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Prehistoric times in China: A time of unrest & war between various demon
clans, & for some reason, the irresponsible Monkey King (Masaaki Sakai), a
self-obsessed being who knows quite some magic, seems to be in the middle of
each & every battle. & when the monkey even gathers a magic stick, this
is too much for the Jade King, Emperor of Heaven, & he decides to call
Monkey up to heaven, where he intends to give him an insignificant job, just to
keep him silent ... that of Imperial stableboy.
But Monkey, when he realizes
how low his position on the court is, goes wild, & to prevent any further
celestial upheaval, Jade King decides to give him another, more responsible job
instead, that of guard of the celestial Peach Garden, where the peaches that
grant immortality are kept.
That seems to keep Monkey quiet for a while,
however he eats all the peaches himself, and ruins a celestial banquet
when he learns he is not invited.
That naturally leads to more fighting,
during which 2 of the celestial guards, Sandy (Shiro Kishibe) & Pigsy
(Toshiyuki Nishida), are expelled from heaven to live on earth as demons.
Monkey meanwhile fights so fierce that the Jade King calls upon Father Buddha
(or Tathagata Buddha) to restrain Monkey, which Buddha, in female form, does by
presenting Monkey with a wager that he will not be able to leave Buddha's palm.
always overrating his abilities, accepts, & on a cloud he surfs to the end of
the Universe,where he finds 5 columns, on one of which he leaves some grafitti.
Then he returns to Buddha to boast about his, only to realize the columns were
just Buddha's fingers, & the grafitti is still there, on one of her
fingers. To prevent Monkey from doing any more foolishness, he is immured
inside a mountain ...
& Buddha lays down his wisdom, in a scripture he
hides, in the far far West ...
500 years have passed, the world has turned
into a wild place, with crime & murder abound. Only a priest, Tripitaka
(Masako Natsume) has remained pure in heart, & soon would set out to search
for Buddha's scripture, accompanied by Monkey, Sandy & Pigsy.
on the novel Journey to the West, on which a mid- to late-60's Shaw
Brothers-series of movies (click
here) as well as the Chinese animation film Uproar
in Heaven (which acutally tells pretty much the story of this first
episode of the series) were also based on, Monkey is a delightfully childish series, with glaring
colours abound, wild costumes , cheap special effects, & unrealistic
setswhkich makes the series an almost triplike experience. That's not to say
it's art or anything of course, it's just ... fun.