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YMMV: Journey to the West

  • Acceptable Religious Targets: This is a Buddhist story written at a time when Buddhism's old religious rival in China, Taoism, was falling out of favour. The novel makes some vague noises about interfaith respect and tolerance, and Lao Zi, the deified founder of the philosophy, is treated with respect (even if Wukong does outwit and humiliate him unusually often for someone of his stature), but it's still rare to find a Taoist priest in it who isn't both (a) a power-mad Evil Sorcerer and (b) a man-eating demon disguised as a human, though many of their more-horrible deeds (carving out the hearts of ten thousand innocent children to make an immortality elixir comes to mind) were based on actual purported histories of the time.
  • Awesome Ego: Sun Wukong's ego reaches the heights of heaven, and his cockiness touches the bottom of the deepest sea.
  • Crazy Awesome: Many of the characters in the Tsai Chih Chung comic adaptation.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Some of the greatest in literature. Most of them pulled off by Sun Wukong.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The White Bone Demon appears to be this; despite being a demon with a rather ordinary skill set (shapeshifting) and pretty much zero fighting ability, the arc featuring her is one of the most well-known in all of China, and the subject of numerous operas and television specials.
  • Fridge Logic: It is shown and stated several times that Sun Wukong is able to cover hundreds of miles in just a few seconds with his somersault cloud, which makes you wonder why he doesn't simply carry Xuanzang to the Wesern Temple by cloud and save them the long journey by land. This is lampshaded by Zhu Bajie in chapter 22, after which Sun Wukong explains that it is impossible for mortals like Xuanzang to travel by cloud because their mortal flesh and bones are too heavy for that. Also, Xuanzang is the only one that the Buddha will give the scriptures to, so there is no point in Sun Wukong traveling to the temple by himself and ask for the scriptures on Xuanzang's behalf. But in any case, the whole point of the journey is for Xuanzang to go through lots of dangers before getting the scriptures, so that people back home will be properly impressed, and so that it will be symbolic of a pious person's journey through life's temptations etc.
  • God-Mode Sue: The first part of Sun Wukong's history basically has him running roughshod over both humans and deities before Buddha puts a stop to the madness and even after he is released he gets many a Curb-Stomp Battle before they reach their destination.
  • Iconic Character, Forgotten Title: The story is often more well known through its most famous character Sun Wukong, or the Monkey King.
  • Values Dissonance: A lot of motivations and justifications for the heroes' behavior look definitely odd to a modern reader.
    • The fate of the villain of Chapter 84 can be seen as this for many modern western-minded readers. For those who don't know. in that chapter, the pilgrims come across a country led by a king whose goal was to kill 10,000 Buddist monks in his kingdom because of wrongs done against him by Buddist Monks in a past life. In the end, he is changed into a monk and redeemed, with that chapter demonstrating the forgiving power of Buddhism. However given the scale of his crimes, most modern readers would find it unrealistic and expect him to be killed instead.
  • The Woobie: The Queen of Western Liang. A lonely, Reasonable Authority Figure that seems to be genuinely in love with Xuanzang as opposed to her man-hungry subjects and nice to the point of registering the disciples' names. What does she get for it? Scared off by Baije and literally left in the dust.


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