After critically reviewing the divisions of imitation as proposed by Dryden and Genette, among others, the author discusses the evolution of this concept, from its origins to its latest development in modern England. His aim is to build an objective model for analyzing imitation as a form of translation. He then analyzes a case study from East Asia: Japanese manga imitations of the Chinese novel The Journey to the West, in particular Minekura Kazuya’s 1997–2002 Journey to the Extreme (Gensōmaden Saiyūki). The author seeks to show how the changes made by the manga artists to the plot and characters exemplify ways in which imitations function in a new context. The article ends with some historical reflections on the position of imitation in translation theory and practice, while relating it to the contemporary context. It is hoped that the discussion will contribute to dispelling the misunderstandings and prejudice towards imitation, at the same time encouraging renewed attention to this old concept.