500 years before the story of Saiyuki, a heretic child with golden eyes is brought into Heaven. He is given into the reluctant care of a minor deity named Konzen, the nephew of the Merciful Goddess Kanzeon Bosatsu. Konzen eventually gives the child the name "Goku." Goku becomes friends with two other minor gods, Marshal Tenpou and General Kenren of the Western Army of Heaven. He also meets a strange little boy who seems to be his own age, the War Prince Nataku. Although Goku is happy in his new home, Heaven is not kind to heretics. There are those who would use Nataku and Goku as tools in an attempt to seize the throne of Heaven, and Konzen, Tenpou, and Kenren may not be able to save them.
This story starts with a person named Konzen Douji, who lives a bored life, finding that his life is lukewarm, Heaven (where he lives) is lukewarm and everything surrounding him is LUKEWARM but let me tell you something: this story is anything BUT lukewarm.
Though maybe the story isn't an original but it does have its charm.
Themes of the story.
The characters were refreshing, each of the characters had their own personality (no duh) but they were too different and the story brings them together by linking them. What I mean is, you wouldn't find such characters under any other circumstances which means that this story has
circumstances. CIRCUMSTANCES that are hard to get by but well, this is a story and stories don't have to be realistic.
Remember when I mentioned that the main character lives in heaven? Yeah?
The illustration had the artist's style; though, to be honest, I didn't like it but the effort to put in the style is enough but that doesn't mean it is good. The features were too sharp and a bit unrealistic though the story had some rich detail. WHICH means that even if the illustrator adds their own style; it doesn't guarantee quality.
The story isn't too long so if you're looking for major character development or some rich characters or personalities; I guess you'll be disappointed but if your looking for a story to read for the hell of it, I recommend this story to YOU.
Firstly, I'll say that I was not familiar with the whole Saiyuuki series until very recently, so anything beyond Saiyuuki Gaiden is completely unknown to me. I'm reviewing this particular manga without comparison to the other Saiyuki ones, so... yep. Ok, I guess I'm clear. Now we shall start this review!
Apparently, the story is a prequel to the original story, which personally made me happy for some reason I can't really explain. Maybe because it's a story with 34 chapters that explains or narrates events before the original ones? Or because I like prequels in general? I don't know.
To be honest, I was highly
intrigued by the premise, even though it's not the most original one. (Yet after reading, I can say it is original in its own way). I'll try not to spoil anything.
A little heretic boy with golden eyes is brought to Heaven, lives among deities and a certain one, Konzen Douji, is ordered to take care of him. The boy is nameless, so he begs Konzen to give him a name. He names him Goku, because it's "simple and easy to remember" as he said. According to the characters referring to him at times, "Goku" means "the one who is able to see the unseen". However, because of his golden eyes, Goku is considered an heretic and Heaven cannot but mistreat heretics. He's bound to roam around as he likes but with heavy shackles on his wrists, even though because of his lighthearted and cheerful character he doesn't really mind. He tries to make friends with everyone he can, including young prince Nataku (also an heretic), Marshall Tenpou and General Kenren. On the other hand, Heaven is a place where peace should be absolute and it is constantly attempted in order to keep the balance and serenity between the deities and everyone living there. So, as not to stain their hands with blood and become 'unclean',the deities of Heaven have chosen one person to deal with such matters. (I won't say who is that person.) Also, even though it's Heaven we're talking about, there are still some certain people lurking in the dark, who want to exploit other people and situations. (that's my sliiightly more detailed version of the summary)
The story never ceases to be interesting throughout these 34 chapters, especially on climatic parts. It's not complicated, hence making it easy to remember definitions or certain details. It flows quickly and well due to its really good characters, which I will analyse later. It's actually so good that you wish there was more.
The artwork is very well done. I like miss Minekura's character designs, their expressions are really awesome most of the times (ie. the cunning look of General Kenren with a cig on his mouth, that look never disappoints me). I can only say that it could be better or, perhaps, clearer. I mean there are times when the backgrounds or the characters are somewhat not clear, drawn kind of sallowish. But other than that, the drawbacks of the artwork are actually trifling, not a big problem whatsoever.
And now, let's move on to the characters. Yes, they are really good, perfect for this kind of story. With the various character traits, the interaction between them is quite interesting and fun to see, since they differ so much. The character development though is wavering between none and slight, due to the shortness of the manga and, supposedly, because it's a prequel. (I can only assume the development is more prominent in the original series which still publishes chapters? Dunno.)
Goku: Our main character. He is supposed to be the typical cheerful, kind and optimistic child that tries to be as friendly as possible to anyone he meets. He's a bit naive and his personality kind of annoys the most serious people. You might get the idea, since that's a really overused prototype of a personality. However, no matter the cliché, there's a sense of originality in Goku for reasons that are considered spoilers, therefore I won't expand on them. Personally, I look forward to read the sequels and see how he's doing.
Konzen Douji: He's responsible for Goku, as he's assigned to take care of him. A minor god who feels heavily bored with the unevenful life in Heaven, as he's very busy with documents. He's impatient and at first he considers Goku somewhat of a nuisance, since he's a cheerful boy that wants attention. He's the 'please-stop-talking-to-me' type of guy. In the whole manga, he's the one who changes the most between the main characters, as his views change when he's influenced by other characters and the impacts are visible on his personality and attitude later on.
Kenren Taishou: He's a General of Heaven, he's close friends with Tenpou and he's a happy-go-lucky guy who wants to have fun and doesn't care about laws, hence often being a person to conflict with others. He has an affection for the Lower World. He's a sarcastic and humorous guy with hints of kindness too. Also, he has a heavy sense of common sense, as he seems to be a bit sensitive towards sights of cruelty to others and is willing to fight in order to stop such actions. One of the most likeable characters in the manga, 'very adorkable' is what I like to call him.
Tenpou Gensui: He's a Marshall of Heaven and he's a huge bookworm, as in his house there are mountains of books surrounding him. He, like Kenren, likes the Lower World. He is a calm person, weird at times and funny, especially when he's with Kenren together. (the funny bros)He's that character that is probably half comic relief and half 'sh*t is going down", since at times he can become really aggressive in order to protect something important.
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Overall, it is a very promising prequel of a possibly great manga. It's truly enjoyable and I'd recommend that you should read it, especially if you like fantasy and action as genres. Also, if you want to read a short, moving and interesting story with good characters, then that's just what you need.
Surely one of the saddest stories ever is Minekura's Saiyuki Gaiden. Generally, it's a little comical, then there's the balanced amount of action and of course, drama.
Story and characters -- I have watched all three Saiyuki series (the animation), then finally read Gaiden (when I saw the anime trailer). The trilogy showed shadows of their past and reading the Gaiden is a very satisfying experience/ explanation how things turned out to be in the trilogy.
The relationship and friendships of the characters is one of the themes of the story and I say, Nataku and Goku's is probably the most gut-wrenching (That's all I'll
say. See for yourself why). However, all others were also well made/developed and they keep the story-line interesting. Even the antagonist of the series does his role very well as you'll find yourself seriously want to more than punch him in the face.
The climax of the story kept me at the edge of my seat, in tears but still, cheering for the characters all the while. There's violence involve here and it's not for the faint heart. But I give this a solid 10 for it's simplicity yet engaging story line.
Art- Well, I really don't have problems with the art. The panels are well drawn and the emotions of the characters are well captured.
Overall, Amazing, Amazing, Awesome. Nothing much to say but a little piece of advice. Make sure your tissue roll is next to you when you read.