I got Saiyubito (technically it should be Saiyuubito, but since the u isn't elongated in Saiyuki, I am going to do the same). Literally, it's the people of the extreme journey; they just substituted "people" for "record" in the title.
It's sadly all in Japanese, so it's taking me forever to flip through, but it has lovely things like a comparison of Saiyuki (and Gaiden) with Journey to the West, a character and place dictionary, and an interview with the Sanzo-ikkou, all by Minekura.
Anyhow, I'm including random notes that I took from the comparison section.
Some spoilers for Saiyuki and Gaiden
Oh, and I found from the dictionary that Chin Yisou's name is actually written as "qin i su" in Chinese (all one color), which is a mahjongg hand! (*takes a moment to squee*) It's basically what happens when your hand is all one suit (there are three suits in mahjongg), with no directions or words (other types of mahjongg tiles).
Minekura did this character by character, so I am too. I also didn't read some characters; hopefully I'll get to the Kougaiji-tachi and assorted other characters later. I'm also going to refer to the Journey to the West characters as Kanon (Kanzeon), Horse (Jeep), Tripitaka (Sanzo), Pig (Hakkai), Monkey (Goku) and Sandy (Gojyo) to avoid confusion. Alas, the Gaiden characters will just have to be confusing.
The name from the original refers to three "baskets" of Buddhism -- I think they're the vinaya (monastic rule), sutra (teachings attributed to the Buddha himself) and abhidharma (the later, more detailed and philosophical musings and arguments on Buddhism by other, non-Buddha people). San = 3 and zo = treasure/storehouse/something like that. The original Tripitaka was a real person who travelled to India during the Tang dynasty to obtain sutras or other important religious documents and wrote up his adventures. He was dubbed "Sanzo" by the emperor. Someone in the Ming dynasty later turned Tripitaka's memoir into an adventure story.
In Journey, Tripitaka was found by Koumyou floating down the river; Sanzo's origin story in Saiyuki and growing up as Kouryou ("river flow") is right from the book. However, Tripitaka in the book is basically very prissy; he hates killing and he's perpetually confounded by Monkey, Sandy and Pig. Monkey is generally the caretaker for Tripitaka. Tripitaka's a very passive character who always has to be saved by Monkey. Minekura said she basically made Sanzo the opposite of Tripitaka; he takes care of Goku instead of vice versa (except, you know, when he's stupid and needs some sense beaten into him via mahjongg) and he's very obviously capable of defending himself and those under his care.
Minekura also notes that the whole thing about eating the flesh of a Sanzo priest for youkai immortality is also out of the book. There's something about male and female youkai in there that I didn't quite get, but I basically think she's saying that it was always male youkai going after Tripitaka in the book while she changed that to some female youkai in Saiyuki. Also, apparently she kept the same sutra that Tripitaka reads to seal Monkey in (not sure what that means) and has Sanzo use it (though I'm not sure for what).
I would just like to note that the character for the cave that Monkey rules over with the other monkeys is the same "ren" in "Kenren" (Water Curtain Cave, b/c it's behind a waterfall, vs. rolled curtain for Kenren). And that Monkey was "born" from a rock on Kakazan (Mountain of Flower and Fruit) in the east part of Heaven. He was imprisoned in Gogyouzan (Mountain of Five Lines/Journeys/Paths) after wreaking havoc in Heaven. Minekura says that the Five Lines thing may come from Monkey being caught after making a bet with Buddha that he could leave the Buddha's hand in x number of jumps, found himself at the base of five enormous pillars, and peed there. Sadly for Monkey, the pillars were Buddha's five fingers.
Monkey's headband in Journey is something placed on him by Tripitaka (Sanzo, otoh, can recreate it, but who knows how it was first created). Tripitaka used it to control Monkey; he'd tighten the band to give Monkey an awful headache if Monkey annoyed him. Since Minekura used the band as a youkai limiter, she said she replaced the headache function with Sanzo's paper fan! (Hee, I love that!)
Also, there's something about Monkey in the book in which he can't be burnt to death. I don't really remember this except as an adventure with some banana leaf fan. Minekura says she didn't put that in the manga, but that's why Goku's eyes are gold.
Sandy's prior incarnation was as a general in Heaven (w00t!). More on this later. Anyhow, after he was exiled to Earth, he became a river demon and ate travellers. Ew. Also, he had a necklace made out of the nine skulls of monks that he ate that could somehow transform into a boat (there may be a problem with my translation here...). Again, ew. Also, Minekura notes that identifying Sandy as a kappa is a purely Japanese take on the story and not in the original text at all. Apparently in the original, Sandy also had green hair and orange eyes. Possibly this was less striking than Gojyo's coloring ;). He was also the weakest member of the three and usually ended up defending Tripitaka as Pig and Monkey fought youkai. He also guided Horse.
I'm sure it is of no surprise to anyone to note that Minekura largely switched Hakkai and Gojyo (Hakkai being the most defensive fighter, drives Jeep, etc.). But one cool thing that she tried to keep was Sandy's demon nature. In the book, when Tripitaka first sees him, he says something like, "What kind of a youkai are you?" Monkey and Pig are very obviously animal-like in nature, but Sandy isn't. She says that in the book, Sandy is described as having a form unlike a youkai or a human ("Hito to mo youkai to mo tsukane sugata"). She compensated for this by making Gojyo a human-youkai hybrid! (pause for more squealing from me)Yay parallels! Yay Hakkai and Goku being full youkai and Gojyo being half! OMG so much Minekura love!
Pig was chased out of Heaven (eeeeee! Gaiden! More on this later) and fled to Earth, where he very unfortunately landed in the body of a pig. The name "Hakkai" in the book apparently comes from the 5 (insert kanji I don't know but think may mean vegetables) and the 3 (another kanji that usually means hate but most likely means meat in this context). I am confused because flemmings said that it referred to the nine renunciations of Buddhism? Possibly there are many interpretations? Anyhow the 5 "vegetables" are two types of "nin'niku" (I have no idea what this is and it's written in katakana -- oh wait, dictionary says garlic), scallions, onions, and leeks. The three meats (or whatever that kanji means in that context) are the geese of the sky, the dogs of the earth and the fish of the water. Maybe it serves as commentary to Pig's appetites? I am so confused. Buddhism has too many numbered things! [ETA: doh. Totally forgot to note that these are the 8 forbidden things to eat. Yeah.]
To make things even more confusing, Minekura adds something about the eight deadly sins (as opposed to the usual seven): pride, envy, gluttony, lust, sloth, "strong wants," rage and vanity. She says something about pride being the same as vanity and are combined as one sin, but I'm confused about the "strong wants" one (literally kyouyoku, strong appetites/desires/wants). Again with the confusion! I think mostly she was just saying how she liked that Hakkai's name fit in that, but to be honest, I really have no idea.
She says that Pig ended up slaughtering all the pigs he lived with and ended up by himself; ergo, inspiration for Hakkai's similar mass murder.
She also notes that Pig was the one who irritated and frustrated Tripitaka the most, and as such, Hakkai became the one to least annoy Sanzo! Another Pig/Sandy/Hakkai/Gojyo characteristic switch!
He's a dragon, which I'm sure everyone knows. Apparently Horse was the third son of the dragon king of the western seas, but his pearl (all dragons have pearls on their foreheads, usually it conveys some special power or immortality or I forget what) was burnt by accident, so he ended up exiled on Earth. Horse than ate Tripitaka's horse, so Kanon made him be Tripitaka's horse, because even in Journey, Kanon is totally the bestest Mary Sue authorial insert ever! Just not a hermaphrodite =(.
Minekura says her original plan was to have Jeep be itan, born of youkai magic and technology (interestingly, technology is literally "chemistry" in Japanese, which even more literally is the study of change). Also, Horse could also change to a beautiful woman and apparently had orange pee (again, this may be weird translation on my part...). Poor Jeep only gets to be a jeep.
There's really not much to say about Kanzeon here that most people don't already know. Sadly, Minekura doensn't mention the whole hermaphrodite thing, or at least, not in language that I understood. But I would just like to note that Kanon basically made Sandy, Pig, Monkey and Horse all follow Tripitaka and usually acted as a literal deus ex machina for the ikkou when they got in trouble. So really, Kanzeon being Kanzeon and totally being an author substitute is in the original!
Sadly, there also don't seem to be notes as to why Minekura decided on "Kanzeon" instead of "Kanon." All I know is that the extra "ze" is the kanji for Earth/world. I draw no conclusions. But I do think it's rather interesting.
Journey consists of two halves; the first is the story of Monkey's birth, his stay in Heaven and his eventual imprinsonment under Gogyouzan, and the second is the actual journey with Tripitaka. Minekura notes that while Tripitaka, Pig and Sandy's previous lives were in Heaven, the original really only has little things like Pig and/or Sandy saying, "Back when I was in Heaven..." Other than that, they weren't in the story at all, and the four never met up there.
Tripitaka's former life was that of Konzen, the second disciple of Siddharta. Originally Konzen's title was Douji (kanji for young'un ^_~) or Chourou (I think... kanji for long and old). He was reborn on Earth in order to better spread the teachings of Buddha. Minekura turned "second disciple of Buddha" to "nephew of Kanzeon." Not much else noteworthy about Konzen =(.
Sandy's former life in Heaven was as a minor official (I think). Very minor. Maybe not even an official. He basically raised and lowered curtains for some deity (name has something to do with clouds, hard kanji that I am too lazy to look up). Ergo the name "kenren" ("roll curtain"). Alas, poor Kenren, he accidentally broke the glass behind the curtain and was cruelly exiled to Earth.
I just find the idea of Gaiden Kenren raising and lowering curtains for a living incredibly funny.
Minekura notes that really, she only kept the name.
Maybe Pig's former life was as a minor official as well. I'm not sure. But anyhow, even up in Heaven, he liked wine and women and ended up getting drunk and did something with something having to do with the moon ("tsuki no sei [rice radical + aoi] (bijou de ninsai/jinsai/hitozuma [I can't figure out how to pronounce it... basically person + wife]) te wo dashi"). I have no idea what that means. I assume it means he got drunk and tried to fondle some beautiful woman having to do with the moon. I have no idea what that person+wife compound means. Minekura notes again that she totally switched Pig and Sandy and that groping the beautiful woman (if that's what that means) is something that Kenren would do.
Apparently, Pig in the original was some type of military guy, because he remarks to Monkey at some point that he does remember them fighting in Heaven and that they were enemies then. Ha! Gojyo/Goku tension!
Ha! I was right! He is related to Goku/Monkey's staff!
Anyhow, Goujun was one of the four dragons of the seas (all brothers). He ruled the Western Seas. All four brothers hated Monkey. Minekura speculates that out of the five elements (Chinese culture has five, not four), Monkey is metal and fire, Pig is wood and water, and Sandy is earth (why not water? huh) and that dragons are weak against the metal element. In the end, the four brothers promise Monkey a cool weapon as a trick. The only catch is, Monkey has to go to the Crystal Palace (under the sea) to retrieve the weapon, and said intended weapon is a very, very heavy staff of iron that none of them can lift. Unfortunately for them, Monkey can, which is how he acquires the nifty nyoibou that can shift shapes and turn needle-sized so he can carry it behind his ear.
Goujun as the prior life of Jeep is a purely Minekura invention. Horse was originally the son of Goujun in the original.
Ok, I am tired now, but I still want to read up on Nataku, Li Touten, Koumyou, Ukoku, the Kou-tachi and... waaaah! Not enough time!
And just as something random, a Gaiden translation note on the scene in vol. one in which Li Touten basically accuses Tenpou of favoring Kenren so much because they're sleeping together. I wanted to know the original because I wanted to know if Li Touten really is implying sex between them or what and if it really is just that slashy!
It so is!
Original: "Kenren Taishou no nyoubouyaku da sou da ga, kimi ga soko made ano otoko ni kodawaru riyuu wa... fufu, yahari dan'na no shita ga ichiban kokochi yoi to iu koto ka?"
Nyoubouyaku = right-hand man; assistant. However, "nyoubou" (woman/female + house) can also mean "wife" (yaku = role). But without the other stuff, Li Touten could just be saying that he heard Tenpou was Kenren's assistant/right-hand man.
Then he goes on: "The reason you've favored that man up till now....[laughs] (that's the "fufu"), it's that you apparently enjoy the feeling of being dan'na no shita, isn't it?"
The "dan'na no shita" isn't bolded in the original, but there are little dots by the words, which I assume are for emphasis.
Anyhow, I had to look it up.
Dan'na = husband. It's also what people call the sole patron of a geisha (aka, the guy who has so much money he buys out her contract). And "shita" is below. Or bottom. And so, the possibly non-sexual "nyoubouyaku" acquires the sexual and wife-ly connotations and Tenpou punches out Li Touten!
Ahhhh, I love Gaiden.