep his final promise or will Sanzo be forced to kill him as his grip on his sanity ebbs away?

The show is presented in the original aspect ratio 4:3 and the audio set-up consists of both English and Japanese stereo with the options for signs and subs. Extras are creditless opening titles and the original Japanese opening as well as the usual trailer section. Being a successful show Reload spawned a Playstation 2 RPG game in 2004.

Overall the quality of the animation is quite good and as an introduction to the show the disc holds up well. Only time will tell if the show will continue to grow to become something truly interesting.

Charles Packer

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