Japanese Version of Western Hero

Developing the plots with western style plays significant influence in this Japanese movie about making ramen. More specifically, it is the image of western hero that allows the beginning of the entire movie to start as smooth as possible. In order to develop a Japanized Western hero, Itami Juzo carefully assembled various details.

Before discussing what allowed an ordinary trucker to transform into a hero, it is noteworthy to bring out the actual importance of Western image within the film. It is true that Itami Juzo adds comical twists to the film by using Western images.


demonstrating exact opposite of table manner taught by the Japanese teacher


For example, the restaurant scene where Japanese women are learning about proper etiquette, there are comical yet sarcastic messages with westerner not following any of the etiquettes. Besides adding comical value to the movie, the western image allows the movie to be transited smoothly. It is difficult to imagine an ordinary truck driver going against group of yakuzas in order to save a honor of ramen shop. However, with the image of Western hero who stereotypically wins all the time, Goro saves Tampopo, and the story of challenges of creating delicious ramen begins its journey.

In order to create such important ground of Western image, Itami Juzo carefully constructed Japanese version of Western Hero. First, the basic setting allows audience to spontaneously connect a Japanese truck driver with Western hero. The Mise-en-scenes are all associated with western‘s cowboys.

Goro's truck with horns on top of the truck

For instance, there is a set of horns attached to Goro’s truck symbolizing the bull; also, Goro himself appears with cowboy hat and leather clothing. Though with only costumes, it might be difficult to view Goro as hero, audiences can certainly bring the images of the West in their mind. With mise-en-scene bringing up the notion of West into the movie, Goro’s behavior completes the image of western hero on top of Japanese truck driver. With a scene where Goro helps a boy who is being bullied, Itami Juzo bestowed a sense of morality and justice without difficulty. From then on, the dramatic escalation of tension with quick scene changes, zooming in to facial expression and beer bottle constructs the artificial West scenery in the ramen house.

Identifying Goro with japanized heroic image of West is crucial factor to consider. The director carefully adopted the certain aspects of Western hero and combined with culture ofJapan. For instance, the hero of this movie is not a brunette cowboy with a gun. In fact, it would be ridiculous for a Japanese truck driver to shoot the yakuza with his pistol from leather holster. It would be too unrealistic and absurd. Thus, Instead of mimicking the western images exactly without considering Japanese culture and values, Itami Juzo created new type of hero with Japanese values as its base than Western archetypal hero’s images as illumination.

Itami Juzo’s playful characteristics of retouching on some of the motives of West andJapanare well represented in the movie Tampopo. While some of the Itami Juzo’s portrait of Western functioned as a significant set up of the movie, some delivered the humor and sarcasm to the audiences.



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