I LOVE animation. Have done since I was a child. Movies like The Land Before Time, Fantasia, The Lion King. Shows like Batman the Animated Series, Transformers, The Simpsons and countless others. Some so faded by years they are faint memories. These were what I grew up with. But as I grew up, I saw more and more the art form I loved looked down upon. I see the people spouting live action remakes as somehow being a better art form than the beautiful animated originals despite everyone who sees them all agreeing the animated ones were good while the live action soul less. And yet these people at the top constantly seem to be attacking animation especially nowadays, as they push yet another live action crap while genuinely good animated originals are cancelled. Well for the month of December I am going to be doing reviews of Animated works.
Now Journey to the West is… It can’t be stated how important it is to eastern fiction of every medium. The best way to describe its importance is if you combined Lord of the Rings, the Arthurian mythos and the complete works of Shakespeare. In fact, as you start looking into what it is, and have even the slightest knowledge of anime or any fiction work from Japan or China you will go “oh, so this is where all this stuff that keeps popping up comes from”.
So, we come to this series, Lego Monkie kid, a series I explained to a friend when convincing him to watch it as – A Lego series based on Journey to the west animated by the people who made Rise of the TMNT, – they instantly agreed.
I’m not going to go into the massive story of What Journey to the west is (go look up videos on YouTube for that, I recommend overly sarcastic productions) But we do get little bits of it here and there in the first episode. It is set a fairly long time after that story has “ended” Opening with the tale of how the Monkey King defeated the Demon Bull King by sealing him under a mountain with his staff.
We then have quite a bit of a time jump explaining with the Demon Bull King’s defeat, civilization flourished and technology advanced as we open onto a postmodern eastern inspired city and we find the opening was being told by Tang to MK our lead who is a massive fan of the Monkie King. MK works at Pigsy’s Noodles and a few things I do need to explain. Yes, this series is primarily aimed at an eastern audience and is released there first, and second YES, the characters are all Lego people, we have all seen the Lego movie this should not be weird for you. That said since this is animated not to try and just move like Lego people, the character animations are in no way held back by being Lego people, the animators do an amazing job and you have to see it.
Chase and action scenes are wonderful to see and after 15 minutes the best character Mei makes her great appearance on her motor bike. The whole opening special is 45 minutes long and at no point does it ever seem to drag. You get the opening sequel fight, then a short amount introducing our lead before right away stumbling upon the release of the Demon Bull King by his son and wife. Chase scene and a DBK shopping scene later – our leads are on the way to meet the Legendary Monkey King Sun Wukong who in probably the best piece of voice casting I have ever experienced is voiced by Sean Schemmel ( go on, look up why that is so perfect, then if you don’t realize just how perfect it is, go look up the many things Sun Wukong specifically inspired. We will all hear you go OOOOOOOH!)
This is a Lego Series so basically ever major set piece or vehicle was released as a Lego set… several years before the animation was legally able to be watched over here… and only sold online in the Lego store… and are long since out of print… woops, But hey the more recent releases are still there… mind you those will all give you massive spoilers as season 3 just ended earlier this year.. basically it’s going to be a bit more difficult for you to get Ren Sons things and start calling people NOODLE BOY!
One downside I did notice is that with the last 15 or so minutes the sound doesn’t seem as crisply connected to the visuals, they aren’t out of sync but they don’t come out nearly as well compared to the gorgeous visuals and given stories like this usually do have a big dramatic finisher, that is a shame the audio lets it down a little.
This is only the start of the series but works fine as a standalone adventure if you don’t want to continue on to the many adventures of the cast… but why wouldn’t you want to continue watching you will miss so much fun, plus it’s all legally watchable in the UK with the ITV player thingy, just have to endure a few children’s adverts, and this is one of the few adaptions of Journey to the west that adapts Macaque ( he’s not in this opener though).
Whether you’re a fan of the where this is drawing ideas from or not, I highly recommend the show. It’s got great characters, phenomenal animation, and it’s Lego, and who doesn’t like Lego?
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