List of media adaptations of Journey to the West

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Depiction of the Forbidden Temple's Sun Wukong as depicted in a scene in a Beijing opera
The pilgrims Sun Wukong, Xuanzang, Sandy, and Pigsy at Western Paradise in production The Monkey Sun (Theatre Esence, 1984).

Journey to the West, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, was written in the 16th century and attributed to Wu Cheng'en. Stories and characters were widely used, especially in Beijing opera, and has been adapted many times in modern film, television, stage, and other media.


  • The Japanese artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi published a series of prints in 1865 titled Tsûzoku saiyûki (A Modern Journey to the West).[1]

Stage plays[edit]


  • The Cave of the Silken Web, or Pan Si Dong, a 1927 silent adaptation of one chapter of the novel.[7] It was followed by a 1930 sequel, The Cave of the Silken Web II (alternatively known as Spiders II).[8]
  • Princess Iron Fan, a 1941 liberal adaptation of a short sequence from Journey to the West; the first Chinese animated feature film.
  • Monkey Sun, a 1959 Japanese film produced by Toho, released as Magic Monkey Sun in Japan, as The Adventures of Sun Wu Kung in the United States, and as Monkey Sun internationally.[9]
  • Shanghai Animation Film Studio produced several animated films based on chapters from Journey to the West:
    • Havoc in Heaven, also known as Uproar in Heaven, is a 1961 Chinese animated feature film directed by Wan Lai-ming and produced by Wan and his three brothers. In 2012 it was "restored" in 3D.[10][11]
    • 人參果 (Ren Shen Guo), a 1981 Chinese animated film directed by Yan Ding Xian,[12][better source needed] in English known as Ginseng Fruit (also known as Stealing (the) Ginseng Fruit and "Monkey King and Fruit of Immortality")
    • 金猴降妖 (Jinhou jiang yao / Jin hou xiang yao), Monkey King Conquers the Demon, a 1985 Chinese animated film directed by Te Wei.[13][dead link] in English known as "Monkey (King) Conquers the (white bone) Demon" or "Golden Monkey Subdued the Evil" or "Golden Monkey Conquers the Evil".[14][better source needed]
  • 1960s Hong Kong film series produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio and directed by Ho Meng-hua:
  • Hong Haier, also known as The Fantastic Magic Baby, a 1975 Hong Kong film directed by Chang Cheh.
  • Monkey King With 72 Magic, a 1979 Taiwanese film directed and produced by Fu Ching-Wa.[17]
  • A Chinese Odyssey, a two-part 1995 Hong Kong fantasy comedy film loosely based on the novel.
  • Heavenly Legend, a 1998 Taiwanese film by Tai Seng Entertainment that is partially based on the novel.[citation needed]
  • A Chinese Tall Story (2005), a Hong Kong comedy film loosely based on the novel.
  • Fire Ball, a 2005 Taiwanese animated feature film made by Wang Film Productions and directed by Wong Tung.[18]
  • Saiyūki, also known as Monkey Magic: The Movie and Adventures of the Super Monkey, is a Japanese feature film produced by Fuji Television, released in Japan on 14 July 2007.[19] The film was made in lieu of a second season of the 2006 television series by the same name. The film was a box office success, becoming the 8th highest-grossing film of 2007 in Japan.[20]
  • Monkey King vs. Er Lang Shen is a 2007 CG Chinese animated film produced by Yuan Cheng depicting Wukong's fight against Er Lang Shen.
  • The Forbidden Kingdom is a 2008 Chinese-American fantasy-adventure martial arts film featuring Jet Li as the Monkey King.
  • Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is a 2013 Hong Kong comedy film loosely based on the novel.
  • The Monkey King is a 2014 Chinese-Hong Kong film directed by Cheang Pou-soi depicting Wukong's rebellion against Heaven.
  • In March 2011, Neil Gaiman announced plans to pen a screen adaptation of Journey to the West at the request of television producer Zhang Jizhong. Guillermo del Toro is rumoured as a possible director and James Cameron will also consult on the film.[21]
  • Monkey King: Hero Is Back is a 2015 Chinese animation film directed by first time director Tian Xiaopeng. The film is based on the story of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King and his journey to the west to fight a powerful source of evil after being freed from his seal.
  • The Monkey King 2 has been announced for a 2016 release.

Television series[edit]

Comics, manga and anime[edit]

  • Alakazam the Great, a retelling of the first part of the story based on the characters designed by Osamu Tezuka. It was one of the first anime films produced by Toei Animation.
  • Adventures from China: Monkey King, a 20 volume comic series by Wei Dong Chen.[24][better source needed]
  • Digimon has several Digimon modeled after Journey to the West characters. Gokuumon is based on Sun Wukong, Sanzomon is based on Xuanzang, Cho-Hakkaimon is based on Zhu Bajie, and Shawujinmon is based on Sha Wujing.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Parallel "Journey to the West", a 1988 anime
  • Dragon Ball was initially inspired by Journey to the West. For example, Sun Wukong becomes "Son Goku", who wields an elongating staff weapon, can fly using a magic cloud and has the ability to change into a giant ape. The supporting character Oolong was also based on Zhu Bajie and it was said that Yamcha was based on Sha Wujing. The object of sutras are replaced by the seven wish-granting "Dragon Balls".
  • Gokū no Daibōken, a 1967 Japanese anime.
  • Iyashite Agerun Saiyūki, a 2007 adult anime.[citation needed]
  • Monkey Magic is an animated retelling of the legend.
  • Monkey Typhoon is a manga and anime series based on the Journey to the West saga, following a futuristic steampunk-retelling of the legend.
  • Saint is a Hong Kong manhua created by Khoo Fuk-lung and loosely based on Journey to the West.
  • Saiyūki is a manga and anime series inspired by the legend. Follow-up series include Saiyūki Gaiden, Saiyūki Ibun and Saiyūki Reload Blast.
  • Secret Journey is an erotic doujin by Po-ju that features a travelling priest, a young boy, who encounters a monkey demoness, Son Goku, who becomes his first disciple.
  • Shinzo is an anime loosely based on Journey to the West.
  • Science Fiction Saiyuki Starzinger, a 1978-1979 Japanese anime produced by Toei Animation which features a science fiction / space opera reimagination of the story.
  • The Ape, a graphic novel by Milo Manara and Silverio Pisu published in 1986 by Catalan Communications. Previously serialised in Heavy Metal in 1983, this is a more adult adaptation of Journey to the West with a preface by Renata Pisu. ISBN 978-0-87416-019-2
  • The Flying Superboard is a Korean animated television series based on Journey to the West.[25]
  • The Journey West is a series of illustrated ebooks available for the Kindle and Nook that retell Journey to the West using rhyming verses vaguely reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. Book One: The Monkey King was released in 2011.[26]
  • The Monkey King is a dark sword and sorcery manga inspired by the tale.
  • Xi You Ji is a 1999 Chinese cartoon broadcast on CCTV. The whole series was later released on a 26-disc VCD set. The show was later dubbed into English and edited by Cinar (now known as Cookie Jar Entertainment) and was titled Journey to the West - Legends of the Monkey King. It first aired on Teletoon in Canada and was originally shown on the Cookie Jar Toons block on This TV in the United States from 2009 to 2010.[citation needed]
  • XIN is an American comic mini-series produced by Anarchy Studio.
  • The play in Love Hina episode 16 is also based on Journey to the West.
  • Episode 31 of Yo-Kai Watch has the characters kidnapped by a yokai and forced to act out the events of Journey of the West.
  • Monkey King, an animated series created in 2009 by China Central Television (CCTV). It was honored with the Golden Panda Award at the 10th Sichuan TV Festival in China.[27]



  • Shen Yun Performing Arts has featured several vignettes from Journey to the West in its dance productions, which tour internationally. These include "The Monkey King Triumphs" and "Monkey King Captures Pigsy".[29]

Books referencing the novel[edit]

  • Xiyoubu (西遊補; A Supplement to the Journey to the West) is a Ming Dynasty addendum to Journey to the West written by Dong Yue in 1640. The novel describes events which occurred between chapters 61 and 62 of Journey to the West.
  • Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel American Born Chinese uses the legend of the Monkey King as a major metaphor throughout the book. He uses the Monkey King's quest to become equal to a god to compare the feelings of the main character, a Chinese immigrant, who is struggling to fit into American society.
  • In the children's novel Michael and the Monkey King by Alan James Brown, the Monkey King's mythical journey to the west becomes a modern day quest to save the lives of a young boy's parents.[30]
  • The Monkey King's Daughter is a series of books by Todd DeBonis for young readers, about the adventures of Meilin Cheng, a 14-year-old Asian-American girl who learns she is the daughter of Sun Wukong.[31]
  • The Dark Heavens, Journey to Wudang and Celestial Battle series are fantasy novels by Kylie Chan in which Sun Wukong is a frequently occurring character.
  • In Kim Stanley Robinson's novel The Years of Rice and Salt, the first chapter (entitled "Awake to Emptiness") is presented in the style of Journey to the West.[32] The protagonist of that chapter, a Mongol warrior named Bold, is an incarnation of Monkey.
  • Mark Salzman's second book The Laughing Sutra (1991) partially re-imagines the Journey to the West in the context of late 20th century Chinese history. A young man, Hsun-ching, sets out to recover a lost sutra and gains a strange-looking companion, ″the colonel″, who claims extremely long life and carries a metal staff. Stories of the Monkey King and Chinese heroes are referenced throughout.



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  2. ^ "Opičák Sun" (in Czech). Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Amazing Adventures of the Marvelous Monkey King by Elizabeth Wong". Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Production History". Children's Theatre Company. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Monkey King Tickets and Information". Theater Mania. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
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  7. ^ "The Cave of the Silken Web (1927)". A Journal of Chinese Film History. The Chinese Mirror. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "The Cave of the Silken Web II (1930)". A Journal of Chinese Film History. The Chinese Mirror. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
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  18. ^ "Fire Ball (2005)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
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  25. ^ Asian Bureau (16 February 2010). "Spotlight on Korea Production Profile: The Flying Superboard". Animation World Network. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
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