Saiyuuki Reload Gunlock poster

Saiyuuki Reload Gunlock

The Sanzo Ikkou continues its westward journey, on a mission to prevent a demonic resurrection. As Genjo Sanzo, Cho Hakkai, Sha Gojyo, and Son Goku fight their way to their goal, their path is fraught with internal strife. When they encounter a formidable pair of adversaries from the west, the cohesion of the group -- and the fate of the mission -- may be at stake. (Source: ANN)

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Start Date2nd Apr 2004
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Popularity Rank4081
Rating Rank3544
Age RatingPG
Age Rating GuideTeens 13 or older


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The Temple Where Evil Things Live ~nest~  Poster Image


The Temple Where Evil Things Live ~nest~

Ahh, sakura petals falling, lotus blossoms floating...we must be in the Heavens. And yup, there's Jiroushin, wondering "how far have they gotten now?" Kanzeon assures him that for all their sidetracks, there's no doubt they've made progress. The SI come to a ruined village that seems to be inhabited only by crows. Gojyo suggests they just keep going, but if there's hope of getting a meal here Hakkai and Goku prefer to explore. Suddenly a little kid runs out and throws a stone at the jeep, yelling that "you damned monk!" and anyone else connected with the temple ought to leave right now. A girl runs after him, telling him to apologize, but the angry kid (his name's Taiga) glares, breaks loose and runs. The young lady bows and apologizes for her brother, and Gojyo promptly turns on the charm, assuring her there's no harm done and asking her name (in a purr that would melt granite =). It's Reika. --What a cute name, croons the kappa; but he doesn't even get through introducing himself before he's tackled by desperate Goku, demanding to know where they can find food. Gojyo resents the interruption, of course; as they squabble Hakkai laughs and apologizes for his companions. Reika says that if Sanzo really is a traveling monk, they probably want to go to the temple. The one that kid said was bad?--asks Goku. Reika tells them her brother is just rude: the temple is a fine place, and its head monk is a righteous man who has given shelter to many people left homeless by youkai attacks. When they arrive, they find a prosperous-looking shrine, thronged with people. A young monk hurries up to tell them they can't come in without making an offering, and if they want to stay the night the offering will have to be a large one. But the head monk nearly chokes when he sees who his underling is turning away ["Sono kyoumon!" ("--that sutra!")]--a Sanzo Priest, here? Sanzo asks to rest here awhile, and the roshi can't welcome them fast enough, saying they never expected a Sanzo to visit their humble temple. The others grin in satisfaction, and before you can say dot a yummy-looking feast has been prepared, complete with a vintage wine (with gourmet Hakkai's pleased approval). Gojyo proposes a toast to "our Master Sanzo", but can't help noticing--as he glances around the room in which they eat, full of fine art objects and good food--that the temple is nothing like the village. Hakkai, looking out the window, spots little Taiga sneaking onto the temple grounds. The kid eavesdrops under a window where the senior monk is talking with a shady-looking, purple-eyed character in violet robes. (This room contains even more fine Chinese objets d'art: porcelain platters, T'ang horses...) I understand that you want the Sanzo Party to leave as soon as possible, says the stranger [named Doushi], but you could be missing a great opportunity; surely you saw the sutra they carry? One of the Tenshi Kaigen, confirms the head monk, that are guarded by the Sanzo Priests.--Steal it from him, says Doushi; it should be easy for a fellow monk to get close to them. The roshi sweatdrops, but the other says he mustn't forget to whom he owes his extravagant lifestyle...and it's almost time for the next offering. The monk says that today many people came in from the neighboring village, and the stranger says that should be fine, as long as there are plenty of women and children; they particularly please the Master. Under the window, Taiga grits his teeth--and then he's spotted by Doushi... H G & G, walking back from the bathhouse, run into a disturbance: none other than pretty Reika, struggling with two of the monks for admission to the temple grounds. Gojyo sends them packing and sweetly asks if he can be of any assistance to Reika-chan =), who anxiously tells him her little brother is missing and she thinks he's here. Hakkai confirms spotting him earlier. She's very worried: he's probably-- Then suddenly all three guys go on the alert, and turn to see Doushi walking past. We and they all notice he's wearing a gold drop earring. Reika tells them he's a traveling priest, a trusted adviser to the master of this temple. ==Back in their room, the guys tell her Doushi is a youkai. She says Taiga had told her he saw the head monk talking to a demon, but she hadn't believed him, and now wishes she had. Reika tells the ikkou that six months ago people started to disappear from Kinrin Village, but this village was spared because of its temple. It soon became a sanctuary. but people who couldn't make an offering were turned away from its shelter. Our father came to make an offering, she adds, but he never returned... Hakkai guesses that's why her little brother is sniffing around the temple. H, G & G head out; Sanzo asks what they plan on doing, and Hakkai says they'll find Taiga and bring him here. What about you?--asks Gojyo. Well, it's pretty obvious where the kid is, says Sanzo, exhaling smoke; but he personally can't be bothered. =) As soon as they're gone the head monk pays Sanzo a visit, asking to study the Maten Scripture, but he, of course, curtly refuses. [exactly that: "Kotowaru."] (Oh, and where are his friends? He's got no idea, Sanzo retorts: they aren't his friends and he's not their guardian.) The roshi tries to coax him, but Sanzo draws his gun and says it'd be a waste of time to show him the sutra; he tracks the gun over a few feet and snaps for the other to show himself. Sure enough, Doushi is behind the monk, and smoothly asks Sanzo what seems to be the matter. He growls that he's had enough of this bad acting. Elsewhere in the temple complex, a group of youkai are guarding human prisoners, one of whom is Taiga. They taunt him that "she will wake soon"--and then Gojyo kicks the door down. Who are you? demand the youkai guards. The wandering ladies' man, grins the hanyou. Then I'm the wandering nursery school teacher, chimes in Hakkai, while the saru finds it enough to be "the wandering Son Goku." ==The demons charge, the trio kicks butt, and the head monk, hearing the commotion at gunpoint, stammers that it can't be. I already told you I'm not their guardian, says Sanzo. =)

The Nightmare Unleashed ~rabbits~  Poster Image


The Nightmare Unleashed ~rabbits~

Remember when we left Dokugakuji and Yaone, back at the end of Reload #16? Well, the plot's finally gotten back to them. --in Houtou Castle: as they eat at a table together, Yaone sadly glances at an empty seat. It's been a month since Ni Jienyi took Lord Kougaiji in to treat his wounds, she says, and in all that time we haven't seen him even once; we aren't even allowed to visit him. I'm so worried... then Doctor Ni's voice comes over the intercom, bidding them both come to Rasetsunyo's room; "the little Rabbit Prince" (usagi no ouji-sama), he says, is waiting for them. They find Kougaiji standing gazing up, as he often did, at his trapped mother. In relief, they rush forward, calling his name and asking if he's well; but to their shock, he slaps Doku's hand off his shoulder, and stares through them, as if they aren't there. There's a barcode tattoo on his shoulder. ==Probably best not to touch him, he might kill you, says Ni over the speaker. What do you mean? demands Yaone, and Doku calls to Kou anxiously, but his face is blank. We see Team Sanzo climbing a mountain path. Gojyo complains that it's no fun hiking with guys. No choice, growls Sanzo, these woods are too dense for Hakuryu to get through. The little dragon agrees, and Gojyo grumbles that he ought to try changing into an airplane sometime. Hakkai urges them to hurry, as they don't want to be caught by nightfall, but Gojyo chooses to stop for a cigarette and the others go on ahead. He's just remarked on the pleasant peace and quiet when a sound makes him look up--at a huge bear looming over him. UH-oh. Kou kneels at Lady Gyokumen Kyoshu's feet, Doku and Yaone standing helplessly by. She's very pleased with the change in him, saying that he's always looked at her as if she were a roach, but now he'll surely do anything she asks. Ni assures her that's so, and she decides to test him by having him kill the servant who's combing her hair. The poor youkai begs for mercy, but Kou expressionlessly throttles him to death in a moment, before his friends' horrified eyes. Yaone buries her face in her hands. [You remember, I'm sure, that the first time we met Prince Kou, he refused to fight the Sanzo-ikkou in a village street because of the risk of harming innocent civilians. Human civilians, at that. gods.] Ni asks Lady GK how that was, and her only complaint is that he carelessly let blood splash onto her. She orders him to go after the SI and bring her the Maten Sutra, along with one or both of Sanzo's arms; but before that--she holds out the comb dropped by the luckless servant--"comb my hair for me." Gojyo, running like hell, overtakes the rest of the ikkou, and when they see the bear chasing him they take to their heels as well. Dokugakuji, furious, storms into Ni's chamber and demands that he return Kou to normal. Normal? asks the doctor, you mean, the weakling who couldn't defeat Son Goku alone? He wanted to be stronger, and the obstacle to that was his weak heart--you knew that yourself. --but what exactly is so important to you? he asks Doku. Your precious prince? or is this just your way of making up for the fact that you could never save your brother from your mother's anger, Sha Jien? [Whew.]==Doku is completely thrown by the realization that Doctor Ni knows this much of his past. [And this is considerably lighter than the manga version, in which Ni says that Kou wanted to kill, not just defeat Goku--AND makes clear that he knows about Doku/Jien's incestuous relationship with his mother...] As he stands stunned, Yaone comes running in with the news that Lady GK has sent Kou after the Sanzo Party, and they'd better go too. They run from the room as Ni chuckles. Back in the mountain forest, the SI are still being chased by that bear (...sigh. lame. badly animated, too. And makes one wonder when exactly Sanzo forgot how to talk to bears, a notable gift of his in childhood.). Sanzo takes some shots at it but succeeds only in panicking Goku. They flee into a cave and hit a dead end; Sanzo's shot ricochets around the cave causing further slapstick comedy, and Hakkai finally takes the bear out with a ki blast. Gojyo, however, found (1) a passage deeper into the cave and (2) more bears... As Yaone and Doku's riding-dragons take them in pursuit of the prince, Yaone remembers the day that Kou's mercy saved her from being fed to the Hundred-Eye Demon. It's my turn to save you, she thinks; please wait for me. ==Kougaiji walks into a village being raided by youkai and orders them out of his way; they take exception to his tone and surround him with jeering threats, but the expressionless prince just says "Move." Hakuryu finally finds the reason the bears are on the rampage--a wounded bear cub lying in the cave--and Hakkai carries the baby out, heals it with ki and gives it back to mama. Yay for cute. But Yaone looks down aghast at a massacre: dozens of youkai bodies strewn down the village street. She and Doku investigate, and Doku grimly says Kougaiji must have done it--"but this Kou is not the one we know". In his mind's eye Kou walks unconcernedly away from the slaughter, his claws dripping blood. We may be unable to do anything anymore, he tells Yaone. That rabbit bastard was right... He pours out his story to Yaone, saying that when he first met Kou he was so strongly reminded of his younger brother, Gojyo. I tried to repent for not being able to save my brother; I tried to hold onto something else, through Kou...I have no right to protect him, says Doku painfully. But Yaone fetches him a solid slap across the face and angrily calls him a coward, saying she can't forgive that; he and she are the only ones who can help Kougaiji-sama now. Doku, as always, is grounded by her intensity and loyalty, and holds her close, saying he's sorry. And--oh, for pete's sake--the Sanzo-ikkou is menaced by yet another bear...

Swift Current ~against the stream~ Poster Image


Swift Current ~against the stream~

Goku and Gojyo are complaining about the heat, Goku saying how he'd love to cool off in a river somewhere. Hakkai checks the map: as it happens, they're just about to come to one. And so they do, but there's no bridge, nor boats available. A local kid tells them they won't be able to cross the river, but dashes off without saying why. Sanzo, fed up with saru/kappa squabbling, grazes them with a couple of shots and stalks off with Hakkai to seek a way across, snarling that those two should be tied to stones and tossed in to drown. At Houtou Castle: the old youkai 01, playing chess with Dr. Ni, is saying that rivers can't be underestimated; they may look calm on the surface but have powerful currents below, reminding humans how weak they are. And speaking of rivers, wasn't there a child named Kouryuu...? Dr. Hwang storms up, saying this is no time for Ni to be playing games: Lady GK is breathing down their necks about Kougaiji's progress and the need to acquire the sutras. Ni, moving his knight, casually says that something will surely happen soon. You're so sure of yourself, but you'll trip and fall flat on your face one day, she mutters. He thinks not. Nothing can trip me--I'm a ghost, he says. [--heh. Japanese ghosts have no feet, remember?] A local [judging by the piles of nets in his house, a fisherman] explains to the SI that a year ago youkai took over the river, and have destroyed any boat that tries to cross. But we're traveling west and have to get across, says Gojyo. Well, if they drive into the mountains, they'll probably find a suspension bridge...but it'll take them about two months to reach it. Well, that will never do. ==Ah, says Hakkai, so that's why that boy we met said it was impossible to get across. You met Kon?--says the man in surprise, and tells them that the kid is from the village on the other side. He came here on an errand for his parents, and has been trapped here by this village's refusal to send out a boat. His mother and little sister are waiting for him across the river...Really a shame, says the man, and he's so young. Goku finds Kon skipping rocks across the water, and remarks that he's never been on a boat; even though he's a strong swimmer, he says, he doubts he could get across a river this wide. I told you guys there's no way across, replies the kid, sad and angry; I've asked many times, but the reply is always the same. It's hard, says Goku sympathetically, to see something right in front of you and not be able to reach it. ===Sanzo says that he has no intention of wasting time crossing mountains, and Gojyo yells to Goku that they're getting a boat. Goku grins: you'll come with us, right? he asks Kon, who gulps in alarm. The ikkou buys the fisherman's boat; the man says uneasily that no one in the village will be their steersman, and the ikkou all look expectantly at Gojyo, who, it turns out, knows how. =) Soon enough they're headed downriver [with the cliffs so steep, they apparently have to go down aways to find a place on the far side to land], Goku excitedly enjoying himself and Kon thanking them for bringing him along, while Gojyo grumbles about doing all the work. (Hakuryu seems especially pleased to be a passenger for a change. =) The current is calm and Gojyo thinks they'll get there soon, but a whirlpool suddenly opens up under the boat--so they've come, says Sanzo grimly. Youkai lunge onto the boat, gleefully yelling 'food!' Kon slides overboard and is grabbed by Goku; they both go over. Goku manages to plant one end of the nyoi-bo in the bank and he and Kon hang on while the boat is swept downstream, Hakkai calling to him that they'll have to regroup later. The ikkou-minus-9 find their boat surrounded by dozens of angry water-youkai, but fight back in good style, capped off by Sanzo's summoning the sutra's powers (without pronouncing the usual chant) to throw them all clear of the raiders' grip. As they cling dazedly to various debris, unable to think of a way to leave the river (there's literally nothing but sheer rock walls on either bank), they're greeted by, of all parties, Doku and Yaone, calling down from the top of the cliff. Surprised to see their foes, they politely ask if the SI happen to have seen Kougaiji. While Sanzo fumes at being caught by their arch-enemies in such an embarrassing predicament, Hakkai just as politely replies that they have not; whereupon they apologize and depart (as Gojyo tries to find out what's happened to the prince, and Sanzo indignantly yells that they could have helped the ikkou out of the river first =). Goku, Kon and Hakuryu, however, have scaled the cliff and are at last on the other side of the river. Goku reassures the kid that the others are probably fine and will soon catch up if they can go and wait at his house. Kon runs eagerly ahead, saying his mother and sister will be very happy--this way, onii-chan! But the village they reach is a deserted ruin--windows broken, trees bare, things lying discarded in the street. Kon runs into a house, calling for his mother and sister, but there's nothing there but overturned furniture. What am I going to do? he desperately asks Goku. It looks like a demon attack, they must already be dead-- Goku calms him down, pointing out that while he's probably right about the attack, they're seeing no bodies or blood. The townsfolk must just be in hiding, so let's go find them, he reassures the kid. Doku and Yaone have charitably built a fire, and G, H & S are huddled around it bare-chested (fanservice w00t!=) while their clothes are drying. It's sad to see the almighty Sanzo party in such a state, says Doku, and his brother dryly agrees. Hakkai notes their sense of urgency and asks if anything's happened to the prince; Yaone fumbles a moment and admits they've been separated. Gojyo, drying the sutra by the fire as casually if it were a pillowcase (Sanzo snaps at him to be more careful) says 'he's after this, right? he'll probably show up soon enough.' If he does, says Doku soberly, just leave the scripture behind and run. Sanzo looks up keenly: what's going on? he asks, and Doku quickly changes the topic, asking where Goku is. We've also been separated from a friend, says Hakkai. The KT pair exchange worried looks: if Kou and Goku were to fight one-on-one right now...Gojyo, fed up, demands to know what those two are carrying on about. We're enemies and all, he says, so it'd be normal for them to fight; why are you so panicky? Hakkai picks it up: Exactly what has happened to Kougaiji, he asks carefully--or rather, to all of you? They pause uncomfortably. Well...begins Yaone; and then a voice interrupts: 'that's enough'. He walks into the impromptu camp, a lilac-haired youkai with green eyes, dressed in a ragged purple cloak. Do you plan on betraying us, Dokugakuji and Yaone? he asks. Kon heads for the cave where the villagers used to shelter from floods, and sure enough they're all there, including his mom and sister. Touching reunion ensues. The villagers confirm it was a youkai attack that drove them here, and say they're planning to go back soon; but a demon horde is already massing on the cliffs above, gloating over having flushed the villagers out of their hiding place. And while Hakkai notes that D&Y appear to know the newcomer, the cloaked youkai says "Lady Gyakomen never trusted you two in the first place," and announces that his objective here is the assassination of the Sanzo-ikkou. They stand up, ready to fight. Yaone cries out "Be careful! don't look into his eyes!" but it's too late for that, and they find themselves seemingly transported to a dark place lit by candles and heaped with skulls. I have you now--you can never escape from my world of illusions, laughs the youkai. [Yup; it's Zakuro.]

Encounter ~fake~ Poster Image


Encounter ~fake~

As the youkai mob descends on the villagers, Goku goes into full asskicking mode and takes out half of them within seconds. Who the hell is this kid? they demand of each other, and then, 'better call the others!' Damn, there're more of them? says Goku; he orders Kon to get the villagers back into the cave, as far as they can go. You're gonna defend them all by yourself? the demons jeer, but Goku says he sure is, and then smashes the cliffside, sealing the villagers inside the cave. Now they're safe from you, he says, and grins at the demon army, saying he'll take them all on. The still shirtless H, G & S look around what seems to be an endless cavern full of bones and torches. Can it truly be an illusion? it looks so real...Sanzo draws and aims at the strange youkai, but he grins and says Sanzo can't do any harm with that melted gun. As soon as he says it, the shoreijuu seems to glow red-hot, and Sanzo drops it, staring at the half-puddle of metal on the cave floor. Do you see now? all three of you are in the palm of my hand, says Zakuro. They look at each other in alarm, and Zakuro adds that if they keep zoning out like this, they'll be paralyzed by snakebite. Right: at once snakes materialize from thin air, draped all over the ikkou-minus-9. Sanzo gets it: this is all psychological, he says, but mental and physical damage are linked here--so if they believe what's happening, it really does happen. He's using a hypnosis technique! Hakkai yells, don't listen to Zakuro! [heh, Hakkai --like us--must have read the manga, since the enemy youkai's name hasn't yet been given here.] --That's easier said than done, chokes Gojyo, sounding badly rattled. Zakuro grins, and announces that looking at the snakes more closely, he sees that they're actually human hands. And [eeew...] of course they are: a slithering mob of disembodied arms, crawling over the ikkou and grabbing up from the ground, hauling them down. Back up on the edge of the cliff, where they still are in reality, Doku and Yaone watch the ikkou struggle and fall under the invisible-to-them assault. What's happening? Doku asks Yaone, and she replies that this is Zakuro's power [OK, there's his name =)]--he can control what they imagine with his words, and in effect cause your own mind to harm you. His illusions are so real that they physically feel whatever they hear. --Doku stares in horror as Gojyo, gasping, tries to rise from under the wave of unreal attackers. He strides forward, grabs Zakuro's shoulder and says that it was Kougaiji's assignment to kill the Sanzo party--Zakuro was only supposed to obtain the sutra. Zakuro smirks, and says they're all too soft: that's why you were unable to protect your lord, he sneers, you're nothing but worthless trash. --You bastard, growls Doku, and Zakuro, still grinning, says, that reminds me--this guy is your brother, right? Doku glares, and Zakuro leans over him. Hey, Sha Gojyo--he says--look how well your arm burns. And Gojyo sees his arm burst into flames, and howls in agony. Goku has opened his second or third can of whupass on the youkai mob by now, but the damn things keep coming, and even the practically unbeatable saru is starting to get a bit winded. He's backed to the edge of the cliff. The demons taunt him, asking if he's ready to quit yet, and Goku worries that if he doesn't unseal the cave soon the villagers will suffocate. And the guys-- Then he gets an idea: he drops backward off the edge, bounces off a convenient branch to launch himself high into the air, and comes down with a huge byoi-bo strike to drop the whole cliff-edge, youkai and all, into the river below. That's that, Goku says to himself as he crawls wearily back up over the edge of the cliff. Now I have to hurry up and open this cave...and how far downstream did those guys get swept anyway?...and I'm so hungry... He sits down at the rubble-blocked mouth of the cave for a moment, wondering aloud why all this is happening to him, momentarily too tired to notice that someone has walked up to stand behind him: someone with long red hair and a bar-code tattoo. Uh-oh. Yaone and Doku's biggest worry of the day has come to pass. Zakuro chortles as Gojyo tries futilely to beat out the flames of his blazing arm. Hakkai yells desperately for Gojyo to ignore what he hears, but Zakuro insists that he can feel the heat and that the fire is spreading; your arm is going to fall off, he says. Don't listen! screams Hakkai, but Gojyo sees his arm sever at the elbow and fall to the ground; he drops to his knees, howling. Yaone runs to him, trying to tell him that there's no fire and it's only an illusion, but Doku says "they can't hear our voices now". It's hard to believe his suggestions are so powerful, says Hakkai. But Zakuro has zeroed in on his target: the only one, apparently, too suggestible to resist him. Why, Sha Gojyo, he needles, aren't you going to fight back? Why don't you use your shakujou? [the subtitle says 'scythe', but Zakuro clearly calls it by its right name.--well, technically it's really a yueyachan and not a shakujou, but n'mind.]. --Yaone gasps in dismay. In the illusion, Gojyo stands, glaring, and summons up the weapon. Sanzo yells for him to stop, that it's a trap, and Hakkai just cries his name, but no use: the blade flies, and Gojyo sees both Hakkai and Sanzo fall, blank-eyed and streaming blood. [In the manga--man, this is bad--the blade takes off both of their heads.] Zakuro laughs uproariously: your aim's terrible! he jeers. Look, idiot, you've killed your own friends!--The redhead drops the weapon and stares at his hands. No--I didn't--he says, voice shaking. Hakkai is literally screaming at him that they're both alive, but he can't hear it. There's no escape from my illusions, says Zakuro smugly, you can only go on suffering... Doku can't watch his brother be battered any longer, and stepping up to him, delivers a solid punch to his gut. [Rock it, big bro.]--Gojyo drops, out cold, and in the illusion world, Sanzo and Hakkai are astonished to see him vanish. Damn you, Dokugakuji, snarls Zakuro. Doku says that the only way out of these illusions must be to either die in them or to be knocked unconscious. --What good will that do you? Zakuro challenges, and Hakkai dryly observes that losing consciousness in front of an enemy isn't always the best idea. Sanzo growls that, unlike Gojyo, they aren't simple-minded; we won't fall for your tricks so easily, he says, and Hakkai smilingly agrees that "we're the intellectual type" =) But (after some punning on 'hippocampus' and 'hippopotamus' =) Zakuro says that he can reach directly into the brain and draw out memories, and that that's significantly easier with people of higher intelligence. He effortlessly draws out the memory of last night's meal to prove it, and then tells them that today--why, today they drowned in the river. --And just like that they're back in the brawl with the water youkai (last episode), only they're sinking helplessly to the bottom. There's no water! this is an illusion! cries Hakkai, and Zakuro smoothly points out that talking underwater only allows water into your lungs. You can't breathe; it's the end for you, Cho Hakkai, he says, and Hakkai vanishes. Sanzo, startled, calls his name and, likewise, seems to have inhaled water. It's your end too, Genjyo Sanzo, smirks Zakuro, but...water, Sanzo thinks, the sound of water...the river...darkness... Then he sees a vision of Koumyou, and remembers the hands that reached in to pull him from the river, the fingerless black gloves like his own; remembers that he heard a voice. =) And he gets to his feet in the cave of skulls, with a dry chuckle. Zakuro is rocked back, stares at him in disbelief. " 'Kouryuu, of the river's flow' " (kawa-nagare Kouryuu), says Sanzo [and you've never heard his voice more beautiful than this; it's pure silk] --"you chose the wrong image to use on me." --He picks up his banishing gun, perfectly whole and unharmed.-- "What I saw," he says--and, with him, we see Koumyou's calm, smiling face, haloed in a golden glow--"was light." --Zakuro backs off, badly shaken: I told you that gun melted! it's useless! It didn't melt, says Sanzo. The trigger's jammed! I'm telling you you can't shoot me! stammers the panicky youkai. But Sanzo cocks the trigger, absolutely sure of himself. I'm telling you that I can, he says, and the force of the shot hurls Zakuro over the edge of the cliff and into the river far below. Everything clears. Hakkai and Gojyo get to their feet, and Sanzo says with calm satisfaction, "Kore wa genjitsu da"--'this is reality'. =) [--Applause, please.]=== [The jerk's exit isn't so neat in the manga, but...well. =) ]== Gojyo thanks his brother for saving his life, but Doku's already walking off, wondering aloud if brainwashing--or hypnosis--can be that easy to break. Yaone knows what he's thinking... Kon is digging at the rockslide barehanded, worried that Goku is fighting for them all alone. The adults are still afraid of facing the youkai, but when Kon's little sister, Rin, joins him in digging, they all pitch in and soon have a clear passage. Kon scrambles out and is relieved to see Goku still standing--and then, before his startled eyes, the saru falls at Kougaiji's feet...

Struggle ~the opponent~ Poster Image


Struggle ~the opponent~

After a flashback to last ep, we see Sanzo asking Doku what he means about breaking through hypnosis, and cut to the throneroom of Houtou Castle. Yet another youkai flunky is polishing Lady GK's nails as she asks Dr. Ni about Kougaiji's progress. He should be back soon, he tells her. She hopes he's still showing the same good behavior, and Ni replies that Kou hasn't the strength to break through this hypnosis--he would have obtained the Maten Sutra long ago if he had. She chuckles, and says maybe she'll have him do her nails next. --Brainwashed? says Sanzo, and Doku bitterly confirms it, saying that right now, Kougaiji is nothing but a heartless killing machine. That [he says it as you might say 'that thing'] isn't Kou, he adds with great emotion. Gojyo rolls his eyes and says he's got to be exaggerating; and isn't he still your prince? Doku and Yaone look miserable, and Gojyo asks if that's why they advised the ikkou to just leave the sutra and run. Sanzo (looking much more irritated by his empty cigarette pack than by their news) growls "don't underestimate us", and Dokugaku actually--whoa!--grabs Sanzo by the front of his robe and hauls him up face-to-face. Don't misunderstand me, snaps the big youkai, I'm not worried about you guys--I just know Kou wouldn't want to win this way. Sanzo slaps his hand away and retorts that whatever, it's nothing to do with them. Straightening his robe =), he says that he kills anyone who gets in his way, and besides, he doubts their leader [he says taicho, "captain" =)] would want pity or surrender. Gojyo sighs and says, see, now our leader has always been a heartless killing machine. =)=) (And you're the one most in my way, mutters Sanzo.) Yaone sadly says that Sanzo-sama is right. Hakkai cautions that just dealing with the hypnosis may not be enough, as they may have actually tampered with Kou's brain. Doku resolutely says that they have to find a way to return Kou to normal; if they don't... And we see Lirin, naked, floating in some sort of nutrient tank, thinking in despair of her brother. As Dr. Hwang makes a note on her clipboard, Dr. Ni says he thinks they can progress to the second stage now. She's startled, but he heads out, handing her a note and saying "modify the chemical formula to this combination". Are you sure Lady Gyokumen Koushu said this was all right? Hwang asks, and Ni stops. Why are you even asking that? he says, and his lazy voice takes a sharp edge; if she's starting to feel guilty, he suggests, perhaps she'd like to go through the brainwashing herself... Goku struggles to his feet and faces the heartless killing machine (the redheaded one, not the blond one =), who begins to walk toward him.

Awakening ~back~ Poster Image


Awakening ~back~

After the "last episode" flashback, we return to the KT and the SI-minus-9, faced off on top of the cliff. Kou raises his head: Genjyo Sanzo, he rasps, give me the Maten Scripture. Kotowaru, I refuse, snaps Sanzo. Then I'll take it, says the prince. Doku is alarmed, and tells him to stop, that his arm's broken [so, Goku was right-- Kou just ignored it] and this whole thing is insane. But Kougaiji struggles to his feet and tells him to shut up; get in my way, he adds (his voice is a flat snarl) and I'll kill you both. [Gojyo is astonished by this, but Hakkai smiles that it sounds quite familiar. =)] Let's go then, growls Sanzo, and Gojyo adds that 'this is to avenge that stupid monkey." (Hakkai does quietly point out that Goku's still alive--and we hear him snoring.) Doku is still inwardly agonizing about what to do if Kou doesn't return to normal. Gojyo summons the shakujou, warning his brother to be ready, as he's not going to hold back. Kougaiji calls up a fire attack; Hakkai blocks it with a ki shield, and the ikkou goes on the attack, Sanzo drawing first blood with a bullet graze to Kou's shoulder. But he somersaults away seemingly unhurt, and Gojyo wonders if he doesn't feel pain anymore, while Hakkai says it seems there's only one way to beat him.== When I first met him, Doku says to himself, all I could think of was how much he looked like my little brother. Those sharp eyes and red hair...the way he seemed to be be trying to look tough... little things like that. --He watches that same brother charge the prince... As Sanzo reloads, Hakkai notes that something's strange here; normally Kou uses not only his mist and fire powers, but his summoning technique as well. Sanzo gets it: summoning requires an agreement between the summoner and the demon, he says, but if the summoner becomes someone else... Then does that mean Kougaiji can't summon demons now? asks Hakkai.== Yaone likewise has a reflective moment: in all the time I've been at his side, she thinks, I've only known Kougaiji-sama to be proud and noble; persistent, and maybe naive, but always pure... and kinder than anyone else. And so lonely... ==Sanzo walks up to the two anxious youkai and snaps 'if you have doubts, get the hell out of the way'. They gasp, but he cocks his pistol and says, enough of this 'I'm doing this for whoever' crap; this is about what you want to do. He steps between them and strides decisively forward. Doku remembers the moment that they told Kou to follow whatever path he chose, saying he was their one true master and they'd stand with him regardless. ==Sanzo yells for Gojyo to move and takes his shot, but suddenly a cloud of smoke billows up spoiling his aim; and when it clears, there are Doku and Yaone standing between the ikkou and the prince, Yaone with another smoke bomb at the ready and Doku with his blade drawn. You two, mutters Gojyo, but Sanzo gazes at them calmly. [--heh, maybe he's done more thinking about unexpected loyalty than we know.]--Doku grins at the ikkou, and says sorry, but this is the side we're on; and Yaone agrees that she just doesn't feel right not standing at their lord's side, whether he wants them there or not. Doku adds frankly, to Kougaiji, that really they don't care about Lady GK's orders, or even about his mother; he's here, and that's all that matters. ==Kou is rocked back by this.== Doku and Yaone stare down the SI; Gojyo wisecracks that such a popular leader is the complete opposite of someone he knows, and that someone retorts that no one asked his opinion. =) Anyway, three on three sounds fine to me, says Gojyo, and Hakkai smiles that even that might not be the case, as Goku leaps up behind them to rejoin the battle. Everyone charges in; Goku and Doku cross weapons, then Dokugaku strikes at Gojyo's blade and chain, scoffing that they always attack in the same pattern-- and realizes too late that the shakujou was there to distract him from Goku, descending on him with nyoi-bo drawn back for a blow that will surely crush his skull. He has no time to fend it off; he closes his eyes-- and Kougaiji lunges between them, taking the full-force downstrike to save him. We see Lirin in her tank, Dr, Hwang observing her; then we hear Kou remembering, darkness, total darkness...then voices...--Doku and Yaone's voices, a moment ago, pledging unconditional loyalty to him. Whose voices? he can't remember... and then Doku says you're here and that's all that matters, and the prince's lilac eyes snap wide open with the sudden light of clarity--and he lunges to rescue Dokugaku. Everyone stares stunned as he falls [again, except Sanzo, who completely seems to have expected this]. Then Doku charges Goku, sword swinging, and the startled saru fights back, not having heard what Kou whispered as his loyal duo bent over him: 'buy me some time.' But Sanzo sees that Kou is chanting his summoning spell, and yells, move! it's a trap! ==Move where?! it's a friggin' cliff! yells back Gojyo, but too late, as Engokuki boils forth and forces all four back over the edge. And again they're in the river. ==Hakkai and Sanzo both come to the same conclusion: if he can use his summoning attack again, he must be returned to himself. Kou smiles, and tells Doku and Yaone he's once more in their debt, then calls down to the SI that next time the sutra will be his for sure. They yell back indignantly, Gojyo that he's stealing their lines and Sanzo that it's high time he died =), while Hakkai laughs and says no one shows them any respect. But Kou turns away from the cliff-edge and says let's go, we have something to do. 'Lord Kougaiji--' begins Yaone; Kou looks back and smiles, and it's his own smile, thank all gods, warm as June. What's wrong, he says; you two are following me, aren't you? Yaone's eyes fill with relieved tears and Doku gives his great, deep guffaw. Baka, he says, of course we are. Back in creepy Houtou Castle, Ni and 01 are again playing chess when a flunky reports that Lord Kougaiji has returned. Ni smirks. Okaeri, welcome home, he says. I hear you tracked down the Sanzo party; you had permission to kill them, you didn't have to show any mercy. Perhaps you require a bit more maintenance... Kou pushes over their chessboard; Hwang and 01 register shock while Ni and Kou trade narrow glares, and we hear guards yelling angrily as Doku and Yaone emerge from the tank room, Doku carrying Lirin in his arms. [--and man, look at their eyes. Only a damn fool would cross either of them.] ==well, well, grins Ni, tossing and catching his chess knight; for future reference, exactly how did you return to normal? Don't bother, because there won't be a next time, snaps Kou; I'll never be your puppet again. He levels a long, clawed finger. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not on Sanzo's side, he says; but I'll fight them with my own will, for my mother's and our sakes, not as a pawn in your stupid game!==Lirin, hearing his voice, opens her eyes. Brother, I knew you'd come for me, she says, and he smiles as he takes her hand, then shoots a last glare at Ni. You told me once not to let go of those precious to me, he says; no matter how I'm parted from them, they'll be here waiting for me. That's when I saw the light--but I'm sure you'd never understand that. --Ni is still tossing and catching the knight as the prince and his people sweep out of the room, but as the door closes he throws the thing, knocking some disks off the nearest keyboard. Hwang is startled, but Ni begins to laugh. Well, that was a complete failure, he chortles; I'm impressed, he's stronger than I thought. All of them, chasing the light like idiots... his voice darkens as the chess knight hits the floor. --Like goddamn bugs, he rasps... And we see the ikkou driving off in the light of sunset, giving Gojyo grief for sneezing--did he catch cold from being dunked in the river? But it seems Goku's been working hard, adds Hakkai, and Goku recalls Kon saying how cool he was, and how he plans to become a ferryman so he can protect everyone who crosses the river, just as Goku did. He grins in satisfaction, and gets teased by Gojyo for it...but Sanzo is lost in thought, remembering what Doku told him. There's a human in Houtou Castle, the only one there, Dokugaku said: a genius professor, an arrogant, manipulative bastard, and there's a lot we don't know about him...Ni Jienyi, thinks Sanzo... Hakkai remarks that it'll take three days to reach the next village, but Sanzo demands they press on, griping about the unnecessary delays, though it does seem the other side has just as many. ---And why was Kougaiji in such a bad mood? wonders Goku. Neither Hakkai nor Sanzo answers, but Gojyo, exhaling smoke, says thoughtfully that 'he probably just had a really bad dream.'

The Cursed Dice Game ~inevitable game~ Poster Image


The Cursed Dice Game ~inevitable game~

As the ikkou checks into their evening's inn, the proprietor apologizes, saying that they're shorthanded and can't offer many amenities. Whatever, shrug the guys; it's still better than camping out. Track to outside view, where the moon appears an eerie shade of red and a flight of bats swooshes over the roof. Gee, could there maybe be something...strange...about this place? We get a nice look at Gojyo in the shower (rear view =), humming contentedly to himself, until the water quits running. He steps out drying his hair and griping to Hakkai. Hakkai says they can't really complain, as the room was so cheap. Room service knocks on the door and Goku charges to retrieve their food; there's no one there, and all that's on the serving cart is a tray with four pint cartons of milk and packaged sandwiches. Goku can't believe this is supposed to be dinner, but the hungry foursome eats it anyway. The shower's broken, grumbles Gojyo, and there's no TV or radio [huh? they never have TV or radio...even Hakuryu only had a radio in the OVA...], and to top it off, Sanzo's out of cigarettes. Are they really gonna stay in this dump? Hakkai diplomatically says they may as well just bear with it tonight and get an early start in the morning. Goku goes to check out the bleak lobby, hoping for a newsstand that might have cigarettes (and, with luck, snacks) but nope. Figured as much, he sighs. The innkeeper apologizes, and asks if he might be interested in this: a boxed board game. It's a lot of fun, he says, it might help with your boredom. Goku agrees the time might pass more quickly if they played, and the man gives him the game and box of playing pieces, saying there's no other game like this in the world. Goku brings the game to their room, where Hakkai asks if it's Parcheesi (as Goku did when he first saw it) and examines one of the playing pieces, which are all human figures roughly resembling Lego people. He comments that it looks odd, and it breaks into a big grin; Hakkai blinks in surprise, and the piece has returned to its original expression. Maybe I'm just tired, he says... --Well, they've got nothing else to do, so G&G decide to play and Hakkai goes along with them. Sanzo snorts that he doesn't play with kids' toys, but throws the dice at Goku's coaxing, and as soon as the throw is made (he rolls an 8) Sanzo's piece sets off all by itself. Gojyo tries to get Sanzo's attention, but he's returned to his newspaper, grumbling that they can play if they want to. At the 8th space the piece stops, the space lights up, the piece's eyes glow red, and it announces that as the game has started, they'll begin with a showy welcome. Streamers and confetti promptly come flying from nowhere. This really is fun! enthuses Goku, and encourages Hakkai to take his turn. Hakkai's dubious, but rolls the dice: his gamepiece likewise trots off on its own, and then announces 'a warm welcome for our guests', whereupon steam baskets loaded with manjuu drop from the ceiling! Hakkai warns that it might be better not to eat the stuff, but of course Goku has already dug in, and Sanzo has had enough: what's with this thing? It seems that what the pieces say becomes reality, comments Hakkai. Gojyo hopes it'll say "you discover an oil field in Arabia" or "you marry a Hollywood actress" in his turn, and starts shaking the dice; as soon as he rolls the steamed buns disappear, to Goku's dismay. (So each person's turn cancels out the previous one, Hakkai observes.) Gojyo's gamepiece (he chose a female one, of course =) invites them all to the exciting attraction Aqua World; torrents of water come pouring into the room, and not only are the windows and door somehow magically sealed, but the glass has even become bulletproof. The water level rises fast; Hakkai yells for Goku to roll the dice, but the board is already afloat. Sanzo takes a shot and capsizes it (and looks very pleased with himself!), but the flood continues until Goku dives to the floor and rolls his turn. *poof* the water drains away as inexplicably as it came. Minnasan, daijobu desu ka?--Everyone, are you all right?-- asks Hakkai as the ikkou gasp for breath; Gojyo notes that Sanzo's shot hit the board but it's not damaged at all. The as-yet unmoved fourth gamepiece sets off on its course, and announces that whoever rolled this turn must act as the Watchdog of Hell until the highest possible number is rolled. Didn't you ask the innkeeper anything about this game before bringing it here? demands Sanzo of Goku, but the saru's reply comes out "Wan!"--Japanese for "Woof!" Yup, Goku can now only bark like a dog. [Wouldn't you think being the Watchdog of Hell would be a little more dramatic than that?]==You're not a dog, you're a monkey, scoffs Gojyo, but Sanzo and Hakkai recall the game piece's sentence, and Sanzo gripes that stupid as this is, they can't stop playing now. He rolls his turn, but Goku can still only bark (and when he tries to write a note instead, all it says is "wan wan wan wan" =). They deduce that they have to roll two sixes to change Goku back; Sanzo rolls again, but the next playing piece suggests relaxing in the form of a forest spirit for awhile, and when Hakkai and Gojyo look up, Sanzo has turned into...a tree. A Sanzo-faced tree. Honest to Tenkai, that's what happens. (You've got to be kidding, mutters Gojyo. We wish.) ==Sanzo now can't talk or roll the dice, and Goku is still desperately yapping: Hakkai closes his eyes, concentrates...and rolls double sixes. Ta-da! Goku and Sanzo are both back to normal, and Goku hugs Hakkai in extravagant thanks. But...the next playing piece says "a giant dragon wants to play with everyone". Gojyo whispers that it might've been better to leave S&G that way a little longer; Sanzo takes a shot that just misses Gojyo--but what he's really shooting at is the huge purple dragon that's appeared behind the hanyou [aah, and I was hoping for a giant-sized Hakuryu...]. The ikkou attack; Sanzo drops the beastie with two shots, reloads and snaps for Gojyo to roll the dice--he wants to finish this damn game now! Gojyo grins and says 'what's next? everyone ready?' as he rolls (Hakkai dryly observes that he's enjoying this too much); we see the innkeeper downstairs, saying "I'm sure this time it will end well", and UH-oh, he has a base instead of feet--he's a giant gamepiece! Gojyo's roll causes the gamepiece to grin and announce that a shower of alcohol will fall, and they should all drink up and have fun. Finally, growls Sanzo [this episode would drive anyone to drink--in fact, excuse me a second...], and Gojyo chortles in glee. But Hakkai rolls his next turn before the prize can appear, saying they need to finish the game. (Gojyo's not pleased.) This one says 'others are there to help you, so lean on them', and we hear, but don't see, Sanzo demanding to know why Hakkai is climbing onto him. Hakkai stammers that he can't help it, his body is acting on its own. [oh man, the fanfic possibilities...] Sanzo shouts to Gojyo to roll another turn, but Gojyo is inclined to let them suffer a minute as reprisal for passing up the free booze, and it takes a bullet to motivate him. The innkeeper looks apprehensive... The next roll brings them into "the red zone", where a super-cute, grey tabby kitten (OK, Machida-san definitely has a thing about kitties) turns into a huge two-headed tiger-demon, but Sanzo's roll doesn't vanish it, and Hakkai guesses that in the "red zone" that condition no longer applies. Sanzo's penalty is to be sealed into the wall, while H, G&G are still fighting the tiger. Goku tosses the dice up to Hakkai, who rolls, but his piece walks to the final space and then leaves--and Hakkai on the tiger's back turns into a gamepiece himself! You have got to be kidding me, says Gojyo incredulously: unless you roll the exact number of spaces to end the game, you wind up like that? ==at the foot of the stairs, the innkeeper looks up and sighs, saying "it's no good this time, either..." Gojyo's roll causes the floor under him to turn into a bog, and he sinks in; Goku can't handle the tiger-demon alone (Lego-Hakkai clatters to the floor) and the wall is fast closing around Sanzo. Goku must roll a six despite having the tiger hot on his heels, or all is lost! he uses the nyoi-bo to sweep the dice into his hand, throws his roll and gets a seven--but Sanzo's shot clips one die and rolls it over from two to one. [love it; even in a silly adventure like this, the man always, always nails his shot. =) ] ==The brave warrior has broken the curse, says the final gamepiece; all will return to what should be. As the ikkou recover, the innkeeper hops into the room, yelling 'congratulations!' and the gamepieces all turn into normal people, including himself. Even the creepy red moon turns back to clear white. Game over, huh?--says Gojyo. The innkeeper explains that a strange magician left the gameboard here as payment for a night's stay at the inn, but everyone who played it was turned into a gamepiece until the SI came along. The village is saved!--whatever they want in return, they need only ask. ==Goku promptly requests a better dinner, Hakkai alcohol to go with it, Sanzo some cigarettes, and Gojyo asks, that cute girl who was my playing piece--where's she? His reply is a ringing slap. ...okay, it has a few laughs, but really now...

The Red-Haired Woman ~stupid woman~  Poster Image


The Red-Haired Woman ~stupid woman~

At the ikkou's inn of the evening, Gojyo flirts with the waitress, inviting her to drop by their hotel after her shift; but all he gets for his trouble is a smack from Sanzo's harisen. As she hurries off to bring Goku a refill, Gojyo gripes that he can't possibly pick up girls when he's surrounded by these three, and they retort that it's hardly their fault. The guys get downright catty, even Goku, who suggests that he's not nearly as popular with the ladies as he thinks (Hakkai: "Now, now, Goku, let's not tell him the truth."). Gojyo won't hear of it; I'm hot, and that's a fact, he purrs. Sanzo snipes that it'd be interesting to get proof of that 'fact' someday. [ watch out what you wish for, blondie...] ==Gojyo shrugs them off, drops into his seat and tries to light a smoke, but his lighter's not working...and then a hand reaches in with a match to give him a light. He tracks up the arm and his jaw drops: it's a beautiful redhead in white, a stunner by any standards. [I'd put her at just a little older than Gojyo; early 30s, maybe.] --What, she smiles, you don't like matches? ==The hanyou's literally speechless; even Goku stops eating to stare. And at second look we can all see that both her red hair and her wine-red eyes match Gojyo's. They have a drink at the bar, Gojyo looking as smug as the proverbial pussycat; she suggests they go somewhere quieter, and off they go, the beauty wrapped around his arm. ==They really left, comments Goku in surprise. 'That woman's hair...' says Hakkai, and Sanzo confirms that, yes, she too is a Taboo Child. As they walk, we see a youkai duck out of sight. Gojyo remarks that quiet is fine and all, but they're almost to the outskirts of town. She says she prefers places without many people, but Gojyo smells trouble, and scoops the babe over his shoulder. We're surrounded, he tells her, and calls up the shakujou as --you guessed it--armed demons leap in from all directions. Even one-handed, he makes short work of them, and we see the lady's stunned expression as the survivors scatter. Sorry, did that startle you? asks Gojyo, but she runs off without another word. The hanyou heaves a deep sigh and wryly says 'that's why I hate being attacked when there are chicks around.' We see the youkai gang in their burned-out building hideout, the survivors reporting to their leader that even alone the hanyou is too strong to take in a fair fight. What are they gonna do?-- The red-haired lady bursts in, calling to the scarfaced leader, Bakura. Ah, Kougyoku [it means 'ruby'; a great name for a Taboo daughter], he says, I'm glad you're safe. She's shaken up, but he reassures her, saying she should have no trouble getting close to him again-- and he holds out a sheathed knife. Wait, she protests, I never agreed to that. But he says that she's proven Sha Gojyo's weakness is women, just as they'd heard, and there'll be an amazing reward when they collect Sanzo's sutra. Kougyoku is torn. Bakura smiles persuasively, saying they'll leave this way of life behind and have a great life together; it'll be easy, if they can just take the ikkou out one by one... She reluctantly agrees; he tucks the knife under her arm and says 'now get going'. As she heads for the door he adds a sharper shot: I've looked after you all this time, he says, it's about time you did something in return. Back at the inn, Hakkai pours coffee and asks, doesn't Gojyo think it might have been a trap? He vehemently disagrees, saying she must have just panicked and run off. But when Hakkai glances out the window, there's the lady in white, standing in the street below. Gojyo goes down to see her, and she tells him she was just scared, and invites him out for another drink-- which he accepts without hesitation. Goku and Hakkai register several degrees of disbelief and dismay as the taboo pair saunter off together. Sanzo snorts and says 'let him go'; but Hakkai hopes there won't be trouble, as Gojyo's soft heart often gets the better of him. [--and no matter what Sanzo says, look at him--he's worried.] At the bar, Kougyoku is so visibly tense and drinking so much that Gojyo gently asks 'am I that scary?' She denies it, saying with determined cheer 'let's drink to our hearts' content!' What are you going to do when you get me drunk? --teases Gojyo, and she laughs and says that's the woman's line. They banter a little, and she says she always likes the wrong sort of guys-- amd the worse they are, the more they usually say they're nice guys, as he just did. But what's really bad is probably my life, ahe adds sadly. He says that isn't so; they smile at each other; the moment is just right for a kiss, and as he leans toward her you know she's thinking of what she's agreed to do. She suddenly bolts for the bathroom, and Gojyo drops sulkily back onto his seat. He tosses back his drink and orders another, while in the ladies' room, she stares at her reflection in the blade of the dagger. Back in the bar, very drunk, she urges Gojyo to go on drinking, saying he needs to be so smashed that 'he has no idea what's going on'. The hanyou tosses back another shot, but Kougyoku has hit her limit and passes out--and as he scoops her up, the sheathed knife falls to the floor. Gojyo stares in shock. We see her waking up on a bed, fully dressed. Across the room is Gojyo, seemingly sound asleep on the sofa. She sees her chance. She draws the knife and walks over to him, swallows hard, raises the blade--and his hand shoots out to grab her wrist. So it was something like this, he says, quiet and resigned. She can't believe it: You knew? Then why-- He smiles. Because you're a beautiful woman, he says. It's all she can bear: she drops the knife, falls to the floor in tears. Don't make fun of me! she sobs, you're still just a kid! But he crouches down and lifts her chin to meet his eyes, and smiles. We should be quieter, he says softly, everyone's probably asleep by now. [I know I have praised Hirata-san's vocal work as Gojyo before, but my god, wow, I can barely describe the silk-velvet tone of that line. You just want to curl up in it and stay for years.] She stares at him, touched and amazed; they draw closer, and finally kiss. Fade to black. Morning: Goku and Hakkai head to breakfast, Goku wondering if Gojyo ever came back. In their hotel room, Gojyo and Kougyoku are talking; presumably she's told him about Bakura. He wonders why she doesn't break up with a guy like that, but says she should do what she really wants to do. She sits pensively on the bed as he leaves. We see him at a table with the ikkou; no one's surprised to learn that she was an assassin, and Goku asks why he let her go. Adults have their reasons, he says. So, you promised her a ride to the next town? asks Hakkai, and Gojyo says 'if that's what she decides she wants.' And we see her thoughtful, troubled face as she recalls their night together. We see them sitting together in the bed, naked [discreetly, but definitely]; she rests against his back with her arms around his chest as they talk. He should understand, she says, how it is for ones like us, neither demon nor human. There's nowhere a taboo child can go. Even if Bakura's a rotten guy--and, gods love her, her voice is the voice of every woman who's ever settled for what she could get--he's the only one who was ever nice to me. ==You're just telling yourself that, he says. Most people don't know that those with red hair and eyes are taboo; you could do just fine, living in another town. She says she's afraid of being alone, but he gently teases her that that wouldn't last long, with all the guys who'd pay attention to a pretty girl like her. ==We see her standing, overlooking the town. Pretty girl, huh? she thinks, and walks quickly away. When Gojyo, Hakkai and Goku reach her hotel room to see if she wants that lift out of town, she's gone, and Gojyo briskly says OK then, he's meddled in her affairs enough. (His face does not match his tone.) ==At the gang's hideout, we hear a sharp slap: Bakura's standing over her, furious. Not only did you fail to kill Sha Gojyo, he rails, but now you're telling me not to pursue the Sanzo party? Because we have no chance of beating them! she protests. He yells that all she needs to do is what he tells her to do, and hauls her up by the hair in a jealous rage. I look after you for years, and this is how you repay me? Just what happened on your night alone with Sha Gojyo?! =='Bakura--' she sobs, and he snaps out his youkai claws like switchblades; since you understand, he snarls, be of some use to me. At the ikkou's hotel, a rock smashes through Gojyo's window. As the rest come running, he's unwrapping the attached note; out of it falls a long tress of ruby-red hair. That bastard, he says quietly as he reads the note; he tells them it says for him to come alone. Sanzo says they don't have time to deal with such petty matters, but Gojyo's already headed for the door, saying he's going to the bathroom and they can surely wait that long. Hakkai asks if he's all right, and he grimly says he's got a bad stomachache--it might take awhile. (Are you sure it's OK to let him go alone? worries Goku as the hanyou strides down the street. Didn't he say he was going to the bathroom?--retorts Sanzo.) The youkai gang is waiting for Gojyo on a windy hill outside of town, perched on the heads of a cluster of giant, ruined Buddhas from who knows what long-gone temple. Kougyoku angrily tells Bakura that he won't come, and he snaps that if she doesn't shut up he'll make sure she never speaks again. And sure enough, here he comes over the hill. You really are with a worthless bastard, he snarls. [More huge points for Hirata-san; Gojyo's voice now is so fierce and harsh you'd hardly recognize it.] Bakura orders him to raise his hands and come closer, if he cares what happens to this woman. She's supposed to be your woman, grates the hanyou. Then I'll do as I like with her, taunts Bakura, slashing at her clothes with his razor claws; there's enough red to show that he's drawn blood, and Gojyo charges. Kougyoku tries to shout a warning, but Bakura slaps her to the ground, and Gojyo runs straight into the trap--a covered-over stone well. The youkai gang gloats, saying he'll never get out of that, but of course he's out in an instant and kicking furious butt. As Bakura's flunkies drop like flies, Gojyo demands he stand up and fight, but he turns to run and falls right into the same pit. He clings to the edge, begging Kougyoku to save him. Gojyo asks her what she wants to do, and she sighs painfully. He's not a good person, she says, but he'll stay with me...I'm not strong enough to live on my own. Gojyo closes his eyes for a moment, then fires the shakujou blade down the well, and Bakura grabs the chain and is hauled to safety. As he gasps for breath, huddled in the grass, Gojyo heads off down the hill, and Bakura, grinning viciously, rears to his knees and fires his claws like throwing-knives (???) at the hanyou's undefended back. Kougyoku, horrified, leaps up and throws herself into the blades' path. Gojyo turns too late, crying out her name. Dammit, bitch, you got in my way! yells Bakura, but that's his last word, as the enraged Gojyo comes flying back up the hill to knock him straight to the bottom of the well for good. Gojyo lifts the dying woman in his arms. Will he do her a favor, she asks, and bury her next to him? --Of course.--My life was worthless, she says; but it's something, at least, to die in the arms of a good man like you. == Stone-faced, he holds her as she draws her last breath. We see him sitting with a cigarette on one of the Buddha heads as the ikkou drives up the hill; Hakkai honks the horn (five beeps =) to tell him his ride is here. As they ride off, he casually apologizes for taking so long. Goku hopes his stomach feels better; Hakkai advises him to rest for awhile, and of course he says he'd get well in no time if he had a cute girl to nurse him...and of course, they let him say it.

Standoff ~muzzle~ Poster Image


Standoff ~muzzle~

The guys are waiting on the top of a mountain for Sanzo, but there's no sign of him. We see that as it was too steep for Hakuryu, Sanzo decreed they'd climb it on foot, and Goku promptly suggested a bet on who'd reach the top first: loser to buy barbecue for the ikkou. He'd thought that would be Gojyo, but the hanyou comes in third; so where is Sanzo?... Below, the footsore monk has stopped for a break, and has just lit a smoke when Lirin careens out of nowhere. Sanzo gets off two shots [and realizes that's all he had; he wasted too much ammo shutting up a quarrel] before the demon princess lands such a blow to the rock he's on that the whole cliff-edge avalanches into the valley below. (Hakkai hears the noise, but Gojyo says he's just imagining things. Though it did seem that they all heard the gunfire...)==UH-oh; there's the Maten Sutra caught on a tree branch, lost in Sanzo's fall! Sanzo reaches the bottom a second before Lirin and instantly aims at her; she grins wryly and says she's failed. So shoot, baldy, she dares him. Brat, he retorts, aren't your guardians around? She begins to say she's tough enough alone, but her stomach growls so loudly that she halts in embarrassment. I'm all out of meat buns, he says with his dry evil grin; just go on home. But she snaps back that she can't give up and go home this time; and we see again the Kou-tachi rescuing her from Dr. Ni's experiment in ep. 6. Afterward, her brother had warned her to stay away from "all of them" from now on, even her mother, and promised to protect her no matter what. She said she would, and Dokugaku and Yaone looked on, smiling, as prince and princess sealed the promise with a pinky-swear. [Awwww. =)] --Now Lirin grits her teeth; big brother did his best for me, she thinks, so I have to do my best for his sake!--Baldy Sanzo, she yells, give me the scripture! Kyoumon?--he glances at his shoulder, registers that the priceless sutra is gone, and reacts with admirable composure. Stop calling me that, he says, and anyway I don't have it. Don't lie to me, take it out! she demands, and they trade retorts. He's definitely hoping she'll give up and get lost before he has to prove he's out of bullets [sigh, this is so counter to the 'concentrated will' theory...]...and then Lirin spots the spreading bloodstain staining his robes. [Hurt falling down the mountainside, we assume.]-- Hey, you're bleeding, she says, but he snaps "don't move!", pistol still trained on her. His face is resolute but his hand shakes visibly, and she grins. Na, hage-Sanzo, why don't you shoot? she asks; does that thing have bullets? --He says nothing, and her grin gets crafty; she licks her lips. Blood runs down the side of his boot. Shoot me already, she taunts, and gathers herself to pounce. He raises the gun and grins coldly. Honestly, I'm not even sure it's loaded, he says; I had to waste quite a few bullets on those idiots. That's a lie! Lirin says. Sanzo replies that whether or not she believes him is up to her, but at this distance there's no way he could miss. [--ooh. Nice psyche, houshi.]==Want to try me? rasps the priest. (Lirin holds her place, glaring.) If you're gonna come at me, be prepared to die: I only need one shot. --The princess clenches her fist, but doesn't move. Sanzo chuckles, sensing she's lost her nerve, and--switching gun hands--rips his black tunic-shirt-whatsit with his teeth [a thousand fangirls swoon] to bind up his wound. And there they sit, still in their Mexican standoff, as a cabbage butterfly alights on Sanzo's gun (nice touch) and his breathing gets harsher and harsher. How much longer can you stand that? Lirin taunts; Sanzo growls "Damare." When you lose enough blood you'll be tired out, she replies, and then it's the end. She grins carnivorously; Sanzo snaps "I told you to shut up", and there they sit. On the top of the mountain, H, H, G & G are still waiting; Hakkai, Hakuryu and Goku are starting to worry, but Gojyo insists Sanzo is fine and will show up if they wait. Goku's had enough, though, and sets off to look for him. ==[Now, watch this maneuver.]== Is it OK to leave them? worries Hakkai. It's fine, says Gojyo, about to light another cig--but his lighter's out. He asks Hakkai for a light. I don't smoke, says Hakkai, but I know of another person who probably has one. How annoying, grouses the redhead... Back to Sanzo and Lirin; he's now sitting in a puddle of blood. Give up and take out the sutra already, she says. Have you not been listening to me? I don't have it, he retorts. Come and get it then--and he tries to light another smoke, but his cheap lighter is also out of fuel. [At least Gojyo can refill his when he gets a chance; Sanzo buys the cheap disposable type...]--In the windy silence of the riverbank all we hear is the repeated clicking of the empty lighter; then Sanzo cusses. Do you want me to light it for you? asks amused Lirin; Sanzo shushes her, and Lirin says 'they sure are taking a long time'. They?--asks Sanzo. Omae no nakama, your friends, she says; aren't they coming to help you? ==[Note her use of 'omae', the least respectful form of 'you'. She's a youkai princess; she sees no reason to defer to a human monk, even a monk of the highest degree.]== Sanzo snorts, and Lirin says, they're pretty cold, aren't they? not like my brother. ==Sanzo finally manages to coax a light out of his cheap lighter. Lirin says "that's what's been irritating you, isn't it?" [We mustn't underestimate this demon girl; she's quite evidently got her brother's gift of reading character at a glance.]==Sanzo snarls that they have nothing to do with this... Goku passes by overhead, calling for Sanzo, while the monk adds to his pile of cig butts. Hearing his cough, Lirin asks why he doesn't quit smoking. They trade some more barbed retorts, but she can see he's still losing blood at an alarming rate, and when the cigarette falls from his teeth she gets to her feet. He draws down, but she grins and says "if you don't hit me with one shot you're through". Sanzo is gasping for breath; his vision blurs and doubles... Hakuryu, cruising overhead, spots the sutra flapping from its branch. He kyuu's in surprise, while at the same moment Goku smells tobacco--must be Sanzo!--and charges off. Gojyo, descending the cliff with Hakkai, announces that from now on he's always going to carry two lighters; and then Hakkai hears Hakuryu's chirp from above. Goku is galloping to Sanzo's rescue, yelling his name, and Sanzo thinks he's too damn loud even as he holds off Lirin, who's saying she'll give him one more chance. Stop making me lose my concentration! shut up! inwardly snarls Sanzo, who of course, of course, hears Goku more clearly than anything else, and he fires his (apparently) last bullet at Lirin just as she leaps. She easily dodges it, but he's in the air to bring her down, and stands over her as she lies on the rivershore out cold, ejecting the empty cartridges from his gun. We can hear all three of the ikkou calling his name as he stands there, and he thinks, shut up already; are Sanzos on sale or something?--and he falls back to lie full-length by Lirin. And at the barbecue house, as Sanzo pays off his loss of the bet [he's wearing the sutra, so Hakuryu must have retrieved it, good dragon! AND his black top is intact as well; wonder how many of them he has...], there's the usual whose-food squabble between Goku and Gojyo, settled by the usual barrage of gunfire. (Bad habits are hard to break. =)

Buried Dream ~snow drop~ Poster Image


Buried Dream ~snow drop~

Wrapped in long cloaks, the ikkou trudges through a snowy mountain pass. Goku and Gojyo gripe about the cold, and Hakkai reminds them that this wasn't his idea: a villager told them the only way west was over this mountain. Gojyo hopefully asks if there might be a village or an inn on the way. Hakkai doubts anyone lives up here-- but then a flight of arrows zings into the snow at their feet. Go home! get off this mountain! yells a young, angry voice, and we see the archers are a gang of little kids. People from the village aren't supposed to come up here, they say, and Gojyo's attempt to explain that they aren't villagers is just met with more arrows. Ignore them, growls Sanzo, and the ikkou takes off at a gallop through the blinding snow--and runs right off the path, landing in a heap (not too far) below. A tall figure, dressed for the weather and muffled up in scarf and goggles, finds the unconscious foursome... We see a pot of soup bubbling over the fire. Sanzo's eyes slowly open; he sees a youkai bending over him and in a flash has the demon by the collar, pistol at his head--but we can see that this youkai is the one who rescued them. Wow, you're fast, says the stranger mildly, and then Hakkai and Gojyo chime in to assure their leader that the demon, whose camp they're in, is their benefactor. Quite a greeting, says the big guy, amused; you're pretty violent for a monk. [He has a nice smile, dark hair and grey eyes; a deep voice and a steady, calm presence.] Sanzo snorts; so, a youkai not affected by the Minus Wave, he says. --Something like that. --The youkai passes Sanzo a bowl of soup. Gojyo adds with tipsy happiness that there's sake' in it, and Goku is already sound asleep by the fire =). Sanzo accepts the bowl with poor grace and irritatedly asks why the group is so relaxed. Hakkai replies that there's not much more they can do right now, as the snowstorm has turned into a blizzard. The big youkai [I'll go ahead and say that his name is Yakumo] adds that it'll likely snow all night, so they should make themselves comfortable, and he's sorry his kids attacked them earlier. The troop of archer children enters the tarpaulin-sealed cave, and Gojyo splutters, you're saying all these are your kids?! The youkai chuckles that he's a respectable bachelor, and tells the kids to apologize, whereupon they bow and offer an in-unison "gomen nasai". Sanzo and Hakkai both note that all the kids are youkai. Yakumo explains that when the area's demons went berserk, a few adults and most children (as the ikkou has noted elsewhere) kept their sanity--maybe just because they weren't yet mature. All of these youngsters have lost their parents to the Minus Wave, and he's the only remaining adult youkai in the area, so he's taken them in to raise them himself. So that's why you live up here in the mountains, says Hakkai. (Gojyo, always a pushover for little ones, is already making friends, though Goku objects to being clambered on.=)==Learning of the ikkou's mission, Yakumo says thoughtfully that finding the source of the Minus Wave might help to reverse its effects, but whether or not that would solve everything... (we see an ominous-looking party of men hiking up into the pass, armed with farm tools.) What do you mean? asks Hakkai, and the big demon somberly replies, do you think they'll forgive the youkai for everything they've done? The humans feel so much fear and distrust; I don't think it'll be resolved that easily.--Sanzo, smoking, watches him narrowly as he speaks.== The kids continue to bounce on and torment Goku, and even braid Gojyo's hair (he retorts to Goku's teasing that he's fine with taking care of 'future hot ladies'=), until Sanzo deals out some ferocious fan wallops, yelling for them all to shush. Gojyo dryly remarks that Sanzo's the loudest one there, and Hakkai apologizes to Yakumo for his rowdy friends. He chuckles, but then adds, cautiously, that it's unusual to see humans and demons traveling together these days. Hakkai's face turns so cold that it's startling; "Yakumo-san," he says in sharp reproof-- and then Sanzo and Gojyo snap alert at the crunch of footsteps in the snow outside. ==Yakumo picks up his gun and orders the kids back into the cave, but before anyone can move the tarp is ripped open, and there are the intruders, three human men. We've finally found you, one says; to think that you're hiding all these demon children up here, Yakumo. --the ikkou get to their feet; tiny, scared youkai cling to Gojyo and Goku. Humans? asks Gojyo. They're humans from the village below, Yakumo tells his guests; they're after us youkai. Of course we are, you're demons, retorts the ringleader. --Leave us alone, demands Yakumo, we've done nothing to harm you, especially these children. That may be so, they say, but we still can't rest easy knowing there are demons living so close by. Who knows when you'll go berserk like the others did, and attack our village? Even you can't guarantee that won't happen! Yakumo looks stricken--clearly that's his worst nightmare--and Gojyo and Goku likewise react in shock at a touch to this very raw nerve. Hey, protests Goku, you should listen to their side too! But the humans growl that outsiders have no say in this, and raise their tools menacingly, saying that if Yakumo won't leave they'll kill him. The big youkai aims his rifle, and the kids cower in fear-- But Sanzo lays his hand on the rifle and stares down the intruders. You're human? why is a human monk traveling with demons? they ask in surprise. You're right, replies Sanzo (over Goku's protest); considering your future safety, this is the wisest course of action. But even so: besides Yakumo, all the youkai here are children, not so different from the human children in your village. And if knowing that, you're still able to kill these children [his voice is a fierce rasp of utter authority and judgment, the voice of the Law; a tremendous performance by Hoshi-san]--then you bastards are neither demon nor human. There's nearly ten seconds of stunned silence before one of the men replies 'but co-existing with demons isn't possible!' [--If these guys knew Hakkai, they'd take one look at him right now and shut the hell up.] We're not backing down until you leave our land, they say defiantly; we'll keep coming back until you do. And they walk off into the snow. Yakumo hugs Ryo, the little one who's hiding behind Gojyo, and promises to protect them all, wondering bitterly why they can't be left alone. The next day: blue skies over fresh snow. Yakumo teaches Goku how to chop wood for kindling, saying that no one can eat who doesn't work. As G&G squabble, Sanzo sits smoking, grumbling at the noise (--Hakkai scoops up an armload of firewood, saying sweetly that they're still better than someone who isn't helping at all. Go, 'Kai. =).== Yakumo apologizes to Sanzo for last night's episode. What you said was true, says the monk; even if we find the source of the Minus Wave, it's probably too late for things to return to the way they were. Their host admits that he has no idea when he might lose himself; and isn't it the same for Sanzo's friends? And Sanzo--for the first time ever--doesn't auto-reply that they aren't his friends; he watches their snowball fight for a moment, then says quietly, "Yeah." [Wow.] The big youkai adds--almost lightly--that maybe he went crazy a long time ago. Sanzo gives him a keen glance. ==The kids are pestering Yakumo to join their snowball battle, but across the snowfield, Goku has found something. A row of heavy stones, set as markers in the snow, each one with a flower lying by it. These are-- --Graves, supplies Yakumo, of all the children who've come here and died. He manages a smile; it's because these are here that I truly don't want to leave this land. ==Died? asks Goku? Did they get sick? No; they were killed.==Sanzo's gaze hasn't shifted.==Killed by who? the humans? asks Goku.==A look of pain and regret crosses the youkai's face. The piercing purple eye does not miss it. It's so silent, except for the happy squeals of the kids playing in the snow, and Yakumo smiles. It's snowing again. Hakkai observes that mountain weather changes quickly, and Yakumo says that it'll be sunny in the morning; they should be able to reach the next village west of here if they leave early. Sanzo is watching him like a hawk. One of the children enters in tears, telling Yakumo that Ryo is missing. In this blizzard?--exclaims Gojyo. The little girl says that Ryo'd begun acting weird as soon as the humans left, all zoned out and scary. Yakumo, looking pale, picks up his rifle and puts on his scarf. I'll go and look for him, he says. Goku at once volunteers the ikkou's help, but Yakumo says he'll go alone, and when Goku presses, he orders them all to stay. But as soon as he leaves Hakkai asks for Sanzo's decision, and he says, we'll go; something's bothering me. Besides Ryo? asks Goku.--Yes. We hear Yakumo thinking, this is just a dream; we see the cloaked ikkou trudging through the snow. Goku asks Sanzo why they're following Yakumo instead of searching for Ryo, but he ignores the saru's voice, his face set and dark. They hear gunshots, and run toward the sound. Yakumo is standing over Ryo and two of the intruder humans, all lying dead in the snow. He remembers Goku asking how the children died, and thinks: I killed them. Aloud he says that maybe he's the one who's dreaming, though he has no right to. We see the single neat bullet hole in Ryo's back; as Yakumo lifts his body from the snow, we see that the child's hands are bloody youkai claws. He went berserk?--asks Hakkai, aghast. [In the manga, the men have been gruesomely dismembered, making it all too clear how they died.] Goku can't understand, but Sanzo's face shows he'd already guessed the awful truth. ==I killed them, says Yakumo--his voice is quiet, and full of pain--before they could attack humans. The children who went berserk...I've killed them, again and again. He walks off, carrying the little body, and Gojyo asks where he's going. Back there, he says; one of the humans got away, and they'll never let a thing like this go. The ikkou stands in the snow, watching him leave. I know it's a contradiction, he thinks as he walks: taking them in, yet killing them when they go mad. I know, but...what else could I do? I only-- he steps into the cave-- --and finds the third man, standing over the bodies of the remaining youkai children. All of them. We see the ikkou, silent as they walk back toward the cave. Why'd he have that look on his face, says Goku; he said he was dreaming, but why? that's how things ought to be! Why-- That's reality, replies Gojyo bitterly. They hear a blood-curdling howl from the cave, and then the human's voice pleading: we didn't want to do this, but we had no choice! you were the only reason we couldn't live a peaceful-- then a scream, and awful noises. Goku stands stunned; Hakkai's eyes narrow; Gojyo recoils in grief and horror, eyes shut tight; Sanzo's face shows terrible resolve. The sounds cease, and Yakumo steps out into the snow. There's blood on his mouth, and he grins at them. WHY?!--howls Goku. We can see his fangs, his bloody talons. He throws Goku and Gojyo aside like toys, and heads for Sanzo, who cusses, draws and shoots, but only wounds his shoulder. Yakumo, why? pleads Goku. Hakkai and Gojyo arm up and face the youkai. Hakkai says they should avoid a close-quarters battle; Gojyo agrees, but as they step forward Goku catches them both by the hoods of their cloaks. I know, says the saru, in anguish; I know, but-- I wonder how he felt, says Hakkai quietly; digging the graves for those children, one after another... And Gojyo, just as quietly, in deep pity: Who's going to dig his grave? Goku lets them go. Yakumo lets out a roar and charges. We see his smile; we hear the kids calling him to join the snowball fight... --Sun on snow. The ikkou standing in the little graveyard, around a large, fresh stone. Sanzo turns and walks off; H&G follow, but Goku remains, looking at the grave. -- Let's go, the monk says, less sharply than usual. Goku hesitates. Sanzo, he says; if I were to... --Sanzo turns back. Hakkai and Gojyo look on, knowing his question, knowing either of them might ask the same. --Nothing, forget it, says the saru; but Sanzo says, "I'd kill you." [Koroshite aru yo: 'Kill you...I'd do it.'] He says it almost tenderly, and with complete understanding. "I would." Okay, Goku says. And as they walk off, Gojyo complains that his feet itch, and Goku suggests it's frostbite, and when Sanzo grumbles that that's contagious Hakkai says he's thinking of athlete's foot--all, so obviously, just to be talking about something, anything, else. ==A great, great, heart-wrenching episode, dealing with something that must haunt all four of them night and day, and doing it so well.

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