(50 episodes, + 51 more for the 2003 sequel, + various OVAs…)
Before we start…
This one has been sitting on my shelves for years. I got a Collector’s Edition of it as a gift package from co-workers when I left my job in 2009 (!), and never got around to watching it since then. (I had trouble transferring it to my phone for easy viewing on my commute.) Now, they knew I was an anime fan and there was little chance I’d already seen it, but they clearly valued quantity over quality in their selection. (The package also included Kiddy Grade, Basilisk, a half-naked figure where you can remove the top if you also tear the head off, the whole Mai-HiME manga, a lone DVD collecting a few episodes of No Money, and the Cutie Honey live-action movie. The last of which I actually enjoyed watching, so it wasn’t all crap.)
All this to say I’m not expecting a masterpiece here, but it can’t be worse than some of the other stuff I got.
What’s it about ?
Adaptation of a shonen fantasy manga, vaguely based on Journey to the West.
Sanzo, a monk (with a gun) who receives instructions from the gods to head to a land far to the west where baddies are trying to resurrect an old demon, which has a side-effects of making all the beast people turn evil and attack humans. So get there quick, deal with it, and put an end to this crap.
Also, take those three party members with you :
– Goku, the monkey boy with the extensible staff, who’s an annoying brat ;
– Gojo, the half-demon rogue with the bizarre vaguely scythe-like weapon ;
– Hakkai, the “nice”, always smiling mage with the pet dragon (who can turn into a car)
Oh, sure, they’re all beast people, but they’ve got power limiters on, so there’s no way they’ll turn on you. And you’ve all worked together in the past, so this quest is bound to go swimmingly, hey ?
Urgh. Studio Pierrot got a bad reputation in the 00s for churning out low-quality shonen adaptations, and this is certainly one of them. Cheap animation, so many shots where only the mouths move (badly), to say nothing of the numerous still shots… Also, the disintegration effect for when beast people get killed looks terrible, which is a problem as it gets used all the time.
You know, show, if you’re going to have Sanzo slowly realize over the course of the episode that the revival of the Demon King is what makes the beast people go insane, why do you have the narrator state it in the first thirty seconds like it’s common knowledge ? Between this and the bizarrely chosen flashbacks (that don’t really establish how those people worked together previously), you get a very incompetently-scripted “gathering of the team” episode.
Which is a bit of shame, as there’s quite a bit to like in there. Aside from Goku, the characters have charisma (helped by top-notch voice-acting) and get nice little introduction scenes. I could see some fun chemistry developing here, as they spend the whole series having adventures on the way to their goal. Sure, it’ll look like crap, but otherwise it should be inoffensive enough. (As I outlined above, I WILL watch this… eventually.)