Alakazam the Great ( Saiyu-ki )
1960-61, Toei Animation
Runtime: 88 min.
Color by: Eastmancolor
Directed by: Lee Kresel ( Daisaku Shirakawa / Taiji Yabushita )
Writing Credits: Lee Kresel ( Goro Kontaibo / Osamu Tezuka )
Inspiration: Ancient Chinese mythology called “Journey to the West”, which deals with the king of the animals, a monkey, who becomes arrogant and is chastised by Buddah.
Sterling Holloway Narrator
Frankie Avalon Alakazam
Dodie Stevens DeeDee
Jonathan Winters Sir Quigley Brokenbottom
Arnold Stang Lulipopo
Adopted from a 1953 manga by Osamu Tezuka (of Astroboy fame), Alakazam the Great was one of the first releases by Toei Animation (Toei Animation had been established just three years before, in 1957, as part of Toei Productions). At the time, Toei Animation was geared to create feature-length movies, as is the case with Alakazam the Great, which was originally released in Japan in 1960 under the same title as the manga from which it came: Saiyu-ki. Though a hit with the Japanese crowd, crude translation made its American appearance less successful, primarily because of the removal of a lot of religious connotations that were an important part of the original story.
The story basically goes like this. The king of the monkeys becomes rather full of himself and decides to challenge Buddha. Now, this is something you do not do, and Buddha makes sure our monkey friend realizes this. However, Buddha is willing to forgive, and he tells the monkey king to go on a quest.
The story is based on ancient Chinese legends (as one may guess by now, they are the same ones that would become the basis for Dragon Ball 25 years later).
This review was provided by Gary Carnevale;
"Alakazam, a shy and modest monkey, is chosen by his peers to be the monarch of all animals on earth. When the power goes to his head, King Amo, ruler of Majutsoland, the celestial island where all retired magicians reside, imprisons Alakazam in a cave to teach him a lesson. He is later released from cofinement with the stipulation that he go about the countryside performing good deeds”.
NOTE: Originally released in Japan as 'Saiyu-ki', the film was reedited and retitled for American release, running about 4 minutes shorter than the original production.