Saiyuki (幻想魔伝最遊記 Gensōmaden Saiyūki?) is a manga series by Kazuya Minekura which was serialized in G-Fantasy from 1997 to 2002. The story is loosely based on the famous Chinese novel Journey to the West (XīyóuJì). In 1999 the Saiyuki OVA by Tokyo Kids was released. A year later it was adapted into an anime series by Studio Pierrot. The Gensomaden Saiyuki: Requiem movie appeared in theaters in Japan in 2001. A sequel to this movie is the Gensomaden Saiyuki: Kibou no zaika OVA, which is actually animation taken from an interactive game
There are two sequels and two prequels to Saiyuki, Saiyuki Reload (最遊記RELOAD?), a manga sequel adapted into an anime, and Saiyuki Reload Blast are the sequels while Saiyuki Gaiden and Saiyuki Ibun are the prequels.Saiyuki Reload Gunlock (最遊記RELOAD GUNLOCK?), is an anime sequel to Saiyuki Reload. Saiyuki Gaiden had a few chapters adapted into the original anime and in the near future will be having its own OVA adaptation.
Saiyuki is the story of four anti-heroes: the monk Genjyo Sanzo (or just "Sanzo"), the monkey king Son Goku, the half-demon Sha Gojyo, and the man-turned-demon Cho Hakkai (formerly known as Cho Gonou). They have been dispatched by the Sanbutsushin (the Three Aspects of Buddha, who relay the orders of heaven) to travel to India to stop the possible resurrection of the Ox-Demon-King, Gyumaoh. Along the way they are beset by inept assassins, bad weather, and their own tragic personal pasts. Meanwhile, the villains, two unlikely confidants, Gyokumen Koushou (Gyumaoh's concubine, a demon) and a mad scientist, Dr. Nii Jianyi (a human), continue their attempts to restore the long-dead king. These experiments, a forbidden mixture of science and magic, spawn the "Minus Wave", infecting all of the demons in Shangri-La with madness, shattering the fragile peace that once existed between humans and demons.
Concept and creation
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Saiyūki is the Japanese name for Journey to the West, or Xīyóujì (西遊記 "Record of the Journey to the West") in Chinese. While Saiyūki is normally written "西遊記",
or "Journey to the West", Kazuya Minekura writes the title as "最遊記", or "Journey to the Extreme". This is her pun, as both are pronounced saiyūki. Saiyūki is not the first anime to adapt the story of Journey to the West, with the more famous Dragonball series being a primary example.
Minekura's Sanzō-Ikkō bears only a superficial similarity to the original four in the Chinese novel. Their names are the same as the names of the characters in the Chinese novel, but given Japanese pronunciations:
- Genjyo Sanzo (玄奘三蔵) is Xuánzàng (玄奘) or Táng-Sānzàng (唐三藏, Tang's three scriptures).
- Son Gokū is Sūn Wùkōng (孫悟空), or the Monkey King.
- Cho Hakkai is Zhū Bājiè (豬八戒), a pig monster. His original name, Cho Gonou is actually Zhū Wùnéng (豬悟能), the Buddhist name given to Zhu Bajie by Guan Yin when they first met in the original novel.
- Sha Gojyō is Shā Wùjìng (沙悟淨), a water demon, classified as a kappa in some translations.
- Gyūmaōh is Niumowáng (牛魔王) Ox King
The Saiyuki manga comprises five separate series:
- Gensoumaden Saiyuki, 9 volumes, complete. This manga was serialized in the shōnen manga magazine Monthly GFantasy.
- Saiyuki Reload, 10 volumes, complete. It was serialized in the monthly Japanese shōjo manga magazine Monthly Comic Zero Sum and completed its run in the August edition of 2009
- Saiyuki Reload Blast is currently serialized in Monthly Comic Zero Sum
- Saiyuki Gaiden, completed at 4 volumes, was published quarterly in Japanese shōjo manga magazine Zero Sum WARD. Saiyuki Gaiden was completed in May 2009. This series takes place in Heaven, 500 years before the first Saiyuki series. The plot is based around the four main characters of Saiyuki in their past lives, and details exactly what it was they did to get thrown out of heaven.
- Saiyuki Ibun, currently running in Zero Sum Ward follows Priest Koumyou Sanzo in his days before inheriting the Sanzo Title.
Gensoumaden Saiyuki is distributed in North America by ADV Films and comprises 50 episodes, which has a large amount of material added for the anime. The sequels Saiyuki Reload and Saiyuki Reload Gunlock are licensed by Geneon in North America, and consist of 25 and 26 episodes respectively. Saiyuki Reload is faithful to the manga from the fourteenth episode and onward, having deviated from it for the first 13 episodes. Saiyuki Reload Gunlock also starts off deviated from the manga, until midway into the series, but strays from it during its finale. Due to the change in licensing, the English voice cast is not consistent throughout all three series, and the characterization and general feel of the series may change noticeably in the second and third installments.
Enoki Films holds the US license to Saiyuki under the title Saiyuki: Paradise Raiders, yet ADV chose not to use this subtitle. There has also been a movie (Saiyuki: Requiem) adapted into English that is also licensed by ADV. A new OVA has been released by Studio Pierrot, which covers the "Burial" arc of the Saiyuki Reload manga; it is called Saiyuki Burial. The studio is currently working on producing an OVA based off of Saiyuki Gaiden
On March 18, 2004, in Japan, a Saiyuki Reload roleplaying video game was released by Bandai. The player is an original character who journeys with Genjyo Sanzo, Son Goku, Sha Gojyo and Cho Hakkai. The player commands the four in menu-based battles that allow for attacks, special attacks, and combination attacks. The game tells an original story, and Bandai included a bonus Saiyuki Reloaded voice CD for those who pre-ordered.
Saiyuki Reload Gunlock was released in Japan on August 5, 2004, by Bandai, this fighting game features a total of eight playable characters including Sanzo, Goku, Gojyo and Hakkai as well as Kougaiji, Chin Yisou, Kamisama, and Hazel. Playable game modes include traditional single and multi-player modes, as well as Practice Mode, Watch Mode, and a story-akin Dramatic Mode.
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During its premiere as an anime program the manga Saiyuki sold more than 3,200,000 as of Volume 6 estimation by ComiPress. Meanwhile the manga Saiyuki Gaiden and Saiyuki Reload continues to be at the top 10 weekly Japanese ranking chart whenever a manga volume debuted. In 2000 Genjo Sanzo won the best Male Character for an Anime at Animage Grand Prix. In 2006 Saiyuki Reload was listed by PUFF (also known as Manga Oscars) known by many fans as one of the definite study guides for those who appreciate manga, as 10th in Long Stories categories. Meanwhile the anime Gensoumaden Saiyuki won in won the Animage Anime Grand Prix Award in 2000.
- Official Studio Pierrot Saiyuki website (Japanese)
- Official Studio Pierrot Saiyuki Reload website (Japanese)
- Official Studio Pierrot Saiyuki Reload Gunlock website (Japanese)
- Official TV Tokyo Saiyuki website (Japanese)
- Saiyuki (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Saiyuki (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Kazuya Minekura's new site This can be accessed by mobile phone too.
- Kazuya Minekura's blog
- Saiyuki wiki