Gensomaden Saiyuki is a retelling of a classic Chinese myth (Journey to the West) of a priest (Genjo Sanzo) and his companions (Gojyo, Hakkai, and Goku) who undertake a picaresque journey across a land filled with demons to stop a series of evils. In this version of the story, which has been updated to a more modern context, their primary mode of transportation is a white dragon disguised as a Jeep, and the participants smoke, drink, curse, and womanize with the same flair they use to slay their opponents.
This is much more than a hack and slash adventure story. While the emphasis is on the comic byplay between the characters, especially Goku (the monkey king) and Gojyo, there are many more thoughtful moments. Many of the episodes combine the heroic with an ambivalence that frequently displays unexpected sides to an issue.
These episodes move from teaching townsfolk to stand on their own to lessons from Genjo's own past. Whether muttering platitudes at the setting sun or suffering from permanent hunger, the lead characters, and even some of their opponents, each find their way into the spotlight and reveal some unexpected facet. In some ways the story echoes the work of another master of the picaresque, Miguel Cervantes.
There is not time like the present to point out that Saiyuki is not a standard 26 episode series. Inspired as it is by one of the oldest (and longest) of Oriental adventure stories, it is only fitting that the series let the story drive the length, rather than vice-versa - a total of 50 episodes. While this is a considerable strain on the collector's pocketbook, the timing of the story also allows considerable character development, one of the features of this telling which makes it much more than a simple adventure story.
on November 24, 2003
For the love of Kanon, Hakkai interfers in a villages sacrifice of a young woman to a demon who has the town under his sway with a large cannon. The rest of the episodes are equally as good with one being out and out hilarious. The fourth episode on the disc answers the question of why Sanzo carries a pistol, an answer both savage and sad.
Worth your time and money.