Monkey-Volume 13 (1980)
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||1980|
|Running Time||120:46 (Case: 130)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Jun Fukuda|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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|
If the entry for the number of episodes aired on the Internet Movie Database is correct, then this is the last volume of episodes for Monkey, which is quite a shame. Although the previous two volumes have been a bit mixed, Volume 13 starts off with a bang, in the form of one of the best episodes I've ever seen (and thanks to the DVDs being released, I've seen almost all of them).
For those who are too lazy to go and read a synopsis for Volume 1, the story is that Buddha expels Monkey from Heaven for disturbing the peace, and some few hundred years later, commissions Monkey to escort a young priest named Tripitaka to India in order to fetch the scriptures that will save humanity. He is aided and hindered in this task by a Fish spirit called Sandy and a Pig spirit called Pigsy. After Season One ended, the horse that Tripitaka rides began changing in and out of human form, going by the name of Yu-Lung, or Horsie.
The episodes contained on this disc are actually in a different order compared to what the cover art claims. Not only does the cover have the order for Mothers and Pretty As A Picture reversed, it also describes At The Top Of The Mountain as episode 27. Nonetheless, the three episodes on this disc are:
Perhaps the producers of the show realised that they would not be back for another season, because this one really goes out with a bang. The characters seem a bit more likeable in these episodes, and the stories have more punch than what was the case with the previous two volumes. Truth be told, this collection is more consistent with what was presented in the early episodes than any episodes in Volumes four to twelve inclusive. Either way, they really don't make television shows like this any more, and unlike most of the shows this can be said of, it is actually a tragedy in this instance. In any event, sit back, relax, and let's delve into a classic example of how the plot quality is generally the reverse of the transfer quality.
Monkey is a television show that was filmed in Japan using what would appear to be 16 or 35 millimeter film. From what I can tell, it has since been aged quite a bit, downconverted for broadcast in NTSC, then converted into PAL for the BBC. The results are not pretty, but they're as good as we can honestly expect in light of such source materials.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. Parts of the titles are missing, but this is more than likely a production error, one that is magnified by overscan.
This is not a sharp transfer - the prints are simply too old and faded, not to mention dirty and grainy, to allow a transfer that reaches the level that we would normally expect of DVD. This is, however, one of the sharper transfers from the Monkey canon. The shadow detail is average, with blacks having just enough detail for the few night-time sequences to make sense, and there is no low-level noise.
The colours in this transfer are faded and a little washed out, again reflecting the multi-generation source materials. They are more acceptably rendered than some Monkey episodes I could mention, with less haloing and bleeding on offer than is normally the case. There were no composite artefacts.
MPEG artefacts were mildly discernable at times - there was one point about 0:06 into Mothers where a section of the stone egg was lagging behind the rest of this prop, combined with some slight macro-blocking around the outline, but that was the most objectionable MPEG artefact I found. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing, particularly in Sandy's staff at 18:29 in At The Top Of The Mountain. Film artefacts are all over all three episodes, with some very sizeable white marks appearing just beside actor's heads several times. These were all pretty much present when I saw Mothers broadcast on the ABC nearly fifteen years ago, so we should be grateful the transfer looks as good as it does now.
There are no subtitles on this disc.
This disc is dual layered, but I did not find a pause in any of the episodes. I would assume that the layer change has been sensibly placed in a gap between the episodes.
Again, heaven only knows what was done to the audio component of the show since it was produced, but it's a wonder that the result we have here sounds as good as it does.
There is one soundtrack on this DVD: the English dub that was created for the BBC some time after the series was originally aired in Japan. It is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a 224 kilobit per second bitrate.
The dialogue is very clear and easy to understand at all times. I don't know who they got to dub the voices (I wouldn't be surprised to learn it was the original cast), but boy the narrator is very pleasant to listen to. The audio sync is about as good as you can honestly expect from an English dub over a Japanese show, in other words terrible, but this is inherent in the source material.
Two very noticeable and distracting pops were found in the soundtrack for At The Top Of The Mountain - one at 13:19, and another at 32:52.
The music in this series is credited to Mickie Yoshino, and a few bars of the much-loved Monkey Magic theme appear, just to keep long-time fans happy. The music has a very manic, hyperactive feel that suits the on-screen action very well. It's hard enough to resist singing along with the Monkey Magic theme if you've been watching the previous twelve discs. Keep your eyes peeled for Shiro Kishibe singing at 17:01 during At The Top Of The Mountain - he sounds quite beautiful, even if I cannot understand a word of the song.
The surround channels were not used by this soundtrack.
The subwoofer also had the day off.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static, and not 16x9 Enhanced. It is somewhat counter-intuitive to navigate, with the left key resulting in a scene selection rather than a move on the bottom row menu, and so forth.
These are still left over from the original season.
The same blurbs for each episode that appear on the back of the slicks are reproduced here.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This collection of episodes is not available in Regions 1 or 2. Region 2 is up to Episodes 10-12, which is quite a way behind us at present. There are some rumours that future Region 2 UK editions will feature episodes that were never aired, but considering the state the episodes that have aired were found in, this is hardly likely.
I remember that when I first set out to review Monkey, I was somewhat apprehensive, even entertaining the idea that I might find the content to be childish. I am glad that I have stuck with it to the end, however, because this is one relic of the ABC children's hour that one can never truly outgrow, in contrast to the rubbish they are putting into that time slot nowadays. The three episodes presented on what the Synopses lead me to believe will be the final disc are some of the best in the Monkey canon.
The video transfer is as good as one can expect from such bad source materials.
The audio transfer is acceptable, although the pops are somewhat distracting.
The extras are very minimal.
|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|