Author Archives: kizumono

The Truth Within The Meat

Many may not know what truths lay behind one’s nation. They may be unaware of the horrendous scenes that take place as they can only see the unscathed masks presented to them. This idea can be seen throughout Louie Psyhoyos’s documentary, The Cove. In his documentary, former dolphin trainer, Ric O’Barry and his crew are seen investigating Japanese dolphin killings in the city of Taiji. His main mission is to exploit the gruesome killings and put an end to the dolphin massacre. Throughout his journey, many connections with food are made as dolphin meat is used not only for economical purposes but for national pride as well. Through the use of dolphin meat in this documentary, advances toward spreading the truth of the dolphin hunts and stopping them are made.

The first example to show how dolphin meat is used in the documentary can be seen when pedestrians are questioned about eating it. Throughout the documentary, many examples of the residents are shown to be unaware of the dolphin eating and killing. A prime example can be seen when a pedestrian is interviewed as shown in this screen shot:Image

“A pedestrian in a state of confusion when told of dolphins being eaten in Japan”

In this screen shot, the old lady becomes in a state of confusion and shock when the news of eaten dolphins were told to her. This just shows how the city of Taiji and Japan were able to cover up the fact that they were hunting dolphins and selling them in the forms of entertainment and meat. Also, coupled along with this idea, are when the families go to the market and see the dolphin meat for sale. Due to the Japanese government and their little tactic of mislabeling, they are able to hide the dolphin killings. Not only are they buying it, they are buying mercury infected dolphin meat. The little fact that many Japanese residents were unaware of such a crisis just shows how important it is to uncover the truth and spread it. Besides the selling of dolphin meat, Japan also used it in order to gain national pride.

The next example to show how dolphin meat was used to make advances in spreading the truth can be seen when dolphin meat began to become a sense of national pride. This idea can be seen when it was stated in the documentary that dolphin meat was a part of the Japanese culture and that they should be able to kill and eat dolphins. To further this idea, it can be seen when dolphin meat began to play a part in children’s lives as seen in the screen shot below:

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“Young students are given dolphin meat as school lunch”

This screen shot specifically shows how the Japanese wanted to show how much dolphin meat meant to them and their culture. They were willing to feed their children, and basically their future, mercury infected dolphin meat. The children did not know of this poisoning, but since it was part of their tradition, they ate it. Besides the fact that the Japanese were giving out dolphin meat to schools to use as lunch, they used it as a way to explain their hunts and justify them. An ironic statement that should be made about this idea of tradition is the fact that people are unaware that their culture eats dolphins as seen in the previous screen shot. If dolphin meat was a part of their nation’s ideology, then why were their so many people oblivious to this fact?  If the people asked questions like this and wondered where their meat came from, then ending the dolphin hunting would be that much closer. This just shows how dolphin meat was used as a way to progress their mission.

The last example to show how dolphin meat was used as a way to advance the spreading of the hunt and stop it can be seen when the dolphin killings were made public by O’Barry. The crew managed to obtain clips of the killings and was made public as can be seen in the screenshot below:

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“O’Barry carrying a monitor showing the killings of the dolphins”

In this scene, O’Barry is publicizing the dolphin hunt and only a few stop to watch. As the clip progresses, more and more people stop to see and finally learn of the killings. They become enlightened and now realized that the dolphin meat at school came from this, came from the horrendous actions done at Taiji. This clip basically sums up the documentary’s mission as it shows how the spreading of the horror is slowly progressing.

The documentary was capable of spreading the news of the dolphin hunt through the use of dolphin meat as the method of obtaining it was exposed. Many of the Japanese were unaware of the killings and a conflicting sense of national pride arose. Even with the publicizing of the killings, it is up to the people to question where their meat came from and to stop the killings.

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Under Two Leaders, Lie One Community

Communities may be seen as a complex grouping of people or figures, but can be brought upon each other through the simplest of ideas. Bonds may be created and communities may be unified through ideas as simple as food and enemies. This can be seen in Iwaya Sazanami’s story of Momotaro, The Story of Peach Boy as well as in the anime Momotaro’s Sea Eagles, directed by Seo Mitsuyo. Both of these works depict the tale of Momotaro in which he sets out to defeat his enemy to save Japan.  Though, similar in story, however, both works hold their own distinctions and variations. Even with their differences, ideas of community building can still be seen to be paralleled. Such ideas can be seen in the use of millet dumplings to show camaraderie, the idea of happiness to create bonds, and the idea of sharing a common enemy to bring groups together. Community building can be seen in both the story as well as in the anime through the use of food, happiness of children, and a common enemy.

The idea of food as a unifier can be seen in both the story and the anime when the millet dumplings are used to show camaraderie. This is seen in the story when Momotaro is first given millet dumplings by his father when he was about to head out to face the ogres. This is the first instance in which food was used to show affection. However, this is not the main use of the millet dumplings in this story. The main use can be seen during Momotaro’s actual voyage to conquer Ogres’ Island. During his trip, Momotaro meets three animals, a dog, monkey, and a bird, and during his confrontations, he gives each of them half a dumpling to join him in his destination. This can be seen when Momotaro states to the monkey, “In consideration of your good intentions, I will give you half of one of the best millet dumplings in Japan, and you may follow me” (23). Just like how the dog was given half a millet dumpling, the monkey was also given one as a sign of camaraderie and was due to the fact that he became Momotaro’s ally. The use of the dumpling was to obtain allies and through that, a community was formed as Momotaro ended up having three animals join him in his fight against the ogres. This idea can be similarly seen in the anime when one of the monkeys decides to help out a lost bird on the wing of the plane. In order to comfort the bird, the monkey grabs a bag with the label, “millet dumplings” and pulls out a toy plane. He then gives it to the bird which comforts the lost bird and soon after; the mother bird comes and takes his lost bird. In this scene, the use of millet dumplings may not be exactly the same as the story, but the idea is still similar. In replace of the dumpling, a toy plane which came from the dumpling bag was used in order to show camaraderie and this later plays out as the birds come help them at the end in their fight against evil. Both the millet dumpling of the story and the toy plane of the anime were used to signify friendship and camaraderie. Food was not the only sign of community building seen in the story and the anime as the happiness of children also played a large role.

The next example of community building can be seen in the idea of the happiness of children in both the story and the anime. In the story of Momotaro, the young peach boy is seen to be born from a large, magical peach. He was sent down by the Heavens and came to become the child of an old family. In this family, he was treated with kindness and affection and learned to experience happiness. This idea can be seen when Momotaro states, “Father, we became parent and child in a most remarkable manner. Your goodness to me has been higher than the mountain from which you cut grass and deeper than the river in which the washing is done” (17). In this statement, Momotaro compares his father’s kindness with that of the height of the mountain and the deepness of the river. These similes show how much compassion he has received and cannot help but be happy with his father’s kindness. The father’s love and affection help create a bond between him and his son. This idea is further remedied in the anime with the idea of Children’s day. This can be seen throughout the anime in which a koi banner becomes the focal point in multiple scenes. The koi banner is a clear representation of Children’s day in Japan and a celebration of the children’s happiness. To add support to this idea can be seen in the the scene in which the dog and the monkey play Jenga inside their airplane as they begin their attack against the enemy. Even during times of war, the animals are seen to enjoy themselves and further show their happiness. These scenes of joyful playing help create a community amongst the animals as they are children happily playing with each other. Even though this example is completely different from that of the story, happiness is still the focal point in both. The idea of happiness creating bonds is apparent and shows how the happiness of children is an example of community building. Besides the happiness of children, having a common enemy can also bring groups together.

The last example of community building can be seen in the idea of having a common enemy. Before establishing the idea of creating a community through the fact of having a common enemy, one should look at the idea of leadership first. Leadership is depicted differently in the story as opposed to that of the anime. In the story, Momotaro is seen to be more of a comrade then a leader. On his journey, he interacts with the animals and commends them for their personalities. He shows them sign of camaraderie and friendship. This is completely opposite in the anime, however. The Momotaro seen in the anime is distant and is more of a commander and supreme authoritative figure. Throughout the anime, there are few scenes of Momotaro and in all of them, it is him gazing upon his troops, never interacting, never saying a word. In the story, however, Momotaro fights with his comrades and is a leader in which his allies fight with, but in the anime, Momotaro is a leader in which his allies fight under. Even though their leaderships are distinct, they are still a part of a community that shares a single goal: to defeat their enemy. In the story, Momotaro and his allies are brought together in order to defeat the evil ogres. The ogres, are, by default, naturally evil and thus must be defeated. This can be seen when the Monkey states, “I hear that you, Lord Peach-Boy, are making this journey in order to conquer Ogres’ Island, I also wish to be allowed to accompany you” (27). This is a clear example that shows how Momotaro’s allies came to be his allies. They wanted to follow him under his command to defeat the evil ogres. By having this common enemy, a group was formed and bonds were created. The use of ogres in the story also plays a role with the audience. By having ogres, the audience would be more drawn to the side of Momotaro as he and his allies are not fiendish creatures. Just like the story, the anime plays along with this idea of creating a community through the use of a common enemy. This is seen when the American are first introduced. They are depicted as grungy, human like-beings that look nearly identical to Popeye’s enemy, Bluto, and have horns and drink alcohol. This, in contrast with the cute, loveable animals makes it much more believable that the Americans are the enemies. The use of adorable animals also plays a role in attracting the viewers as they are most likely children. Knowing that, it makes it much more understandable that the humans are seen as the enemy. Even though the Momotaro in this anime does not interact with his comrades, they still fight under him because they want to defeat their enemy. Even with two different types of leadership, communities were still formed because of the same reasons. This clearly shows how having a common enemy can create communities and bring unification.

Even with simple ideas such as food, happiness and enemies, communities can still be formed from them. This can be seen in both the story and the anime of Momotaro. Even with their clear distinctions, similar ideas are still seen to be prevalent in both. Food is used as unification by creating allies through sharing and the happiness of children is capable of creating lasting bonds. Not only does friendship and camaraderie create communities, so does having a common enemy. With that being said, even with differences, groups can still be brought together as seen through both works of Momotaro.

What Eating Ramen Can Show You

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‘The old master is explaining to his student the importance of embracing the ramen and noticing every single detail that the bowl entails.”

This is the scene at the beginning of the movie in which an educated master of ramen explains to his student the proper way to eat ramen. He begins by stating that one must embrace the bowl and carefully observe it. This is where the scene becomes one of the most important scenes in the entire movie as it outlines the theme. By giving such a thorough examination of the ramen, they are respecting it and the process it took to make such a marvelous dish. This action shows how one must appreciate every type of food, not just the ones considered to be luxurious. This is followed up by having the master tell his student and ultimately the audience that one must move the pork to the right side and apologize to it by stating, “See you soon.” This example of affection gives meaning to the idea of appreciating food. Also, by giving such appreciation for a bowl of ramen incites the idea that no food should be above any other and that they should all be equal. Itami Juzo continues on with this idea in other scenes. For example, the scene in which the trainee is seen to be well educated in French cuisine while his bosses are made to look the fool by their lack of understanding hints at equality. This scene breaks the hierarchy by having the lackey, who was supposed to follow the orders of his superiors, decides to present himself in a much more prestigious manner and is made out to be the most educated. This idea is first introduced by the process of eating ramen and that is why it is the most important scene in the movie. Not only does it give off the idea that food every type of food should be appreciated and respected, it also gives off the idea that food is pleasure. This idea can be seen when the Master explains that one must savor the aroma and caress the pork. From this, it can be seen that the food is an example of pleasure. Again, this idea can be seen later on throughout the movie when the gangster, Koji Yakusho is seen to partake in sexual activities involving food with his lover. This key example shows the connection between pleasure, and in this case, sexual intimacy, and food by showing that food is capable of bringing pleasure to people. Another example that shows this relationship is when an old lady begins pressing the peach until it breaks and the juices ooze out. In this case, the peach can represent the female reproduction organ and it is seen the leek which can be representative of the pleasure. All of these key ideas are first seen in the scene in which the master teaches the process of eating ramen and that is why it is most important.  It plays a large role in setting the tone of the movie by not only giving off a comedic sense, but introducing important topics.