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Smooth-tongued macaque, even if you can talk your way out of having ruined my son, what do you mean by upsetting my beloved concubine and chasing her up to my doors?
~ The Bull Demon King angry at Sun Wukong.

The Bull Demon King (in Chinese: 牛魔王), also known as his self-proclaimed title The Great Sage Who Pacifies Heaven (in Chinese: 平天大聖), is a major antagonist of the 16th-century Chinese classic novel Journey to the West by the late Wu Cheng'en, and its multiple adaptations. He can actually be considered to be the main antagonist of the story, despite his limited appearances. He is one of the most popular Journey to the West villains, alongside his wife Princess Iron Fan, his son the Red Boy, the Six Eared Macaque, and the Baigujing. The Bull Demon King is based in the Sky Scraping Cave (in Chinese: 摩雲洞) on Accumulated Thunder Mountain (in Chinese: 積雷山).

In the classic 1986 adaptation series of Journey to the West, he was primarily portrayed by Wang Futang. However, during his early scenes as Sun Wukong's friend, he was portrayed by Yan Huaili, who also played Sha Wujing (one of the four main protagonists) in the same series.

Appearance

In his humanoid form, the Bull Demon King is a muscular anthropomorphic ox who wears armors and a cape. Being a monarch, he also has a crown on his head. In the original novel, his true form is depicted as a titanic white ox (having eyes as size of a moon or a sun look from Earth). However, in the 1986 adaptation, his true form is just a big gray ox.

Personality

As a typical Journey to the West demon king, the Bull Demon King is extremely aggressive, violent, and wrathful. He likes to commit assault and eat humans. Once Sun Wukong's sworn brother, Bull Demon King is now his greatest enemy, vows to kill Wukong at all cost to avenge his son and wife. However, even as Wukong's friend, he befriended the latter mainly because Wukong is evil at the time, and powerful. Thus, Bull King is always a villain from the start, only to become more evil as the story progress.

It should be noted, however, that unlike most of the demons in Journey to the West, the Bull Demon King is not outrightly malevolent, but rather a vengeful person who just wants revenge on Sun Wukong for turning his son, the Red Boy, to the good side. Despite his brutal nature, the Bull Demon King genuinely cares about his family, as not only tried to avenge his son, he also tried to avenge his former wife, Princess Iron Fan, despite the fact that the two had been divorced. In the end, he also shown remorse upon being subdued by the deities, though this partially was to save his own skin.

Biography

Backstory

Bull Demon King during his early days, when he was still Sun Wukong's friend.

The Bull Demon King is a demonic ox who befriended and being the sworn brother of Sun Wukong along with other five demon kings, and was ranked the most senior of the seven. Upon hearing that Sun Wukong had successfully got the title of "The Great Sage Equal to Heaven", he along with other demon kings went to meet him to celebrate the stone monkey's victory. When Wukong told the six demon kings to get their own titles, the Bull Demon King was the one who spoke first, proclaimed himself "The Great Sage Who Pacifies Heaven". The seven sworn brothers had fun in the party for one day, before heading back to their caves.

Sometime during Sun Wukong's imprisonment for 500 years by the Buddha, the Bull Demon King eventually married Princess Iron Fan and gave birth to the Red Boy.

Role

Sun Wukong disguises as Bull King, meeting Red Boy.

The Bull Demon King first appeared as a disguise of Sun Wukong to trick Red Boy into release Xuanzang. However, upon seeing that this "Bull Demon King" does not remember his birthday, Red Boy deduced that he is a fake one and blew his cover as Wukong. Though wasn't physically seen, the Bull Demon King was going to be invited by his son to eat Xuanzang, and was mentioned numberous times, and the fact that the Red Boy mistook Sun Wukong's disguise with him gave an evidence about the Bull Demon King's appearance.

Later on, in the Women's Country (in Chinese: 女兒國), Immortal Ruyi (in Chinese: 如意真仙) mentioned that he's Bull Demon King's brother, and vowed to defeat Sun Wukong to avenge his nephew, the Red Boy. However, Wukong, with the help from Sha Wujing, managed to outwit and defeat Immortal Ruyi.

The Bull King and his wife.

The Bull Demon King later appeared when Xuanzang and his companions arrived at the Flame Mountain, having re-married to Princess Jade Face (a demonic fox). After being told by her that she was just being "harassed" by Sun Wukong, he angered and went out to fight Wukong. At first, the Bull Demon King decided to spare Wukong's life, but upon hearing his former sworn brother's request of borrowing the Iron Fan, he angrily refused and the two fought, but eventually the Bull Demon King decided to postpone the fight as he was going to go to a party held by the Wansheng Dragon King. During the party, Wukong stole his steed, disguised as him and took away the Iron Fan from his former wife Princess Iron Fan. Upon learning this, Bull Demon King angered and swore revenge.

He later disguised as Zhu Bajie to trick Wukong into giving him the Iron Fan. Angered, Wukong, along with the real Zhu Bajie (who angered due to Bull Demon King disguised as him) fought the Bull Demon King, forcing him to revert into his true form to attack them. However, with the help of the deities, Wukong managed to defeat the Bull Demon King and get the Iron Fan. The deities then took the Bull Demon King to Heaven to decide his fate.

Powers and Abilities

  • 72 Di Sha transformations: Like Sun Wukong, the Bull Demon King also possesses 72 Di Sha transformations, can shapeshift into whatever form he wants.
  • Intelligence: The Bull Demon King is very cunning, can think of plans and tricks to achieve his goal.
  • Brute strength: The Bull Demon King possesses very great hand-to-hand combat skills.
  • Immortality: The Bull Demon King is nearly immortal. If his head is cut off, another one would emerge.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Unlike most of other demons in Journey to the West, the Bull Demon King has no interest in Xuanzang, let alone eating his flesh. Ironically, in Doraemon: The Record of Nobita's Parallel Visit to the West, he and his wife Princess Iron Fan (Queen Iron Fan in this version) are the masterminds behind the plan to capture and eat Xuanzang.
    • In addition to this, the Bull Demon King acts more as an antagonist than an outright villain, opposed to other demons in the story, as his ultimate goal is just to humiliate Wukong for what the latter had done to his son and former wife. However, the Red Boy did mentioned that the Bull Demon King had committed several crimes and eat humans, though it was never shown. Nevertheless, his crimes of assault and trying to kill Sun Wukong still make him a villain.
  • He is the main inspiration of the Ox-King from the Dragon Ball series, even the name, and both live on the Flame Mountain. However, unlike the Bull Demon King, this Ox-King, despite his barbaric nature, is a heroic character.
  • Due to his close relationship with Sun Wukong, along with him being involved (both directly and indirectly) in more than two cases, the Bull Demon King is the closest villain that the story had to be a Big Bad and can be considered Sun Wukong's main archenemy, in a similar manner that Professor James Moriarty was considered the main antagonist of the Sherlock Holmes book series and Sherlock Holmes' archenemy, although he appeared only in one book. It is possible that this is the reason that he was made to be the main antagonist and lead demon in Doraemon: The Record of Nobita's Parallel Visit to the West and multiple Journey to the West adaptations.
  • He was mistaken for the Single Horned Rhinoceros King by some fans due to them both being demonic bulls and both have similar body builds.
  • Bowser was inspired by him.

Navigation

           Journey to the West Villains

Azure Lion Demon | Baigujing (The Monkey King) | Black Wind Demon | Bull Demon King (Doraemon, The Monkey King, LEGO Monkey Kid) | Demon King of Confusion | Golden and Silver Horned Kings | Golden Cicada | Golden Winged Great Peng | Grand Saint of Nine Spirits | Hun Dun the Demon King | Jade Rabbit Spirit | Jinchi Elder | King of Spiritual Touch | King of the Southern Hill | Kings of Cold, Heat and Dust Protection | Lady Earth Flow (2011) | Liu Hong | Nine Headed Bug | Princess Iron Fan (Queen Iron Fan) | Red Boy (Linlei) | Ruler of the Kingdom of Miefa | Sai Tai Sui | Scorpion Demoness | Sha Wujing | Single Horned Rhinoceros King | Six Eared Macaque | Sun Wukong (Conquering the Demons) | Tawny Lion Demon | The Butler of the Kou family | Tuolong | Wansheng Dragon King | Yellow Robe Demon | Yellow Toothed Elephant Demon | Yellow Wind Demon | Zhu Bajie

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