Saiyuki Reload
Volume 6

Starring (voice): Toshihiko Seki, Soichiro Hoshi, Hiroaki Hirata and Akira Ishida
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 05 November 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...

Volume Six of Saiyuki Reload is with us. With the show only running to twenty-five episodes, I presume that this is the penultimate disc, in which case it has a lot of story to catch up with if it is to rescue the overall story - which on many of the discs has been all but ignored.

Episode twenty, Prelude, and the show tries to make the most of its 4:3 ratios by playing with the pictures construction. At points you get a half screen or the middle third which gives a faux widescreen picture. So, for anyone who has been following the show, it will come as no surprise that the Sanzo gang have reached another town and another set of demons. The strange thing about the show is that although they mention in this episode that they have nearly made it to India, you really don't get the feeling that their voyage is really going anywhere, given the repetition within each episode. With Gojyo missing the gang go in search of him only to come up against a magic barrier. Gojyo, meanwhile, finds a temple and awakens a malevolent god.

Episode twenty-one, Fight, and the Sanzo gang are close behind Gojyo, but Gojyo is having problems of his own. Having reached the temple he is enveloped in a fog that induces hallucinations. When he finally overcomes the obstacle he faces off against the god, even though he is horribly outmatched. When it looks like he is going to loose the fight the Sanzo gang arrive.

Episode twenty-two, The Broken, and the Sanzo gang face off against god. What follows is a fairly pointless protracted fight, which the Gang have no chance of winning, though even following their defeat Sanzo is still determine to kill the god.

The show is presented in Japanese or English stereo in 4:3 aspect ratio. Extras consist of some trailers, some TV spots and the DVD credits.

To be honest - as the show has progressed so many of the stories have revolved around the gang just turning up at a new town only to fight the demon of the week - any impression of time or distance passing has been lost. You never really get an impression whether they have travelled thousands of miles or thousands of feet.

This lack of attention to the overall story arc becomes more noticeable as the show progresses. And whilst individually each show has much to offer, as a coherent whole there is much lacking in Saiyuki Reload.

Charles Packer

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