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|Average Rating: 6.50|
Sarah scored this with 8/10. Disagree?
“There isn’t any way that we can win.”
The Sanzo party have fought ‘god’ – and lost. Badly injured, they have just only escaped his castle with their lives. Worst of all, ‘god’ has taken the precious scripture from Sanzo Genjyo – and, without it, he seems to have lost the will to carry on. Demoralized, the others are at a loss to know what to do.
It’s Son Goku who comes to the rescue by suggesting, ‘Let’s play some mahjong.” Can the four work out their differences and restore some of their damaged self-esteem at the mahjong board? This is an unexpected – and character-revealing – episode in which ‘monkey boy’, who usually doesn’t think any further than the next meal, is the one who finds a way to restore his friends’ morale.
Battered but yet not beaten, the four determine to go back for Genjyo Sanzo’s scripture. They realize that this time they may not come through triumphant – but nevertheless they make preparations for a bitter (and possibly fatal) battle. Besides, Sanzo has realized that there’s something familiar about the self-styled deity as buried memories of a strange childhood encounter with a sinister priest begin to resurface. Has he met ‘god’ before, ten years ago, at his late master’s temple?
Returning to the castle, they are attacked by creepy toys from ‘god’s’ toy box. Each one, ‘god’ tells them, is animated by a living soul and he is eager to add the four to his collection. “I’ll kill you all!” he screams, revealing himself to be more a spoiled child (echoes of ‘Star Trek’?) than a wise deity. Is ‘god’ as invulnerable as he claims? And who is his mysterious master, the one who is manipulating him?
There are moments of genuine pathos in the final episode of ‘Saiyuki Reload’ and a significant secret is unlocked, making this a dramatic and satisfying ending to what has proved an uneven series. For the first time we have a sense of how dependent these four tough guys have become on each other – in spite of their vehement protestations to the contrary.
As the series has progressed I’ve come to appreciate the US dub, especially Lex Lang as Sanzo who makes a good match for the great Toshihiko Seki in the original, while Steve Cannon perfectly captures Cho Hakkai’s prim tones. Doug Erholtz is particularly convincing as the wayward and childlike ‘god’. Only two ‘Ura-Sai!!’ this time sadly – I’d have loved one more to round things off nicely.
Two little irritations worked against the dramatic tension for me. One was the creepy ‘music box’ theme that threads through the final episodes as ‘god’ plays with his toys (it’s from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’.) Is it just a borrowing? Or has it some deeper significance? I guess I’ll never know – but it was distracting. The other was the recurrent practice of putting one title up on the screen (‘Dawn’) whilst having the voiceover announce another, completely different one: “Our Way.” It just reminded me of ‘Police Squad’ every time!
A surprisingly satisfying and dramatic climax to an uneven series – which leaves many threads untied for the sequels ‘Saiyuki Gunlock’. The Sanzo party will be quarrelling and fighting their way to the West for some time to come! I hope it won’t be long before Sanzo’s growling challenge, “Are you guys ready? You hellions?” will be ringing out once more for UK Saiyuki fans.
Screenshots (click to pop out)
|Score:||8 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Sun, 28 Sep 2008|
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