I don’t have to like a show to enjoy the intro. That’s a sign of a good intro. For example, 1998’s Monkey Magic is a show I never got into. One of many Japanese productions based on the 16th century Chinese novel Journey To The West, this show follows the adventures of the main character of that story, the Monkey King, as he travels on a journey with a priest. In this version his name is Kongo, a monkey to fall to Earth in a meteor and had a head of stone, earning him the nickname Stone Monkey. The early storylines follow his journey to become more powerful and defend his monkey friends from a village of jerk humans, earning him the wrath of some jerk gods. Unfortunately, Kongo is also a jerk so it’s hard to know who to root for. I only watched a few episodes and gave up on it.
The theme song is performed by the Tom Toms, a music group I’m not all that familiar with. But the song sure is catchy.
See, you’ll have that 50 seconds stuck in your head all week. Of if you want, here’s the full version.
And yes, that animation is what they go with throughout the series, computer animation trying to pretend its hand drawn. Sometimes it looks good but sometimes it just stand out way too much and takes you out of the story. However, it came from the Japanese intro, which I’ll show you later. Let’s focus on this song. There’s three lines that goes right into the story of the anime rather nicely.
- One heart beating in stone. (referencing Kongo’s “stone monkey” origins)
- One starts learning from zero. (referencing Kongo’s journey to become stronger, learning different spiritual techniques and fighting skills)
- One day out on his own. (referencing that for the first few storylines Kongo goes off on his own to train to better defend his friends)
I’m not sure what kind of hero he is, but “Magic Monkey, you big dumb jerk” doesn’t really sell him to the kids. And now back to the animation. Let’s compare this to the longer Japanese intro.
The name “M-Pen” only sticks out at me because one of the tablets I was looking at came from a company with that name. Whether it’s the same company that developed the engine used to render this show I can’t say.
Oddly, it looks like this was edited from the US intro. Note that the two mice actually show up behind the others and stick their tongues out at the camera in the US intro, but in the Japanese intro they’re cut off. There are also more clips from the actual show used, but it does also show that Kongo will be the Monkey King in Journey To The West. The US intro and theme (I don’t know what’s being said in Japanese) only seem to cover the early storylines, as Kongo trains to be a strong fighter. I think I like the US theme better since it just sticks in your head more and eases you into the show, while the Japanese visuals show more of Kongo fighting enemies and less “cameos”. The CG and pseudo-drawn looks don’t always mesh well in either version.
The show itself I still have little interest in. Some of you out there may like it, but it just didn’t work for me. At least it had a cool intro.