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Saiyuki-The Gods of War Vol. 7

ADV Films // Unrated // January 6, 2004
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Don Houston | posted January 21, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Movie: One anime series that has really grown on me over the last several months, even after missing the first dvd of the set, has been the one based on an ancient myth, somewhat updated for modern times, Saiyuki. In Saiyuki 7: The Gods Of War the team continues to travel west and see what their path holds for them, even as they get into minor skirmishes along the way. The basic story is this: Once upon a time, demons and humans got along swell. An evil force changed all that and made the demons go crazy so that they attacked, and usually killed, humans. The evil forces were trying to revive an ultra powerful demon known as Gyumaoh who had been trapped in a tomb by a combined force of humans and demons long ago. Some heavenly force has chosen Genjo Sanzo to lead a group of powerful fighters, including Son Goku, Sha Gojyo, and Cho Hakkai (each having a completely different background and powers; renegade priest, a monkey king, a lecherous water sprite, and a demon) to stop the evil plan. Along the way, they meet and defeat a variety of forces, both supernatural and otherwise, as they head west to achieve their task. None of them is a saint-they all have their vices and could be considered less_than_model citizens-so they're not like traditional characters at all. This particular volume starts off the second season and here's a breakdown of the 4 episodes:

Season Two, Volume One

Episode 27: Advent: The War Prince Descends:
The team continued its journey, stopping in a small town to get some food. The innkeeper was not overly hospitable and Sanzo doesn't waste any time pointing out the flaws of the food. A couple of mysterious strangers start a fight, claiming to be gods, and are soon tearing the place apart, sending the multitude of demons back to where they belong. Our team of heroes seems to understand that they'll next and leave. They don't get to far before they meet Homura, the Prince of War, who is looking for Sanzo's scripture.

Episode 28: Lonely War: The Launch Of A Rebellion:
Homura, still preparing for his quest to destroy the Heavens, enters a stronghold of demons and makes them an offer; serve him and he will grant them godhood too. Little do they realize that the offer is not without its downside. The politics of the situation are made more apparent when the Goddess learns of Homura's plans. Some background of Sanzo is made apparent from an earlier, more peaceful, time.

Episode 29: Unexpected Defeat: The Fall Of Houtou Castle:
Homura, needing another scripture for his ultimate goal, strolls into Houtou Castle, and destroys everything in sight. The other team (equivalent to Sanzo's), knows that they have little chance of stopping the evil forces but make a last ditch attempt regardless. The Goddess confers with Sanzo, pointing out what he needs to do, even if his chances are minimal of success.

Episode 30: Undertaker: An Invitation To Hell:
Homura sends a newly appointed charge to gather the Sanzo scripture, not knowing if the newly strengthened demon is up to the task. The team fights him in a small town and initially seems to be unable to win. Luckily for them, they aren't overly familiar with losing, even against a divine creature.

I didn't get to see the sixth volume of the series so I can't state for certainty everything that's going on. The show is certainly worth a look but you'll want to see it from the beginning or pass it up as a lot of events take place that impact future material. That's why I only feel comfortable rating this as a Rent It. The themes are interesting, the cast diverse, and the writing interesting (at least the original language track was) so check it out from the beginning or find another series to watch.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. For the most part, it was well done and I didn't see any compression artifacts or other problems with the picture.

Sound: The sound was presented in either a 5.1 English language Dolby Digital track or the original 2.0 Japanese track with English subtitles. During the dialogue, the separation wasn't all that great but during the fight scenes it was better. In all, I liked the Japanese track better but the English dub was also enjoyable for me.

Extras: The best extra was the background notes that filled in a lot of the cultural information for the series. Considering how limited my knowledge of Chinese mythology is, this made a number of aspects much clearer than they would've been. The other extras were trailers, sketches, a clean open and closing sequence, and a pretty color poster as an insert.

Final Thoughts: The series is a lot of fun to watch but without seeing every volume, it also gets confusing. By missing out on the subtext, I can't properly evaluate it fairly so take this review with a grain of salt. I suspect it's a good series but without getting each volume, I can't back that opinion up.

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