Ramenology: The Complex Science You’ve Never Heard of

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In this scene, the main “cowboys” of the western-resembling film are passing the time by reading an interesting book about a ramen master and experience firsthand the author’s ramen eating lesson. The ramen master is an aged man who studied ramen for 40 years. It is immediately implied that this man must be a pioneer in the field of ramenology. Through his leading research in ramen eating, every person can now enhance their ramen eating experience. To fully grasp the significance of this man’s words, one must be a knowledgeable student of ramen. The audience is honored to be able to get even a glimpse of such ramen eating mastery.

Subconsciously the audience is manipulated in many ways in this scene; particularly by the facial expressions of the ramen eating student. His expression shows utter respect and admiration for the master. He is impressed and in awe by the revelation of true ramen eating. The director must have also felt that this man’s facial expressions were very important, because in the medium shot parts of the scene when the audience faces both men, the student’s face is almost framed by the coincidental location of the door behind him. The red frame draws our eyes in his direction instead of to the master, whose face remains blank throughout. In a similar way, the color red frames the ramen in the close-up shot of the ramen bowl. This scene uses more red than any other scene in the movie. Yellows and browns are also mixed in with the red. Yellow and red are typically more arousing colors. It takes the calm, almost meditation-like scene and gives it a different effect. The audience becomes slightly nervous as they focus intently on what is happening.  The switching between the medium shot and close-up shots of each of their faces also profoundly influences the audience’s emotions. It causes us to quiet down as we hone in on the ramen master’s slightly whispered words of wisdom.

Without this scene, the film would go from the odd, almost awkward scene where the guy talks to the audience to the scene where Goro shows up at the ramen shop, gets in a fight, and then agrees to help Tanpopo better her ramen. In this sequence of events, would the audience really understand the significance of the ramen? Would the audience know that food is the center of this wacky, unstructured movie? The audience would be under the impression that the movie was about self-improvement. Also, more subtly, the audience begins with a certain impression of the characters in each scene. By the end of the scene, however, that impression is shattered. We are shown that Impressions change. This is especially highlighted in the scene with the ramen master. The impression of him changes multiple times throughout the scene. Without this memorable scene, the initial mood of the film would be completely different and the excursions to unrelated places would be strange and unexpected.  (495 Words)



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