Saiyuki: Requiem

Sanzo, Goku, Gojyo and Hakkai are a quartet of demon hunters on a journey to the west. Unfortunately, when their schedule is thrown off by a particularly enthusiastic demon attack, they are left with the prospect of having to camp out overnight with no food or shelter- and so when a mysterious girl named Houran invites them to stay at her master’s house, they gratefully accept. As it turns out, however, this is to be far from a relaxing evening, for the master of the house has prepared his own unique and deadly brand of hospitality”¦

When it comes to making movie adaptations of anime TV series, there seems to be a distinct lack of imagination- recap films aside, each and every one of them conforms to the exact same “heroes vs. villain” plot. Saiyuki Requiem is no exception, but given that the TV series has yet to reach our shores, this is not necessarily a bad thing- regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with the franchise, the movie is not all difficult to follow.

In fact, as a taster for the Saiyuki TV series, this movie is as good a starting point as any. With the setting and characters already well established, it is easy to get a feel for the theme of the series- that of a group of four eclectic and often disagreeable travelling companions taking on any and all foes that dare to interrupt their mission. Unfortunately, however, apart from its worth as promotional material for the TV series, it can’t be said that Saiyuki Requiem has much value in its own right. As mentioned above, the plot is entirely predictable, to the point where watching it is less a case of wanting to see what happens next, as it is willing events to just get a move on and proceed to their obvious conclusion.

Character-wise, the focus is very definitely on the four leads- Sanzo, a priest with a love of smoking and gambling; Goku, the hyperactive, food-obsessed monkey king; Gojyo, the womanising half-demon, and Hakkai, a cool and calculating demon. Although there isn’t much development to speak of in the movie, the key aspects of their personalities are obvious from the start, and anything that may be unclear is covered in the accompanying character profiles. Outside of the main four, the supporting cast are an uninspiring bunch, consisting of the typically insane and maniacal main villain, his generic underlings, and some fairly pointless cameos from a few TV series personalities.

Visually, the film relies on colourful character designs with a distinct “thin-faced’ look, alongside some detailed backdrops. Action scenes are flashy but ultimately simplistic, relying on standard poses and energy blasts rather than anything more complex. Overall, the presentation is solid enough, but not up to the usual high standard expected from a movie budget.

In Summary

An entirely standard entry on the list of series-based movies, Saiyuki Requiem is a predictable outing that conforms to all the usual clichés with an almost tedious precision. As a stand alone movie, there is very little to set it apart from the crowd, but if you’re interested in a quick and easy way to sample the Saiyuki universe, this is a solid enough choice.

5 / 10