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Monkey (Masaaki Sakai)Pigsy (Toshiyuki Nishida)Sandy (Shiro Kishibe)Tripitaka (Masaka Natsume)Yu Lung (Shunji Fujimura)

Monkey | Pigsy | Sandy | Tripitaka | Yu Lung

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Monkey (Masaaki Sakai)Monkey (Masaaki Sakai)

The part of Monkey was played by Massaki Sakai. A former vocalist in a 60's Japanese mod band called 'The Spiders', Masaaki Sakai is still a popular TV entertainer in Japan, sort of a cross between Shane Ritchie and Noel Edmunds (are these popular entertainers?! - Ed.)

Tonight Matthew I'm going to be.... (Masaaki Sakai as he is today)Masaaki Sakai

Further to Monkey! Sakai currently fronts a Japanese cookery programme, "Where's the Kitchen?" (watch out Jamie Oliver et al!) and previously worked on the infamous endurance gameshow "Superhuman Coliseum", clips of which have been featured from time to time on the late-night British finger-wagging show "Tarrant on TV". In the 90s this was held an example of television at it's worse. Today of course such grotesque fun as eating bugs and being trapped with snakes has been outdone by our own shows, including "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!" and "The Farm".

Monkey's most notable skill is that he is able to summon a pink fluffy cloud (that thing that looks like a sponge on the background to this text) on which to be air-transported with a just quick wave of two fingers in front of his mouth.

The ring Monkey wears around his temple is not stolen 'Wonderwoman' memorabilia but is instead Monkey's source of power.  This in turn is controlled by Tripitaka who, when Monkey gets a little too cheeky or out of hand, can chant a headache sutra that tightens the ring, causing Monkey to speak in tongues.

Monkey fights using his amazing magic wishing staff, given to him by the Princess of the Western Ocean, which can grow to any size upon his command. Demonstrating the staff's ability to grow from matchstick size to the size of a telegraph pole, Monkey quips "I can use it as well!"

top - Pigsy

Pigsy (Toshiyuki Nishida) Pigsy (Toshiyuki Nishida)

Pigsy is probably the second most recognised character from Monkey Magic, despite Sandy having far more lines! Pigsy forewent the glamour of a magically-charges weapon, using instead his trademark muckrake! Pigsy was always trying to woo the delectable maidens in the series (never with any success) and when feasting could, in keeping with his name, consume an inordinate amount of food in a very short time!

Pigsy was played by Toshiyuki Nishida in the first series, who was also known in the world of Japanese entertainment as an actor and comedian.  Nishida still acts today and has featured in films including The Silk Road, Dream Of Russia and Heavenly Sin.

In series three, the part of Pigsy was played by a different actor, Tonpei Hidari.

The second 'stupid swine', Tonpei Hidari Tonpei Hidari

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Sandy (Shiro Kishibe) Sandy (Shiro Kishibe)

With his necklace of nine human skulls and bizarre haircut, one can be forgiven for wondering why the mild-mannered Sandy was not as well known as Pigsy, especially as he was Monkey's closest companion.

Sandy was played by Shiro Kishibe, like Massaki Sakai a former Japanese pop star, Kishibe was a singer in a group called 'The Spiders'.

Since starring in Monkey! Kishibe has left acting to pursue a career in table tennis (I jest ye not - although heaven only knows how we find this stuff out for you...)

top - Tripitaka

 

Tripitaka (Masako Natsume) Tripitaka (Masako Natsume)

In the programme as in the book, it is the monk Tripitaka that Monkey and his pals are ordered to protect on his journey to India to retrieve the scriptures. Tripikata does not fight with Monkey et al and is a peaceful character, who always wants to help. Through the use of the headache sutra, he has control over Monkey so can force him to help whenever he is less than cooperative.

Despite Tripikata being a bloke, the role in the programme was actually played by a woman, the enigmatic Masako Natsume.

Natsume had already featured in Japanese entertainment programmes and was well-known throughout Japan and well-liked as an actress. She was the face of Japanese cosmetics company 'Kanebo' for some time prior to playing the role of the 'boy monk' Tripikata. So a bit like Natalie Imbrulia with a hat on then.

Tragically, Natsume died in 1985 of leukemia, aged just 27. The whole of Japan was saddened by her death and she remains a popular figure (try searching 'Masako Natsume' on Ask Jeeves below). Memorabilia sells well in Japan to this day.

Ask.com and get

 

top - Yu Lung

 

Yu Lung - Horse Yu Lung (Shunji Fujimura, series 3)

Yu Lung is a dragon at the beginning of the series, but then turns into a horse. Follow so far? Oh, and of course, Yu Lung can speak. Though played by a horse and a series of bizarre props in series one and two, Yu Lung was played by Shunji Fujimura in series three.

Yu Lung - Shunji Fujimura Yu Lung (played by Shunji Fujimura)

By most standards it would probably be fair to say that Shunji Fujimura is a bit of a nut-case too.  Though we haven't yet traced him to some World table-tennis contest he does look like a man posessed and has probably started his own cult or something (though don't quote me on that one please). Who knows, he might even be Tony Blair.

Yu Lung is certainly one of the gang, and during fight scenes helps contribute to the cause - usually with a vicious horse-kick!

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There are loads of official (and not-so-official) bits and bobs of merchandise bearing the images of the famous pilgrims from Monkey!  For instance there are some great Monkey T-Shirts available from the good people on eBay.

"Take care what you think. Only the illumined can know reality. Wanting nothing from the world, they are still here with everyone and less certain than we. Take care what you do. All the harm people do in the world is done by people who are certain of something. It is sometimes better to follow the signposts than to lose yourself making new paths. There is a path, give up certainty but try to do good, and good will be done."

Site content by Monkeymania. Monkey © NTV Networks (Japan)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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