In the 1970s, Journey to the West was made into a Japanese TV series called Saiyūki or in English, Monkey or Monkey Magic. It was a HUGE cult following in the UK and Australia. My brother loved it along with the Water Margin. I have fond memories though looking back: some of the voices, by British character actors, are very much of their time and a bit Charlie Chan uncomfortable. Though I believe some British East Asian actors like Burt Kwouk and David Yip provided some of the voices too.

I would have love to have seen a subtitled version but not seen one at all.


Best of all was the funky theme tune from Godiego, basically the Japanese version of Boston. Most of the cast still work but alas, the beautiful Masako Natsume - who played Tripitaka as a gender neutral cleric - died very young at only 27.

This also explains the episode of Spaced when Simon Pegg’s Tim says he wants to Monkey - not A monkey - and does the titular characters trademark gesture to summon his cloud of transport.


Here is an 18th century version of the book with a cool dog headed creature!

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