For those who used to rush home from school in 1981 to grab a snack and finish their homework before ABC TV aired the latest episode of Monkey Magic, get ready for a new interpretation on the original series coming soon. ABC TV, along with TVNZ and Netflix, are planning to air their new series, The Legend of Monkey, in 2018.
Saiyuki, also known as Monkey, and, then later as Monkey Magic (because of the title song in the opening credits of Monkey), is still considered a cult phenomenon. The Japanese drama series originally aired 1978 to 1980 on Nippon Television. In 1979, Season 1 of the two-season series was dubbed into English and broadcast in the United Kingdom by the BBC, in New Zealand by TVNZ, and in Australia on ABC TV. Of the 52 episodes produced of Monkey Magic, only 39 were dubbed into English. However, in 2004, Monkey Magic finally got the remaining episodes dubbed and a new generation, along with their parents, could enjoy the entire series in English.
Monkey Magic was originally based on a Chinese novel, Journey to the West, that was published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty. This novel is usually attributed to Wu Cheng’en and is considered one of the four great classical Chinese novels. The other three are Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Dream of the Red Chamber. But, for Western children watching Monkey Magic, it was more about the kung fu fighting scenes than the link to classic Chinese literature.
Those of you who have been lamenting the fact that Monkey Magic only had two seasons can now look forward to a new interpretation on the original source, Journey to the West. According to the press release issued by ABC TV, The Legend of Monkey is currently in production and being filmed in Auckland, New Zealand. It is slated for a 2018 release on TVNZ in New Zealand, ABC TV in Australia, and globally via Netflix.
The synopsis for The Legend of Monkey is below.
“Inspired by the 16th Century Chinese fable Journey to the West, the 10-part half hour series follows a teenage girl and a trio of fallen gods on a perilous journey as they attempt to bring an end to a demonic reign of chaos and restore balance to their world.”
The cast of The Legend of Monkey includes Chai Hansen (Mako Mermaids, The 100) as Monkey, Luciane Buchanan (Filthy Rich, Blue Rose) as Tripitaka, Josh Thomson (Terry Teo, 7 Days, The Project) as Pigsy, and Emilie Cocquerel (Lion, An Accidental Soldier) as Sandy.
The Legend of Monkey will be produced by the Oscar- and Emmy-winning production company See-Saw Films in collaboration with Jump Film & TV. The series is an official New Zealand and Australian co-production with principal investment from Screen Australia in association with Screen NSW, Fulcrum Media Finance, and the New Zealand Screen Production Grant.
Michael Carrington, the Head of Children’s at ABC Television, issued the following statement about The Legend of Monkey.
“The mythical tale of the Monkey King is a story that continues to captivate global audiences. Our production partner See-Saw Films is bringing The Legend of Monkey to life through incredible locations and sets, an acclaimed production team and an exciting diverse young cast. We can’t wait for fans to see this new series that features the heroes they love and we are just as excited to introduce this reimagined magical and exciting world to a whole new generation of viewers.”
Jacquelin Perske (Seven Types of Ambiguity, Spirited, Will) adapted The Legend of Monkey from the original Journey to the West along with Craig Irvin (Nowhere Boys) and Samantha Strauss (Dance Academy). The lead director has been listed as Gerard Johnstone (Housebound, The Jaquie Brown Diaries). Additional episodes will be directed by Craig Irvin.
Are you looking forward to The Legend of Monkey or will the cult classic Monkey Magic always be your favorite version of Journey to the West? Let us know by commenting below.
The Legend of Monkey will air on ABC, TVNZ, and on Netflix globally in 2018.
[Featured Image by Monkey TV Holdings Pty Ltd]