To me, Gensomaden Saiyuki will always better than Saiyuki Reload, speaking relative to how the Anime Series was presented. Saiyuki Reload and Gensomaden Saiyuki were made by different artists so it didn’t feel the same anymore. Plot and Story aside, this will only be about the total aesthetics of the Anime.
I will only cover Gensomaden Saiyuki and Saiyuki Reload for this post to avoid confusion. Also, Saiyuki Reload Gunlock looks exactly the same as Saiyuki Reload. Saiyuki Reload Blast is the newest sequel and it looks very different from Gensomaden and the Reload Series as well. But I won’t cover it here.
It took me a long time to watch Saiyuki Reload because I was dismayed when I saw it. To me, the characters looked more detailed and well made in Gensomaden Saiyuki. Take Kougaiji’s group, for example, Yaone, Dokugakuji, Kougaiji, and Lirin all looked different. There were changes in the hair colors as well. Lirin’s hair in Gensomaden was bright orange but was duller in Reload. They also changed Yaone’s hair from Purple to Dark green, but It was okay since it was similar to the Manga. However, Yaone looked prettier in Gensomaden. Dokugakouji looked skinnier in Reload and I preferred him in Gensomaden as a bulkier and older looking guy. Kougaiji, to me, just looked off in Reload.
I compiled images below to illustrate the comparison between the art of Gensomaden Saiyuki and Saiyuki Reload:
As for our main protagonists, the Genjyo Sanzo Party, they’re still good looking. But I still prefer the Gensomaden version. Only Gojyo had the biggest change in Reload, but his Maroon hair was better than the Magenta one in Gensomaden. I want to emphasize how detailed the hair, color, and shape of the characters were in Gensomaden.
I also noticed that the color shades in Reload don’t change that much. In Gensomaden, you will notice the changes in the colors from bright to dark depending on the mood of the scene. Truthfully, I think they spent a lesser budget for Reload. I was genuinely disappointed because Saiyuki has a really good story. If Reload wasn’t its sequel, I wouldn’t be interested in watching it.
Aside from the visual aesthetics, I want to praise the soundtrack of Gensomaden Saiyuki as well.
Gensomaden had 2 seasons and one opening song per season. I personally loved the opening of Season 2. The opening songs of Gensomaden give me that pleasant nostalgic feeling every time I listen to it now. When I was younger, the feeling the song brought was excitement because of the show about to start.
Let me share with you the opening videos of Gensomaden Saiyuki. If you also loved this show, then allow me to take you to nostalgia. These are linked from Youtube: Opening Season 1 and Opening Season 2
Cutting to the chase, I didn’t like the Opening of Saiyuki Reload. Here is a video if you haven’t seemed it: Reload Opening. The opening of Saiyuki Reload Gunlock was a bit better, but still below Gensomaden: Reload Gunlock Opening 1 and Reload Gunlock Opening 2.You know an opening is good if you don’t want to miss a second of it and you don’t skip through it.
Aside from the opening, the soundtrack of Gensomaden Saiyuki is really good. The audience can tell the mood of a scene every time certain music starts. They reused the soundtrack during the whole series, but it was a well thought out way to make the audience connect with the show. Music as simple as this makes me think of Saiyuki. This one was if the scenes were light-hearted and comedic. But this the song “Open up your Mind” is really special. It plays during heartwarming moments between the protagonists, especially after a fight. Gensomaden Saiyuki fans will definitely recognize this song.
I’m just really sad that I didn’t get all the Saiyuki Series the way I got Gensomaden. It was a show that I will never forget, but I still watched reload because I enjoy the story and the characters very much. If I were to mention one thing that Gensomaden Saiyuki should have had, it would be the Urasai Episodes! Those were a mood! Gensomaden Saiyuki, admittedly, also felt darker and had less light-hearted episodes.
Do you agree with my sentiments? Please share your thoughts. Especially if you are a Saiyuki fan! Hope you enjoyed this read.