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Saiyūki (西遊記, lit. "Journey to the West"), also known by its English title Monkey, also commonly referred to as Monkey Magic (the show's title song), is a Japanese television drama based on the 16th century Chinese novel, Journey to the West, by Wu Cheng'en. Filmed in Northwest China and Inner Mongolia, the show was produced by Nippon TV and International Television Films in association with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), and broadcast from 1978 to 1980 on Nippon TV.
Monkey (孫悟空 Son Gokū), the title character, is described in the theme song as being "born from an egg on a mountain top"; a stone egg and thus he is a stone monkey, a skilled fighter who becomes a brash king of a monkey tribe, who, the song goes on to claim, was "the punkiest monkey that ever popped". He achieved a little enlightenment, and proclaimed himself "Great Sage, Equal of Heaven". After demanding the "gift" of a magical staff from a powerful Dragon king, and to quiet the din of his rough antics on Earth, Monkey is approached by Heaven to join their host, first in the lowly position of Master of the Stable (manure disposal), and then—after his riotous complaints—as "Keeper of the Peach Garden of Immortality". Monkey eats many of the peaches, which have taken millennia to ripen, becomes immortal and runs amok. Having earned the ire of Heaven and being beaten in a challenge by an omniscient, mighty, but benevolent, cloud-dwelling Buddha (釈迦如来 Shakanyorai), Monkey is imprisoned for 500 years under a mountain in order to learn patience.
Eventually, Monkey is released by the monk Tripitaka (三蔵法師 Sanzōhōshi), who has been tasked by the Boddhisatva Guanyin (観世音菩薩 Kanzeon Bosatsu) to undertake a pilgrimage from China to India to fetch holy scriptures. The pair soon recruit two former members of the Heavenly Host who were cast out and turned from angels to "monsters" as a result of Monkey's transgressions: Sandy (沙悟浄 Sa Gojō), the water monster and ex-cannibal, expelled from Heaven after his interference caused Heaven's Jade Emperor's (天帝 Tentei, Shangdi) precious jade cup to be broken, and Pigsy (猪八戒 Cho Hakkai), a pig monster consumed with lust and gluttony, who was expelled from Heaven after harassing the Star Princess Vega—the Jade Emperor's mistress—for a kiss. A dragon, Yu Lung (玉龍 Gyokuryū), who was set free by Guanyin after being sentenced to death, eats Tripitaka's horse. On discovering that the horse was tasked with carrying Tripitaka, it assumes the horse's shape to carry the monk on his journey. Later in the story he occasionally assumes human form to assist his new master, although he is still always referred to as "Horse". Monkey can also change form, for instance into a hornet. In Episode 3, The Great Journey Begins, Monkey transforms into a girl to trick Pigsy. Monkey's other magic powers include: summoning a cloud upon which he can fly; his use of the magic wishing staff which he can shrink and grow at will and from time to time, when shrunk, store in hi