One of the observations we made had to do with the disparity in power, generally speaking, between Our Heroes and the opposition. Usually heroes are matched -- or, in early days, OUTmatched -- by their opposition. In Saiyuki, this is almost never the case; once the main characters decide to get their game on, it's over for the enemy. Even the most competent enemies usually end up schooled.
Saiyuki shares a number of common anime traits, and at first glance would appear to be a simple god-warrior show version of the Journey to the West, as its name implies. But the imagery, and this particularly odd power disparity, suddenly made it clear to us that what we were seeing was "The Journey To the West" as if it were filmed by Sergio Leone and Genjo Sanzo was played by Clint Eastwood. It's a Spaghetti Western God-Warrior show. The heroes wander from point to point, getting in trouble, never staying, looking for some particular goal. They have an overarching goal, of course, but the journey is, itself, the story. They have secret, mostly forgotten pasts, and it's the present and their journey that really concerns them; the past... is the past. And when they get serious, just like when Clint decides it's time to draw down, it's not a contest. It's a STATEMENT. And so there isn't any competition when the real bullets/swords/fists begin to fly; the end of the contest was decided before anyone drew a weapon.