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The Chinese classic Journey to the West, popularly know as Saiyuki in Japan, is often referenced in anime. But, exactly how many anime series and movies are based on the classic?
The Chinese classical novel Journey to the West is the account of the Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk Xaunzang and his pilgrimage to India to obtain sacred Buddhist texts called sutras. The story has been adapted and referenced in TV series, movies, manga, and anime, among other mediums throughout the years. Many Japanese adaptations follow the protagonist Genjo Sanzo, Son Goku, Sha Gojyo, and Cho Hakkai as they travel west to India to receive the sutras.
But, with so many anime series and movies that use elements of a Journey to the West it can be daunting finding the ones that are specifically based on the classic. This is because some of these adaptations have no more than references to the characters, have one-episode parodies of the novels, or are even lewd adaptations of the content. However, we’re here to help you find the majority of Journey to the West anime adaptations.
The following guide lists Journey to the West anime adaptations in order of release. The guide also contains links to where each of the various anime can be watched (when possible).
The Story of the Monkey King (1926)
One of the earliest Japanese Journey to the West adaptations, this black and white silent film follows Genjo Sanzo as he travels west to India to receive the teaching of the Buddha. Along the way, he meets the mischief making Son Goku, the amorous Cho Hakkai, and the water demon turned disciple Sha Gojyo.
The Story of the Monkey King is unavailable outside of Japan.
Alakazam the Great (1960)
Based on Osamu Tezuka’s manga Boku no Son Goku, our plucky hero Alakazam becomes the king of the monkeys. Alakazam abuses his power, though, and as punishment by Amo, King of Heaven, Son Goku is forced to serve as the bodyguard of Prince Amat to learn humility.
Alakazam the Great is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Son Gokū ga Hajimaru Yo – Kōfūdaioh no Maki (1966)
The pilot episode for the 1967 TV series Gokū no Daibōken, the episode follows Son Goku, Genjo Sanzo, Sha Gojyo, Cho Hakkai, and Tatsuko as they battle the Kōfūdaioh.
Son Gokū ga Hajimaru Yo – Kōfūdaioh no Maki is unavailable outside of Japan.
Gokū no Daibōken (1967)
39 Episode TV Series
Based on Osamu Tezuka’s manga Boku no Son Goku, after causing a ruckus in Heaven, Son Goku is punished by having to accompanying the monk Genjo Sanzo on his journey west to India to acquire the teachings of the Buddha. Over the course of the their journey they meet Sha Gojyo, Cho Hakkai, and Tatsuko and together they battle demonic forces.
Gokū no Daibōken is available on DVD through Amazon.
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Force Five: Spaceketeers (1978 – 1979)
73 Episode TV Series
In the year 2072 Aurora, the Princess of the Moon, travels to the Great King Planet with her three cyborg companions, Kugo, Djorog, and Hakka, to restore the Galaxy Energy. The series is known as SF Saiyuki Starzingers in Japan.
Force Five: Spaceketeers is available on VHS tape through Amazon.
Son Gokuu Silk Road wo Tobu!! (1982)
By the order of Emperor Taizong, Son Goku and Genjo Sanzo travel to India to obtain the sacred Buddhist sutras. During their travels they befriend the beasts Cho Hakkai and Sha Gojyo and resist assaults from demons.
Son Gokuu Silk Road wo Tobu!! is unavailable outside of Japan.
Time Bokan Series Itadakiman (1983)
20 Episode TV Series
In the year 20XX, three students from the prestigious Oshaka School are sent on a mission to find a set of copper plates scattered around the world. But, three villains try to stop the students from finding the plates.
Time Bokan Series Idadakiman is unavailable outside of Japan.
Dragon Ball Franchise (1986 – present)
TV Series, TV Special, Movies, and more
Our heroes Son Goku, Bulma, Oolong, Yamcha, and Puar travel west as they look for the legendary wish granting Dragon Balls. As the series progresses the story slowly shifts from an action-adventure story loosely based on Journey to the West to an action series that takes us to space and beyond.
Doraemon: Nobita no Parallel Saiyuki (1988)
The fifth grade boy Nobita Nobi is arguing with his friends Shizuka Minamoto, Suneo Honekawa, and Takeshi “Jian” Gouda about who should play the Monkey King in their class production of Journey to the West. Unable to convince his friends the real Monkey King should play the part, Nobita travels back in time with Doraemon (a cat-like robot from the 22nd century) to prove them wrong. But, their actions have severe ramifications. Now it’s up to Nobita and friends to go back in time once again to set things right.
Doraemon: Nobita no Parallel Saiyuki is unavailable outside of Japan.
Osamu Tezuka Story: I am Son-Goku (1989)
Aired during Nippon News Networks “24 Hour Television ‘Love Saves the Earth’” TV special, Osamu Tezuka Story: I am Son-Goku is a biographical story of Osamu Tezuka’s journey to become an animator. The second half of the story takes place in on a distant planet in the year 3010 where a space-traveling salesman named Sanzo out smarts Son Goku, Sha Gojyo, and Cho Hakkai.
Osamu Tezuka Story: I am Son-Goku is unavailable outside of Japan.
Monkey Magic (1998 – 1999)
13 Episode TV Series
The Monkey King named Kongo has vowed to protect the monkey’s on Flower Fruit Mountain and attacks a human village. After the Jade Emperor in the Celestial Heavens learns of Kongo’s actions, he sends a boy named Nata to punish Kongo. But, after suffering the punishment Kongo goes on a journey to become even stronger so he can protect his home from human’s and those from the Celestial Heavens.
Monkey Magic is available on DVD through Amazon.
Saiyuki Franchise (1999 – Present)
TV Series, Movies, and Original Video Anime (OVA) Series
The Saiyuki franchise follows the characters Genjyo Sanzo, Son Goku, Sha Gojyo, and Cho Hakkai as they travel west to stop the rise of Gyumaoh, the Ox-Demon-King. During their journey the four heroes stave off demon hoards attacking human villages and deal with their own personal issues. Saiyuki Reload Blast is the most recent installment of the franchise.
32 Episode TV Series
300 years after humans went extinct, a human girl named Yakumo Tatsuro awakens from suspended animation. She soon learns of a hidden human sanctuary called Shinzo somewhere in the west and travels there with her companions Mashra, Sago, and Kutal.
Shinzo is available on DVD through Amazon.
Boku no Son Goku (2003)
Based on Osamu Tezuka’s manga Boku no Son Goku, after becoming the King of the Monkey’s and causing havoc in Heaven, Son Goku is imprisoned by the Buddha. 500 years later, the monk Genjo Sanzo frees Goku and the two travel to India to retrieve the sacred Buddhist sutras. Along their path they meet allies Sha Gojyo and Cho Hakkai and battle demonic forces.
Boku no Son Goku is unavailable outside of Japan.
Monkey Typhoon (2003-2004)
52 Episode TV Series
After awaking from 1000 years in suspended animation, Sanzo learns the Earth will be destroyed in one year. In order to prevent Earths destruction he travels east with the asobots (association robots) Goku, Tongo, and Joe to look for the 49 Keys of the Apocalypse.
Monkey Typhoon is unavailable outside of Japan.
Patalliro Saiyuki! (2005)
27 Episode TV Series
Based on the manga Patalliro Saiyuki! by Mineo Maya, the characters Patalliro du Malyner VIII (Son Goku) and Maraich (Genjo Sanzo) travel west to India to acquire the Buddhist sutras. The series parodies both Journey to the West and the popular manga shojo Patalliro!
Patalliro Saiyuki! is available on DVD through Amazon.
Chinyuki: Taro to Yukaina Nakama Tachi (2009)
4 Episode OVV Series
A parody of Journey to the West, the assassin Taro Yamada is turned into a human baby-monkey hybrid for assassinating people and defecating on their graves. As penance and to return to his human form, Taro travels with the monk named Genjo to India. During their travels together, they battle demons and other oddities.
Chinyuki: Taro to Yukaina Nakama Tachi is unavailable outside of Japan.