Minekura Kazuya's Saiyuuki
First things first. Saiyuuki is the Japanese name for a classic Chinese novel, Xi You Ji, which has been translated into English as 'The Journey to the West' or 'Monkey.' It's about a pious and na´ve monk, Tripitaka (Sanzou in Japanese) who's ordered by the Bodhisattva Kwannon (Kanzeon Bousatsu) to make a trip to India to fetch certain sacred sutras. The monk is accompanied and protected by the wily Monkey (Son Gokuu) whom Tripitaka had freed from the mountain where he'd been imprisoned as punishment for running amuck in Heaven. Tripitaka tricks Monkey into wearing a diadem which gives him terrible headaches when a certain sutra is recited, and which serves to keep the overweeningly self-confident Monkey under some kind of control. He has two other followers, Pigsy (Cho Hakkai) a fat and gluttonous pig, and Sandy (Sa Gojou), once the murderous inhabitant of a stream who has seen the light. Tripitaka rides a white horse who is actually a white dragon whose life he also saved at some point in the past. The monk is regularly attacked by demons, who believe that eating the flesh of a pure monk is a guarantee of immortality, and who are aching to get their kitchen implements on Tripitaka.
Minekura Kazuya's version of this adventurous and satiric Chinese work is.... adventurous and satiric, yes, but boy have the original protagonists been altered out of all recognition. As an indication of which, the title is written with a different kanji for 'sai.' The original one means 'west.' Minekura uses the one meaning 'to the extreme'. And now the 'Journey to Extremes' has been turned into an anime, Gensou Maden Saiyuuki (Fantasy Fairytale Saiyuuki), currently in its second season. Herewith an introduction to the present Japanese incarnations of some very traditional Chinese characters.
Ordering Info for the Manga
Saiyuuki by MINEKURA Kazuya, published in GFC (G-Fantasy comics) by Enix
The youkai and the celestials