First Impressions – Saiyuki Gaiden

Oh man, I have been waiting for this since I saw the anime list for this season. Saiyuki is, without a doubt, my all-time favorite series and seeing more of it coming makes me so happy it should be illegal.

Before I get started though, let me drop a few comments. First, holy crap. This blog now has over 2,000 hits. I wasn’t even expecting to hit 1,000. So, yeah, huge thanks for stopping by and reading. And for putting up with my abysmal update schedule.  Thanks, guys.

Second, I apologize about the quality of some of these screencaps. I’m not sure if it was a problem on my end or with the OVA itself or what, but the art was a bit fuzzy at some points. Right, three paragraphs in and still no impressions. Let’s fix that.

But first, let's have some fanservice as an apology for disappearing again.

Saiyuki Gaiden takes place five-hundred years before the original series and deals with the characters’ past lives and details what exactly they had to do to piss off Heaven and get exiled to the world below Considering they didn’t touch on this very often in the main series, I’m incredibly excited about seeing where this goes.

Aside from the somewhat new setting (and technically new main characters), it’s typical Saiyuki all the way. Goku is still silly and badass, Gojyo (General Kenran) is still a bit of a dick with a good heart. It’s not particularly new, but that’s not a bad thing. It is noticeably more violent than the original series – and to my knowledge, Saiyuki Reload – which is interesting. I mean, there’s a scene where people get close to something and their skin disintegrates. Not to mention the copious amount of blood thrown around, including a suicide involving ramming their sword into their throat. It makes the fighting feel more ‘real’ and meaningful, as opposed to having most of the demons in the original series just be banished and disintegrate.

Did I mention Goku was badass?

Considering all that happens in the first episode, I’m going to try and keep spoilers as secret as possible. I will say that whoever did Li Touten’s voice is excellent, especially in a few scenes later on. You could say that about the entire cast, honestly. Aside from the somewhat ‘fuzzy’ art (which, again, may have been an issue on my end), I don’t really have any complaints.

… Well, I have a single complaint, but it’s just a minor nitpick. I do not care for the opening and ending themes at all. I know it ‘fits’ the Heaven setting better to have something softer, but I’m used to For Real and that sort of faster-paced pseudo-rock. The opening and ending are good, but it doesn’t seem like a song that really suit Saiyuki as a whole.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have much to say about the first episode of the OVA. If you’ve seen Saiyuki (or any of the sequels), you pretty much know what to expect now. Humor, a great soundtrack, some amazing fights, the works. Very few anime end up making me cheer for the protagonists as something saves them from certain death, just because it’s often poorly done, but Saiyuki did. I’ll just conclude with this: If you like well-done action with some pretty-boy fanservice and clever humor mixed in, check out this series. I also recommend checking out the dub of the original Saiyuki, but stick to Japanese for Reload and Gunlock.

We even get a cameo of their current lives in the end credits.

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