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Comparison to the West: Halfway There


Greeting! Ciao! And Buona Sera! (Yes, I'm aware this is Italian) I hope everyone's week is filled with awesomeness. Mine was filled with enlightenment and entertainment.

This week we reach the halfway point. The end of the first season of Monkey and another two episodes of Saiyuuki. All adding up to 15 hours of "Monkey Magic".

Monkey - Episodes 14-26

Everyone! You have homework! Watch the following episodes of Monkey:

-Episode 15 (Monkey Meets the Demon Digger)
-Episode 16 (The Most Monstrous Monster)
-Episode 20 (Outrageous Coincidences)
-Episode 21 (Pigsy, King and God)
-Episode 25 (The Country of Nightmares)

Why? Well, apart from "because I said so!", these episodes sum up the show so perfectly.

Episode 15 shows how irritating Tripitaka can be, giving up the journey to India to dig a tunnel and Monkey calls him out on it for once. Oh! And I also want it on record that Monkey transforms his staff into a drill.

Episode 16 is a fable showing humans as "The Most Monstrous Monster" rather than just demons. Thus breaking the formula that Saiyuuki unfortunately goes for.

Episode 20 shows more development in Pigsy, giving him new abilities such as cloud flying.

And Episode 21...Religious debate. Religious debate. Religious debate. Buddhism VS "Hog Worshippers". And the attitude I'm seeing from both sides can be equivocated to various other faiths that, for the sake of not receiving death threats, I wont mention.

Episode 25, another episode where Masato gets to remove the wig cap and let his...her hair down and play a female role. Or rather a male priest pretending to be a female demon. And I also want on record that Pigsy transformed his weapon into giant fan. (You'll see where I'm going with this in a week or two ;D )

But despite these selection of episodes, the characters sort of reset in the beginning of the next episode. I know, I know. Episodic but it bugs me. You'd think they'd learn. Take episode 15, before that point Tripitaka puts the journey aside for anything! It wouldn't surprise me if he did it to help people cross a busy traffic road. Episode 15 is the point where he comes to terms with the fact that the journey is more important then- oh say- DIGGING A FRIGGING TUNNEL!!!

Two episodes later he abandons the journey to please an old lady who thinks he's her son.

...Nothing. Learnt. At all.

At episode 24 the narrator himself says, "they've learnt very little"

I think I'd rather Hoshi's trust issues then this.

I hate to admit it but I'm starting to get tired of listening to the same track for everything, "Monkey Magic by Godiego". Its a catchy tune but when you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times. And to put this in perspective, this song is used for the following:

-Theme Song
-Fight scenes
-Cloud flying scenes
-Party dance music

Which would be fine if it these scenes were few and far between...but they're not. And it comes off as annoying.

With a total of 26 episodes, we reach the season finale of Monkey where the pilgrims are told by Buddha to die in order to complete their pilgrimage. But of course we find out that its nothing but a demon's illusion and like this post title, they're "Halfway There".

Pigsy plays a major role in this episode as he finds his pig sister in human form and while I wont spoil, Pigsy's character arc in this episode is the best I've seen in the entire series and a perfect send off for actor, Toshiyuki Nishida.

Saiyuuki - Episodes 4-5

Trying to recover from calling this show "formulaic" I wondered if this was just an overreaction on my part.


But at least in between formula structure I've found out more about Gojou's past. In episode four, the four pilgrims meet another fish- y'know what? For the sake of keeping in with the mythos of this show, Kappa. They meet another Kappa.

This kappa is basically Gojou's ex-girlfriend. Who left him at a meeting place when they promised to run away decades ago. So you can imagine the feelings that remain between the two. Throughout the whole episode its a emotional battle between Gojou's friends and his ex.

And I think I've found the main difference between the two shows. Saiyuuki goes for the emotional rather than the spectacle. In the whole 26 episodes I've seen, I've never come across an episode of Monkey that got me emotionally involved with the characters.

Episode 5 breaks the formula, somewhat, by having the demon be a women. Up to this point it's been nothing but a sausage feast. What I'm saying is that the show needed some variety with it's character's genders. If that makes sense.

Let me explain. In Monkey the antagonists range from male, female, animal, undead, demon, vampire, etc. The variety of the enemies are vastly different to what Saiyuuki can dish up.

Episode 1 - Ox Demon
Episode 2 - Stone Turning Demon
Episode 3 - Fantasy Inducing Demon
Episode 4 - Spellcaster
Episode 5 - Acid Hand Shooting Demon

I think the best one so far is the Acid Shooting one. I just wished that they did more with that power. Not just reveal that at the last minute.

Still the actual "brotherhood" of the four is intriguing to me. And again, they're going in a different direction then Monkey which is why I use the word "brotherhood". They feel a lot closer then Monkey's pilgrims.

(If you're wondering, Goku always mispronounces "Nakama" meaning "Friend" for "Na-ma-ka")

Although with every episode I watch, the less interested I am in Goku. He just seems so plastic in comparison to anyone else. Monologuing left and right in the final showdown about things like respect, friendship, parenthood, basically all the things you'd expect from Captain Planet.

...I wish I was kidding.

I find myself liking the soundtrack more and more. In Monkey, its basically the theme song thats played through everything so it gets irritating. At episode 24, they differ from one to another song for fight scenes. Unfortunatly they keep playing the song over and over again with the same effect that I mentioned before.

The Edge: Saiyuuki

I cannot deal with Monkey's reset button. I was expecting them to learn as they go along this epic journey. Instead they still don't learn from their mistakes to the point where I want to scream at my laptop, walk to the bank, empty my account, spend all of it on expensive headphones, come back and watch Legend of the Overfiend while listening to The Room at full volume through my expensive headphones-


Right, I think I'm ok now.

Another reason is that the edge goes to Saiyuuki is because I'm growing to like the pilgrims. More so then Monkey's. But there are two things getting in the way from me recommending this above Monkey though. Points that I think you can probably guess.

Another six episodes and a movie to go. I'm hoping it'll improve by then.

Now, do you remember the four other characters I've mentioned before? Well I think its about time I let you in on these fine group of characters. Its also a good break from watching 15 hours worth of material a week.

Until then I hope you've enjoyed this week's double of Comparison to the West and we'll return next week for another session.
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About Sideshowone of us since 2:34 AM on 07.22.2012

Hi, I'm Sideshow.
And if it's tokusatsu and anime,
I know where to go!

Born of Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon.
Cultured by Monkey and Power Rangers.
Then corrupted by a shed load of anime.
And finally arose from the likes of Kamen Rider, Super Sentai and Garo.

I'm here to share my obsession of tokusatsu and just a pinch of anime.

Process to becoming obsessed with tokusatsu shows:

Power Ranger => uses stock footage of Sentai => Wiki search for Super Sentai => Gokaiger, Kamen Rider W, Garo

...or something like that. :/