Monkey-Volume 11 (1980)
|Year Of Production||1980|
|Running Time||123:49 (Case: 130)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Yusuke Watanabe|
|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|
Saiyűki, or Monkey as it is known in the English-speaking world, concerns itself with a quest to retrieve the Buddhist scriptures from India, undertaken by an androgynous priest named Tripitaka (Masako Natsume). Accompanying him are three spirits who have been expelled from Heaven for various behaviours that Buddha disapproved of - Monkey (Masaaki Sakai), Pigsy (Tonpei Hidari), and Sandy (Shirô Kishibe). In Season Two, they were also joined by a dragon that had evolved into a Horse Spirit, and is now changing in and out of human form, by the name of Yu-Lung (Shunji Fujimura).
Each episode of Saiyűki concerns itself with an adventure the four pilgrims have as they are travelling through the path to India, and each episode ends with a brief summation of Buddhist philosophy that provides a moral lesson without bashing the audience over the head with it, something that other children's shows could learn from (take note, Disney). However, as the second season wears on, it is becoming more and more obvious that inspiration is getting a little thin on the ground, and one has to wonder how many more kingdoms are to be visited and monsters are to be battled. However, if not for the stories, then Saiyűki is well worth watching for the hallucinatory effects and comical fight sequences.
The three episodes contained on this disc are as follows:
This is definitely not the strongest collection of Monkey episodes, and to be perfectly honest, the premise is starting to get just a little bit tired. Still, I prefer a tired Monkey to anything that the ABC is broadcasting in the "children's hour" these days, so let's dive right in.
After viewing some excellently transferred, or at least very well transferred, masterpieces such as RoboCop and Don't Say A Word, I was expecting to see this volume of Monkey in a different light than the usual "well, it looks like ****, but this is as good as it will ever look" view I normally take. I was surprised at times to see some clarity in this transfer, although it is still not without some major, major problems that are mainly inherent in the source material.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 Enhanced. This is (approximately) the correct aspect ratio for Monkey, so we have no reason to complain there.
The sharpness of this volume is variable, with most of the shots seeming slightly soft and out of focus, while the occasional exterior or pre-battle sequence is sharp enough to resemble a twenty-year old still photo. The shadow detail is average when it is required, which is exceptionally infrequently, and there is no low-level noise.
The colours in this transfer are a little faded due to age, and mild smearing is occasionally evident. However, this is one of the better Monkey transfers I have seen in this regard.
MPEG artefacts were not apparent in this transfer, save for the minor pixelization that is evident in pretty much all Monkey DVDs due to the quality of the source material, anyway. All transfers of Monkey tend to look grainy to some extent, so this is no surprise. Film-to-video artefacts were not found in this transfer, although a similar effect to microphony can be seen at 11:05 in What Is Wisdom?, which is odd considering that there are no loud noises in this portion of the transfer, and the episodes were originally recorded on film. Film artefacts are rife throughout all three episodes, with numerous black and white scratches showing up with moderate frequency.
There are no subtitles available on this DVD, so viewers with hearing impairments are out of luck.
There is one soundtrack on this DVD: the English dub that was presumably commissioned by the BBC, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo with 192 kilobits per second.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time, although the Japanese accents, which I have trouble deciding between whether they are real or put on, occasionally get in the way. The audio sync is as good as one can expect with the dubbing of a language like English over the top of a language with such comparatively limited syllable choices as Japanese.
The music in these episodes is credited to Mickie Yoshino, and if you have been reading my reviews of the past two Monkey DVDs, then you know what I am about to say here. While the music here is quite good at times, and any limited reprisal of the Monkey Magic theme is welcome, the newer portions of the music are truly insipid, especially the new outro. Still, long time fans of the series will not be disappointed.
The surround channels are not used by this soundtrack, which is understandable, and we should consider ourselves lucky in this case that even a suitable master for stereo presentation exists. Likewise, the subwoofer was not specifically encoded into this soundtrack, and had very little to do other than receive the very occasional redirected signal in order to support some of the more thunderous sounds.
|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.
This disc is still not available in Region 1.
Monkey, Volume 11 finds the series getting a little tired, with the stories getting slightly repetitive and the characters getting a little annoying. However, it is still well worth watching, and I still get major attacks of the munchies from viewing this show stone cold sober.
The video transfer is terrible, but that's as good as the source material allows.
The audio transfer is pretty functional, but not particularly remarkable.
The extras are limited.
|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|