Alakazam is a young and brave monkey who convinces all the other monkeys to make him their king. After attaining the throne and learning magic, he becomes so vain that he goes to heaven to challenge the gods. He is defeated by King Amo, and sentenced to serve as the bodyguard of Prince Amat in order to learn humility.
Saiyuki fans the world over, if you have not watched this than there is something missing from your fan obligations that need be filled in immediately. This beautifully animated film from 1960 depicts the famous “Journey to the West” in a classic style that has set the foundation for generations to come. The legendary Story of Son Goku: The Monkey King in his epic adventure “Journey to the West” has been retold many times over since its publication 1590 and since then has generated much popularity. Everything from Dragon Ball to Forbidden Kingdom has draw inspiration from this amazing story. The Monkey King/ Alakazam
the Great is one of the most well executed retelling of this classic tell and is a pillar of historical foundation for the 60’s as well as anime as a whole for coming along during the birth of this great genre’s lifespan.
The animation for its time is quite advanced and done with great finesse. With the exception of a few other films, no other anime during that decade can match up to the beauty of this film’s animation and vibrancy. Voice acting during this day and age is not the best, but is easily over shadowed by its ability to continue on track telling its story. It fuses tasteful tid- bits of 1960 technology during the ancient times of this story such as telegraphs and pistols as well as things that haven’t even been created to this day like video telephones. All in good fun, of course. It’s a wonderful family film that is beyond enjoyable with lots of adventure, song, dance, mystery, magic and fantasy. Anyone who watches this film will quickly learn to grow with Alakazam/ Son Goku on his journey to learning humility, mercy and wisdom. I thoroughly impress upon any otaku or person who is interested in the “Journey to the West” story to enjoy this film and add it to your resume of films viewed. You won’t regret it.
Let me begin my review by stating that I did not see this movie as a kid, and therefore have zero nostalgia goggles to work with. Saiyuuki, for lack of a better term, is not a very spectacular movie. The music is, for the most part, forgettable, and doesn't always work. The musical numbers are unneeded. The visuals are passable, but nothing special. The voice work is okay: again, nothing special.
One of this movie's huge problems is getting me to care. I didn't care about the journey. I didn't care about the characters. In fact, I HATED most of the characters. The female love interest
is a forgettable, bland cinnamon roll stereotype, and Son Goku is kind of a dick until very, very late into the film (and even then isn't that likable). The side characters are kind of neat on occasion, but most of them only show up for a few seconds aside from the guy who wanted to eat them, the pig, and the monk: and the monk is blander than water.
Quite frankly, I went into this movie expecting a classic animation. However, as is sadly often the case with older Japanese animated movies, I instead found myself wondering why I was watching it, and constantly checking how far along I was (as early as 30 minutes into the film!). While not terrible, the film is certainly not good in my eyes. And on my ratings scale, that comes out to a 4/10. While I'm sure some people might enjoy it, with or without nostalgia glasses, I personally think you should give this one a skip.
Based off the Monkey King character from the classical Chinese epic novel Journey to the West (Journey of the West being the inspiration for other cartoons like Dragon Ball Z), this is the story of Alakazam the Great and his journeys after becoming king of the monkeys. I watched it not expecting much after seeing a lot of low-budget early anime, but I was surprised by the great characters like Alakazam, and especially the pig Sir Quigley, whose character design is straight out of John and Joy Halas' Animal Farm.
The American dub was really well-done, and actually pretty funny at some times. The movie
as a whole is pretty lighthearted, and extremely imaginative. Magic is an important aspect of the movie, and the different ways Alakazam uses it never failed to be interesting. As far as the animation goes, it looks like it was very influenced by classic Disney animation. The fact that it's narrated by the voice of Disney-regular Sterling Holloway (the voice of Winnie the Pooh, and Kaa in the Jungle Book) adds to the Disney feel. The animation has aged well, more than a lot of anime from this time.
I've seen this anime about 30 years ago. I still remember watching this movie on a Sunday afternoon. It was part of the Sunday matinee on TV. At the time I had no idea it was a Japanese cartoon, but the story and artwork was pretty good. I'm not here really to review this anime, more like rant nostalgically about an entertaining and well-done anime. If you ever have a chance to see this anime, do not pass it up if you believe you are a true fan of the sub-culture.