Suppon: Tampopo and the idea of the American Dream.

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One hour into Tampopo and we are witness to this scene where we see gathered together all of the main characters that have been present with us up to this point. A rainbow of personalities, backgrounds and age groups are present as we are about to witness the preparation of a culinary meal being prepared by the chef. We have the wealthy elderly man and his materialistic younger wife. Next, we also have the older homeless chef master who is an associate of Goro. While finishing it up we have the presence of the films three main protagonists: Tampopo, Goro, and Gun. It is the presence of all of these individuals together that gives the impression that from here on forward the dream of a great Tampopo ramen shop can become a reality. Now they have all of the culinary experts at their disposal in order to actually make ramen that will cause people to queue in line for it.

From the beginning this gathering can be seen as a the moment when Tampopo’s dream start to become a reality. Here we see the actual goal that tampopo is striving to become. That is to be a great cook that can create a great meal experience to her patrons. We can see this in the care that the chef has taken in acquiring the turtle that he is about to make. Suppon, as the dish that is being prepared is called, is known as a gourmet food that also provides various health benefits to the people who consume it. It is a dish that require both high quality materials (the turtle), and also a good cook who can bring together all of these ingredients. One must first take great care in dealing with this dish as it can only be prepared in a certain way in order for it to come out correctly. The elder rich man explains to Tanpopo that the turtle has to be drained of blood in a certain way in order for it to be good enough for this dish. It is like this old man is advising Tampopo on how to obtain that which she is striving for. We can see some of this lack of knowledge on the part of Tampopo as she nearly has her finger bitten only to be saved by the older man. It is from this point forward that we really see a teacher/student relationship between all of the characters and Tampopo. Knowledge is shared between all of the characters in order to create that perfect bowl of ramen.

One is given the feeling that this gathering of all of these individuals embodies many of the ideas of both the American Dream and the American West. Here we have the arrival of Goro, an outsider, into the life of Tantoco and literally changes her life for the better. Again an idea borrowed from Western films. At the same time we see that the hard work that Tampopo place into her ramen shop, combined with a little luck, resulted in her obtaining the dream ramen shop that she wanted. It is with these two ideas that this scene brings together these American ideals and places it into the booming Japan of the 80’s.

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