Sunday, November 16, 2003

Gensomaden Saiyuki: Requiem The Movie

Genre: Action / Fantasy / Shounen
Parental Guidance Recommended
2001 The Saiyuki Movie Project, Minekura Kazuya

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Skysenshi's Description:
The journey to the west continues. Genjo Sanzo, Son Goku, Sha Gojyo and Cho Hakkai meet the distressed dame Houran while the latter is being violently pursued by a huge demonic bird. Sanzo and company, caught in the middle of the bird's attacks, battles with the demon and unintentionally rescues the girl. Grateful for their intervention, Houran leads them to the house that she shares with her master and prepares them a feast fit for a king.

In the background, far beyond our heroes' hearing, a strange young man lovingly calls out Sanzo's name.

This is just 45-minute episode. >>> by skysenshi
One would expect that after 50 episodes, Gensomaden Saiyuki's motion picture might have clarified a lot of issues that were vague and unexplained in the TV series. But no. What we actually have here is another episode that features a villain that is as regular as a $1 bill. The difference? Yes, this is longer. It is supposed to be a movie, after all. Yes, the animation has become digitized and rendered with 3D CG effects, which should have made everything look crisp, clear and impressive. Sadly, I'm not too keen with Saiyuki going digital, or how the creators went about it. The effects looked cheap and lazily done. I'm not too sure about the art, either, but I think I prefer the TV series to Requiem when it comes to that aspect. The characters, especially Gojyo, just look too old and hagard in this movie.

As for the story, like I've stated earlier, it didn't transcend the TV series' level. The villain is a new character who seems to have an obsession with, as you guessed it, Genjo Sanzo. When you go back and relive Sanzo's and this character's past, you'd realize that this is a comical version of Fatal Attraction. All the silly, idiotic, self-damaging things that the villain does, he does it out of love and jealousy. In the end, we learn that he has been an absolute dolt who could have saved himself a lot of tears had he simply inquired about Sanzo's mission. Then again, if he did that, then I wouldn't have had my comic relief. On a side note, I would just like to make clear that Requiem isn't supposed to be a comedy.

The other new figure that's introduced, Houran, is much like the main villain; they both fail to elicit any form of sympathy from me. Her appearance is too brief, and her interaction with the Saiyuki gang borders on passing pity at best. In fact, I believe that her only purpose in the movie is probably to add a little sexual tension that Sha Gojyo fans have been longing for. The side effects? While we poor viewers fidget in our seats, as we remain stuck with the sexual tension, the rest of Saiyuki seem more than eager to move on. Oh well, at least we get to finally see Gojyo in a shower scene.

The main bad guys of the TV series-Kougaiji, Yaone, Dokugakuji, and Ririn-make their brief appearance here as well. They don't really do much, except provide a bit of action and demonstrate the creators' use of those darn expensive-but easily deployed-3D CG effects. They're good eye candy, though, especially the females, so I guess our male viewers wouldn't really mind that they didn't get to know this group too well in this movie.

If there's one thing I could commend Requiem for, it has to be the sounds. The instrumentals, observably inspired by traditional Chinese themes, are consistent with that of the TV series. Another plus for Tetsu (L'arc~En~Ciel's ultra cute bassist) fans out there: Requiem's theme, Tightrope, is performed by Tetsu69, the aforementioned bassist's other band. This really goes to show that music has always been one of Saiyuki's finer points.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 7; Story 6; Characters 8; Sounds 9

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