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The graphic novel explores the concept of heritage in that no matter how much people attempt to change for the better who they really are is still the best.
The concepts of identity and acceptance are integral themes in the graphic novel wherein the actions of the main characters (the monkey king, Jin and Danny), in one way or another, are driven by how they are perceived and validated by others resulting in the succeeding events in the given stories.
A more detailed examination of the story reveals how certain aspects of it are the story are the embodiment of the need for Asian Americans to be noticed beyond the mere Asian stereotypes that are attributed to them. The graphic novel explores the concept of heritage in that no matter how much people attempt to change for the better who they really are is still the best.
Concept of Identity
All the main characters in the story attempt to remove an aspect associated with themselves, for the monkey king it is being a monkey and for Jin it is being Asian. All of this is done for the sake of perception wherein the main characters believe that the perception of others is so important that they need to be able to change themselves in order to be better accepted.
It must be noted that the story delves into a current social trend in how Chinese Americans strive to be more like “other” Americans and in fact begin to dislike their Asian heritage due to the various stereotypes attached to it. This apparent “Americanization” can be seen in various social situations wherein Asian Americans continue to distance themselves from traditional Asian behaviors and customs in order to embrace a greater degree of “Americanism”.
This can be seen in the situation of Jin wherein due to his growing disdain for being Asian he transforms into Danny which is merely a metaphorical transformation of an Asian who has let for of his/her traditions and culture in order to better fit in by being more American.
Concept of Acceptance
Towards the end the graphic novel brings up the concept of acceptance wherein both the monkey king and Jin learn to accept their respective heritage. This is done when both come to the realization that their heritage is not their weakness but in fact is their greatest strength.
It is a strength that defines who they are and something which can never truly go away. This holds true for both Jin and the monkey king wherein despite their changed appearance and attitude their heritage is still a part of who they are. In the end they learn to accept their respective heritage and become better because of it.
As such the story explores the concept of being able to accept who you are and coming out better because of it. It explored and on going social trend in the U.S. regarding Asian Americans and presented the idea that it isn’t necessary for them to completely change who they are since what they were before was perfectly alright.
It is the realization of this concept that is reflected in the actions of both the monkey king and Jin which the author hopes to relay to the audience helping them realized that who they are doesn’t need to change since what they are right now is exactly who they should be.