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My new Journey to the West animation cells

My dad's friend gave me a couple of original animation cells from Journey to the West cartoons of the 80s! The guy knew the director of the Shanghai Animation Studio, who brought a bunch of cells to an awards show in Brazil and gave him a couple on the way. They've just been sitting in storage some 20-odd years until my dad mentioned to his friend that I liked the Monkey King. :)

For those who don't know, Journey to the West is one of the classic Chinese novels. You could think of it as the Chinese The Odyssey, maybe. The main character is Sun Wu Kong, a trickster monkey deity, born from a rock, who rules a monkey kingdom on Flower Fruit Mountain. You may have heard of him as "The Monkey King". He learns martial arts and magical powers and becomes extremely arrogant. Eventually he crashes a party in Heaven itself and causes a ruckus. The Jade Emperor sends warrior after Heavenly warrior after him, but he defeats all of them.

Finally, the Buddha Himself captures the Monkey King and imprisons him under a mountain. Fiven hundred years later, he's finally freed with a chance to redeem himself by helping a monk, Tang Seng, journey westward to retrieve Buddhist sutras from India. They're joined by two others seeking a second chance, Friar Sand and Zhu Ba Jie (a lazy, greedy, womanizing pig creature whose family name Zhu is literally "Pig"). That's them here:

That's actually a background plate with the characters painted on a clear plastic plate above!

The rest of the story is basically an episodic road trip. Rumor goes that eating Tang Seng's flesh would grant you everlasting life, so of course all sorts of demons come out of the woodwork.

Anyway, kids like me loved the various animated portrayals of the Monkey King. In a way, I think of him as my favorite part of Chinese culture. I looked all over the place for a poster of him, to no avail. These days, most portrayals are anime-style or whatnot, which just doesn't resonate with me.

My dad's friend also gave me this cell of Ne Zha, a hot-tempered child deity who flies around on flaming wheels. He was in some ways the Monkey King's arch nemesis, because they're both mischievous. Similar personalities tend to clash, I guess. :)

I can't wait to get these things framed and onto my walls. I looked all over Shanghai and couldn't find anything like this, and I was just looking for mass-produced posters, not original animation cells!

Comments (9)

If you can tell me anything about this series I would really appreciate it. I cannot find anything after googling all sorts of word combinations. I have never actually seen the film itself, but when I was a small child I had a picture book made from still of the show. That book is now long gone and I am hoping to re-live my six-year-old boy nostalgia. E-mail me at cijacobs@oakland.edu if you can please.

Thank you.

OMG! Ne Zha was my favorite movie when I was 5. Of course, Ne Zha was a girl and not a boy in my version. My mom picked up a VCD version when she was in Taiwan. Ne Zha (the girl) rules!

Actually, I'm pretty sure Ne Zha has always been a boy, except he looks and sounds like a girl. :)

I love Journey to the West, I used to watch the original 80s TV series and the cartoon version on TV :p Thanks, these pictures are a great help for my class, but do you think you can find any colouring in pages as well? :) That'd keep my Prep, Grade 1 and 2 students occupied!!

wow, this is interesting. I've been looking for images of many china animation since pioneering period... i could use this for teching aid.. this is very helpful..

Wu Kong and Ne Zha are awesome, and yes Ne Zha is a boy, they both feature in a dvd box set of classic chinese animation, its not the same as the images above but from the same era, also includes the little Cowboy and something with frogs i think, i'll have to dig it out, picked it up one year from a bookstore in shanghai i think. . .

The film is called Monkey Subdues the Evil;
And I think it is a sequel to Uproar in Heavin;
And if you want to see Nezha Counquers the Dragon King? Here you go!

There's another one about the Monkey King! It's called Sun Wukong and the Ginseng Fruit

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