Saiyuki Gaiden DVD Complete Collection (Hyb)
Here-and Faraway - Jan 12 2013
A Treat For Fans
First off, if you aren't familiar with Saiyuki, then you may wish to begin elsewhere. This story starts off assuming you already know who the characters are and what their relationship is to one another. If you're curious, by all means please read the Saiyuki manga or watch seasons 1 and/or 2 of the anime. Then swing back here and get this DVD, because it's a treat.
For people familiar with the story...
This is the Gaiden ("heaven") arc of Saiyuki. It starts off a little after season 2 of the anime series.
Since this anime could only be 3 episodes long, the writers crammed the first two volumes of the Gaiden manga into the first 20 minutes of the series. Episode 1 is extremely fast paced and would truly be disorientating if you have not already read the first two volumes of the Gaiden manga or finished season 2 of the anime. It's more of less a highlight reel of the "best" moments in Gaiden volumes 1 and 2. After episode 1, the paces slows down a bit and the characters are given the time to be "fleshed out" and the story becomes easy to follow, even if you haven't read past volume 2 of Gaiden.
I remember years ago when I first read Saiyuki, I wondered how Goku wound up in the isolated cave on top of the mountain. Why was his memory erased and how did his friends perish? This series answers ALL of the questions that you might have about the character's time in Gaiden. And it does it well. The hyper-paced episode 1 is easily forgiven when you realize that the writers wanted to save time to do the climax RIGHT. The climax. I wish I was a good enough writer to describe how powerful it was. If you are a Saiyuki fan, please get the DVD and watch it. You will be moved.
The anime's visuals are nowhere near the quality of, let's say Bakemonogatari or Madoka, but they are striking none-the-less. The colors and character and background designs are faithful to Minekura's compositions, and so, even if things don't move a lot, they are still captivating to look at. The music is also lovely.
As far as the dub, they got the original ADV crew to do the voices. Although I REALLY appreciate that Sentai did this, I thought the performances were extremely flat. Also, some of the characters sounded too much alike (like Hakkai and Goujun). If you don't mind subtitles, I STRONGLY recommend you listen to the original Japanese voice actors. They add so many nuances that, for whatever reason, the American actors just don't get.
Also, a fair warning to the squeamish. This story has lots of blood, guts, and a high body count. If you are easily disturbed with violent images, then you may want to avoid this one (or just close your eyes when a sword gets drawn).
If you are a Saiyuki fan, I strongly recommend you get this DVD. Not only does it tell a great story, but it lets American publishers know that there's still an interest in the Saiyuki series. I would love to see Sentai pick up the Burial OVAs or a publisher release the Gaiden manga.
Alecia McNamar - Feb 8 2013
The Long Awaited Prequel Finally Arrives!
I have waited a long time for an American studio to pick Saiyuki Gaiden up. And for anyone who is worried that these 3 episodes are the same as the few in the anime series, worry not. They do show some little snippets of events from the "heaven" episodes of the anime, but this is its own story. It sticks true to the Saiyuki style of things. Lots of action with, of course, the funny lighthearted moments. Although I have to say this is probably the most gory installment of the Saiyuki saga yet. It is also quite a bit darker and more mature than it's predecessors. But it is the most wonderful installment, to me, of all of them, and fans will not be disappointed. It really helps to tie the whole story together of what has happened (and why) in the anime. The only piece of advice I have is that if you have never watched Saiyuki before, start off with at least the first 2 seasons before watching Gaiden.
The one complaint I had about the production of this set is the subtitles (if you watch the Japanese track) could have been proofread a bit more. There are times when words are missing, extra of the same words are added, and at one point a line goes by so fast no one could possibly read it. But it is not deal breaking by any means. It is a small issue in a tremendous package
Saiyuki Fangirl - Feb 26 2013
Best Saiyuki Installment
Having seen all of the Saiyuki TV series, I've got to say, this was my favorite installment of the Saiyuki series. The art style matches the manga much closer than any of the other installments, making it visually breathtaking. Combine that with a powerful story about devotion and a quest for freedom, and you get a show that compells you to watch it all in one sitting! I've already rewatched my DVD copy several times.
The story follows the Heaven arc, which gets touched on in the TV series, but not really delved into. If you want to know where the beginning lies, this is the place to go!
As one of the other reviewers mentioned, there are some typoes in the subs. However, they are few and far apart enough that it really isn't much of a distraction. I certainly wouldn't let that be a deal-breaker! The dub is about the same quality as the other Saiyuki dubs, take that as you will.
All-in-all, I would highly recommend this release for any Saiyuki fangirl or fanboy out there! ^_^