Okay…I won’t lie, this review may be soaked in bias as a longtime Saiyuki fan.
“At last, the Sanzou Party has arrived in India. In this foreign land, where the anomaly’s influence runs rampant, their battles only heighten in their violence.
And also awaiting them is their tragic fate from 500 years ago—
What will they find at the end of their long and treacherous journey?”
Saiyuki Reload Blast is the stunning new filler-free adaptation of the manga by the same name. The last true Saiyuki series was in 2004/2005 and only contained a small amount of canon material.
This new adaptation released was created during the franchise’s 20th anniversary. From Platinum Vision studios, this series brings to the table stunning new visuals- including art more true to the author’s updated style, a new soundtrack, and a lot of action. Reload Blast is the embodiment of all things Saiyuki ranging from comedy to action to a touch of dark seriousness.
The series delves into the past lives of the Sanzo Party, supplementing what the Gaiden OVA left out. (Here I recommend watching the OVA after episodes 4-6 to get the full story). I have two complaints about the story and the first is that so much time is spent on the Gaiden arc. I theorize that this is, in part, to make up what the OVA left out but also to re-introduce the character Nataku for new fans. The story is relatively self-contained but it’s easier on viewers to have a true understanding of things if they’ve seen the other works in the series. This is especially true for characters like The Merciful Goddess as well as Kougaiji and Dokugaku. In fact- because of some huge events with the latter two- I highly recommend prior knowledge of the characters and story.
My other complaint is this: Fans new and old are left screaming in agony over the open end and the lack of knowledge on whether or not a season two will happen. Older fans like myself have waited a long, long time for this return and for the story to be finished out. Due to the author’s surgery and then injury, the Reload and Reload Blast manga suffered many unfinished panels and storyboards before Blast was put on complete hiatus. The anime’s end leaves me in despair, wondering if we’ll ever know how things end. I can’t help but to wonder if we could’ve gotten a bit further in the story had there not been three Gaiden episodes- beautiful as they are. (I still cried).
Story aside, the soundtrack is pretty great, bringing old elements to a fresh face. The opening and ending are crazy catchy but the background music isn’t super duper memorable.
As for the characters, I still find myself loving them more and more. In fact, I even began re-reading the series because I need more of their shenanigans in my life. Each member of the Sanzo party is well-rounded, having faced his own demons and still being able to smile through it. There’s a good amount of growth in the characters as they’ve grown over their “two year” (20) journey and I’d love to see how they all come out of this in the end.
All in all, Saiyuki Reload Blast is a fantastic treat for old fans and an interesting foray into the series for newcomers. The art and animation are much more polished than the predecessors of the series and to finally see the scenes animated was enough to make me cry tears of joy.