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Saiyuki 1

Monkey - Monkey goes Wild about Heaven

Japan 1978
produced by
Kokusai Hoei/NTV (= Nippon Television Network)
directed by Yusuke Watanabe
starring Masaaki Sakai, Toshiyuki Nishida, Shiro Kishibe, Masako Natsume, Mieko Takamine
based on the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng-En

Journey to the West, Monkey King, Monkey (1970's Japanese TV)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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.

Monkey, 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.


Based 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.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


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On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD