Monkey-Volume 16 (1980)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||1980|
|Running Time||137:03 (Case: 135)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
When the camp Japanese television series Saiyuki was dubbed into English and repackaged as Monkey in the late 1970s, 13 episodes were left on the shelf undubbed. Many of the missing adventures were considered a little too adult for Monkey's target audience and were silently put aside. The 13 absent adventures have long been something of holy grail for dedicated Monkey fans, imagining what could have been and scouring all manner of sources to find out what we had missed. Recently, Buddha chose to smile on her/his fans, and finally revealed what Monkey had been up to.
In 2003, the missing episodes were "discovered" in Japan (were they ever really missing?) and dubbed into English by the original vocal cast. Narrator Frank Duncan passed away in 1995 and is replaced by Burt Kwuok, but all other members, including the actors behind incidental voices, returned to the project. Most reproduce their voice work from some twenty years ago with great accuracy: David Collings nails Monkey, while Peter Woodthorpe (Pigsy), Gareth Armstrong (Sandy), and Maria Warburg (Tripitaka) slip just occasionally, revealing the decades between their performances. The dubbing is great, though, and continues the same style of humour and hyperactivity begun in the original. My only criticism is that the new dub does not quite blend with the music and sound effects as "naturally" as the original (the difference is very slight though).
Volume 16 (the third volume of missing episodes) includes the following three episodes:
Episode 40: Better the Demon You Know (45:42) - The pilgrims come across a village persecuted by a demon who kidnaps brides to drain their blood and turns their grooms into small boulders. Monkey, Sandy, and Pigsy try to stop the demon's plundering but soon realise that she might be suffering in her own way.
Episode 45: The Fake Pilgrims (45:41) - A group of Yakuza demons attempt to gain street credibility by causing havoc while in the form of the holy pilgrims. If they can kill Monkey and company, the demons can rise to the top of the Yakuza ladder.
Episode 48: The Tenacious Tomboy (45:40) - An unfeeling demon curses anyone who comes near his garden of stone flowers. A feisty princess, the eponymous tomboy, tricks Monkey, Sandy, and Pigsy into taking on the demon in the hope that they will rescue her fiancé.
To be honest, the three episodes included here are not the greatest adventures for Monkey, and each feel a little same-old, same-old (lots of people turning to stone). Shock's presentation of the series, as always, leaves a lot to be desired. Still, this is Monkey, and what's more, Monkey you've never seen before. For anyone who grew up on Monkey Magic, the decision's already made.
If you've seen any of the previous Monkey releases, you know what to expect: not a lot. The video transfer is fairly poor, but still watchable. Each episode is presented in a ratio of 1.29:1. The original aspect ratio is, I believe, 1.33:1. Each episode appears to be cropped just a little more on the right side of the image compared to the left.
Sharpness varies between good to poor. Shadow detail is muddy. Low level noise is constant. Most scenes show washed out colours, some significantly worse than others.
Pixelization and macro-blocking are often visible: rapid movement can become particularly blocky. Heavy ghosting is often distracting. There are numerous film artefacts - mostly dirt and hair, with occasional mid-sized blotches and dropped frames.
There are no subtitles.
Audio is serviceable. A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 track is included.
Dialogue is audible, but doesn't sit quite as naturally as it could with the music and sound effects (in other words, the audio sounds dubbed). Audio sync is completely inaccurate (of course) but the dubbing fits relatively close to mouth movement.
There is no surround or subwoofer activity. There are some minor directional effects in the front sound stage.
The usual fun music abounds. It's just a shame that the second series (from which these episodes are taken) changed the opening and closing credits' song. The closing song sounds a little like Paul McCartney and is enjoyable in its own right: I prefer the older songs though.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extra features.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Monkey has been released in Region 2 in two separate incarnations. Fremantle released 13 volumes of Monkey in 2002 with the same episodes as the Shock releases. However, each disc includes one of the missing episodes undubbed, with English subtitles. Personally I would love to see all of the episodes in their original Japanese.
After the dubbing of the lost episodes was completed, Fremantle re-released the entire series in five boxsets (Region 2 encoded). Boxsets 1 through 4 include all episodes (13 per set) and insert the newly dubbed episodes according to the original Japanese broadcast order. Each boxset includes a double-sided poster and a remix of the "Monkey Magic" theme song by UK group Grebeau. Boxsets 3 and 4 (in which you'll find the lost episodes) both include the documentary Monkey Nuts, which covers the new dubs (the same documentary can be found on Volume 17 of the Region 4 series).
Thoughtfully, Fremantle include all 13 newly dubbed episodes in a fifth boxset for those who have already purchased the entire series. This set also includes a poster, the remix, and the dubbing documentary plus an interview with David Collings (Monkey). Unless you want the posters (or the undubbed episodes from the early Region 2 release), either Region's release would be satisfactory.
Unseen Monkey! Too bad the episodes aren't so great.
Audio and video are very average at best.
|DVD||Sony DVP-S336, using Component output|
|Display||LG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Speakers||DB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR|