In the worlds before Monkey, primal chaos reigned. Heaven sought order, but the phoenix can fly only when its feathers are grown. The four worlds formed again and yet again, as endless aeons wheeled and passed. Time, and the pure essences of heaven, the moisture of the earth, the powers of the sun and the moon, all worked upon a certain rock, old as creation. And it became magically fertile. That first egg was named "thought". Tathagata Buddha, the father Buddha, said, "With our thoughts, we make the world". Elemental forces caused the egg to hatch. From it then came a stone monkey. The nature of Monkey was... irrepressible!
Monkey is a BBC TV series, which is a Redubbing of the 1978 Japanese TV series Saiyuki (produced by Tsuburaya Productions, the guys behind Ultraman), based on Journey to the West.The Japanese original was already playful, but the English dub pushes it further, even into Gag Dub territory. First, there were the dub scripts — it's been reported that the BBC couldn't afford a full translation, so they gave scriptwriter David Weir a brief synopsis of each episode and ordered him to invent new dialogue to match the on-screen action. Then there's the acting: every single member of the cast hamming it up in their best "ah, so!" accents. (One could also mention a few odd casting decisions, but those were in the original.)The series ran for two seasons of 26 episodes each. The BBC originally dubbed only 39 of the 52 episodes. The 13 remaining episodes were included (subtitled) in the DVD release, and the DVD publisher subsequently arranged for them to also be dubbed, using as many of the original cast and crew as possible.A cult favourite in many countries, especially in Australia.
Amusing Alien: In the second season, Tripitaka's horse (who, you will recall, was a dragon before he got turned into a horse) developed a tendency to transform into a human Plucky Comic Relief character.
Casanova Wannabe: Pigsy, who lusts after women but, between his ineptitude at courting, his ugliness and his silly antics (like disguising himself as Tripitaka to seduce a widow who has fallen for Tripitaka in episode 8), he invariably drives them away.
Crosscast Role: Masako Natsume as Tripitaka, Mieko Takamine as the Buddha, and Homare Suguro as Guan Yin (called the Fairy Of Heaven in one of the series' many tongue-in-cheek moments).
First Name Ultimatum: Genjo does this when Son Goku does something that requires physical action, such as combat. "Goku... Goku!"
Interspecies Romance: There's quite a few human/monster couples or romances that show up in the series. One episode features a demon who has a human wife and child, another has a magistrate who wed a female dog-spirit (who then tries to wed Tripitaka), Pigsy lusts after human women all the time, Monkey falls for a human girl in episode 11, there's the human woman who loves a slug monster in episode 13...
Mr. Seahorse: Pigsy and Sandy end up drinking from the Well of Little Blessings in episode 23 and wind up pregnant as a result.
No Ending: The series ends with the pilgrims still on their way to India. "The pilgrims still have as far to go as they have travelled. What end can there be to a journey as long as life?"
Purely Aesthetic Era: One of the villains flies about on a souped-up magic cloud with an exhaust pipe sticking out the back. Another episode has a demonic party that's quite obviously a disco, complete with light ball.
Sapient Steed: "Horse", a.k.a. Yu Lung, the horse who is really a dragon.
Unholy Matrimony: Goldenhorn and Silverhorn, the villains of the 4th episode, deeply love each other despite being soul-stealing cannibal demons. Silverhorn is quite inconsolable after Monkey ends up killing Goldenhorn with his own magic melting gourd.
Dumbass Has a Point: Pigsy's something of an idiot, but he can blunder into meaningful comments or actions on occasion. For example, he's the one to speak up and find out why their hosts are sad in episode 13.
Dub Name Change: Goku to Monkey, Hakkai to Pigsy, Gojo to Sandy and Genzo, of course, to Tripitaka.
Gag Dub: It might not be a full-on one, but it's damn close.
Ice-Cream Koan: The narrator has a fondness for proverbs, some wise and some otherwise.
"When what is indestructible meets what is irresistible, the female all too often wins."
Just a Stupid Accent: You can tell this is China, because everybody speaks with a dodgy oriental accent. Allegedly the accents and speech affectations were copied from the original by the voice actors, at least for the main characters.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Monkey may be abrasive, rude and mischievous, but he genuinely likes his partners, quickly becomes fond of Tripitaka, and can be one of the more compassionate party members.
Not so Above It All: Tripitaka displays some less than exemplary actions during the series. He comes pretty close to abusing Monkey's Restraining Bolt headband on more than a few occasions (like when he forces Monkey to go and fetch a pill of immortality from Lao Tzu in episode 10). In episode 13, he is so adamant about denying Monkey and Sandy's claims that Hy Min wants to stay with her slug monster husband that the two of them proceed to call him out on Fantastic Racism.
Title Confusion: The show is also known as "Monkey Magic", which is the title of the extremely catchy theme song.