An Introduction to the Saiyuki Anime*

*As told by a fan who read the manga almost a decade ago

After being off the air for nearly 13 years, Saiyuki has at last returned to grace our televisions with attractive men beating the crap out of each other while waxing poetic about their dark-and-stormy pasts. But with Saiyuki‘s previous anime seasons scarce and its manga volumes even scarcer, you might be hesitant to check out the new series.

Well, fear not! I, an ardent Saiyuki fan who read the manga as it was coming out almost 10 years ago, am here to provide you with the story exactly as I remember it. Which is to say: Very vaguely! Now you, too, can enjoy Saiyuki Reload Blast as if you were right there with the rest of the fandom, reading the manga in the mid ’00s, selling the volumes to help pay for grad school, and now racking your brain to piece together the semi-existent plot of that gloriously feelsy action series you still love so very, very much.

Come along with me on this journey, won’t you? This journey…TO THE MAX!

Caution: Loving irreverence, questionable accuracy, and spoilers for the Saiyuki and Saiyuki Reload manga below. Content warning for mentions of child abuse.

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Glancing Upstream: Spring 2017 Retrospective and Review

Hot sequels, cool tutors, and. Um. Kado.

This is a sparser list than usual, jam-packed with sequels but relatively light on everything else. I took a vacation in early June where I didn’t have time to watch anime, and lemme tell ya, that week away really puts into perspective which series you’re invested in and which you’re just watching for the sake of having something on the TV. At the end of that week, three series were on the cutting-room floor, which I think is the first time my Midseason and Series Review posts have differed so dramatically.

It was the kind of season that started strong and then kind of petered out, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some great showings along the way (mostly in the form of sequels), a hidden gem or two (mostly in the form of The Royal Tutor), and a show that just… um… what? Hit the jump to learn more about that last one, as well as overall thoughts on all the others, too.

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The Royal Tutor – Episode 12: “The Last Lesson”

Concludin’ ain’t easy.

A series that began with comedy and surprises ends with drama and predictability, and I can’t say I’m too happy with that shift. It’s not an awful finale by any stretch, and there are some worthwhile ideas and a few nice scenes built into it, which we’ll talk about at the end so I can finish on a positive note. But it’s so darn boilerplate compared to the offbeat, effortless charm of the first 10 (and even moments of 11) episodes. It’s hard not to approach this episode with disappointment and a dash (or two) of salt.

…Er, as that intro suggests, this is the most critical commentary I’ve written in a long while. If you enjoyed this episode and don’t want me to yuck your yum, then now’s your chance to close the window and go read something else. I promise I won’t hold it against you. The rest of you are welcome to join me as I do my best to explain where this anime-original ending went awry.

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The Royal Tutor – Episodes 10-11: “The Professor I Don’t Know”/”The Pair’s Promise”

Flawed but Feelsy.

In the big lead-up to our grand finale, Count Rosenberg shows his claws, the boys show off their growing maturity, and Heine… shows himself out the door?! Sensei, say it ain’t so! Amidst cleaning shenanigans and princely sleuthing, our protagonist’s long-buried past at last comes to light. And it is… well, underwhelming, to tell the truth. But it’s also full of Teen Heine and Teen Viktor Having Emotions At Each Other. So. Y’know. Win some, lose some, eh?

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!


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The Royal Tutor – Episode 9: “The Price of the Past”

Yippee ki-yay, class.

After spending the past few episodes easing us into a more steady blend of goofy and serious, The Royal Tutor ups the ante once again with an action-packed tale of kidnappings and rescues that’s as surprisingly intense as it is utterly ridiculous. This episode really shouldn’t work, and there were times when I feared it wouldn’t, but by the end I was giggling and applauding in delight. This series is uniquely, unapologetically itself, and I’m so very glad for that.

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Like Its Pint-Sized Protagonist, “The Royal Tutor” is More than Meets the Eye

Weekly posts couldn’t contain all my Royal Tutor love, so I wrote an article about it for Crunchyroll, too! All Heine all the time always!

When The Royal Tutor first came out, I had zero expectations. It looked like a fairly standard pretty-boys show, which can be real hit-or-miss, and “an adult teacher who looks like a child” didn’t sound like a promising starting point. Happily, the premiere immediately charmed me with its poker-faced protagonist, liberal use of chibis, and refusal to take its sparkly princes seriously. The Ouran High vibes were strong with this one, and I was cautiously optimistic.

By the second episode, I was hooked, and not just because the series was silly and cute and the characters were all good, good boys (although that sure didn’t hurt). The Royal Tutor also impressed me with the way it quietly wove in themes about judging people by appearances. Between all the chibi antics, the series argues that first impressions are often deceiving, and people are rarely who they initially seem.

Click here for the full post on Crunchyroll!

The Royal Tutor – Episode 8: “A Timid Heart”

Never judge a prince by his glare.

Last week, The Royal Tutor tackled more serious, introspective topics without quite knowing how to balance all that with its trademark cute comedy. This week it finds the balance and strikes it perfectly, telling a story that’s full of great gags (and chibis, glorious chibis!) while also finding space to talk about prejudice, social anxiety, and communication. It’s The Royal Tutor at its best, and its best is pretty darn great.

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!