I feel I must clarify a point made in the otherwise excellent review from Mr Williams on 22 March 2007. All 52 episodes are definitely contained in this boxset. I know, as I've just received it and started watching. The 13 episodes that weren't broadcast in the UK are not dubbed however, and this maybe what Mr Williams really meant when comparing this boxset to some other mythical superset (I note that the 13 episodes were later dubbed are seperately available here: Monkey! - Thirteen Re-Dubbed Episodes ).
Additionally,the entire series is not presented chronologically. What we have here are 13 dvds, each with 3 dubbed episodes, in sequence (episodes 1,2,3 for example) plus 1 of the 'missing' undubbed episodes, which run in sequence across the entire set (episode 40 on Vol 1,episode 41 on Vol 2 etc). The undubbed episodes do, however, have English subtitles. I can understand why it has been done in this way as each volume was also released seperately (eg Monkey! - Episodes 1-3 ) and it would have resulted in the final 3 or 4 volumes being entirely undubbed, which may have alienated those unable to read and watch images at the same time (I'm kidding, obviously). Beeing a bit of a Moss, I would rather have had them in strict chronological order, so for that I have deducted a star. For the same marketing reason, I guess, each volume has the same 'extras', although as the series continued one additional extra, ie the random narrator quote generator, first makes an appearance on volume 6.
Printed info is almost minimal. It would have been nice to have included the calendar/poster that came with Monkey! - Episodes 1 To 13 .
The transfer is pretty good Actually it might be really good. After all it was a 70's TV series so may not have been recorded in great definition. Looks OK on my 37" Panasonic plasma though!
Most importantly, it's fun! I laughed out loud when Monkey had to take a leak behind one of the 5 pillars of wisdom and soon after found out it was Buddha's finger! In amongst the slapstick and the flaky props there is some sound advice on examining our true motivations and that we need to wake up and do something if we are to improve the world.
on 22 March 2007
Ah, Monkey, Monkey, where do I start with Monkey? I was only 2 years old when the show originally aired (too young to take any notice of it really!), but over the years, I heard from older friends (as well as my 2 older sisters) what a great programme it was, and how I would have loved it, seeing as how I became a huge fan of badly dubbed martial arts epics as I was growing up. However, the BBC in their infinite wisdom chose not to repeat the series....
But salvation came years later in the form of the Bravo channel on Sky. I'd gotten Sky installed at home as one of the first big things I did when I started earning my own cash (wrestling addict that I am!) and I read in a magazine that Bravo were to start airing the old episodes of Monkey! So, I decided to watch and see what all the fuss was about....I was completely blown away by it.
Basically, `Monkey' follows the plot of `Journey To The West'....to cut a long story short, Monkey attempts to take over Heaven, ends up having fights with 2 spirits (who themselves end up being banished to earth and reincarnated as a Pig Demon and Water Demon as punishment) and eventually tries to take on Lord Buddha, who traps Monkey underneath a mountain for 500 years in order to make Monkey learn patience, Eventually, a young Priest named Tripitaka is charged with the task of travelling to India in order to obtain holy scriptures which will save mankind, and it is decided that Monkey and the 2 spirits who were banished from Heaven (affectionately referred to as Pigsy and Sandy once they join the quest) shall accompany him as his bodyguards, as a way of earning forgiveness and being allowed back into Heaven. Monkey is at first reluctant to help the pilgrimage, but is kept under control by a magical headband which tightens and causes him agony whenever Tripitaka recites the `headache sutra' (complete with comedy piercing screech sound effect).
The series, though set in China, was actually a Japanese production and was made back at the end of the 1970's....meaning that there are a lot of hilariously awful special effects. Long shots of Monkey flying on his cloud are made up of a wax figure on a ball of cotton wool (as had been mentioned in another review) and asides from a couple of instances, most `underwater' scenes are obviously filmed from inside a fish tank, with the actors and sets perfectly dry on the outside. But this is a series that does not take itself too seriously. Yes, the dubbing is amusingly bad, but this is more intentional than accidental....even in it's original language the script is meant to be humerous and it constantly pokes light hearted but respectful fun at the main Buddhist themes of the story....Lord Buddha consistently appears as a female entity (as an attempt to convey compassion), but this only causes Monkey to openly refer to Buddha as `kinky' (`I always thought you were a fella!' says Monkey). As such, because you're laughing so much, you actually end up remembering more of the dialogue and many of the Buddhist sayings that crop up (ie. `How many times must a fool who misses the way wander through his many lives?' Maybe that was the intention of the people who made it, I don't know.
Comedy and action is where Monkey really excels. If it doesn't have you chuckling at the constant witty banter between Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy, then you'll be smiling at the fight scenes and their `swish/whoosh' sound effects. Along with the amount of superhuman feats on display (Monkey appears to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound), it's quite easy to get lost in the crazyness of it all. The music is also great, from the main theme which contains the lines `Born from an egg on a mountain top, punkiest monkey that ever popped!' to the cheesy J-pop tune that plays whenever an emotional scene takes place, it all adds to the quirky appeal of the show.
In fact, the only (slight) problems I have with the whole show are the fact that Toshiyuki Nishida (the original Pigsy actor) left at the end of the first series (26 episodes) and was replaced by Tonpei Hidari who, whilst amusing, just doesn't seem quite as charismatic in the role, and also that the story doesn't actually end with the final episode, as the show was put on suspension at the end of the second series but a third series was never made. However, it's easy to find out what happened at the end of the story, just read a translation of `Journey To The West' and revel in the fact that the TV series is more about life's journey than life's destination.
Also take note that the original series ran for 52 episodes but only the 39 that were originally broadcast on UK TV are included in this box set. However, the `missing' 13 episodes were actually dubbed in 2004 by the original voice actors and are available either as a separate box set (here on Amazon) or as part of the 4 volume Special Edition sets (not available on Amazon). All in all, however you decide to collect them you can't really go wrong with Monkey. My wife recently bought me the Special Edition box sets from Ebay for my 30th birthday and they've since become a hugely treasured part of my collection. As the saying goes, `The nature of Monkey is irrepressible!' so long may the legacy of this fantastic series live on.
This is a great series, deserving of a great box-set - and I'm glad to say this box-set does Monkey proud.
I used to love this series as a kid - I couldn't remember the details, just the characters, the general gist of the series, and the fact that I loved it. When the DVDs arrived, I put them on and it all started flooding back. I definitely remembered the 1st episode once I'd seen it - but what I didn't remember was monkey being so funny.
He's hysterical - he so arrogant, spoilt and cocksure of himself he makes a great comic character - coupled with the voice used to dub him and the original actor's facial experessions, Monkey's character is pure comedy gold. I'm only about 3 discs in so far, but the series proves the perfect watch on a Saturday and Sunday when you just want to kill a bit of time and take it easy for an hour.
That's another thing - with each episode being about an hour long, you really do get a lot for your money in this box-set. At 52 episodes you're going to have enough Monkey to satisfy you for a very long time. The Box-set itself looks great and is well made, in a deep, rich purple - with a rather fitting 70's feel to it. Mines on my bookshelf as my DVD cupboard is full, and it looks great - almost like an ornament of something - with it looking so '70's kitsch', it works out on display and wouldn't look out of place in any young, funky, urbanites home.
This box-set includes all the episode that appeared on British TV - all the one's you'll remember seeing as a kid, and I can clear up here and now, the fact that it also includes all the lost episodes too. They're not dubbed though - they come with subtitles and the original dialogue provided by the original actors - but this isn't a problem and when I stuck one on to see what it was like, it was quite nice to hear how Monkey and his friends really sounded when they spoke. I suspect that, when I get to them - after 40 odd hours of Monkey's TV magic, it'll be nice to see the last few as they were meant to be; if for no other reason than a bit of a change.
Monkey Magic is one of those iconic childhood memories. Moments that define what it was to be a child if you grew up in the late 70's early 80's; a series that everyone talks of and remembers fondly - even if, just like myself - they don't really remember it that well at all. It's been nice taking a trip (-otaka... remember him? Tripotaka! Then there's Pigsy and the water demon Sandy too) down memory lane and even if the special effect are a bit dated nowdays (OK very dated) it doesn't spoil your pleasure one little bit, if when Monkey calls his magic cloud or grapples with dodgy looking dragons it all looks a bit naff: to put it simply - that's all part of the charm.
They couldn't have come up with a better name for this series: Monkey, really is magic. He was back in the 70's and he still is today. If you were a fan of the show then, buy it now. At this price it's a must.
If this review has helped you at all please give it the thumbs up - Thanks :-)
on 17 August 2006
I was denied this gem in my mountainous (read: we don't get TV; there's a rock in the way) childhood home. What a loss! I would have loved it even more than I do now had I been at an age where I could swing from trees and pretend I was Sun 'Aware of Vacuity' the Monkey King, the Great Sage Equal to Heaven, himself. Now, I just love this series. It is very faithful to the original, at least as far as I am able to discern: I have read Wu Cheng'En's work only in translation (this is the best I have encounteerd: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0140441115/202-1183283-3351843?v=glance&n=266239&s=gateway&v=glance): humorous and full of philosophical distractions, some more comprehensible than others. The narration is one if the finest features of the series. I revel in my friend's taped episodes and dream of one day owning the DVD set, so I can see the whole thing.
EDIT: I have finally managed to get the boxed set, hoorah! From start to finish, it is brilliant.
For those looking to buy a set with the 13 extra episodes, I'd recommend you do so only if you're a die-hard fan. There's a reason these episodes weren't included: they really aren't the best. It's interesting to hear the voices of the characters in the original, as they are very different from the UK dubbed versions, but for me the voice action in the English version really makes the story shine. The comedically terrible accents are part and parcel.
on 30 July 2009
Monkey is genius!! Period! Only in Japan could 70's television be made this way. For the detail read the other reviews. Just buy this cause it is classic, it is extremely funny, the English dubbing is so appropriate and you can easily buy into the stories and the characters (based on the Japanese legend 'Journey to the West'). I saw it when it was originally shown on BBC2 and was the first thing I looked up when the internet started and was surprised to see a fan site. After Fabulous Films released The Water Margin I wrote them begging for the release of Monkey. (The Water Margin was good but required more concentration and didn't have any of the humour that Monkey possessed).
Reward those guys at Fabulous Films and make them deserved millionaires. Buy the complete set! And then buy it for your friends and family! This is Monkey! the original and the best and simply the coolest programme EVER made for television!! I loved the fact that it was tucked away in the BBC schedules and you had to stumble across it to discover it.
I can't imagine the pre-production or even the production process on this series or figure out why the Beeb bought it and dubbed it, but it doesn't matter, it happened and now its on DVD. Classic; genius; mega; wicked; sound; tops and awesome. Just buy it!
Strong words, I know! And yet, I stand by them. Of course, as with any work of that caliber, it has an enormous amount to offer adults too.
For those not already familiar, Monkey is a Japanese television show first made in 1979, dubbed into English by the BBC, and based on a 16th century Chinese classic. Indeed, "Journey to The West", as the original is known, is widely accepted as one of the absolute greats of Chinese literature.
This show, like the tale upon which it is based, tells the story of one Buddhist priest's journey from China to India to bring back Mahayana Buddhist scriptures. However, that barely begins to give you the true flavor of the piece. For what we have here is not so much history as fable. This is a richly mythologized account, filled with gods, demons, buddhas and bodhisattvas, and even Taoist immortals. It is at once absurd, cartoonish, and densely allegorical. As you might expect from that description, it can be appreciated on many levels. Yet religious fable though it may be, it's as far from vege tales as Pride & Prejudice is from a Harlequin romance.
Much of this show's appeal stems from its more outrageous aspects. The "special" effects are not, let's say, particularly special - not even by the standards of 1979. And the accents given to the characters in the BBC dubbing are to real Chinese accents what Scrooge McDuck's accent is to that of a real life Scott. Yet all this insanity only adds to the show's considerable charm. And as any Jungian will tell you, wrapping profundities in absurdities is par for the course when dealing with the Monkey archetype.
Does every single episode live up to the standard I've just described? Honestly, no. Like most fans of the series, I am of the opinion that the first season was the best. But by and large, even the later episodes have an enormous amount to offer. The other criticism that many fans have of this show is that they never really gave it an ending. Unlike in the original book, our travelers never finally complete their journey. Yet these flaws are minor in comparison to how much the show as a whole has to offer.
I know 5 star reviews tend to predominate on Amazon. I think that's because according to Amazon's guidelines, 5 stars means simply "I love it", and most reviewers tend to review what they love. In fact, I'm doing it right now. But in all candor, what we have here is easily a 5 star offering - by just about any standard.
on 23 March 2016
Yes its kinda cheesey, yes the 'special' effects are very dated (but all the more lovable because of that !), yes there's a lot of fighting scenes, but that's the nature of the story ( & sadly life too ).
However I very much enjoy its silly-ness & I like the comedic take on which the story of 'Monkey' is based, namely the true story of Xuansang, the Chinese Buddhist monk who travelled on foot all the way from China to bring back sacred Buddhist scriptures from India, in order to help ordinary people ( like you & me ) find real happiness, liberation from the delusions of Samsara & eventual Enlightenment just the same as the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni.
For me it has been a nostalgic trip down memory lane because I first encountered 'Monkey' by serendipity, coming home from school one day & putting on the TV, and there it was etc . . So its great for me at 51 years of age to relive some old memories from my school days !
on 8 June 2012
I would recommend this to anyone wanting to relive their childhood. My partner who is 40 going on 7 loved monkey when it was originally shown and he was whisked back to those memorable days while watching. Hilariously funny, full of inuendos andt great fun to watch. Shipping was extremely quick. Many thanks seller.
on 29 May 2005
How many of us who used to watch this cult series when they were youngsters don't look back fondly on it??
This wonderful series tells us the enjoyable and somewhat strange story of a travelling band who are making an epic journey from China to deepest India.
Our heroic band consist of:
'Monkey' - a mischevious monkey spirit whose kung fu talents are second to none. Kept under control by the priest utilising the golden 'crown' around his temple
'Piggsy' - former Captain of the Holy Heavenly Host, Piggsy was banished to back to earth in disgrace and made to take on the form of a pig demon. His fighting skills (armed with the mighty muck rake!) are second only to Monkeys'. His eternal quest to go after every attractive woman he meets leads to much mischief.
'Sandy' - A rather dim witted water demon who fights with a giant fishbone.
'The Priest' - A woman playing a young male priest with a name I'm not even going to attempt to spell! It's their mission to lead this young monk to his destination
Our intrepid band make their way slowly across China encountering and defeating many comical enemies, including a plethora of 'demons' (people in amusing colourful outfits).
Special effects are awful as might be expected - Monkey regularly flies around on a cloud (a small wax figure on a cotton wool ball obviously!).
The dubbing is also awful (the series originating in China obviously).
All this awfulness put together results in a superb and addictive package of comical fight scenes and situations, tremendously atmospheric sound effects and ridiculous storylines.
If you have any love at all for 'Old Skool' fighting movies then I guarantee you'll love this to bits!
on 27 March 2013
It's monkey magic I tell thee. Has been years since I last watched this and it's surprising how many episodes I can remember, must be the monkey magic