Thursday, 21 April 2011

Monkey Challenge: The Most Monstrous Monster

(It's Man, isn't it?)

This doesn't have the most auspicious of beginnings - within the first 10 minutes of the episode Monkey has been sent away by Tripitaka (see my review of Monkey Meets the Demon Digger for my thoughts on this trope, and that was only last episode!) for killing a Unicorn-demon disguised as a human.

Fortunately this episode shows a definite improvement as the story goes on. Monkey meets his match in the form of King Unicorn, who is the equal of Monkey in a fight and who has a magic ring that he uses to counter Monkey's magic and steal the Wishing-Staff.

"We unicorns could take over the whole Earth. It's only because we're mythical and nice that we haven't." A great line of dialogue from King Unicorn there. Also "My ring could swallow the world, heh heh... and a sun or two."

King Unicorn is in love with a human woman, and he spoils both her and her son (from a previous marriage) by giving them anything they ask for - the boy has demanded, and got, every toy in the world, and when he screamed for one more the king promised to get Monkey's Wishing-Staff for the "brat."

There are a number of transformations in this episode. King Unicorn switches between his normal appearance and a more human-seeming one to be with his prospective family. To change between them he spins round while wiggling his hands and sticking out his tongue:

The woman makes King Unicorn the condition that they must be married by a human priest, so the king tries to persuade Tripitaka to do it, and when he refuses the king bribes Pigsy with a dukedom if he will persuade his master.
Pigsy has other things on his mind - having taken a more human-seeming form himself, he is flirting with the bride-to-be.

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at getting the Wishing-Staff back, Monkey hits on the idea of disguising himself and Sandy as the boy and his mother. Sandy, however, is no expert at the 72 magical transformations, and the first attempt at making him look like the woman does not go entirely according to plan:

But once successfully disguised, the plan succeeds - King Unicorn gives into the boy's (i.e. Monkey's) demand to be given the magic ring as a toy, and once he has that Monkey quickly gets his Staff back as well.

Monkey decides that it is the greed of the woman that is the cause of everything here, and so he resolves to kill her to free King Unicorn from her influence. But the king admits it is his fault for giving in and spoiling her and offers to die in her place. This self-sacrifice convinces Tripitaka their love is good and genuine underneath it all so he agrees to marry them.

Despite the unpromising start to the episode (the sending away of Monkey by Tripitaka is all but forgotten by the time Monkey loses his Staff), this is a good story and shows well-developed supporting characters, an opponent who is a match for Monkey while not being capital-E-evil, and Monkey using ingenious tricks - not all of which work.

And the scene with Sandy transforming into a woman is hilarious.

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