Saiyuki Vol. 1 & 2

by Maria Lin

Gensoumaden Saiyuki, translated as "Journey to the Extreme", is the adaptation of an ancient Chinese tale where one Buddhist priest and the Monkey King must travel to India and restore peace to the land of Shangri La. However, there are several differences between versions. In this adaptation, the cast journeys west in a Jeep, slaughters enemies with holy firearms, and is, in general, a group of no good, chain-smoking deviants. In other words: it's much more fun than its predecessors.

Roughly ten years ago, the first Gensoumaden Saiyuki manga was published in Japan. In America, the anime adaptation came first, and the manga is just now hitting local bookstores. The common consensus is that the anime remained loyal to the manga; Kazuya Minekura's original contains notable superiority.

Perhaps it is the style and detail which goes into said manga that sets it apart. Minekura's flair is rather distinct. Her characters tend to take on a triangular face shape, and this sometimes makes the females appear manly. If the femmes were not so well-endowed (and/or half-naked), it might be onerous to pick them out. Besides the "boobage", a healthy amount of gore also resides in Saiyuki. Sanzo and Co. must hack through armies of demons to reach their destination. Moreover, there are themes of rape and murder, so parental suggestion is advised.

If you don't mind a nipple or two and appreciate action-packed stories with a plot, Saiyuki's got what you need! Each book has two to three episodes with a similar formula. The gang arrives somewhere, a calamity or an attack ensues, and they take care of business to move forward. There is no real side stories nor author commentary throughout the books; strangely, Saiyuki is considered a shojo title, and those are regularly brimming with extra material.

TOKYOPOP's version sports original covers from Japan with major characters posing on the front, and, of course, reads from right-to-left. The first four pages are glossy Minekura originals in full color, a very nice bonus. For authenticity's sake, TOKYOPOP left the sound effects in Japanese, and gives a translation guide at the back, but it's useless to those who cannot read the kana, and just not interesting to those who can.

Saiyuki contains some harsh themes, and will be acutely serious on occasion. Regardless, it has enough humor to keep from being heavy, and is also well written. The series totals to seven books and each installment is worth picking up while they come along.

About This Item

  • Saiyuki Vol. 1 & 2

  • Format:
    Right-to-Left manga
  • Production:
    TOKYOPOP / Kazuya Minekura
  • Rating:

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