Are you ready to RELOAD?
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Action, Adventure, Comedy, Supernatural, Drama, Josei
- Airing Date : Jul. 2017 – Sep. 2017
- Studios : Platinum Vision
Saiyuuki RELOAD BLAST Introduction and Story (Spoilers)
We all have missed the Saiyuki Boys who have been off the scene for thirteen years before another anime serialization was made with them as protagonists. Last time we saw Sanzō and his party in action, they were to more than halfway into their journey in the West and had found out that there was another strong and dangerous enemy for them to fight – Ukoku Sanzō – involved in the experiment to revive Gyumaoh. In Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST, the Sanzō party has finally arrived in India and are now closer to discovering the truth about the anomaly which affected demons all over Tōgenkyō and about all the people who aim to the resurrection of the King of the Demons. There is still some way to go and the surprises haven’t ended yet. The next stop for Sanzō party is the residence of the last high-priest responsible for one of the five sutra containing the holy scriptures queen Gyokumen Kōshu is after, Sharak Sanzō.
During the stay of the Sanzō party, Sharak’s town gets attacked by a large group of demons headed by Prince Kōgaiji that aims to take hold of Sharak’s sutra. Here, a mysterious figure appears to destroy the demons before going back where he came from. Sanbutsushin will later inform the two Sanzō and their followers that the figure was the God of War, Prince Nataku, who finally woke up from the 500 years sleep he had fell into. Nataku has been ordered by Heavens to relieve Sanzō party of its mission to stop the enemy’s experiments, but it won’t be easy for the Prince to pursue his objective; Sanzō, whose only purpose was to retrieve the sutra that was taken from his Master, won’t never let him take his place that easily.
What We Liked About Saiyuuki RELOAD BLAST
It was the spring of the year 2000 when Gensōmaden Saiyūki, the first animated series dedicated to Sanzō and his party’s adventures, came out. Based on the homonymous manga written and illustrated by Kazuya Minekura, Saiyūki received a great deal of praise since its very first episode. The perfect blend between comedy and tragedy that the authors were able to create was at the basis for Saiyūki’s success; the world where Sanzō, Gokū, Hakkai, and Gojō live in is a cruel and ironic place where the only certain thing is death, while everything that is dear to you in the present could be lost at any times. As things stand, the only way to survive preserving sanity is to have nothing and not be attached to anything, which is also Sanzō’s motto, although he is not able to observe it very well.
Saiyūki’s saga and journey are mainly based on Sanzō’s personal struggle for atonement for the sins he has committed though his life and which haunt him every time he closes his eyes. By his side, there are people who share Sanzō’s life drama and pain, though in a different way. In this journey toward expiation, the main characters’ sadness, loneliness, inner torment are hidden under Sanzō’s mask of indifference, Hakkai’s fake smiles, Gojō’s inconsistent bravado, while they look to have so much fun – in their own peculiar way, of course – from the outside. The only genuine character who isn’t afraid to express his own feelings is Gokū, who is also the reason why the group still hasn’t disbanded.
In another life like now, in fact, Gokū is the child who has saved the solitary Sanzō from himself and who creates – together with Gojō – that light atmosphere capable of making his severe guardian forget about the ghosts haunting him and which is able to calm him down. That is the guiding principle in both Saiyūki REALOAD, Saiyūki RELOAD GUNLOCK, and the OVAs regarding Sanzō party, so it is also the ground on which Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST’s foundation was built. However, Sanzō’s struggle against his own demons seems to have been forgotten to leave room for Gokū’s score to settle. The journey is about to come to an end and the loose ends about to be cleaned up, so it is time also for Gokū to deal with the past, namely those memories of the Heaven, of his adoptive father Konzen, and of his best friend Nataku he was deprived of as a punishment.
Prince Nataku and life in the Heavens with Konzen Dōji, Kenren Taishō, and Tenpō Gensui are Gokū’s unfinished business and the element on which Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST focuses on the most, but only to bright it to new life in this present. Nataku is back to take hold of the mission Gokū and his father’s reincarnation Sanzō started years ago, so he is once again a figure that opposes to their will and desires – once again, without even knowing it. However, then as now, it won’t be easy for Nataku to take everything Sanzō and Gokū have harshly fought for away from them; uncaring even of the living goddess Kumari Talchie’s prediction of disaster, Sanzō, Gokū, Hakkai, and Gojō will keep on going West.
The Saiyūki saga is not simply a story about the journey in the West of four weirdos who are (hopefully) going to take the head of the King of Demons, but also a story about the main characters’ psychological journey in search for atonement. Sins that each of them have committed are inevitably related to tons of people who, for generations, have passed down through blood and pain the darkest secrets of life, Heaven, and existence. Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST introduces us the pieces of the puzzle we were missing, and heralds the showdown we all have been waiting to be told. The series is not perfect and it sometimes lacks those sensational moments which makes an anime a masterpiece, but it is full of amazing characters and events you wouldn’t want to miss – like the Urasai, for example. So, let’s try to find out together why Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST is absolutely worth your time.
1. Great New Encounters.
If there is a good reason to watch Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST, it is the set of new great characters who were introduced for the first time in the series. Starting from the living goddess Kumari Talchie to the mysterious Saitaisai, Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST tells us that Sanzō’s journey has just only begun, and that enemies and allies who are going to cross his path haven’t finished yet. Above all characters, the unflappable Sharak Sanzō is the most brilliant and well-made, not only for the way it was designed physically and psychologically, but also because it was a real element of surprise. Those who have followed Saiyūki saga from its very beginning has been brought to think that Sanzō priests are all strong and uncompromising men with incredible powers and huge secrets hidden in the bottom of their hearts. Actually, the last Sanzō reflects this description too, with the exception that Sharak is not a he but a she. Why she could become a Sanzō and under what circumstances hasn’t been revealed yet, but it is clear that Sharak had to make a hard choice in the past which deprived her of both her loved ones and her femininity. Firm in her role, determined to protect as many lives as possible, strong enough to hide that sadness which lays behind her eyes, Sharak Sanzō surely is the surprise hit of the season, and we can’t wait to know more about her.
2. Nataku is Back.
We all wondered at least once in our Sayūkian life “what happened to Nataku, and when is he going to wake up from the sleep he had fallen into?”. Well, Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST answers both of these questions by telling us about the sacrifice Nataku made in order not to kill Gokū and not to disobey to his father’s orders, and about the new mission he has been entrusted of, as a result of which his sleep has ended. Indeed, the great news about Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST is exactly the return of Nataku, equipped with new incredible powers, which predicts that the day of reckoning with Gokū is now fast approaching. What is the reason why Nataku was chosen to get the job done instead of Sanzō party is still a mystery because nothing has been said about it yet, but surely Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST anime gives us a good chance we will find it out very soon.
3. Urasai Worth It All.
As is traditional, Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST contains, at the end of each episode, the famous Urasai, a series of mini episodes which shows Saiyūki Boys as protagonists of weird and very hilarious moments. Urasai was introduced for the first time in Saiyūki RELOAD and are one of the most representative elements of Saiyūki saga. As we all know (with the exception of Gokū and Gojō’s usual fights), Saiyūki is quite a serious and dramatic story; the characters are rarely seen slipping up – especially Sanzō. Well, Urasai add a splash of nonsense in the life of Saiyūki Boys and allows us to enjoy them also in their everyday life. Let’s hope that Urasai tradition continues also in future!
1. There isn’t Much New Material.
Since the author Kazuya Minekura got terribly sick, Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST’s serialization has become occasional and poor in material. Indeed, the first chapter was published in 2010, seven years later, Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST only has two volumes, with a third one announced in August, but still far away from being out. Of course, with so little material available, the anime version couldn’t be rich in new elements, so Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST looks more like a transition work, a bridge made to re-ignite fans’ interest in this masterpiece than a proper series. Three whole episodes were dedicated to the Saiyūki Gaiden saga about which several episodes in Gensōmaden Saiyūki and three OVA had already been made – a questionable choice considering that Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST counts only 12 episodes in total of which the first three were filler.
2. It Lacks Intensity.
Unfortunately, after the Gensōmaden series, the quality of the Saiyūki anime has fallen considerably, hitting the bottom with Saiyūki RELOAD GUNLOCK, poorly drawn and extremely different from the manga. Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST is an attempt to get Saiyūki saga back to its former glory – successful in a way, but still lacking something in another. Like Gensōmaden (at least in the first half), Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST tries to keep up with the plot as much as possible while the quality of the characters’ designed has greatly improved. However, when background music, words, and scenes are not perfectly balanced, the animation loses a big part of its intensity. That is exactly what happens with Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST, which lacks that emotional gift that was typical of the previous Gensōmaden, and the manga. Indeed, intense moments such as Rikudo’s death, Chin Yisō’s defeat, or Kamisama’s demise are almost completely lacking in Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST although arcs like the one of the Birdman Tenjin were particularly touching. Let us hope that authors will be more careful, next time.
So, drawing conclusion, after two previous disastrous series which completely missed the point, we can proudly define Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST has the good result of an attempt to go back to the splendor of the series Gensōmaden and to get closer to the original manga. There are still elements that should be improved, but we can say that Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST passed its test with flying colors. Keep going, Platinum Vision studios!
But what about you? Do you think Saiyūki RELOAD BLAST is a great anime or did you expect more after thirteen years? Don’t be afraid to let us know!