The sixteenth century novel by Wu Cheng’en, Journey to The West, depicts the lifetime of Solar Wukong the Monkey King, who goes from being a stone monkey, to a heavenly deviant, earlier than repenting and becoming a member of the righteous monk Tang Sanzang on a journey to recuperate Buddha’s scriptures.
This episodic journey has had a terrific influence on media as a complete, with movies, TV exhibits, and video video games adapting and placing their very own spin on this basic Chinese language novel. One of many greatest impacts that Journey to the West has made is on Japanese manga and anime.
The combination of humour, epic motion sequences and an odyssey of self-realisation and achievements has since grow to be the blueprint for story arcs inside Shonen Leap’s hottest titles.
Solar Wukong himself could be seen because the prototypical shonen protagonist, who embarks on a lifelong journey to achieve Buddhahood by overcoming adversity and prejudice. His adventures have been recreated many occasions over by shonen protagonists and their very own story arcs.
Solar Wukong’s story usually begins with him gaining sentience as a stone monkey, earlier than proving himself as a terrific chief and ascending to heaven. As soon as there, he wreaks havoc, earlier than being humbled by the Buddha himself.
With a purpose to repent and redeem himself below the eyes of Buddha, Wukong agrees to accompany the monk Tang Sanzang, together with fellow disciples, the pig Zhu Baijie and sand demon Sha Wujing. After overcoming demons and hellish hazards, the get together returns to China victorious, with every of them attaining Buddhahood and ascending to heaven.
The various chapters of Journey to The West could be grouped into arcs, just like how manga and anime usually categorise their tales. Journey to The West begins with the origins of Solar Wukong, his mishaps in heaven, the gathering of Sanzang’s disciples, and at last, the precise journey to India, which itself could be damaged down into particular person arcs.
Solar Wukong as a personality additionally undergoes a drastic change all through the story, starting with him buying new and stronger talents, combating the forces of heaven and being completely defeated, discovering stalwart companions, and at last attaining greatness.
The Monkey King’s powers embrace tremendous power, tremendous velocity, and the flexibility to shapeshift into 72 totally different transformations. He additionally has his magic pole that may stretch for miles, and a magical cloud to fly on.
His pleasant rivalry with fellow disciple Zhu Bajie can be notable, because the pig-like member of the crew is simply as robust as his monkey counterpart, although his laziness and carnal wishes usually get in the way in which.
Solar Wukong’s different distinct traits embrace his playfulness in opposition to his enemies, his basic infamy all through the demon world, and Sanzang’s underestimation of Wukong’s intentions and wisdoms, which is a recurring theme that we will see in a few of Shonen Leap’s most distinguished heroes, particularly Son Goku, Naruto, and Monkey D. Luffy.
Son Goku is the obvious analogue to Solar Wukong, particularly together with his title being the Japanese translation of the Monkey King’s personal, his magical employees, and his trusty Nimbus Cloud.
After the preliminary Dragon Ball manga run, Son Goku loses his tail and was retconned into being a member of the alien Saiyan race, as an alternative of a kind of monkey-human hybrid. Some would possibly say that is the place Dragon Ball ditches the Journey to The West for a completely unique story, although that’s not the case.
Goku could also be some kind of alien superhuman at this level, however he equally goes by an enormous journey of enlightenment in Dragon Ball Z identical to Solar Wukong. All of it begins with Goku dying and reaching the underworld, attaining a kind of enlightenment with the Tremendous Saiyan transformation in opposition to Frieza, earlier than dying a second time after putting his belief in his son Gohan to defeat Cell.
A extra humbled Goku returns within the Buu Saga; he’s extra highly effective but in addition much more conscious of the world’s troubles and evils. He manages to regain his life and lives a standard life, earlier than extra common threats encourage Goku to succeed in the degrees of a god and past.
Whereas Goku is understood for his naivete and infantile nature, many factors in Dragon Ball Z exhibits Goku’s extra critical and over-confident facet as effectively, a trait shared by Solar Wukong. Goku’s everlasting rival, Vegeta, may also be seen as a extra ruthless model of Zhu Bajie, who’s highly effective however falls behind the primary hero by way of power and transformations.
Dragon Ball’s success created a serious zeitgeist inside the shonen style, guaranteeing that the following era of manga and anime could be created in the identical vein. And with that, whereas it’s not explicitly said, we had extra protagonists who took the Solar Wukong affect even additional.
This started with Naruto, the demon fox baby who dreamt of being Hokage, the chief of the Hidden Leaf Village during which he resides. Initially conceived as a reincarnation of the nine-tailed fox demon, Naruto is as an alternative possessed by it and is shunned by the villagers round him, identical to how Solar Wukong was seemed down upon by the gods and goddesses of heaven.
Naruto’s journey begins with him being an outcast, a younger orphan who craves consideration and acceptance from these round him. His main redemption got here following his victory over Ache, a villain who can be the literal embodiment of Buddha’s Paths of Reincarnation.
Identical to Solar Wukong, Naruto is ready to create clones of himself and even shapeshift into different dwelling beings, like his notorious attractive jutsu. Naruto’s personal “path to Buddhahood” could be seen in his transformations, together with his final transformation being the Six Paths Sage Mode that provides Naruto an ungodly quantity of energy.
Whereas Naruto shares lots of qualities with Solar Wukong’s extra demonic qualities, he additionally shares similarities with Tang Sanzang, as Naruto will all the time search to pacify his enemies. He all the time goals to tug them to the facet of excellent, as seen with Naruto’s battles in opposition to Ache’s host Nagato, Obito Uchiha, and his classmate turned rival, Sasuke.
At first look, it doesn’t seem to be the longer term king of the pirates is something like Solar Wukong, moreover his title being Monkey D. Luffy, a callback to each the Monkey King and Son Goku. However upon additional examination, Luffy’s journeys are similar to Journey to The West.
This started with the primary chapter, the place we see a younger Luffy by chance acquiring his rubber talents by consuming the Gum Gum Satan Fruit. Solar Wukong equally ate Immortality Tablets and Peaches to grow to be indestructible.
Luffy’s journey begins within the East Blue, and he steadily positive aspects allies and defeats adversaries on his journey west in direction of the Grand Line and ultimately, the One Piece. Whereas Luffy just isn’t one to have rivals, with Wukong and Bajie’s rivalry being referenced by Luffy’s crewmates Roronoa Zoro and Vinsmoke Sanji, Luffy by no means backs down from a combat regardless of how badly he’s crushed.
Like Solar Wukong’s defeat by the hands of Buddha and the forces of heaven, Luffy went by hell and again throughout the Battle of Marineford, which served as a serious defeat for the younger pirate and made him realise that he wanted to be a lot stronger to grow to be the Pirate King.
When it comes to talents, Luffy’s indestructible nature and penchant for loopy transformations may be very Solar Wukong-like. Whereas Luffy’s journey to godhood isn’t as clear-cut as that of Goku and Naruto, current chapters within the ongoing Wano arc appear to counsel that Luffy could also be a reincarnation of some kind of solar god.
That is only a microcosm of Solar Wukong’s true affect on media, with many extra tales taking main inspiration from Journey to the West. From different manga like Gensomaden Saiyuki to issues like Lego’s Monkie Child and the online game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, this basic Chinese language story will proceed to affect much more tales to return.
As for shonen protagonists, modern-day shonen icons have begun to shift away from the dumb, happy-go-lucky mould of Goku, Naruto, and Luffy. Fashionable shonen heroes like Deku from My Hero Academia and Tanjiro from Demon Slayer are identified for his or her introspective outlook on life and basic mind.
Whereas the Journey to the West and Solar Wukong mould might not be the go-to reference for contemporary manga and anime anymore, its main affect on the medium can’t be understated, particularly with the most well-liked manga and anime of the previous few a long time nonetheless seeking to Wu Cheng’en’s masterpiece as inspiration.