Saiyuki Reload
Volume 4

Starring (voice): Toshihiko Seki, Soichiro Hoshi, Hiroaki Hirata and Akira Ishida
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 09 July 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...

Originally published as a manga by Kauya Minekura, volume four of Saiyuki Reload contains episodes thirteen through sixteen of this twenty five episode series.

Episode thirteen, A Teeny Tiny Story, and the gang book into a hotel which does not allow pets. This is not good news for Hakuryu (their dragon which can transform into a jeep) so they park him outside where a couple of local thieves try and steal him. Dumping the thieves into a river Hakuryu is found by three children. The Sanzo party goes in search of their dragon, but so do the villains. Can the Sanzo gang get to the children and recover Hakuryu before the thieves get there?

This was a nice fluffy episode, which did not advance the overall plot. Humour abounds as does the normal facial contortions which make comedic stories.

Episode fourteen, Whisper of Darkness, and we seem to be getting back into the main story, with the gang having to journey over a mountain. Kougaji, meanwhile, has been ordered to obtain Sanzo's secret scrolls. When the gang attempt to cross the mountain they are confronted by a demon, which injures Sanzo. Kougaji turns up and offers Sanzo help in exchange for his scrolls. When he refuses Kougaiji attacks.

Episode fifteen, Premonition, and the fight, which started in the previous episode, continues. Sanzo is down and Kougaji seems more powerful than ever. This is pretty much a fight episode, some nice choreography, but ultimately a little unsatisfying as you know that with so many episodes to go, that this is not a time to kill off your main character. Do the guys win in the end? What do you think?

Episode sixteen, Footprints, and the main action moves back to the castle which, to be honest, is just as well. There are only so many scenes with the Sanzo gang, in various taverns, you can watch before it starts to feel a bit samey. Dokugakuji and Yaone feel that something is not right with Kougaji following his fight with the Sanzo gang.

Audio is Japanese or English stereo with subtitles or signs only. The show is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. The extras are not up to much consisting of a few commercials for the show, the DVD credits (who still thinks that this is an extra?) and trailers for other shows. Although, if you watch the disc through, you will discover various small scenes as extras between the shows.

The quality of animation in this comedy/drama show shows no signs of slacking, but I do question the repetitive nature of the stories and wonder how they are going to finish the story with so few episodes to go.

Charles Packer

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