An elemental force of nature born from a stone egg, Monkey began life as a stone monkey, but now assumes human form in his ongoing battle of order against chaos against a legion of demons. But while he seeks to bring order to the world around him, Monkey’s love of this fight against the havoc demons means that he’s a chaotic whirl of action, often leaving collateral damage in his wake. To sate Monkey’s considerable ego when he tries to storm Heaven itself, the title of Great Sage, Equal of Heaven, is bestowed upon him, and he is put in charge of Heaven’s orchard of magical peach trees. Monkey promptly begins eating the peaches, whose magical properties make him immortal, and becomes infatuated with Lady Vega, consort of the Emperor of Heaven. He’s willing to start a war in Heaven to win her, and two fighters are sent to stop him – and they fail. The Emperor of Heaven banishes both of them to Earth, turning one of them into a pig and the other into a water spirit, and then summons the help of the Buddha. Assuming a female form, the Buddha assigns Monkey a task, which he thinks is easily accomplished…but in fact he fails and is also banished to Earth.
written by Mamoru Sasaki and Isoa Okishima
based on the story by Wu Ch’Eng-En
adapted by David Weir
directed by Yusuki Watanabe
English dub directed by Michael Bakewell
music by Micky Yoshino / theme performed by Godiego
Cast: Masaaki Sakai (Monkey), Masako Natsume (Tripitaka), Shirô Kishibe (Sandy), Toshiyuki Nishida (Pigsy), Takao Inoue (Emperor), Yatsuko Tanami (Buddha), Emi Shindo (Lady Vega), Maki Carcer (Demon), David Collings (Monkey’s voice – English dub), Maria Warburg (Tripitaka’s voice – English dub), Gareth Armstrong (Sandy’s voice – English dub), Peter Woodthorpe (Pigsy’s voice – English dub), Frank Duncan (Narrator – English dub), Cecile Chevreau (Buddha’s voice – English dub), Miriam Margolyes (Voices – English dub), Peter Marinker (Voices – English dub)
Notes: The airdate shown here reflects the BBC2 premiere date rather than the Japanese premiere date on NTV. Monkey is a satirical Japanese take on the 16th-century Chinese novel Saiyuki (a.k.a. Journey To The West), a staple of Chinese literature that has been adapted dozens of times, both more faithfully told and more bizarrely told (it’s also the basis for the Dragonball franchise). Monkey initiates what is now apparently a tradition of casting a woman as the young male priest Tripitaka.
LogBook entry by Earl Green