First, a comparison between “Hsi Yu Ki” and “Saiyuki”
“Hsi Yu Ki” is one of the legendary Chinese novels, so famous that any Japanese person inevitably knows it’s “the story of the Sanzo Ikkou’s journey to India.” It is a novel written in China’s Ming Dynasty (the latter half of the 16th century); it uses as a model the actual high-ranking monk Hsuan Tsang [玄奘 , Japanese: Genjo], who set out on a journey to India to reclaim the sutras; it is an exciting, fantastical adventure book (the author of which has not been precisely established) based on the “Records of Lands to the West of the Great Tang” [大唐西域記] and “Legends of the Monk Tripitika of the Great Tang’s Favored Temple” [大唐恩寺三蔵法師伝], which were records based on Hsuan Tsang’s dictations. In other words, “Hsi Yu Ki” itself is already a parody.
When I thought of drawing a manga parody of “Hsi Yu Ki”, I believed that the pivotal point would be how to dish up that famous Sanzo Ikkou. Immediately I thought of making at least the Sanzo Ikkou’s superficial characterizations the exact opposite of the originals:
The despairing, feminine Priest Sanzo became a gun-toting, sharp-eyed, foul-mouthed lawless man. The quick-thinking, leader-type Son Goku became an empty-headed junior character. The always cool-headed, logical, big-headed Sha Gojyo became an irresponsible, modern, easy-going guy. The sly, ruled-by-his-desires Cho Hakkai became a refreshing, polite young man.
…… That’s the feeling I was going for. However, I wanted their inner characters to stink of the original “Hsi Yu Ki” Sanzo Ikkou:
Sanzo’s stubbornness, and the unexpectedly childish selfishness that his companions look out for. Goku’s in-born strength, and the way he pulls in everyone around him with his straightforwardness. Gojyo’s surprising care of others, and how he’s actually the most “normal” of them all. Hakkai’s actual snobbishness, and how, starved for affection, he suffered serious trauma at the hands of a woman (laughs).
I think these inner portions that you get a glimpse of do somehow match up with the originals.
Among the letters from readers that I’ve received, there were many that expressed the sentiment “I’m not very familiar with Hsi Yu Ki, so I don’t know how much compares to the original, and how much is Minekura-san’s parody.” I’d like to give a brief description here of each character within the original “Hsi Yu Ki”, combined with a comparison with the “Saiyuki” characters.
☆ As everyone knows, “Hsi Yu Ki”’s Genjo Sanzo was modeled after an actual monk. Due to noble reasons, “Hsi Yu Ki”’s Priest Sanzo was sent down the river by his parents soon after his birth, and was named Kouryuu and raised by Kinzan Temple’s Priest Houmyou [法明, sic]. Thanks to setting out on his journey to India to retrieve the sutras, he meets up with various disasters. However, he is a naïve worrier who can’t do much more than recite sutras, and because he is quickly deceived by youkai and pushed over by female youkai, he’s a baggage-type existence who constantly meddles with Goku and the others (laughs). And even though he’s tolerant of Hakkai beyond all expectations (one could say that Cho Hakkai embodies human snobbishness), he doesn’t really trust what Goku says, and excommunicates Goku because of Sanzo’s own misunderstandings. Even so, Goku, who admirably attempts to protect Sanzo, constantly thinks of his master, or, how else would you put it…… in Nakajima Atsushi’s “Gojyo’s Heresy” (Note 1), it’s disposed of as, in Gojyo’s words, “One can see homosexual tendencies in Elder Brother (Goku) toward our Master (Sanzo).”
☆ “Saiyuki”’s Sanzo follows, for the most part, the original settings: I didn’t change the parts about him being sent down the river, named Kouryuu, and raised at Kinzan Temple, or the part where he’s a distinguished monk traveling West with Goku and the others as attendants, but the rest is completely different, isn’t it (laughs). I’m often asked this, but those “Founding Scriptures of Heaven and Earth” things don’t exist in the original, and having the “Sanzo Priests” be the guardians of those scriptures is a Saiyuki Original.
☆ In the first place, in the original “Hsi Yu Ki”, “Sanzo” is the name of the sutras, and Genjo was gifted with the name “Sanzo Priest” by the Emperor because the monk set out for India to retrieve the sutras. Originally, the “Sanzo” [Sanskrit: Tripitaka] of Buddhism referred to the “Sutra (Buddha’s teachings), Vinaya (Buddhist laws), and Abhidharma (religious philosophy)” and it became custom to call the high priests who combined these scriptures, “Sanzo”. Incidentally, Sanzo’s “zo” [ 蔵 ] in Sanskrit is pitaka, and means “receptacle” or “basket”.
☆ The belief spoken of by the youkai in “Saiyuki” that “One can achieve eternal youth and beauty if one devours a Sanzo Priest” was one pulled from the original story. It’s because of this rumor that male youkai continually attempted to eat the original Sanzo Priest, and female youkai repeatedly threatened his chastity with a physical noose.
In the original too, Sanzo has “piled on religious austerities while remaining a virgin, and never spilled his pure essence”. That is to say, the youkai seem to believe that they have that much to gain from the Priest Sanzo’s physical body and sperm, but it’s speculated that that is just a groundless rumor with no actual proof.
☆ Incidentally, in “Saiyuki” when Sanzo lets loose the Makai Tenjyo, the “on ma ni hatsu mei un” (Note 2) spell he intones after the Sanskrit Heart Sutra was quoted from the paper charm spell that was used in the original to seal Goku away (Goku was released when Sanzo tore away those six golden characters).
Note 1: “Gojyo’s Heresy” [悟浄異端] A literary work by Nakajima Atsushi [中島敦]. It seems that he wrote this short chapter about Gojyo’s comrades as told from Gojyo’s point of view because Hsi Yu Ki’s Gojyo resembled Nakajima Atsushi in personality. However, although he intended to be a large part of his work “My Hsi Yu Ki” [わが西遊記], it was never completed following Nakajima Atsushi’s death.
Note 2: “On ma ni hatsu mei un” Sanskrit A transliteration of “Om mani padme hum”. It means “Holy nun jewel that rubs the Lotus Sutra” in Lamaism [a form of Tibetan Buddhism]. It is a spell asking the Rengeshu Bodhisattva [Kanzeon Bosatsu] to deliver the speaker to a peaceful death and paradise. Written in Chinese characters, it’s “唵嘛呢叭咪吽”
☆ “Hsi Yu Ki”’s Son Goku is a monkey born of an immortal stone at the summit of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit [Mt. Kaka], on the Eastern continent Purvavideha. He lived in the Water Curtain Cave as the leader of the mountain monkeys (his name at that time was “Beautiful Monkey King”). He became the disciple of an immortal and received the religious name, “Son Goku”, and mastered extraordinary magics. He got cocky and declared himself “Seiten Taisei (Saint of equal position to Heaven)”.
Heaven, angered by Goku’s blatant rampaging, launched an attack against him, but Goku fought back and Heaven reluctantly admitted Goku in. However, the job given him in Heaven was “Pi ma wen”, groom to the horses of the Heavenly royals. Pissed off by this treatment, Goku got into a huge brawl with Heaven’s army, and when it proved that no one could match him, Goku was forced to enter a wager with the Buddha Shakyamuni. “Try to escape me,” the Buddha said. “Is that all?” Goku replied, full of confidence, and took off across the skies. To celebrate reaching a mountain he thought far enough away to be safe, he had a short pee, but when he turned around Shakyamuni was at his back…… What he thought was a mountain was Shakyamuni’s fingertip, and in the end Goku had done nothing more than fly around atop the Buddha’s palm. So trapped, Goku was imprisoned in the Mountain of the Five Elements [Mt. Gogyo] (in other words, the Buddha’s five fingers became a tall mountain), and lived there for 500 years until Sanzo rescued him.
☆ “Saiyuki”’s Goku is, well, I borrowed from Hsi Yu Ki only Goku’s origins, the fact that “he once lived in Heaven”, the fact that he committed treason against Heaven and was hunted, and the fact that he was rescued by Sanzo from his 500-year-long imprisonment in the Mountain of the Five Elements. So, the story of what happened in Heaven, the Saiyuki Gaiden episodes, are practically original.
☆ The original Goku’s diadem is a “training implement” that squeezes tight around Goku’s head at Sanzo’s sutra recitation. I didn’t want to create that difference in position between Saiyuki’s Goku and Sanzo, so I didn’t use that setting (instead I gave Sanzo a paper fan, laughs).
☆ There is also a “He won’t be burned to death” scene in the original, and Goku’s clear golden eyes are due to being placed in the fire. Hsi Yu Ki’s Goku’s golden eyes were not something he was born with.
☆ The original’s Goku uses his famous Nyoi-bo and Kintou-un [cloud], as well as various other magics, but my Goku focuses only on his strength. Well, I wonder about that in the future.
☆ A youkai living in the River of Flowing Sand. He used to live in Heaven (see the section on General Kenren), but falling to the Lower World he lost to his hunger and devoured travelers passing by the river bank. Hanging from his neck is a tasteless necklace made of the skulls of nine sutra-seeking monks Gojyo ate (this skull necklace can somehow also become a boat in which to cross rivers……).
He attacks Sanzo and the others passing by and goes one round with Goku and Hakkai, but according to Kannon’s guidance he becomes Sanzo’s disciple and joins the Ikkou.
☆ In Japan, anyone would think “kappa” when thinking of Sha Gojyo, but in the original “Hsi Yu Ki” he looks so indescribably creepy that Goku, at their first meeting, ends up asking “What kind of youkai are you?” The visual is close to that of an elderly monk, so he’s been called “Sha Monk” [or Sandy Monk], or, to put it vulgarly, “Disgraced Samurai Head”. That, along with the fact that he lived in a river, turned him into a kappa in Japan. So, my Gojyo being known by the nickname “Pervy Kappa” is a joke referencing this, and does not mean that Gojyo is actually a kappa, sorry. While the other members are clearly animals like “monkey” or “boar”, Sha Gojyo was, in the original, “looking like neither man nor youkai”, and that is where “Saiyuki”’s Gojyo being “a human/youkai half-breed” was born from. Of course, him being a “taboo child” is a Saiyuki Original, but not to lose out the original Sha Gojyo is so colorful that, on top of having naturally blue skin, he is described as having orange eyes (laughs).
☆ The original Gojyo’s attack power is inferior compared to Goku’s or Hakkai’s; if anything he protects Sanzo, acting as the monk’s defense, and usually he is the one who leads Sanzo’s horse by the bit. In the case of Saiyuki, I thought to switch the superficial characteristics of the original’s Cho Hakkai and Sha Gojyo, so defense and taking the horse’s bit…… in other words driving Jeep became Hakkai’s jobs. Intercepting attacks is also the main use of the original’s Gojyo’s shakujo and of course, it does not have a chain that extends and flies (laughs).
☆ In the original, his religious name is Gonou (Hakkai is his nickname). He was exiled from Heaven (see the section on Field Marshal Tenpou), but when he fled to the Lower World he mistakenly dove into the stomach of a boar. He became a boar demon (in recent years this has been translated as pig, but it is actually a boar. There were no pigs in ancient China) because he was born of a boar. He decides to become Sanzo’s disciple at the passing Kannon’s recommendation, but when Sanzo arrives Hakkai has already taken a woman and is indulging in lewd activities. After taking some blows from Goku, Hakkai joins the journey.
☆ Although the original “Hsi Yu Ki”’s Hakkai fights with a nine-pronged muck-rake with high attack power, Saiyuki’s Hakkai and Gojyo switch their attack-types and pervy power (laughs), so I ventured to have Hakkai hold no weapon.
☆ In Japan, “Cho Hakkai” is more popular than “Cho Gonou” (Note 3). Incidentally, “Hakkai” comes from the phrase “separated from the five viands and three foods”. In Buddhism, it is forbidden to eat the five viands, “garlic (two types), onions, green onions, and Chinese chives”, and the three foods, “the geese of the sky, the dogs of the earth, and the fish of the water”. The original Cho Gonou is a character obsessed with eating, so Sanzo gave him the nickname “Hakkai” as a warning to avoid those eight forbidden foods. Because “Saiyuki”’s Hakkai is a non-Buddhist, I employed a contrary tactic and had the Three Aspects give Hakkai a name based on the eight “obstacles to perfection”, the origins of the Catholic “Seven Deadly Sins”. Incidentally, the obstacles to perfection are “pride, envy, gluttony, lust, sloth, greed, wrath, and vanity”, but it’s said that “pride” and “vanity” were later combined, forming the “Seven Deadly Sins”, the origins of all other sins.
☆ The original Cho Hakkai confessed to biting to death the female boar who birthed him, beating to death all her fellow boars, and living alone on the mountain. I compared “Saiyuki”’s Hakkai with the original on that point, and made him a “mass murderer”.
☆ I wrote this in Sanzo’s section as well, but for some reason Sanzo easily accepts what Hakkai says, even though Sanzo is a stubborn man who won’t lend an ear to what Goku or Gojyo says. Hsi Yu Ki’s Priest Sanzo is overly tolerant of Hakkai, but I get the feeling that my Hakkai is becoming “an opponent Sanzo can’t stand up to” in the complete opposite sense (laughs).
Note 3: “About religious names” Sanzo’s three followers all have various names they go by.
“Son Goku” is the religious name given to Goku by the Subodhi Immortal who trained him in Buddhist ways. On top of that, the nickname Sanzo gave him is “Pilgrim Son”, and the name the youkai use to insult him is the title of his position in the Heavenly Palace, “Pi ma wen”.
The religious name “Cho Gonou” is one given by Kannon, and the nickname given by Sanzo is “Hakkai”. Incidentally, the name Hakkai went by himself in the past is “Cho Gouryou” (猪 剛鬣) [Boar Strong Mane].
The religious name “Sha Gojyo” too is one given by Kannon, and the nickname given by Sanzo is “Sha Monk”.
☆ In the original he’s a “dragon horse”. Following Kannon’s guidance, the dragon that attacked the Sanzo Ikkou in the middle of their journey joined up with the Ikkou, changed into a white horse, and journeys with Sanzo riding on his back (since this guy devoured the horse Sanzo had been riding in the first place). His true form is the Dragon King of the Western Ocean’s third son. Kannon saved him from his death sentence for causing a fire in the Dragon Palace and burning a treasured jewel, and he descended to the Lower World.
☆ In “Saiyuki”, I decided from the beginning to “make him a Jeep, not a horse”, so I went with the setting “his original form is a white dragon”. I thought it’d be useful because in places a Jeep can’t go, he can change into his dragon form and fly after the guys on his own (laughs). In the “Saiyuki” novels it’s made clear that Jeep too is “a heretical creature born of the synthesis of magic and science”, but now that I think about it, it hasn’t come up in the manga yet…… In the anime version of “Saiyuki”, Hakuryu was given the attack power to spit fire, but it doesn’t look like the manga’s Jeep has that ability at this point. The original dragon horse helps out Goku and the others by turning into a beautiful woman, and marking with golden poo and the like.
☆ In the original, too, the one who advised Priest Genjo Sanzo to journey to retrieve the scriptures and the one who ordered Goku and the rest to become Sanzo’s disciples was this bodhisattva. If anything troubling happens to the Sanzo Ikkou, the original Kannon would appear on the spot and state how they were to proceed, but because she’s constantly showing up I could only think that she’s a character who might not want to always appear (laughs). She always has an attendant called Ascetic Engan with her. Because she’s a symbol of compassion and mercy, she even extends salvation to the youkai who have been taught a lesson by Goku, and carries them to Heaven with her; however, her line at those times is “I have a use for this one, too”, and I don’t know about that (laughs).
☆ I’ve looked at numerous works that inspect “Hsi Yu Ki”, and the opinion that Kannon is purposefully sending the Sanzo Ikkou trials, and that Heaven is amusing themselves by observing the trials is the most abundant. “Saiyuki”’s Kanzeon Bosatsu is a character I made who displays this image on all faces with all her might. Did I exaggerate it too much?
☆ The bodhisattva “Kannon-sama” is famous in Japan as well as in China, and both the “Heart Sutra” synonymous with Priest Sanzo and the “Kannon Sutra” are Kanzeon Bosatsu’s scriptures. Her name in India where she was born is “Avalokiteshvara”. When translated, this becomes the “Universal Feeling” [maybe? 観自在] which represents Kanzeon Bosatsu.
☆ The “Jiroushinkun” of the original is, of course, not Kannon’s lackey. He is one of the gods famous even in China, and according to one theory he is a beautiful young god who excels in both literary and martial arts. In the original “Hsi Yu Ki”, he has enough power that he manages to catch the violent Son Goku, who stumped even Prince Natha. It seems Jiroushinkun always has his pet dog by his side.
☆ As for that woeful old man “Jiroushin” he’s drawn as in Saiyuki, I would like you to think of him as an original character who is a mix between this “Jiroushinkun” and the “Ascetic Engan” who in the original Hsi Yu Ki is always seen at Kanzeon Bosatsu’s side. As for why I chose this setting, Kannon’s disciple “Ascetic Engan” is “Heavenly King Takutou Li”, in other words he is the son of Saiyuki’s Li Touten, and that would make him Brothers with Prince Natha. This would be inconsistent within my Saiyuki, so I placed not “Ascetic Engan” at Kannon’s side, but that type of long-suffering old guy.
☆ Incidentally, “Jiroushinkun” is said to be one and the same as “Youki” who appears in Chinese legend, and because he is said to have a “third eye” on his forehead, I put that kind of pattern on my Jiroushin’s forehead…… Even though it’s useless (laughs).
☆ These are completely original characters who don’t appear in the original “Hsi Yu Ki”. There may be many who feel the name is out of place, but I brought in these gods with that type of name to symbolize the fact that the Shangri-la world, and thus the “Saiyuki manga” itself, is a mishmash of elements not limited to one religious theme. It’s a name meaning “mix up Buddhism and Shinto”, or in other words “cats and ladles” [猫も杓子も “Any Tom, Dick, or Harry”]. Although it’s a popular belief that the phrase “cats and ladles” itself refers to Shinto and Buddhism……
☆ He is perhaps the most famous great youkai enemy within “Hsi Yu Ki”. But it seems that there are many who are unaware of the fact that, in the original “Hsi Yu Ki”, before Goku went to Heaven the two exchanged a vow of brotherhood. Upon ransacking Heaven and returning to the Lower World, Goku himself declared “From today forth I will be known as the Great Sage Equal to Heaven!”, and the six youkai who were with him at the time also declared, “Then, I will be…” and one after another began to call themselves by great names celebrating their existences. The one who called himself the “Great Sage Below Heaven” [Heiten Taisei 平天大聖] was Gyuumaoh. Gyuumaoh was the eldest brother among the seven sworn brothers. He called Goku “Smart Little Brother” and admitted inferiority to him.
☆ The reason I placed Gyuumaoh as a key player on the enemy side in “Saiyuki” was because he is the most famous youkai, and as a bonus Kougaiji and the other characters went along with him. In Saiyuki, he’s bound by cords and tubes and shows no sign of movement, but of course in the original he was alive and kicking, and also frequently went to visit his lover (Gyokumen Koushu).
☆ She is Gyuumaoh’s lover in the original “Hsi Yu Ki” as well. Her true form is a tanuki youkai. However, the scenes she appears in in the original are very short ones. Her role is to fan the jealous flames of Gyuumaoh’s legal wife Rasetsunyo, and is quickly beaten to death by Goku.
☆ In “Saiyuki” I dared to seal away Rasetsunyo and Gyuumaoh, and make Gyokumen Koushu the top of the enemy side. Because she was in the best position to express the “self-centered desires” often discussed in Saiyuki, and because I had decided to draw the Sanzo Ikkou side and the Gyuumaoh side as parallels, she fell into this sort of setting. Saiyuki is basically a guys-only story, so I thought to station a mother-type figure on both sides (Kannon on the Sanzo Ikkou’s side, Gyokumen Koushu on Kougaiji’s side)…… that’s what I wanted, but in the end I made Kannon have both genitalia. There’s no point.
☆ He is positioned as Gyuumaoh’s son in “Hsi Yu Ki” as well……. So saying, in reality he’s still a baby youkai (“Kougaiji” is a childhood name, and if you read the characters one by one it means Red Boar Child. His pseudonym is “Seiei Taioh” [Great King Baby Sage 聖嬰大王]). He is a youkai who appears before the Sanzo Ikkou in the midst of their journey, and even before Gyuumaoh does he fights the Sanzo Ikkou with a pin. According to the original description, he is “a child with bright red skin; wears an apron like Kintaro*; commands crimson fog; spits fire from his eyes, nose, mouth and ears; flies about on a crimson cloud” and the like…… He’s nothing if not a youkai. He makes a huge impact.
☆ In the original “Hsi Yu Ki”, many of Gyuumaoh’s relatives appear. After the Sanzo Ikkou defeats Kougaiji, of course Gyuumaoh and Rasetsunyo have to make an appearance, and it turns into a plot where even an uncle youkai bears the Ikkou a grudge and attacks.
☆ The reason I drew Kougaiji in that manner in “Saiyuki” was because I wanted to make a rival-type entity who would oppose the Sanzo Ikkou. Incidentally, in the “Hsi Yu Ki” original, after being defeated by the Sanzo Ikkou, Kougaiji becomes a godly apprentice called “Zenzai Douji” [Good Fortune Child 善財童子] by the mercy of Kanzeon Bosatsu. There is a description of Kannon, on that occasion, placing five gold rings around Kougaiji’s wrists, ankles, and neck, so for “Saiyuki”’s Kougaiji’s costume design, I placed five gold rings around his wrists and neck. His “serious and good-natured person” image, in contrast to the Sanzo Ikkou, is taken from the feeling of the image he had after becoming “Zenzai Douji”
☆ In the original “Hsi Yu Ki” he is a bull youkai character called “Great King Dokugakuji” who attacks the Sanzo Ikkou mid-journey. Of course here he has no relation to Kougaiji whatsoever. His actual true form is a blue bull that ran away from Heaven and changed into a youkai. There are many of these youkai characters appearing in Hsi Yu Ki who “are ____ that ran away from Heaven”. There isn’t really an explanation concerning this, but those who fall from Heaven to the Lower World generally become youkai, like Gojyo and Hakkai. This may be an expression coming from religious opinion, but it can be interpreted as the Heavenly world sending hardships to the Sanzo Ikkou…… in other words, sending them assassins one after another to harass them. This turns into a plot wherein this Great King Dokugakuji is extremely strong and, unable to stand up to him Son Goku and the others go so far as to call in support troops to defeat him.
☆ “Saiyuki”’s Dokugakuji has absolutely no link to the original, and it really feels like I only brought over the name (sweatdrop). He is supposed to stand as Kougaiji’s big brother figure (even though he’s subordinate……), and since in the original “Hsi Yu Ki” he’s a difficult enemy character for Goku and the others, I decided to use him. That’s all. I’m sorry.
☆ To be honest she is a completely original character, and doesn’t have a model in “Hsi Yu Ki”. In the beginning stages of “Saiyuki”, Lirin was the only one not in the Kougaiji family. I made her Kougaiji’s little sister because I wanted to make the Sanzo Ikkou and the Kougaiji Ikkou be four vs. four, and I wanted at least one Lolita character to appear and lighten the mood, and I thought I needed a character to show off Kougaiji’s character. Thanks to this girl, Kougaiji’s labeled with a sister complex, on top of his mother complex…… (laughs).
☆ Here, too, is a completely original character. I thought “There’s way too little femininity, what should I do?”, and added her to Kougaiji’s side. I planned on making her the white rabbit female youkai who appears in the original “Hsi Yu Ki” (she manipulates immortal medicines), but she ended up being someone different.
☆ He is “Priest Houmyou” [法明 sic.] in the original “Hsi Yu Ki”. He’s the Kinzan temple priest who raised Sanzo (Kouryuu). In the original he isn’t a Sanzo Priest, and sinc he isn’t a particularly important character, there aren’t many episodes with him in them. Another name for him is “Elder Houmyou”. He is the one who gave Kouryuu the religious name “Genjo” when Kouryuu was 18, and bid him become a traveling monk and search for his parents.
☆ Just by being the one who raised that Genjo Sanzo in “Saiyuki”, he necessarily became a sneaky, sly, important character (laughs). Incidentally, as for why I changed his name from Houmyou to Koumyou, in “Saiyuki” he is a Sanzo priest, and if I left is at Houmyou he would end up with the name Houmyou Sanzo Houshi” [Priest Houmyou Sanzo 法明三蔵法師], which has “Hou” [法] too many times; and one of “Saiyuki”’s keywords is “light” [光 hikari/kou], so I thought to make him the illustrative character of that word and made hi “Koumyou” [光明 Light Clear].
☆ He is one of “Saiyuki”’s completely original characters (that’s obvious). However, his name comes from the quickly glimpsed image of “Usou Zenji” [烏巣禅師 Crow’s Nest Zen Priest], who appears in “Hsi Yu Ki”.
☆ As for the original’s Usou Zenji, he’s an immortal (?) who gives the Heart Sutra to Genjo Sanzo during his journey. He’s a strange man who lives in a nest at the top of a tree. At that time, Usou Zenji was asked by Sanzo and the rest the distance to the West and, laughing, he made the statement, “Going by road isn’t difficult……” that could have been taken as a lesson or a prophesy (he even hinted that they would later meet Gojyo). But he angered Goku with his teasing expression, and quickly disappeared. Because he is the god who conveyed the “Heart Sutra” synonymous with Priest Sanzo, naturally he should be an important character (in the end “Hsi Yu Ki” is a tale that strongly promotes the belief from the Heart Sutra that “All is vanity”. Goku’s religious name does as well), but in the original this is his one and only appearance.
☆ He appears as a great centipede youkai in “Hsi Yu Ki” as well. However, he is described as having “one thousand eyes in his armpit”, something I too read and whispered, “That’s so unbelievable”. He lets out as strong light from those eyes and does damage to his enemies.
☆ “Saiyuki”’s Chin Yisou is a complete original character, and I borrowed only the name “Hyakugan Maoh” from the original just because he was a centipede youkai. Of course in the original he has absolutely no causal relationship with Hakkai, but I decided to draw his appearance like that because there was a description of him as “a youkai looking like a Dao Master”.
Kinkaku / Ginkaku
☆ “Great King Kinkaku” and “Great King Ginkaku” are probably the second most famous enemy youkai in “Hsi Yu Ki” after Gyuumaoh. In the original, they used to be children who guarded a gold furnace and a silver furnace in Heaven, but they stole Heaven’s five treasures, descended to the lower world, and became youkai. Among the treasures, a gourd that sucks in those who reply is famous. Kinkaku and Ginkaku, who sucked Goku and the others into the gourd and captured Sanzo, attempt to feed Sanzo’s flesh to the youkai woman who raised them (her real form is a nine tailed fox).
☆ I drew them as children in “Saiyuki” because of the image of them as children guarding furnaces in Heaven. I used the gourd, after a fashion, but I didn’t utilize the others. If you go by the original, the nine tailed fox would be Kami-sama?
☆ She is the female youkai who is Gyuumaoh’s wife and Kougaiji’s mother, and is also called Tessen Koushu [鉄扇公主 Princess Iron Fan]. She is famous for having a “Bashou Fan” [芭蕉扇 plantain fan] that can put out flames with one sweep, and cause fain to fall.
☆ In “Saiyuki” she has been turned to stone and at this point her previous form has not appeared even once, but looking at Kougaiji’s attitude she is most likely a kind, refined mother.
Aside from these, youkai like the female spider youkai who appeared in “Saiyuki” also appear in the original, but basically their stories and lines are Saiyuki originals.
Second: Comparison between “Hsi Yu Ki” and “Saiyuki Gaiden”
The original “Hsi Yu Ki” story has a two-part structure. The first half is the story from Goku’s birth scene until Goku is imprisoned in the Mountain of the Five Elements by Shakyamuni. The latter half is the story of Goku becoming Sanzo’s disciple and going with his companions to India on a scripture-seeking journey.
“Saiyuki Gaiden” is something that attempts to draw this type of first half, but rather obviously the entire story and the settings have become Minekura Originals.
As for why, first of all in the original “Hsi Yu Ki”, Sanzo’s previous incarnation “Konzen Douji”, and Gojyo and Hakkai’s previous incarnations “General Kenren” and “Field Marshal Tenpou” didn’t meet Son Goku in Heaven. In the original, there are scenes in which Gojyo and Hakkai say “When I was in Heaven~” and talk about their previous lives, but truly that is all.
Actually, there isn’t one scene in the story where their previous incarnations appear, and when he was in Heaven Goku rampaged all on his own.
“Saiyuki Gaiden” is something that uses the original as a basis and supposes “What if Goku did meet Sanzo and the others in Heaven?” It’s even more of a parody than the main story.
☆ He is Genjo Sanzo’s previous incarnation, and second disciple to the Buddha Shaka Nyorai. It seems he made light of the Buddha’s teachings and was forced to reincarnate. He is known as ”Konzen Douji” [金蝉童子 Golden Cicada Child], or “Elder Konzen”. Genjo Sanzo himself knows nothing of this previous life, nor does he seem to remember it, but for some reason the youkai who attack Sanzo know that “that Zen monk is the reincarnation of Elder Konzen”.
☆ I read somewhere that Shaka Nyorai’s second disciple is Kanzeon Bosatsu’s nephew, and made “Saiyuki Gaiden”’s Konzen into Kannon’s assistant. It isn’t written in the original what form Konzen’s violation of the Buddha’s teachings took.
☆ He is Gojyo’s previous incarnation in “Hsi Yu Ki” as well. Only his name sounds cool; his job is putting up and taking down one of Heaven’s shop curtains [noren 暖簾] (that’s why ‘Kenren’ [捲簾] is written as ‘roll curtain’ [noren wo makuru 暖簾を捲る]……) However, he is a slightly pathetic character who was sent down to the lower world for the sin of breaking a precious glass. He then became the youkai “Sha Gojyo”. So, he is more Gojyo’s “previous form”, rather than Gojyo’s previous incarnation. He even has all his memories.
☆ “Saiyuki Gaiden”’s Ken-niichan has absolutely no relation to the original anymore. I don’t think he was called a military man in the original either…… It was just a name.
Field Marshal Tenpou
☆ In the original, like Kenren is for Gojyo, he is Hakkai’s previous incarnation. He enjoyed living in Heaven’s river as Field Marshal Tenpou but, drunk on sake, he laid hands upon the moon spirit (a beauty and someone else’s wife), and was sent down to the lower world. It seems he was in the army’s top ranks, after a fashion, and knew of Goku’s rampaging in Heaven. Later, when he met Goku in the lower world as Cho Hakkai, there is a scene wherein he complains “Do you know how much of a pain it was for us when you rampaged in the Heavenly Palace?” It is made clear that Field Marshal Tenpou was in the punitive squad Heaven sent against Goku.
☆ Since in “Saiyuki” Hakkai and Gojyo’s natures are switched, in “Saiyuki Gaiden” as well, laying hands on someone else’s wife becomes Kenren’s job (laughs). Incidentally, Tenpou and Kenren being the subordinates of the Dragon King of the Western Seas is also random.
☆ He is a famous god who inevitably appears no only in “Hsi Yu Ki”, but in other Chinese classics as well. This isn’t explicitly stated in “Hsi Yu Ki”, but when he was born he was nothing more than a lump of flesh. His father, disgusted by how this lump flew and bounced, sliced it open with this sword, and the one reborn from within it was this Prince Nataku. His father, Li Tenou, attempted to kill Nataku because he supposed Nataku’s birth to be similar to Goku’s, and because the child Nataku was another violent rioter of the same disposition as Goku. Angered by this, Nataku split his body pen with a blade, giving himself a grave wound. After that, a doctor who took pity upon him revived Nataku’s body by a lotus flower by following immortal magics. Due to this, Nataku was reborn as a true war god, and under his father he took on the responsibility of fighting for Heaven’s sake.
☆ There are numerous manga and novels that deal with this “Prince Nataku”, and it seems that he is often written as a doll with a soul transferred into it.”
☆ In the original “Hsi Yu Ki”, Goku fought with Nataku too during his huge rampaging scene in heaven. However, even after Goku has begun his journey with the Sanzo Ikkou there are episodes wherein Nataku comes to support Goku, and it seems that in China Goku and Nataku get along together as two great heroes. Because of this, I made that setting flow from “Gaiden” to “Saiyuki”. I try to set up a small link to the original with things like Nataku’s self injury. Even though the basics are different.
☆ He is Heavenly King Takutou Li in the original. He is a practicing Taoist god. He was given the nickname “Takutou” [托塔 tower carrier] because he carries a tower on his palm, but actually his name is Li Tenou [李天王 Heavenly King Plum]. Punning off of this, he becomes a character named Li Touten [李塔天 Plum Tower Heaven] in “Saiyuki Gaiden”. He is Prince Nataku’s father in the original as well, and although in “Saiyuki Gaiden” he’s a bad guy who uses his son, in the original he is a serious, jealous Heavenly commander. He is also Bishamonten, god of war and warriors, in Buddhism.
Dragon King of the Western Seas, Goujun
☆ In the original “Hsi Yu Ki”, he is one of the four Dragon King brothers. These Dragon King brothers have been horribly terrorized by Goku from long ago (the reason seems to be that in the original, according to the five elements theory, Goku is “metal” and “fire”, Hakkai is “wood” and “water”, and Gojyo is “earth”, and dragons are weak against metal. So, the dragon species is continually persecuted by Goku……). In the end, in order to drive Goku, who began to babbly “I want some kind of weapon~”, from the crystal palace, the Dragon Kings ended up giving Goku an iron staff so heavy that even they couldn’t lift it. That rod is the Compliant Gold Hooped Staff [如意金箍棒 Nyoi Kintaga Bou], aka Nyoi Bou.
☆ In “Saiyuki” this Goujun is Jeep’s previous incarnation, but in the original “Hsi Yu Ki” the “dragon horse” that Sanzo journeys upon is Goujun’s son.
In the original “Hsi Yu Ki”, after completing the scripture-seeking journey, the Sanzo Ikkou are praised for this accomplishment and given the title of Buddha by Shaka Nyorai. Genjo Sanzo becomes “Charity Merit Buddha” [檀功徳仏 Dan Kudoku Butsu], Goku becomes “Victory in Battle Buddha [闘戦勝仏 Tousen Shou Butsu], Hakkai becomes “Altar Cleanser” [浄檀使者 Jyoudan Shisha], Gojyo becomes “Gold Bodied Arhat” [金身羅漢 Konshin Rakan], and the dragon horse becomes “One of eight senior Heavenly Dragons” [八部天竜 Hachibu Tenryuu]. And, with the scriptures in hand, the Sanzo Ikkou get an “easy peasy” ride home, soaring across the sky on a cloud; however, when Kanzeon Bosatsu looked through the “Records of Difficulties the Sanzo Ikkou has Faced”, she complained “According to the pathe othe Buddha, they should change to their true forms after undergoing a full 81 trials, but Sanzo and the others have only cleared 80 difficulties. Aren’t we short one?” and she kicked the Sanzo Ikkou, scriptures and all, off the cloud they’d been flying on (laughs). The Sanzo Ikkou must have thought “I don’t believe this!!” when that happened. That was the punchline (laughs).