Saiyuki Volume 10: Trouble in Paradise
By: Kimberly Godwin – Thursday, June 24th, 2004 (01:55:42 AM)
This review was originally posted on Planet Exile.com
Spoiler Warning: This review briefly details the plot of Saiyuki Episodes 39 – 42; if you have not watched the previous 38 episodes, this will contain spoilers.
In the future, a group of four unsavory heroes, referred to outsiders as the Sanzo group, battle as they travel westward to India in order to restore the balance between the rampaging demons and the humans in the mystical land of Shangri-La.
Saiyuki Volume 10 opens with an episode that is visually darker and more dramatic than past episodes. And the other three episodes take a step backward five hundred years into the past in order to explain the past incarnations of Genjo Sanzo, Cho Hakkai, Sha Gojyo and Son Goku and their previous relationships with one another.
“Misty Rain” is the first episode on this DVD. We find Sanzo brooding over the memory of the night that his mentor was killed, because the rain always seems to cause it to resurface. When Goku shows his concern over Sanzo’s health, he is forcibly told to go away and responds by running out into the downpour. Homura captures the distraught Goku and tries to convince Goku to join his side by instilling doubt as to how much he means to Sanzo.
The next two episodes (“Twilight” and “Collage”) focus on the Merciful Goddess’ recollection of the day five hundred years earlier when Sanzo’s previous incarnation, Konzen Douji, met Goku and how Konzen’s demeanor changed from the interaction. We also meet General Kenren (Gojyo) and Field Marshall Tenpou (Hakkai) and learn that there is something amiss in the Heavens, when War Prince Nataku returns from the battle with Gyomaoh severely wounded while the Heavenly Army returns unscathed.
The fourth episode, “Festival,” brings the story back into the present with Shien returning to the spot that War Prince Nataku visited five hundred years earlier after he defeated Gyomaoh. We learn of Shien’s guilt over what was shown in “Collage,” and the annoying Lirin reappears to challenge Shien in an attempt to win back the Seiten scripture which was stolen twelve episodes earlier from Lirin’s mother by Homura, Shien and Zenon.
The episodes make little progress in moving the plot forward, but they help to add further depth to the characters and tie in references to the past that had not been explained in previous episodes. For example, back in Volume 2 the Merciful Goddess called Sanzo “Konzen Douji,” when it was not known that Sanzo’s previous incarnation was named Konzen Douji. The fights in this volume have little significance to the plot except to show that the rogue Gods (Homura, Shien and Zenon) are far more powerful than Sanzo, Gojyo, Hakkai and Goku combined, and are just toying with Sanzo’s party right now.
I really like how the series constantly improves in both animation and plot. There is more character depth to both the heroes as well as to the villains as the series goes along and it starts to become less predictable. When I learned about the pasts of Homura and Shien in the flashback in “Twilight” and “Collage,” I felt sorry for them. It makes the black and white definitions of “good” and “evil” blur into a more realistic world of grays.
I am looking forward to seeing how the last eight episodes will portray the final battle, because right now there really is no way that Sanzo, Hakkai, Gojyo or Goku can defeat Homura or his two companions even if they work together, especially since Homura now seems to want to recruit Goku by any means necessary. I recommend to everyone who has stuck with this series to keep watching, it just keeps getting better.