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Details At A Glance
Notes - Plot Synopses
(Not 130 Minutes as per packaging)
Cast & Crew
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame
||Pan & Scan
||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono,
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio
|Original Aspect Ratio
||Annoying Product Placement
|Action In or After Credits
And so, with production values and audio sync thrown
to the wind, I move on to Volume 5 of Saiyûki,
aka Monkey. I was quite surprised to learn recently that
there have been several remakes, as well as previous versions, of this
story in the realm of celluloid. Of course, I'd like to see a Disney version
of this story, but done right, with Donald Duck in the role of Monkey,
Goofy in the role of Pigsy, Mickey Mouse in the role of Sandy, Daisy in
the role of Tripitaka, and Uncle Scrooge as Buddha. Of course, this will
probably never happen as this sort of story is simply far beyond the capabilities
of the Disney corporation as it is now. In any case, this fifth volume
continues the adventures of Monkey (Masaaki Sakai), Pigsy (Toshiyuki
Nishida), Sandy (Shirô Kishibe), and Tripitaka (Masako
Natsume). The raised standard of the stories is kept up by this volume.
Yet again, this disc contains three episodes from
the first series:
The Minx And The Slug (Episode 13, 41:34)
The four pilgrims are treated to a meal by man and his wife who are
grieving for their missing daughter, Hai-Min, and will offer her hand in
marriage to the man who can find her and bring her back to them. Naturally,
Pigsy offers to go and find her, and finds a slug monster who is Hai-Min's
reluctant husband. The slug monster is tired of Hai-Min and says Pigsy
can have her, so Pigsy disguises himself as the slug monster, naturally,
and goes to live with her.
Catfish, Saint, And The Shape-Changer (Episode 14, 43:00)
Our adventurers enter a land plagued by earthquakes caused by the quarrelling
of a catfish demon and a faceless shape-changer demon, who can assume the
form of any creature it encounters. A holy priest named San-Chung tells
Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy, and Tripitaka that one of them is the shape-changer.
This revelation causes them to go their separate ways.
Monkey Meets The Demon Digger (Episode 15, 42:57)
As our adventurers climb a mountain, they discover a man who has been
digging a tunnel through the mountain for the past twenty-two years in
order to provide a better route for travellers. Tripitaka elects to stay
and help the man, but Monkey uses magic to speed the process up. As a result,
a furious Tripitaka dismisses Monkey from the journey, and the remaining
adventurers find themselves in danger as a result.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1,
but I still believe that the series was originally slightly wider than
this ratio, although it is hard to tell how much picture information is
missing from looking at the opening credits. The transfer is not particularly
sharp, but certainly no worse than any VHS or broadcast presentation of
the series. The shadow detail is average on the rare occasions when it
is called for. There is no low-level noise in the transfer, but film grain
remains an issue.
The colour saturation is the same as in previous
volumes of the series, at least for the first episode on this disc, with
most shades being dull and muted. I don't really remember the colours being
any other way on previous occasions when I have viewed this series, and
there is no bleeding or misregistration, so I really have no complaints.
The colour saturation becomes much richer during Catfish, Saint,
And The Shape-Changer, almost bordering on oversaturation.
MPEG artefacts are not a serious problem for this
transfer, but I still feel that the video is too tightly compressed. The
total bitrate of this transfer usually hovers around five and a half megabits
per second, and when you deduct 224 kilobits for the soundtrack, it just
really isn't adequate where source material of this quality is concerned.
Obviously, the prints from which this series has been transferred were
no oil paintings to begin with, but RSDL formatting and an average bitrate
of at least eight megabits per second would make them appear a lot better.
Film-to-video artefacts are not apparent in this transfer, either. Film
artefacts are particularly problematic for the first reel of The
Minx And The Slug, but they settle back to an acceptable level
for the rest of the episode.
Again, there is one soundtrack on this DVD: the English
dubbing in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand
at all times, although this might be a subjective observation resulting
from having grown used to the thick Japanese accents. Audio sync remains
out by miles, but one really has to expect this, I suppose.
The score music by Yoshino Micky remains enjoyable,
in spite of getting a little bit repetitive. It builds a hilarious and
frequently funky atmosphere for the story, while not being overly dominative.
The Monkey Magic theme that pops up in action sequences is
good and enjoyable enough that I found myself quietly singing along with
it on several occasions.
Once again, the surround channels are not used by
this soundtrack. The subwoofer is frequently called upon to support the
music and action sequences, if only by taking redirected signal from the
stereo channels. Overall, the soundtrack simply does the job which it is
meant to do.
I have to say that I am still rather disappointed in
the style of these menus, as they are not particularly helpful or easy
to navigate. Once again, the icon-based style is used, and this menu has
no enhancements, including that of the 16x9 variety.
Just in case you were wondering who Monkey, Tripitaka,
Sandy, and Pigsy were, this extra gives a handful of salient facts about
each of them.
Notes - DVD Credits
A list of those responsible for this DVD presentation.
There is nothing remarkable about this extra save for how difficult it
is to find. This listing of credits can be accessed via the character biographies
screens by selecting the DVD icon. From there, select the hash (#) symbol
to read a synopsis for each episode in the series. Navigating through these
synopses is not particularly easy.
Notes - Plot Synopses
A plot description for each episode in the series. I'm
not sure this extra is really worth the space it takes up, especially considering
that space is really a short commodity on this disc.
R4 vs R1
Monkey seems to remain unavailable in
Regions 1 and 2.
Monkey, Volume 5 contains three high-quality
episodes of this intelligent, delightful series. I'm still not happy that
it is not RSDL formatted, but this is the best single-layer presentation
you could hope for.
The video quality is acceptable and reflective of
the source material.
The audio quality serves the purpose of the programme
The extras are minimal.
© Dean McIntosh (my
bio sucks... read it anyway)
December 22, 2000
||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated
using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
||Built In (Amplifier)
||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version
of Video Essentials.
||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers,
Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer