just saw the first episode of "Saiyuki", a japanese drama series based on the chinese folktale [Journey to the west]. features a cameo from Takuya Kimura (best known in the USA for his performance in Wong Kar-Wai's "2046") and stars Kimura's fellow SMAPmate, Shingo Katori as Son Goku the monkey king, Densha Otoko's Atsushi Itou as Chohokkai the perverted pig, Teruyoshi Uchimura as Sagojyo the sand bandit and Fukatsu Eri as Sanzo Hoshi (aka the Tong monk Tripitaka). and yes, this is the story that inspired anime and manga like Osamu Tezuka's "My Son Goku", and the other classic Americans may be familiar with. (y'know....dragon ball?) and so far, my impression is that the first episode seem a little slow but that's just a setup for the remainder of the show. i have a feeling that it may pick up next episode as Chohokkai (Atsushi Itou) shows his perverted nature. as a chinese viewer, i find it strikingly odd that they would cast a female actress to play Tripitaka who accordingly to legends, is known to be male. then i found out that in Japan, there was a tv series based on the same thing and even then, he was played by a girl. the fights were not exactly what i expected. not as flashy or CGI dependent as the Chinese version of the series was. felt more old school and in a way, very campy. there were some nice moments of CGI used, however, particularly with Goku flying on his flying nimbus (or Kintoun as the Japanese call it). Although, i coulda sworn it's supposed to be a cloud, not a fan. series premiered in Japan on January 9th, 2006 at Fuji TV. I would definitely wait for the 2nd episode to air.