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Anime: DVD Series Box-Set
This is a famous anime/manga based on Xiyouji. The basic plot structure is the same, which involves the four pilgrims going to the west, fighting obstacles on the journey. However, there is a twist. They are going there not to fetch scriptures, but to investigate a mysterious phenomenon: demons, who previously co-existed in peace with humans, have been going wild all over the place and starting to massacre human beings. Heaven suspects that this has something to do with the experimental revival of Gyumaou (The Ox King) and Genjo Sanzo (Genjo – Xuan Zang / Sanzo – San Zang) has been ordered to investigate. His companions Son Goku (Sun Wu Kong), Cho Hakkai (Zhu Ba Jie), and Sha Gojyo (Sha Wu Jing) are the only demons around who haven’t gone crazy. Together, the four of them start a journey to the west, true Xiyouji style.
Only, the characterizations are totally upside down. Sanzo, instead of being weak and powerless, wields a demon-slaying gun and is as much a fighter as his companions are. He is bad-tempered, with a permanent scowl on his face (occasionally usurped by a smirk), constantly smoking, and has blond hair and cool- no, freezing blue eyes. Incidentally, he is also one of the best-loved bishonen on the planet.
Next, Goku is also quite different from Wu Kong. In the original story, Wu Kong was the main focus of the story, whereas in Saiyuki, the focus is more balanced out. Therefore, Goku is just one of the four main characters, not THE main character. The Goku in Saiyuki is a bright-eyed kid, cheerful, adorable, and is always complaining about his empty stomach. He has short brown hair and golden eyes, which mark him as a heretic. The golden band around his head doesn’t have the same function as the original. Its function is to prevent him from morphing into full crazy demon mode. The other two, Hakkai and Gojyo, have similar controls.
Next, we come to Hakkai (Ba Jie) and Gojyo (Wu Jing). The mangaka must have mixed up their personalities on purpose, because Gojyo’s the one who’s always chasing after beautiful women and booze, whereas Hakkai is the patient one, with an eternally smiling face, always intervening to break up quarrels between Goku and Gojyo or placate a rampaging Sanzo. Gojyo has this bad-ass attitude and is also a heavy smoker, like Sanzo, whereas Hakkai is more mature, rational and easy-going. Gojyo uses a monk staff that on the surface looks like the one used by Wu Jing, only with a detachable crescent, linked with chains that look ultra-cool during fight scenes. The mangaka discarded the rake as a weapon for Hakkai, probably because a rake isn’t cool enough, instead choosing to give Hakkai a Dragonball-style ki blast attack and an energy shield.
The plot and storyline is somewhat dark, with doses of angst here and there, punctuated, of course, by the usual bouts of humour as is the custom for manga. There is a major difference between Saiyuki and Xiyouji, namely, in Xiyouji there are different enemies in each story arc, whereas in Saiyuki there is a constant, common enemy for the pilgrims to fight. The enemies in question are Kougaiji (Red Child) and his friends, who are under Gyumaou’s wife’s orders to steal the scripture in Sanzo’s possesion, which is a necessary ingredient to the process of Gyumaou’s revival. However, the character dynamics change as the plot develops, and Kougaiji becomes almost a friend. The plot is carefully crafted, and the dark pasts of Sanzo and co. are slowly revealed as it unfolds...
Monkey Magic (Episodes 1-5)
DVD: Episodes 1-5
'In a time of great evil and sorcery, the world is in turmoil. Dearth Voyd, the ruler of the dark side of the universe, wants to turn the whole world into a place of misery and hatred. Dearth sends the villain, Batty to earth when a huge meteor falls upon Flower-Fruit Mountain. From the fire appears Kongo, a monkey made of stone. Strong and ambitious, Kongo leads the monkey clan with his martial arts and magic, but is he too ambitious? Kongo challenges the Celestial Heavens, and must face Prince Nata, the son of a Celestial General. Can Kongo defeat Prince Nata and restore order to a desperate land?'
-Summary taken from www.amazon.com
This is an animated series based on Xiyouji. It was released in Malaysia a few years ago on NTV7. The series itself is an appealing of fantasy and sci-fi, and the 2D/3D animation is simply superb. I was totally in love with it as a kid, and I still remember fondly getting up early in the morning to watch it. I was devastated when the series ended, but, oh well. I warn you that the protagonist is not a very nice person. He's arrogant and has a bad-ass attitude. But the story rocks. It's Journey to the West, of course it rocks!
Note of interest: The main character's name is Kongo, obviously a play on the name Wu Kong.
Monkey Magic (Episodes 6-9)
DVD: Episodes 6-9
'These episodes are the equivalent of the 'Wreaking Havoc in Heaven' section of the original book. The Prime Minister gives Kongo a post and subsequently, when he finds out that it's the lowest ranking post in Heaven, Kongo is outraged and wants to take over the post of Prime Minister! Refang is sent to stop him. Who will win, Kongo or Refang?'
-taken from www.amazon.com
Monkey Magic (Episodes 12-13)
'Finally the journey to the west begins! But Sanzoh and Kongo get into conflict because of Kongo's love of fighting and violence. Whatever will happen next?'
-taken from www.amazon.com
DVD: Episodes 12-13
Manga: Vol 1
This famous manga is loosely based on Xi You Ji. Very, very loosely based. Basically, the only concrete similarity is the main character’s name, which is Son Goku. (Son Goku is Japanese for Sun Wu Kong.) A teenage girl scientist, Bulma, takes the place of San Zhang, a pig with transformation abilities, Wuron, takes the place of Ba Jie, but only for a while. The author follows the basic plot structure of Xi You Ji only for the first few tankoubons, after which the storyline spirals wildly out of control. This is actually an original manga, as it loses all ties to Xi You Ji (except for the names) not even halfway into the series.
Goku is vastly different from Wu Kong. First of all, Goku is naïve and innocent, whereas Wu Kong is calculating and kind of evil. Wu Kong uses a metal rod for a weapon, whereas while in the beginning stages, Goku uses a wooden staff that can also stretch and shrink at will, eventually he discards it for arm-to-arm combat and other ki techniques such as the famous Kame Hame Ha and ultrasonic speed. Goku also marries and has two children, Gohan and Goten, whereas Wu Kong would puke at the very notion.
Dragonball is basically a manga about fighting, fighting, and more fighting, with the enemies thrown at Goku and gang getting stronger, and stronger, and stronger, hyperbole style, until the final showdown where the villain is capable of destroying the entire Earth with a single well-placed ki blast, and Goku draws his strength from all the inhabitants of Earth to create a immense ball of energy which he then uses to (finally!) destroy the enemy. You get the drift. Dragonball is hugely entertaining, with an engaging plot, wacky characters, superb artwork and awesome fight scenes, and it has remained an all-time favourite for decades, a testament to the author’s creativity, fired and catalyzed by the older classic, Journey to the West.
Click here for an in-depth article comparing Dragonball and Journey to the West.
Manga: Vol 1
'Firstly, the reinvention of the Journey to the West is brilliant. Yes, it's dark and savage, and possibly a bit sacrilegious to a Buddhist, but the starkness of the hero (if he can be called that) and his rampaging nature really adds a lot to the story. As Goku travels across the land with his charge and his pig companion, all you really get is a constant stream of battles with disgusting demons. Secondly, the book itself is simply beautiful, and rivals that of the manga art found in Robot. All of it is in color, all of it is atmospheric, and all of it is easily distinguishable.' - Review taken from www.amazon.com
This is a manga presented in full colour, with magnificent artwork and filled to the brim with awesome fight scenes. The plot can be confusing to people unfamiliar with Xi You Ji. Recommended for people who have read Journey to the West and want to enjoy a splendid visual retelling of this classic.
Note of interest: San Zang is female.
Monkey King Cartoon a.k.a. Cartoon Xiyouji
52 Television Animated Cartoon Serials, VCD Edition
This is a cartoon series of Sun Wu Kong made in 2D animation. There are 52 episodes in all. The character designs aren't particularly striking except for the protagonist Wu Kong. Of all the Xi You Ji cartoons I have seen, I love the character design of Wu Kong here the best. First of all, it is true to the description in the book (short, thin, tiger skin skirt etc) and yet is cute and mostly aesthetically pleasing to my eyes (I adore his long hair it is so beautiful ^o^). I feel that the animation of this character really brought him to life through his mannerisms, expressions, body language, etc. The character design also evolves together with the character, for example: In the beginning Wu Kong had short hair whereas after being imprisoned under the mountain the creators drew him with long hair, signifying the passage of time, perhaps? In addition, the contours of his face change, becoming more mature, more human after the imprisonment, probably reflecting the change of personality.
The storyline is more or less loyal to the original novel, with the customary tweaks here and there. There is a sort of girl monkey (who doesn't play a large part, thank god) who is Wu Kong's childhood friend, and there are some other changes in details, but mostly true to the originals. Suitable for children. The opening and ending songs are too cheesy for my liking, evidently targeting younger audiences. However I certainly enjoyed it (a few years back when I was still a child heh). It's in Mandarin and there's no English version though. I have only the first 26 episodes. I can't seem to find the second part in the shops. Damn. *frowns*
Note of interest: Sometimes, Wu Kong reminds me quite forcibly of Peter Pan. >D
Pics of Sun Wu Kong (ain't he cute? ^o^):
1. Somersault Cloud 2. Hidden Among Leaves 3. Intimidating 4. Scratching Head 5. Sad 6. Poor Little Birdie 7. On Top
NEW!! You can now buy the English version on VHS on amazon.com! It has only the first part of the series though.
(Click on the image to buy or hover over it for more details.)
Alakazam the Great/Boku no Son Goku a.k.a. Son Goku the Monkey
(Image taken from kiddiematinee.com, a site with an engaging, detailed synopsis and other information of the film. Highly recommended for people interested in this film.)
Boku no Son Goku (My Son Goku) was a manga created by the famous Osamu Tezuka, known as the Father of Anime, based on Journey to the West. The main plot structure is the same in that Goku wrecks havoc in heaven, gets saved by Sanzo Hoshi, and they go on a journey to fetch the scriptures, picking up Hakkai and Gojyo along the way. However, the details vary greatly from the original work and Osamu injected much of his original style and humour into the series. More information on the manga can be found here.
A film version was then created based on this manga, Osamu's first animated film of such length. However, he was not involved in the drawing. As you can see from the picture, the artwork of the film is entirely different from Osamu's Disney-ish style, and has a Chinese feel about it. And although he was in charge of the plot, the producers did not like his idea of a tragic ending, and made it a happy one instead. Nevertheless this was a very important experience for Osamu as an anime writer, and the film, dubbed as Alakazam the Great in the US, became immensely popular among children because of its entertaining characters and plot. More information on the film can be found here. Personally, I like the anime artwork better than the manga style, because it looks much more prettier and cuter and cooler than the manga, which is a typical example of early manga styles, which were not as idealized and developed as the manga today. The manga is more cartoon-ish than manga-ish, in my opinion, testament of Disney's influence on Osamu Tezuka's drawing style. Not to say that he isn't a great mangaka, he IS, but the earlier styles are just not to my taste, that's all. Heck, Gensomaden Saiyuki's style isn't that appealing to me but that doesn't make the mangaka a bad mangaka because the artwork is great and the characters and storyline are awesome. It comes down to taste I guess. I would recommend you to both watch the film and read the manga because they're both really, really awesome!
You can either buy the VHS, or alternatively, download Alakazam The Great at amazon.com
Lastly, thank you to Nelson for the information on this film!
Monkey Typhoon a.k.a. Asobotto Senki Goku
NEW!! I once stated that I didn't think that this manga would have an English translation. Since then, I have discovered I was wrong. This manga has even spun an anime series, by the name of Monkey Typhoon. What I translated as cyborgs are actually asobots, short for Association Robots. More information coming. ^_^
This is another manga which is loosely based on Journey to the West. The story is set in the future, where asobots and humans co-exist. Suddenly, out pops a young boy from the past around a thousand years before- Sanzo (San Zang), whose mission is to find the '49 Keys'. Along the way, he meets three asobots, who are - you guessed it - Goku (Wu Kong), Hakkai (Ba Jie) , and Gojyo (Wu Jing). Again, as in the case of Gensomaden Saiyuki, the characterizations are totally messed up. This time, Goku's the most perverted one, not Hakkai. He can't seem to keep his hands off girls' breasts. His Golden-Clasped Cudgel is even more flexible than the original - not only it can stretch and shrink at will, it can also change texture and size, for example, it can become a bag, a huge net etc. Goku's name does not mean Awareness of Vacuity as in Wu Kong, instead, it means '59', which is kinda like his barcode number. In Japanese, 'go' is 'five' and 'ku' is 'nine', which sounds the same as the pronounciation of Wu Kong in Japanese. Hakkai looks like a wild boar and acts like one, whereas Gojyo always wears a mask and has sharp eyes and long, beautiful hair. However, the story focuses mainly on Sanzo, Goku, and a girl they pick up along the way. Slowly, as the plot unfolds, it is revealed that Sanzo's father was the original creator of the asobots. What is Sanzo's true relationship to Goku, Hakkai, and Gojyo, and what does he intend to accomplish? The manga is rather short, spanning about seven tankoubons, as after the gang find a few keys, the author fast-forwards to the conclusion of the story. Not to say it wasn't satisfying, but it would have been nicer if the author had drawn their adventures while searching for the keys. This is because at the end of the story, we see extremely drastic changes in all of the main characters, especially Sanzo and the girl. Sanzo goes from being a nice, kindly boy to a machine gun wielding punk and the girl changes from being a sweet innocent girl to a tough, cigarette smoking fighter with explosive powers. *sighing wistfully* It would have been nice to see them change slowly over time.
If you have information or comments about anime/manga related to Xi You Ji, please tell me.
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