Andy has been writing for UK Anime since 2006, and was the site's editor-in-chief until August 2017. Contrary to popular belief, Andy is not actually a robot.
Saiyuki Reload Vol. 5
After a decidedly mediocre opening three volumes of Saiyuki Reload, the previous DVD of this series started to hint towards at least some promise for the show, as the real meat of the storyline began to reveal itself and my overall interest level ramped up in response. "At last, the filler is over!" I cried with glee in my closing sentence, and sat back with a feeling of hope for volume five when it landed on my doorstep.
Well, volume five is now here and all I can say is - Oops. Did I really say the filler is over? Boy was I wrong. This DVD contains just three episodes (seventeen through to nineteen, if you're counting), all of which focus around what is basically a single side-story which our quartet of heroes find themselves caught up in. Indeed, this little trilogy turns out to be one Hellishly bad day for Gojyo, with his constant complaining and disdain for his travelling companions backfiring quite spectacularly after a chance meeting with a seemingly innocent, albeit strange, young boy. Of course strange, innocent youngsters normally turn out to be anything but in anime, and so it goes here, with this particular lad giving Sanzo and his party a decidedly uncomfortable time.
Now, in fairness to this volume of Saiyuki Reload, there is at least a suggestion that some of the happenings in these episodes will impact more directly upon the main storyline, although of course whether that is in fact the case remains to be seen. However, even that rather teasing thought isn't enough to make up for what is, quite frankly, a decidedly dull trio of episodes. Unfortunately, the script writers still seem convinced that their four 'heroes' with their troubled pasts and clichéd characters, are somehow cool and interesting, when in reality they are anything but. The constant sniping, moodiness, constant complaints of hunger and so on from the foursome got old after a couple of episodes, so running with the same clichés after almost twenty really doesn't help the story along at all. This might be somewhat forgivable if the rest of the plot was top-notch, but while I can hardly call it poor, the whole thing feels very bland, and lacks any kind of life or character at all.
Indeed, aside from the odd episode or two on the last volume, that one word could very easily sum up Saiyuki Reload thus far - Lifeless. The entire series often feels as though it's just going through the motions to fill up episodes and make it through to the show's climax, and it leaves this reviewer feeling much the same most of the time, counting down the episodes until it's finally all over. A return to the main storyline still holds at least some promise for this show, but it needs to happen fast before it fizzles out completely.
English and Japanese audio, English subtitles, Gojyo commercial collection, textless and original endings.
As bland as a sandwich with no filling - Mediocrity incarnate.