Saiyuki by Kazuya Minekura
Saiyuki is a nine volume manga series. It has two prequel and two sequel series, each having between 5 and 10 volumes in them as well. This review will be on the 9 volumes in the main series.
This series begins in Shangri-la, essentially mainland Asia. After a wave of strange energy has been released from India, all of the youkai (demon spirits. Though not ‘evil’ naturally) in the land are driven mindless and violent. They go crazy, killing with reckless abandon. The plot begins when the four main characters are set on a quest to travel across Shangri-la to determine the source of the strange energy and the reason behind the youkai madness.
Throughout their travels, the reader gets to see how wonderful these characters are. A gun-happy priest, a womanizing half-youkai, a child-like monkey king (think Goku from Dragonball Z – both of these characters are based on the same myth!) and an overly polite youkai with a dragon jeep and more to him than he lets on. The interactions between these characters I think are the best part of Saiyuki. Minekura-san really knows how to develop characters through dialogue, through flashback, through body language. Through body language! There was character development through body language!
Reading this, you get a sense of extreme closeness between these characters, even when they’re threatening to kill each other (and trying to). I know some fans of this series are adamant that there is romantic feelings between them. And… well… I don’t know what to say to that. I mean, seeing how they interact, it seems… plausible. There is nothing that blatantly says this, mind you, but they just seem to.. I know don’t know, seem so attached to each other (in the ‘I hate you, die’ kind of way). You’d have to read it. And then again, like I said, there’s nothing that actually says there is. So if you’re not looking for these hints, you won’t find them. So it comes down to the reader. (Meaning, if you’re open to reading a theme like that, you’ll like this because you’ll find hints. If you’re not open to reading a theme like this, you’ll like it because you won’t find hints).
Right right, moving on from my obsession with character interactions. Each of these characters has a well-developed history. Even the ‘bad guys’ have them, which I came to really like as well. You get to see why each character has come out like they are. You become attached to them, even though each has situations that could be called questionable at best riddled throughout their stories. The author makes who would be normally unlovable, loveable. I love these characters. I want stuffed animals of them. I want posters of them on my walls. I want to meet them (I know at least two of them would be pleasant company).
Right. The plot! The plot of this is rather straight forward at the beginning – go to India, find out about weird energy. Each volume though introduces struggles to that goal. Events intertwine and link back to each other in the most surprising ways. I loved it. Bad guys and good guys kinda blur. Bad guys become really bad guys. It’s an interesting mix, the events of these books and how they effect those in them.
And as for cons of these books… uhm.. not long enough? 😀 I honestly can’t think of much I didn’t like about them.
All in all, each book I read was either a five or four and a half star book. At the end, I’ll average the rates out to give a series rating. I WANT TO READ THE SEQUEL. I NEED IT. GO READS THESE BOOKS.
Overall rating: 4.83/5 stars.
I love it. I’m obsessed. Halp.