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Monkey

1 9 7 8 – 1 9 8 2 (Japan)
39 x 54 minute episodes

Buddha challenges Monkey (an impish and wisecracking part human/part monkey) to fly to the end of the world.

He comes to four poles, which he thinks are the “poles at the end of the universe”.

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He urinates on them and writes the words “the Great Sage, King Monkey, Equal of Heaven was here”.

They turn out to be Buddha’s fingers – he’d not managed to fly out of Buddha’s hand! Buddha is unimpressed and puts him in a rock for 500 years, to learn some patience.

He is rescued by a wandering priest called Tripitaka (who looks like a girl, speaks like a girl and wears lipstick!). Monkey then joins the priest (played by a female actress) on his pilgrimage, along with Yu Lung the horse who was once a Dragon and could now change into human form (like you do).

Monkey has great powers, a cocky attitude (often berating Buddha himself for being a “silly poofter”) and is always looking for a fight.

Monkey uses his magic wishing staff that can be enlarged to hundreds of metres and shrunk to centimetres to beat up anyone that opposes him. Monkey’s other calling card is his magic cloud (summoned with a whistle).

Tripitaka thwarts Monkey’s arrogance by placing a magic ring on his head. By reciting a simple prayer, Tripitaka can make the ring tighten resulting in cries of pain from Monkey.

Meanwhile, in Heaven, another disruption is being caused, this time by a pig-like creature. Pigsy is girl-crazy, and is banished from heaven for greed and is sent tumbling down to earth.

monkey4Pigsy is also saved by the journeying Tripitaka and Monkey and joins the two on their pilgrimage. As the trio progress, they come across a giant river that they can not cross by conventional means.

Along comes fish-spirit Sandy in his flowing green rags and soup bowl hat.

He helps the trio cross the river and is asked by Tripitaka to join them on their journey to deliver the holy scrolls across Asia.

Sandy accepts and forms a now formidable quartet that will trek through a land home to monsters and demons to deliver the holy scrolls.

A long time ago, when men were all babes
There was a land of the free
Fantasy and dreams were its untouched wealth
And goodness and love were real
Each man desires to reach Gandhara
His very own Utopia
In the striving, in the seeking soul
Man can see Gandhara

In Gandhara, Gandhara
they say it was in India
Gandhara, Gandhara
the place of light, Gandhara

Hsuang Tsang (Tripitaka) actually lived and really did go to India in 629 A.D. to get Buddhist scriptures

Tragically, Masako Natsume who played Triptaka died of leukaemia in 1985, just a few years after finishing work on Monkey. She was only 27 years old.

Monkey
Masaaki Sakai
Tripitaka 

Masako Natsume
Pigsy 

Toshiyuki Nishida (1)
Tonpei Hidari (2)
Sandy 

Shiro Kishibe
Yu Lung 

Shunji Fujimura

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Episodes

Monkey goes wild about Heaven | Monkey turns nursemaid | The great journey begins | Monkey swallows the Universe | The power of youth | Even monsters can be people | The beginning of wisdom | Pigsy woos a widow | What Monkey calls the dog-woman | Pigsy’s in the well | The difference between night & day | Pearls before swine | The minx and the slug | Catfish, saint & the shape changer | Monkey meets the demon digger | The most monstrous monster | Truth and the gray gloves Devil | Land for the locusts | Vampire Master | Astonishing coincidences | Pigsy, King and God | Village of the undead | Two little blessings | The fires of jealousy | The country of nightmares | The end of the way | Pigsy’s ten thousand ladies | The dogs of death | The foolish philosopher | Who am I? | What is wisdom? | The fountain of youth | A shadow so huge | Keep on dancing | Give and take | Such a nice monster | Pretty as a picture | Mothers | At the top of the mountain

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