Monkey-Volume 10 (1980)
|Year Of Production||1980|
|Running Time||127:39 (Case: 130)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Satoshi Aoki|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Returning to Saiyûki again after a lengthy absence is like returning to a bottle of wine where the outer glass has cracks and stains on it, but the wine contained within tastes rich and warm. You can't help but turn your nose up at the way the programme has been presented, but the content itself is so enriching that one soon forgets about the presentation - mostly. Monkey, as it is better known, is based on the writings of Wu Ch'êng-ên, and can roughly be described as the ultimate stoner show - I get the munchies just from watching the hilariously bad special effects.
Season Two, which started on the last episode of the previous disc, sees Monkey (Masaaki Sakai), Pigsy (Tonpei Hidari), Sandy (Shirô Kishibe), and Tripitaka (Masako Natsume) continuing their quest to India. Accompanying them now is a horse who keeps changing in and out of human form, going by the name of Yu-Lung (Shunji Fujimura) when he is human. The show finds our heroes having to overcome some new kind of devilry in each episode, and ends with a moral that is perfectly delivered in a way that makes the viewer want to listen, instead of bashing them over the head with it like some programmes I can mention.
Again, three episodes are presented on this disc for the viewer's gratification. I would prefer two to a disc, as this might preserve some semblance of the image quality, but this is a minor quibble, as this is one of the better transfers of Monkey I have yet seen. The episodes on this disc are:
If you've read my previous reviews of Monkey on DVD, then you know what is coming. Let's not kid ourselves here - you cannot make a pristine transfer out of source materials that are so far gone that they might not ever be useable again. However, what we do have here is acceptable if you're a fan of the show, which is all we can really ask for under the circumstances.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.
This transfer is acceptably sharp, with enough detail to decipher what is going on in any one shot. Most of the footage in these episodes was shot under bright lighting conditions during the day, so shadow detail is not a major issue here. There does not appear to be significant low-level noise, although ghostly outlines are occasionally apparent around the actors, such as at 23:05 in The Dogs Of Death, when Masaaki Sakai has quite the golden halo around him.
The colours in this disc are acceptably rendered. There are no instances when colour is lost from the signal, as has happened on a couple of previous Monkey DVDs. There is occasional smearing, but nothing that can be considered unacceptable for fans of the series.
MPEG artefacts were not prominent in this feature, which was surprising given the quality of the source material and limited disc space. Minor compression grain can be seen in nearly every shot, but if this is the worst that source material of this quality suffers, then we're well in front. Film-to-video artefacts were not an issue in this transfer, with no noticeable aliasing on offer. Film artefacts are available in copious amounts, however, with all sorts of scratches, marks, and even hairs visible in more or less every scene. One artefact in this transfer I found puzzling was the presence of a dropout at 39:50 in The Foolish Philosopher, where several horizontal white lines appear in the picture, then are replaced by static. I suspect that this is merely damage to the source material, but it is still quite a puzzling effect, all the same.
There are no subtitles included on this disc, so Hearing Impaired viewers will be out of luck. I don't think it is really possible to capture the Monkey flavour with text, anyway.
There is only one soundtrack on this DVD: the English dub that was commissioned for UK audiences in the early 1980s, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with 192 kilobits per second.
The dialogue is always very clear and easy to make out. Audio sync is terrible, but that's only to be expected when dubbing English over video that was recorded with a limited-syllable language like Japanese. The only major complaint I have about this transfer is that a mild hiss is present through pretty much all of the feature, but this is a minor problem compared to what could have been.
The music in this series is credited to one Mickie Yoshino, and it is quite a hilarious effort at that. It is sad that we do not get to hear the Monkey Magic theme more often, as it is one of the most amusing and catchy themes I have heard in my life. Still, the music in this series has set the standard for scores in all bad chop-socky films, which is impressive to me.
The surround channels are not used by this soundtrack, so they had the night off. So too did the subwoofer.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static and not 16x9 Enhanced. It is slightly difficult to navigate in my opinion.
A brief biography of each character, which is now a little out of date. No mention is made of Yu-Lung, and the biography for Pigsy still lists him as being played by Toshiyuki Nishida.
Pages of text are included to provide a quick synopsis of each and every episode, which is handy if you want to know where your favourite episode fits into the Monkey canon.
A listing of all the parties who put this disc together.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Monkey is still not available in Region 1. I have not heard of it being available in Region 2, Europe or Japan.
Monkey is a wonderful television series that every child should watch at least once. It is certainly far more suitable for that market than the thoughtless tripe that is being shovelled at them today. It is also a good show for adults to watch, if only for the seriously wacky special effects. Who knows, they might even learn a few philosophical tidbits from it.
The video transfer is acceptable given the limits of the source materials.
The audio transfer is as good as it is ever likely to get.
The extras are light.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|