Monkey Today


Where is Monkey Today?

Monkey on TV .:. Monkey in Anime .:. Monkey in Video Games .:. Monkey in Comic Books

Monkey on the TV

That's right, Monkey had his own TV show. Aptly titled Monkey, it aired in Japan on October 1, 1978 and had three seasons. Due to several issues with the actors and public interest it ended abruptly without the pilgrims ever reaching India. It was dubbed into English and aired in Great Briton and Australia. Due to copyright issues it was never aired in the United States. It can be purchased as Region 2 DVDs or PAL format VHSs from Send It.

I would love to give a review of this show, as I do with other anime and video games, but I lack a Region Free DVD Player at the moment as well as the funds to purchase the show. Someday in the future I hope that I will have all the resources to compare the book to this show, although I imagine that it is fairly accurate, given the images I've seen and the reviews I've read.


Monkey in Anime

Monkey has popped up in several animated features from Japan. The most famous or infamous as the case may be is Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and so on, the series shows no signs of stopping after innumerable episodes and just as many movies. Although this strangely popular series bears little resemblance to the story of the Pilgrims, the main character is an interesting reference to Monkey King.

His name, Son Goku, is merely the Japanese translation of Sun Wu'Kung, it stills means "Awakened to Emptiness." He also has the famous extending staff and rides a yellow cloud reminiscent of Monkey's Auspicious Luminosity. Goku of Dragon Ball seems to be simple minded, but he proves to be very wise and loyal and dangerous when enraged. Monkey King was never seen as simple minded, but he was very wise, loyal and extraordinarily dangerous when annoyed. And although the color of Dragon Ball's Goku is known (Monkey was infamous for having a bright red ass) he does sport a tail very early in the series.

Another slightly lesser known anime is Gensomaden Saiyuki. This incredibly long series clocks in at 50 episodes and one movie, so far. The main focus of the series is the journey of four people to "Western Heaven" or "Shangri La" in India and the troubles they meet on the way. You'll recognize the names as merely translations of the Japanese. Son Goku (Monkey King), Genjo Sanzo (The Tang Monk), Cho Hakkai (Pig), and Sha Goyjo (Sand Monk). You'll also note that Goku and Goyjo use their familiar weapons, the extending staff and moon blade. This is where the similarities stop and the story deviates from the books. Although we see a white dragon, it's small enough to sit on a shoulder, is unable to talk, and turns, not into a horse, but into a Jeep. You'll recognize the names of the characters, but not much else. The Tang Monk goes from a whiny, helpless monk, to a gun wielding, chain smoking, bad mouthed, quick tempered, killer monk who really likes to smack Goku with his fan. Goyjo seems to have taken on Pig's personality being lustful and gluttonous. Goku is trapped in the body of a twelve year old who also can't stop eating and Pig is a wise bare fisted fighter who gambles and has a taste for Sake. Although, with respect to the Monkey King, this anime does do one thing very right and that's keep Monkey King short, I'll talk more about this later.

You'll hear about the Bull Demon, and meet his son, Red Child, but they bear little resemblance to their book counter parts. All other aspects of Chinese Heaven are there, including immortals, heavenly armies, the Jade Emperor, Prince Nata, Guan Yin and others. The basic idea of Journey to the West can be found and it's not a bad anime on its own, if you take it for what it is, a series inspired by the book.

Monkey and his company have also made short cameos in other animes. He shows up in Ranma 1/2. There are several appearances of Journey to the West characters throughout the show. During the episode "Kissing is Such Sweet Sorrow! The Taking of Akane's Lips" (Season 2, Ep: 21) a long line of actors is waiting to get into the theater and among those in line are a mounted Triptaka, with Monkey and Pig holding the reins. The movie length episode "Ni Hao My Concubine" features a Monkey character complete with golden fillet who watches after the young king of a magical island. As a bonus, the symbol for the island and indeed for the young king, is a magical peach. Monkey, Pig, Sand Monk, and the Dragon appear all together in the episode, "Behold! The Chestnuts Roasting in an Open Fire Technique"(Season 2, Ep: 7), when Ranma has to fight his way past Shampoo's ancient grandmother, who creates the famous pilgrims as an illusion to stop him.

A short mention of Monkey also appears in Slayers . I am as of now, unsure of the episode name and number, but it occurs when Lina has a magical band placed around her head to prevent her from doing magic. Once the band is in place and she discovers that she can't take it off, she cries out "Monkey King!" a reference to the magical band that our hero had placed around his head by Kuan Yin so that he would cooperate.


Monkey in Video Games

Apart from the massive quantities of Dragon Ball Z games Monkey's character type can be seen in all sorts of games, especially one called Saiyuki, The Journey West. It follows the book with small deviations at first and then makes a completely different ending. I t features our favorite Tang Monk, (who can be played as either male or female, there is no change in the story line for either choice) Pig, Sand Monk, and the great Monkey. There is even a dragon character, although the character is female, (the daughter of the Dragon King) and never changes her form into a horse.

The story of the game loosely follows the structure of the book with enemies being remarkably similar to some of the episodes. In truth, it's not a really great game, but it's certainly playable and fun if you've enjoyed the book. Its battle system is the same as Final Fantasy: Tactics, and thus very interactive. Each character has their own special weapons and attacks with varying degrees of reach and effectiveness. A good game to get for a Journey to the West fan. A fun game for the normal player.

Two other appearances that I know about are in fighting games. I personally would love to see a Journey to the West fighting game, but baring that in the near future you can spot Monkey's famous weapons and clouds in several games.

In one of the Darkstalkers games, the Chinese ghost Hsien Ko attacks on a cloud wielding a staff. Then in the game Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer (which is also an anime) one the female characters Son Karin fights with an extending staff, sometimes riding in on a cloud like Monkey King, and often creates smaller versions of herself with a special attack called "Spirit Hair" to attack the other player. Monkey often used a similar attack, creating smaller versions of himself and even near clones of other characters in the novel to fool his opponents.


Monkey in Comic Books

Apart from the Dragon Ball mangas Monkey has made an appearance in comic books. The only one I’ve been able to find one example so far. Monkey King makes a grand appearance in Xin a comic from Anarchy Studios. At the moment there are two arcs in three comics each. Xin: Legend of the Monkey King and Xin: Journey of the Monkey King.

The comic isn't an exact telling of Monkey King's story but its still very good.   Monkey's attiude is captured perfectly in his appearnce as Xin and you'll recognize several episodes from the books.  Sanzo because Sanzen, a female monk who seems a bit calmer than her male book counterpart, but she is just as prone to demon attack.   Although the face of Pig is different his character is exactly the same and I would say that Kuan Yin receives perhaps the best treatment.  Her attitude towards Monkey is translated into a more understandable form. 

Although there are only six books so far I would seriously recommend picking them up.   If you're a fan of Journey to the West I think you'll like this series.   You can usually find them on Ebay and they are still available through Anarchy Studios' website.