Author Archives: pororin13

The Pacific War and Momotaro

The Mitsuyo Seo’s animation, Momotaro’s Sea Eagle is an animation that is really related with the Pacific War.  Also, this animation includes many similarities and comparisons with the Japanese traditional story, Momotaro. In the animation, the captain Momotaro commands his soldiers; pheasant, dog, and monkey to attack Demon Island, Onigashima, by air.  So, the animal soldiers goes to the island and attack by air.  The Demon Island receives huge damage and surrender to Momotaro’s army.  Then, every soldier goes back to the base, and the animation finishes with a happy ending.  This animation has similar composition with Japan’s children story, Momotaro as this animation is related with the Pacific War.

monkey, dogs, and pheasants listen to the command of their commander, momotaro.

monkey, dogs, and pheasants listen to the command of their commander, momotaro.

The characters and the animation’s settings are very similar with the story of Momotaro.  In the traditional story, Momotaro goes on an adventure with three animals to conquer the Ogres’ land, Onigashima.  Also, three animals and oni show up in the animation like this scene.  The difference between them is three animals attack as the Momotaro’s soldier, and oni surrenders as the soldier of America.  That is, the main difference between story and animation is its own background.  The story is dated from early Edo period.  However, the animation’s background is the Pacific War, specifically when Japan attacked Hawaii on 1941.  Momotaro Story is really familiar with Japanese and it is a kind of story that is represented in general Japanese view. So even the animation’s background is gloomy like the war, children can enjoy watching this animation.

The ogre captain changes the flag to a white flag to surrender.

The ogre captain changes the flag to a white flag to surrender.

The view of Demon Island looks like Pearl Harbor of Hawaii.

The view of Demon Island looks like Pearl Harbor of Hawaii.

In those scenes, the captain of ogre changes the flag to the white flag.  The flag looks like America’s flag.  Also, when animals arrive and find the ogre’s island, the island looks like Hawaii.  At that time, the sound track is like Hawaiian music.  This animation is broadcasted after the Pacific War as mentioned before.  So, it is possible to guess this animation is based on the Pacific War.  In the original story, Momotaro conquers the ogre island and bring back treasures.  Like the story, the animal soldiers (Japan) succeed to surprise attack the ogre (America).  By having the ogre captain change his American flag to the white flag, the soldiers of Momotaro are victorious.  By comparing the story that is familiar with children, it is easy for children to understand.  So children would have the thought that the American is the kind of enemy or bad people by watching this animation.

The monkey brings his kibidango bag.

The monkey brings his kibidango bag.

The monkey takes out an airplane toy from his kibidango bag to soothe the baby bird.

The monkey takes out an airplane toy from his kibidango bag to soothe the baby bird.

In these last two scenes, the monkey brings his kibidango bag, and then the monkey gives an airplane toy that is from the dango bag to a baby bird to soothe.  Dango is an important role in both animation and story.  Three animals can join with Momotaro because he gives his dango to them.  In the story, dango plays a role as an oath that is the relation with Momotaro and three animals.  In the animation, dango plays a different role from the original Momotaro story, but it plays like an important foreshadowing.  In the last scene, the airplane, torpedo bomber No.3, is attacked, so they have a dangerous situation. When they fall from the airplane, the baby bird and the bird’s mother helps them in return for the toy airplane from the dango bag.  By putting dango as an important role in the animation, it ends happily like victory of Pacific War.

Nowadays, many animations just show pretty or handsome characters that do not have some meanings or lessons.  However, Momotaro’s Sea Eagle is different from other animations.  Even though this animation is for young children, many profound meanings are included in this animation like the war.  In other words, the subject of war is kind of deep for children to understand.  However children can enjoy this animation because the director made the animation based on Momotaro of the Japanese traditional story.  Even this animation is made for young citizens in Japan like the saying that animation’s first part, this animation is not only for children but adults.

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Exoticism with Gourmet Club

 Exoticism with Gourmet Club

Tanizaki Junichiro’s “The Gourmet Club” has exoticism, so he expresses his feelings and ideal by using character that has exoticism.  The story is about the gourmet club who are tired of the Japanese food, so they crave for some kind of exotic food.   Count, the leader of gourmet club, just walks around the road to find the food that he never tried, and finds the Chanchiang Hall, the private Chinese hall, that is full of actual Chinese food.  In the hall, he met and experienced his exotic experience- the genuine Chinese food.  Count understands the real meaning of exoticism from the hall, so he treats his exotic food to the gourmet members. Then they realize their exoticism.

     In the story, the author dramatizes food with the idea of exoticism.    Exoticism is an ideology that people who are unsatisfied with their reality go with this ideology because they long for any culture of another country’s longing and romance.  In other words, Count longs for exotic food like Chinese food in the story.  “Cooking was an art” (99) and “we need a kind of orchestral cuisine!” (103) are simple example about the author’s dramatizing technique.  In those simple scenes, the author uses hyperbole technique to dramatize food with exoticism.  Even though the author can express about food normally, he uses the hyperbole technique in those scenes because he can appeal the character’s expression and his intention well by dramatizing food.

     One of the best scenes with exoticism is the impression of A who is one of the member of gourmet club of “Bok Choi Fingers.”  For example, “A. thought the matter over even as he licked away at the fingers similar to the smell of the ham used in Chinese cooking” (135).  In this scene, A. is just waiting for the food to be served in the dim room, but suddenly he receives a woman’s massage.  However, that woman’s fingers are actually the food with Bok Choi.  Although the gourmet members who are really tired of foreign food made in semi-Japanese style, they have some taste in exotic Chinese food like the above mentioned Bok Choi.  That is, they realize the exoticism’s real meaning.  By using the hyperbole technique, the readers can feel the member’s feelings well even though the readers do not eat the food in real life.  Also, the readers can realize the member’s attitude is changed.

     In Count’s next meeting’s menu, all food’s names are dramatized such as “Pigeon-Egg Hot Springs, Fountain of Grapes, Phlegm-and-Spittle Liquid Jade” (139) and so on. He named all food by using dramatizing technique, so it makes the foods seem exotic even though those are semi-Japanese style food.  By using hyperbole technique to express the food, people can realize more exoticism from normal food and get a strong impression.  Therefore, the author dramatizes food with the idea of exoticism to convey his feeling and ideal through the book well.

Tampopo, and Her Challenges with Ramen

People who helped Tampopo are drinking ramen soup at the end.

People who helped Tampopo are drinking ramen soup at the end.

Juzo Itami’s movie, “Tampopo” is a movie that is about challenges of a Japanese widow who is named Tampopo with ramen.  This movie is made with the main story that is about Tampopo’s challenges and some scenes that are satirized hypocrisy and vanity of that period’s people by using food.   The “Tampopo” is started with the man, Goro, who has his own thoughts of ramen.  He enters Tampopo’s store accidentally, and  Tampopo notices that he is a kind of master of ramen.  So, she pleads with him to make her store flourish.  Then, he decides to help her to make the perfect ramen, and their unusual training started.  In those many interesting scenes, the scene that people who helped Tampopo are drinking ramen soup at the end is the most important scene in the movie.

In the story, Tampopo has unique training with Goro to make the perfect ramen like moving a heavy pot, making ramen fast, and jogging.  Even though she really tries to make the most delicious ramen, she has some failures again and again.  Whenever she suffers from her failure, some masters of ramen help her, and she can improve to make the perfect ramen.  Her wish is for people to enjoy her ramen and  drink ramen soup at the end.  Before this scene, she already treated her ramen to people.  However, they said that there was something lacking in her ramen.  So, in this scene, by people drinking ramen soup, her wish completes perfectly.  In other words, this movie’s main purpose is concluded by showing this scene.

About the mise-en-scene, this scene has many points.  At first, the stage lighting is changed definitely.  Tampopo’s ramen store is usually dim because the ramen store represents Japan’s bubble era by metaphorically speaking.  When people eat her ramen, the stage lighting is still dim, but it is gradually bright.  Then, when people drink the ramen soup at the end and praise her ramen, the stage lighting changes very brightly.  By changing brightness, the audience can feel Tampopo’s pleasure and happiness of people who drink her ramen soup.  Music is also important role in this scene.  Like representing Tampopo’s tension and nervousness, the music also repeats a monotonous, high rhythm that is gradually fast.  And then, when people finish eating their ramen, the music is changed more lightly as to represent their expression.  By changing the music, the audience also feels relief like Tampopo.  The last important point in this scene is the camera shot.  At first, the camera concentrate on Tampopo’s worried face.  However, by changing the medium and long take shot, the audience can notice facial expressions change of the people who eat her ramen.

This movie includes some satires and funny stories.  However, even though people do not see the entirety of this movie, the audience can understand Tampopo’s expression of accomplishment with her challenge just by seeing this scene.  Therefore, this scene is the most important scene in the movie, Tampopo.