Monkey Forums

(ended 1980)

'Monkey' magic set for revival

  • Avatar of gideon9595


    [1]Feb 25, 2006
    • member since: 10/19/05
    • level: 7
    • rank: Talk Show Host
    • posts: 9
    I jut found this news story and wanted to share....
    Monday February 20, 06:17 PM

    'Monkey' magic set for revival

    The cult television series Monkey is being remade in its home country Japan.

    If you know which TV character was 'born from an egg on a mountain top' and the lead line of "in the world before Monkey, primal chaos reigned", you probably have the ABC to blame.

    The Japanese series Monkey was a mainstay of ABC afternoon television programing in the 1980s, generating a cult following for its theme music, its fight scenes and dialogue that sometimes lost a little in translation.

    Fast forward 30 years and Japan's top rating TV network is trying to recreate the Monkey magic.

    When ABC Radio's AM program visited the set in the Tokyo suburb of Shibuya, the fight scenes of old were in full swing.

    But there are a few differences to the show that Australian fans grew to love.

    Blonde Monkey

    Chief among them, a new look for the main character - Monkey, played in the new series by Shingo Katori and his very blond hair.

    "I bleach it every 15 days -- if I don't, it goes black," he said.

    Katori says his 2006 version of monkey is a punk rocker, yelling about love.

    Known in Japan as Saiyuki, or the "Journey to the West", the series is based on a classic Chinese tale of a priest and three companions, travelling to India in search of Buddhist scriptures.

    The original was a hit and its star Masaki Sakai remains a familiar face on Japanese television, appearing in variety and cooking shows.

    Producer Yoshihiro Suzuki says those behind the new series are hoping their version will be just as endearing.

    "We already have offers from countries in Asia - South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong and Singapore who are broadcasting it," he said.

    "Normally shows are broadcast overseas when the series is finished but this time it's only three or four weeks after Japan.

    "I've heard there may be some interest from Australia too, so I really hope that will be realised as well."

    Australian backdrops

    If Australians get to see it they might notice that the scenery of ancient China looks a little familiar.

    Parts of the series were shot in New South Wales at Stockton Desert near Port Stephens and the Blue Mountains last year.

    Actor Shingo Katori, says the knowledge of the original series was a surprise.

    "At night we would go out for a beer after work and I'd become friends with some of the local people," he said.

    "They didn't know we were there to film the show and they said, 'you're a surfer from Japan right? So I said, yeah, right'.

    "When I asked if they knew about the show, everyone started singing 'monkey magic, monkey magic'."

    Diehard fans might not be ready to contemplate a new version of monkey .

    They might still have some unresolved issues from the original, like whether the priest character Tripitaka was played by a man or a woman.

    But for those whose mis-spent youth involved calling up a flying pink cloud, a magic fighting stick and some good old fashioned battles with demons, it will bring back some memories and confirm once and for all, as the show's old closing line said "the nature of monkey was irrepressible".

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  • Avatar of OpWo45


    [2]Nov 20, 2006
    • member since: 10/11/06
    • level: 5
    • rank: Caveman Lawyer
    • posts: 6

    Talk about serendipity, I was searching the website for the next airing of the newest Monk episode when there I see a listing for "Monkey".  This is amazing... I was living in Osaka Japan in the late 1970's and this was my favorite show, followed second only by something I used to call "Samurai Sheriff."  No one stateside USA had a clue when I talked about it after coming home. 

    As an Asian American tomboy girl growing up in 50's USA, I didn't see many role models, or even any bad role models in the media... the sixties had Miyoki Umeki in "the Courtship of Eddies Father" or Nancy Kwan who just "enjoyed being a girl..."  yuck... of course, there was the Kato show (Green Hornet) or white guy David Carradine playing Hapa Haoli Kwa Chang Kane which was something, even if not quite my personal bodhisatvae. 

    The first two films I remember seeing that impacted me and that I actually identified with was "Kwaidan"  (only one part of the quartet aired on my little black and white portable,  I discovered the rest of the masterpiece at a film festival in the mid 80's - who knew it was in color... I'd spent 25 years looking for "Iiyo the earless one"!!!)  The other was a feature length anime piece about Monkey and his companions... I looked and looked for a tape and then later DVD copy with no success... the story found a foothold in my heart somehow and was wonderfully re-captivated by the weekly series in Japan.  Monkey was indeed magic to me.

    I even loved the Russell Wang, Bai Lin Hallmark special, "Journey to the West" - finally having a chance to share some of the magic of Monkey with my children in this era and place.  How exciting to be able to look forward to renewing the comaradarie I found as a child with yet another taste.

    Monkey where you lead, I will follow.   

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