Saiyuki Reload Gunlock, Volume 1

Chimaera

This is another “road trip” style show (much like Samurai Champloo) where it appears the journey is supposed to be more interesting than the destination. As such, we get a couple stand-alone pieces that do nothing for the plot, and a couple episodes that might actually go somewhere. Running underneath the surface is a semi entertaining departure into the work of Ni Jenyi – who has turned Sanzo’s respected foe Kougaiji into a killing machine, and the efforts of Kougaiji’s friends.

1. Temple of Demons
A common problem in “road trip” series usually means there’s an episode (or several) surrounding finding a place to stay. This is that episode. It also pokes a bit of fun at itself, by noting at the very beginning that it sure is taking the party a long time to get to India. Typically, things are not what they appear to be.

2. Nightmare Unleashed
You would expect with a series about demons and a title like “Nightmare Unleashed” that you’re going to be in for a good time during the second episode, which ideally would crank up the ho-hum feeling from the first episode into “hey, i want to keep watching”. However, any expectations of interesting must quickly be put aside – the second episode is about the quartet traveling on foot and being vexed through the episode by bears. If it weren’t for the driving music casually interspersed through the episode the ‘plot’ alone could put a less sturdy soul to sleep – almost. Still, if you are determined to keep watching or a hard core fan, you will keep pushing onward to episode 3.

3. Raging Torrent
This episode’s obstacle is a river. According to the locals, they used to cross all the time until demons started attacking boats in the river. Naturally the party manages to find a boat, they run into the water demons on their way, and the group is separated. This episode runs nicely into the last episode, making it a bit of a two-parter.

4. Encounter
This one’s a fast paced episode that makes you wish it were much earlier in the volume because it was actually interesting. In “Encounter”, the party is still separated, and Goku is on other side of the river we first visited in “Raging Torrent”. The demons aren’t too pleased at this, and show up for some carnage of high magnitude. As a result, it is time for Goku to crack skulls and the viewer gets treated to some fun and furiously paced action! Meanwhile, a fair amount of mental trickery and cruelty is on order for the Sanzo party as the others are facing Kougaiji and his deadly illusions. If the whole disc were like this, the rating would be so much higher.

Technical/Extras
Saiyuki Reload Gunlock has a shiny, sleek, and overall great style that is ultimately wasted on the lackluster storytelling.

Rating: 7

Entertainment
By and large this volume makes you hope they reach their destination sooner than the inevitable full season it is bound to take, because the side trips aren’t that compelling. Fan and prior series knowledge is definitely presumed so this one is probably for the diehard fan and it isn’t interesting enough to catch the attention of potential fans. There are other “road trip” anime series out there, and you should check those out instead first.

Rating: 4.5

Overall:
It has a plot that wasn’t too hard to find, and it has some action. It looks good and it sounds great, it just lacks compelling storytelling.

Rating: 5

Extras:
Textless Opening Version 1
Original Opening Version 1
Genon Previews (The Law of Ueki, Kannazuki no Miko – Destiny of Shrine Maiden, Gun Sword)
DVD Credits

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